What's at Stake in the Biggest Fights Remaining in 2013?

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

What's at Stake in the Biggest Fights Remaining in 2013?

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    It might be hard to believe, but the boxing world will not stop revolving simply because Floyd Mayweather's epic victory against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez now sits in our rear view mirrors.

    There are still several big, and meaningful, fights left to help us get over the hangover from this past weekend, and here we'll break down what they mean for the sport and the fighters.

    While nothing will compare to "The One," as boxing fans we have to go on with our day-to-day lives, and with Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Mike Alvarado and Adrien Broner still scheduled to compete this year, we'll be just fine.

    This is your comprehensive breakdown of all that lies ahead for the remainder of the 2013 boxing calendar. 

Sept. 28: David Haye vs. Tyson Fury

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    British fight fans have something significant to look forward to later this month, when Tyson Fury puts his undefeated record on the line in a grudge match against former cruiserweight/heavyweight champion David Haye.

    Fury has cemented himself as one of the top young fighters in the heavyweight division, and he seems to have little more than disdain for his opponent. If he wants to be a serious player and earn himself a title shot, he'll need to win this fight, and he'll need to do it convincingly. 

    Haye, who briefly held a share of the heavyweight title, hasn't fought in more than a year. His knockout of Dereck Chisora last July was certainly impressive, but it did little to erase the memory of his non-effort against Wladimir Klitschko when the two met in 2011.

    In many ways, it's impressive that Haye finds himself, once again, at this level. This is just his third fight in three years, and a win would remarkably return him to the title picture.

    That's either a testament to his ability to market himself, or to the overall weakness of the heavyweight division.

Sept. 28: Adonis Stevenson vs. Tavoris Cloud

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    Coming into his fight with Chad Dawson, the book on Adonis Stevenson was that he had some dynamite in his hands. Is it too late to call that an understatement?

    Stevenson blasted through Dawson in less than three minutes and captured the recognized light-heavyweight championship in emphatic fashion. For his first defense, he'll stay on his home turf in Montreal and face former IBF 175-pound champion Tavoris Cloud.

    Cloud is a dangerous puncher himself, but he'll be coming into the fight off consecutive sub-par performances. Most felt he was lucky to escape with his title against Gabriel Campillo—when he earned a split-decision nod last year—and then he was taken to the woodshed by Bernard Hopkins and lost the belt this past March at the Barclays Center.

    Even though Stevenson holds the lineal title, most would still consider Bernard Hopkins to be the class of the division. A win here could setup a potential bout with the sport's elder statesman—who himself will be defending his share of the crown in October—or an explosive matchup with newly crowned WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.

    Either one of those bouts would be just fine, and the fans can't go wrong either way.

     

Oct. 5: Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin

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    He lines them up, and he knocks them down.

    That's pretty much what life is like these days for unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. You find an anonymous European heavyweight with a gaudy record, you sign to fight him, you beat the heck out of him and you move on.

    But at least many of us have heard of the next guy to take a crack at ending the Klitchko's vice-like grip on everything 200 pounds and above.

    Alexander Povetkin holds the beyond meaningless WBA regular championship, and he's been a few steps beyond protected during his career. He's never faced anyone in the orbit of Wlad, and he'll quickly find that out when they step into the ring.

    Klitschko is the class of the division, and a win here will do nothing but solidify that and bring him one step closer to Joe Louis' record for consecutive heavyweight title defenses.

Oct. 5: Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

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    Miguel Cotto has lost two fights in a row, hired a new team led by Freddie Roach and returned to HBO for one last shot at boxing glory.

    He'll return to the ring on Oct. 5 in Orlando, Fla. against the tough, but not overly dangerous, Delvin Rodriguez. This is the type of fight that a fighter of Cotto's age and stature takes to measure how much is really left in the tank. 

    Rodriguez is nowhere near the level of Cotto's last two opponents—Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout—but he's rugged enough to provide a good measuring stick.

    A prime Cotto would've run him over, but those years are definitely behind him. He's fighting for his career at this point, and anything but a win won't do. 

    Rodriguez is little more than a gatekeeper, and if Cotto wants to avoid that same designation, he needs to win impressively or say goodbye.

Oct. 12: Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

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    You can call this fight the Manny Pacquiao winners' bracket. 

    Bradley and Marquez are Pacquiao's last two opponents, and each scored a victory in their contest, albeit in very different ways.

    Bradley, of course, scored a hotly disputed split-decision over Pacquiao last June, but that pales in comparison to Marquez, who flattened the Filipino icon with one right hand in December.

    On the line in this bout will be the very same WBO welterweight title that "Desert Storm" captured that night, and we'll see two fighters eager to prove something.

    For Bradley, the equation here is very simple. He needs to prove that he can beat an elite-level fighter, and do so without controversy. His last fight—against Ruslan Provodnikov—was exciting, and he proved he can outbox a power-puncher, but the Russian isn't elite.

    Marquez, on the other hand, will be making his first foray into a boxing ring since his stunning sixth-round pasting of Pacquiao last year. He'll be attempting to win a world title in a fifth weight class and show that he's still a top pound-for-pound fighter at the age of 40.

Oct. 19: Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

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    To quote Samuel L. Jackson's character from Jurassic Park, "Hold onto your butts."

    Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov will meet on Oct. 19 in Denver, CO with the WBO junior welterweight championship on the line, and this is one you're not gonna want to miss. This has the potential to bring some serious fireworks and could be even better than the two epic wars that Alvarado engaged in with Brandon Rios over the past year. 

    Alvarado is a fighter who can brawl, or he can box. He does both effectively, and he has the ability to both dish out and take a huge shot. 

    Provodnikov is more your straight-up brawler. He charges in, throws everything but the kitchen sink and doesn't seem to mind taking return fire in order to land his big punches.

    Given those realities, it appears that Alvarado would have the slight advantage, but you don't want to sleep on either guy in what has the potential to be the Fight of the Year for 2013.

Nov. 2: Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens

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    Gennady Golovkin has taken the boxing world by storm in recent months with devastating knockout power and a reputation that borders on the mythical. 

    On most people's lists, he's already no worse than the second best middleweight in the world, and given recent injuries to—and underwhelming performances by—division kingpin Sergio Martinez, you could argue he belongs in the top spot. 

    It's not often that GGG will find himself in a match where his opponent has—if not equal—somewhat on-par punching power. If he's able to take care of business on Nov. 2, he'll make a strong case for being the best 160-pounder in the world.

    Curtis Stevens was once a big-time prospect, and he's done a great job of resurrecting his career after falling on some tough times. He'll get a shot at capturing a middleweight title in November, and all he'll have to do is find a way to clock GGG with something huge before he gets clocked.

    Oh, and he'll need to hope that Golovkin's chin isn't as good as advertised. It's called the puncher's chance, and Stevens has the ability to cash in if he connects. It's not likely, but that's why they fight in the ring and not on paper.

Nov. 9: Nonito Donaire vs. Vic Darchinyan

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    Guillermo Rigondeaux's victory over Nonito Donaire last April wasn't just convincing, it was stunningly easy, and it called into question whether the Filipino's meteoric rise was all smoke and mirrors. 

    Donaire did himself no favors in the ring after the fight either. He seemed more concerned with making excuses for his performance than simply owning up to a defeat by a fighter who, at least on that night, was clearly the better man.

    The Filipino will get a huge opportunity to reestablish himself as an elite fighter when he takes on old foe Vic Darchinyan. The fight will be the middle bout of an HBO televised triple-header. 

    At the time of their first bout, it was Darchinyan who was the fighter to watch. He entered the ring undefeated, with an awkward style and a frightening amount of power. But he was no match for the "Filipino Flash" who blasted him out in the fifth round and took a huge step towards stardom. 

    Darchinyan has won two fights in a row and enjoyed something of a resurgence at 37 years old, but he knows this is potentially his last shot at a big fight. 

    For his part, Donaire will enter the ring with an unfamiliar feeling. He'll need a big win—after suffering the just his second career defeat and the first in 12 years—to show he's still a big-time player in the lower weight classes.

Nov. 23: Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

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    When Manny Pacquiao meets Brandon Rios in Macau this November, the stakes will be extremely high for only one of the fighters.

    Pacquiao, once boxing's pound-for-pound king, has fallen off the radar after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez. Simply put, he needs to defeat the tough but limited Rios or else his career as premier fighter in the sport is over.

    It might well be over anyway, but if he can't get past this fight, then it's time to call it quits.

    You'll never find a fighter who—at least publicly—says they expect to lose, but that's exactly what many people will be expecting from Rios when he steps through the ropes. He has the luxury of being in a situation that is basically win-win.

    If he loses, everyone was expecting it, and he gets the publicity of participating in a huge event.

    If he wins, he has a potential path to superstardom. The only really bad outcome for "Bam Bam" would be if he's totally outclassed or embarrassed.

Dec. 14: Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana

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    Adrien Broner claimed his third world championship in as many weight classes with a narrow, and unimpressive, split-decision nod over Paulie Malignaggi in June. Broner acts and talks like a man who believes he'll be the next big thing in boxing, and now all he has to do is back it up in the only place that matters—the ring.

    He'll get a great chance to establish his bonafides, and win over new fans, when he takes on one of boxing's toughest SOB's in Marcos Maidana. 

    The fight has not yet been finalized, but it's close and reports have indicated it will likely take place on Dec. 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    That's a huge step up for Broner in every way. He'll be headlining a major event in boxing's Mecca, and he'll be facing what would be his toughest opponent to date.

    Maidana is often crude, and he'll never wow you with his technique. But he's as tough as they come, and he's at his most dangerous when he seems to be in trouble.

    Broner could do tremendous good for his brand with a huge win in this fight, but Maidana will never lie down. He's never going to be the face of boxing, but he doesn't care about that, as long as he gets to fight.