Five Fights To Watch While Mayweather-Pacquiao Gets Sorted Out

Nick TylwalkCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2009

LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 16:  Israel Vazquez celebrates after defeating Jhonny Gonzalez after their WBC super bantamweight titile fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena September 16, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vazquez retained his title after defeating Gonzalez by TKO in the 10th round.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Believe it or not, boxing fans, it’s not the end of the world.

Yes, the proposed Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight that has the world buzzing has hit the skids. The recent talk has been full of allegations and threats of legal action, and at least for the time being, things look grim.

But take heart. Despite what some in the sports media would have you believe, the sweet science won’t live or die based on one bout. Never has, never will.

Even if Mayweather-Pacquiao is postponed or (gasp!) cancelled, there are plenty of juicy matchups to look forward to in 2010. At the risk of blasphemy, I daresay some of them may end up trumping Floyd and Manny in terms of in-ring action.

Let’s take the “glass is half full” approach and assume that cooler heads prevail, pushing the superfight into the fall. Here are five fights worth watching while we wait, presented in ascending order of interest:

5. Wladimir Klitschko vs. Eddie Chambers—March 20

It’s not Wlad’s fault that the heavyweight division can’t produce any worthy challengers to his throne. Except for his brother Vitali, there doesn’t seem to be a big man in the world that can hang with him.

The slick and quick Chambers will be the latest one to give it a shot. He’s a very skillful boxer who will try to push the pace and win the fight on the cards, but he’ll be up against the same physical disadvantages that have proven so daunting for Klitschko’s last 11 opponents.

If Chambers becomes just another victim, America will be pretty much tapped out in terms of heavyweight contenders. For fans in the U.S., that might be reason enough to watch…and pray.

4. Carl Froch vs. Mikkel KesslerApril 17

This bout will help close out the second round robin stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic on the same night that Andre Ward takes on (for now, anyway) Jermain Taylor. Both of these super middleweights have something to prove, as Kessler was dominated by Ward in the first stage and Froch barely managed to get past Andre Dirrell in an ugly fight.

Only one fight in the tournament has ended by KO so far, but both of these men possess enough power to stop the other. It’s a safe bet they’ll both welcome a more straightforward scrap after chasing the speedy Americans around last time out.

Kessler will be fighting to keep his Super Six chances alive, while Froch will be attempting to back up his seemingly limitless self-confidence. One or the other will take a big hit when this one’s finished.

3. Arthur Abraham vs. Andre DirrellMarch 6

Abraham is kind of like a fine wine: the more time passes, the better he is.

King Arthur may not have the luxury of his usual cautious start against Dirrell, who grew up a lot in his battle with Froch. He’ll certainly have a chip on his shoulder after feeling like he came out on the wrong end of the decision in that fight, and he may not have to retreat so much against Abraham.

There’s a decent chance this clash between power and speed may not turn out to be too pretty. But compelling? You bet.

2. Shane Mosley vs. Andre BertoJan. 30

Until Mayweather and Pacquiao settle their differences, this is the most exciting welterweight fight that can be made. It’s a classic matchup of experience versus youth, but there’s more to it than just that.

Sugar Shane tried desperately to get into the Floyd and Manny derby, knowing that he doesn’t have too many big fights left in him. He’ll have to be on top of his game to stay on the radar of boxing’s biggest names, but he is coming off one of his more impressive performances.

Rising star Berto showed fans two different sides in his two 2009 victories. He edged out Luis Collazo in a vicious slugfest last January, then won a more tactical (if decidedly less thrilling) decision over Juan Urango in May.

Both fighters have blazing speed and enough pop to do serious damage. It would be a major disappointment if this fight is anything less than excellent.

1. Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez IVMay 22

Though casual sports fans are looking forward to Mayweather-Pacquiao, true boxing diehards may want to try converting their friends by steering them to this fight instead. Vazquez and Marquez staged one of the greatest trilogies of all time back in 2007 and 2008, and like star-crossed lovers, it seemed like they were fated to cross paths again.

The first three fights took so much out of the combatants that they’ve fought only sparingly since they last faced off. Their styles are perfectly matched, combining power, high punch output, and heart.

It’s almost greedy to hope that the fourth chapter in this saga lives up to what’s come before. But if it does, you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss it.

Nick Tylwalk is the editor and co-founder of . Follow his Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk .