The last quarter of 2010 proves that it is not going to be the down year for boxing that most people expected. November, especially, will be one of boxing's best months in recent memory, featuring at least one top-quality fight every weekend. Read on to see the best upcoming matches in boxing, including Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams II, Rafael Marquez vs. Juan Manuel Lopez (pictured) and a strong schedule to wrap up 2010.
The top remaining fights of the last quarter of 2010, and why you should watch them.
Note: Highly significant fights are denoted with an asterisk *.
October 3, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam vs. Suriyan Por Chokchai
Not a hugely competitive fight, but Pongsaklek is the best flyweight in the world and one of the top ten pound for pound.
October 15, Lucian Bute vs. Jesse Brinkley; Adrian Diaconu vs. Omar Sheika
From Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Lucian Bute is probably the top super middleweight in the world right now, and everyone assumes that the winner of the Super Six will be squaring off against him for divisional supremacy. Jesse Brinkley is ranked #11 in the world, just beneath most of the Super Six competitors. This fight has the potential to teach us a thing or two about Bute. And it's not out of the question that Bute could get shocked in this. He almost lost to Librado Andrade a year or two ago in a controversial non-stoppage by the referee.
Adrian Diaconu is a top Light Heavyweight contender but has been a bit inactive lately. He has won 26 fights and lost two, both to Jean Pascal, who is king of the division. Omar Sheika is a serviceable journeyman, but at least we'll get to see Diaconu in action.
October 16, Vitali Klitschko vs. Shannon Briggs
October 24, Jorge Linares vs. Jesus Chavez
Jorge Linares was projected to be a top pound for pound guy before his stunning first round loss to Juan Carlos Salgado in Japan last year. It was Ring Magazine's Upset of the Year. However, he has come back strong since then and will try to rebuild his career against Jesus Chavez - a decent fighter who has been on a losing streak lately.
October 30, Fernando Montiel (WBO Bantamweight champion) vs. ???; Alexander Povetkin (top 5 heavyweight) vs. ???; and a Women's Title Fight
I'm not expecting a world-class card since neither of these guys opponents has been chosen yet. Still, Montiel is in Ring Magazine's #8 pound for pound fighter, and Povetkin is a top 5 heavyweight. The fights could both end in early knockouts, or drag on a bit longer. In either case, we'll learn something about these guys and get to see two of the world's best fighters in action. Unfortunately they're fighting on two different cards, so we might have to choose one or the other. I'd suggest Montiel. He's a potential fighter of the year, having his fourth fight of 2010.
Also of note is a Women's Bantamweight Championship match between Hagar Shmoulefeld Finer and Julia Sahin in Rama, Ontario, Canada.
November 6, Zab Judah vs. Lucas Matthysse
Zab Judah is the big name in this fight. He has been making a resurgence with a new attitude and a renewed commitment to boxing. Lucas Matthysse, however, has the better record right now (27-0) and is ranked higher than Judah by most observers. This will be a good fight in light welterweight, boxing's hottest division.
* November 6, Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Rafael Marquez (Showtime)
Glen Johnson vs. Allan Green
MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Juan Manuel Lopez is one of boxing's 5 most exciting fighters. He is 29-0, has a 90% knockout rate, and has enough defensive vulnerabilities to make things interesting, having been knocked down in his last fight.
He faces his toughest opponent yet in Rafael Marquez, the grizzled Mexican veteran ranked #4 in the lightweight division, who is fresh off his career-ending knockout of rival Israel Vazquez.
I see this as a potential fight of the year candidate if Marquez brings his A game.
Meanwhile, new competitor Glen Johnson and Allan Green will bring us our next installment in the Showtime Super Six series.
* November 13, Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito (HBO)
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Undercard: Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Ricardo Cordoba, Kelly Pavlik vs. Bryan Vera, and Mike Jones vs. Jesus Soto Karass.
This fight isn't without controversy. Margarito is just coming back from a suspension for having plaster in his handwraps, and some say he didn't deserve this fight.
So there's a storyline, and a chance for Pacquiao to reaffirm his good-guy reputation. He's going for a title in his record 8th division.
It will be a good fight, however long it goes, and will reaffirm Pacquiao's claim as the #1 fighter in boxing.
Pacquiao fights usually have lousy undercards, but this is an exception. Guillermo Rigondeaux, Kelly Pavlik, and Mike Jones are all guys to watch.
* November 20, Paul Williams vs. Sergio Martinez II (HBO)
Paul Williams, Sergio Martinez. Two of the top seven pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Rematch of last year's epic battle, where Williams scored a narrow Unanimous decision victory. If Martinez wins, he may be fighter of the year.
One of the frontrunners for fight of the year.
November 26, Juan Carlos Burgos vs. Hozumi Hasegawa for the WBC featherweight title
Hozumi was the top featherweight in the world before he was knocked out by Fernando Montiel earlier this year. Let's see how he bounces back.
* November 27, Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis (HBO)
Undercard: Andre Berto vs. ???; Celestino Caballero vs. Jason Litzau
Aside from his fight against Mayweather, the ageless Marquez (pictured) never delivers a poor performance. Ring has him as the 3rd best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and Katsidis is a gritty, exciting fighter.
Andre Berto is ranked #3 Welterweight in the world, just behind Pac Man and Money Mayweather, and ahead of such guys as Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey and Tim Bradley (who admittedly is more of a light welterweight).
Celestino Caballero is a long, rangy fighter with an incredible life story. Jason Litzau is a worthy opponent. This will be a good Pay Per View card.
* November 27, Andre Ward vs. Andre Dirrell (Showtime)
Andre Ward is the only fighter still undefeated in Showtime's Super Six tournament, and is ranked #2 super middleweight in the world, just behind Bute. He could be the next great American fighter, and this is one of the biggest fights of his career.
Andre Dirrell is another quality American talent. He looked great handing Arthur Abraham his first career loss earlier this year, and a win against Ward would give him the best resume of any fighter during 2010.
These two friends will put together an interesting, significant fight.
* November 27, Arthur Abraham vs. Carl Froch (Showtime)
Also on November 27th on Showtime, you can watch the other two fighters who have endured the entire Super Six tournament. Both Froch and Abraham are coming off their first career losses, and this fight will reignite one fighter's career and mark a second consecutive loss for the other. Plus, the winner has a likely spot in the Super Six finals.
December 9, Tomasz Adamek vs. Vinny Maddalone
Tomasz Adamek is one of the best things in boxing right now. A top 5 heavyweight after only four fights in the division, he's a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist. A skilled boxer, a bit undersized as a heavyweight, but possessing a granite chin, he will be fighting in his fourth fight this year, not holding out and demanding a huge pay-per-view date like most of the world's top fighters.
Every Adamek fight is interesting because he fights well, takes a lot of hits, and finds ways to prevail. Admittedly, this is a less interesting match than many of Adamek's but it's probably his last fight before he fights Vitali Klitschko next year.
Kathy Duva of Main Events is my favorite promoter in boxing today, because she makes fights happen. Her main fighters Tomasz Adamek and Zab Judah are looking a lot better because of the great job she does.
* December 11, Marcos Maidana vs. Amir Khan
These light welterweights are two of the top four in the best division in boxing right now (the other two: Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, are slated to meet on January 29th of 2011). Both fighters are immensely talented, but have also showed some vulnerabilities.
The fighters are well-matched, and the winner of this fight has a natural next bout against the winner of Bradley-Alexander, which could potentially unify the best division in boxing right now.
December 11, Wladimir Klitschko vs. ???
Only three months after defeating Samuel Peter, Klitschko will again step into the ring against an as-of-yet unnamed opponent. This probably won't be a competitive fight, but people who say Klitschko is boring must not watch his fights. He wins most of them by knockout and is undoubtedly the most dominant fighter in the heavyweight division in quite a while.
* December 18, Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins
Pascal beat everyone's "can't-miss" American prospect Chad Dawson a few months ago. This fight, against 45-year-old Bernard Hopkins, is hugely significant for the light heavyweight division.
If Pascal can beat the living legend, he'll have essentially unified the light heavyweight division, having beaten all of the top 5 or 6 guys except Tavoris Cloud. If Hopkins wins, it will be one more magic moment in his extraordinary career. He's pulled bigger upsets than this in the past (against Kelly Pavlik two years ago).
Win or lose, this could be boxing fans' final chance to see the great Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins in action.