Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Today is our opportunity to celebrate our history, our gratitude, and the things we are thankful for in life. As boxing fans, we have plenty to be thankful for too. This upcoming weekend will feature some of the finest fights in an extraordinary month for boxing.
Juan Manuel Marquez squares off against Michael Katsidis on HBO in one of the most-anticipated bouts of the year. Also on HBO, Andre Berto faces Freddy Hernandez, and Celestino Caballero faces the always-ready Jason Litzau.
Showtime's lineup is just as impressive. The Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament lunges forward with two big bouts: Tournament leader Andre Ward vs. newcomer Sakio Bika, and a rough-and-tumble matchup between Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch.
However, in the spirit of turkey day, I've decided to take a lighthearted look at some of the less noteworthy figures and moments in boxing this year, and let readers vote on which boxing turkey is most deserving of a pardon from us, the fans.
The Biggest Turkeys in Boxing: Who Gets the Pardon? (In Alphabetical Order)
The supposed arch-rival of David Haye came in to settle the score against the top-ranked heavyweight two weeks ago, and the fight lived up to everyone's expectations as a nonsensical publicity parade for the Hayemaker.
Harrison failed to make much of the biggest fight of his career to date. He didn't land a single punch in the first round, but then again, Haye didn't land much either. Two rounds later, Harrison was down and out, and did nothing to impress the British fans, let alone fans worldwide.
A living legend and a subject of one of my recent articles, Hopkins decided to step back into the public eye by declaring that Manny Pacquiao couldn't handle Floyd Mayweather because he hasn't fought a good black fighter. He then clarified that although Joshua Clottey is 'black,' he is not a 'black boxer,' and that Pacquiao couldn't handle a 'slick, black American boxer.'
It's perhaps a bit far-fetched, but an acceptable criticism, until you realize that Hopkins (who owns a stake in Golden Boy Promotions) has millions to gain if Pacquiao squares off against "Sugar" Shane Mosley instead of some other, perhaps-more-deserving, foes.
It's not easy being a boxing promoter, and Bob Arum has certainly seen some success lately with the Pacquiao-Margarito bout. Still, he can't seem to shake the perception that he's being overly protective of his main fighters like Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, and despite having the most popular fighter in boxing right now, he can't seem to outsell Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s events. He's also one of the people most widely perceived as stifling the occurrence of the biggest potential fight in boxing history.
The "Hayemaker" entered the heavyweight division riding high on tremendous fanfare, and quickly rose up the ranks, culminating in a victory over Nikolay Valuev and a share of the heavyweight title.
However, it has now been two years since he called out one of the Klitschko brothers, and he is now desperately trying to buy time without losing relevance. A lackluster fight with Audley Harrison did nothing to satiate boxing fans hungry to watch a real heavyweight fight, and Haye is testing the patience of boxing fans everywhere with his antics.
Who most deserves this year's Thanksgiving pardon?
The Mexican fighter's star has been rising lately, but it took a hit when he injured himself in a dirt bike accident and had to cancel a December fight date. Jay Williams/Diego Corrales comparisons aside, Montiel appeared to hit a bit of a speed bump.
After his huge victory over Hozumi Hasegawa and his very active fight schedule, Montiel was on track to be a serious fighter of the year candidate. It seems those chances have vanished considerably now. Let's hope he can pull it together and book a long-awaited fight with Nonito Donaire early in the year.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Where to start? The assault allegations, the court dates or the fact that he has only fought twice in the past three years, and both times against fighters over the age of 36.
It hasn't been a great year for "Money" Mayweather. Add to that the public's dissatisfaction with the lack of movement on a Mayweather-Pacquiao mega-fight, and we might have this contest's frontrunner.
After bizarre circumstances helped him land a spot against Pacquiao on the world stage, Clottey has all but vanished from the public eye, and his legitimacy has been greatly damaged.
Sure, he's probably crying all the way to the bank, but Clottey's fight with Pacquiao led us all into a tryptophan-induced slumber, and he won't return to a hero's welcome when (or if) he returns to the ring.
Kelly Pavlik had an astounding rise, and a swift fall, from the upper echelon of the boxing pantheon. He probably still has some big fights left in the tank, but he lost his titles earlier this year to Sergio Martinez, and had to pull out of a big fight on the Pacquiao undercard because of injury. Pavlik's rise to boxing's summit has never been more in question.
Yes, he got his much-deserved win over Juan Diaz, but he followed it up with an underwhelming performance against a superior Amir Khan, and then some comments made people question his commitment to boxing.
He is one of the most entertaining personalities in boxing, but has been pretty much out of the news lately, and though he apparently had signed for a big contract to fight a series of bouts in Italy, his comeback fight is happening next week in Quebec against journeyman Michael Lozada.
Malignaggi can still pull it together, but he's got a ways to go. There are a lot of boxing fans who like to watch this guy fight, but he's had a hard time capitalizing on it lately.
Roy Jones Jr.
Everyone who followed boxing during his prime has tremendous respect for the guy, which makes it that much harder to believe that he has become the fighter he is today. It was painful to watch his supposed mega-fight with fellow 40-something Bernard Hopkins, and while I can respect Jones' desire to continue fighting for his love of the sport, it's tough to imagine a truly dignified way for Jones to officially end his career. He's a living legend, and I know the fans still want to cheer for him.
In boxing, though, it's not over 'til it's over, and several of these fighters will rise from their current lows to regain our trust and support. So let's hear your opinion: Which of these people is most deserving of a pardon from boxing fans? Vote in the poll and post your reasons in the comments section.