The year 2010 finished with a bang in the boxing world.
Another mug shot for Floyd, another win for Manny and some great fights at the end of the year made a lot of fans anxious to see what would happen in the coming year. To that end, here are my picks for the biggest stories for 2011 in order of importance.
Paul Williams was considered by many to be one of the very best fighters in the world. Maybe the best. He had beaten most big-time fighters in his division and beaten them all, including Antonio Margarito at a time that many thought the Mexican was using loaded gloves.
He was a tall, hard-hitting southpaw and he had a style that scared fighters, managers and promoters alike. And now he was finally starting to make a little money. His rematch with Sergio Martinez was one that every serious boxing fan had been looking forward to for months.
Martinez was obviously looking forward to the fight as well. He knew from the first fight that Williams had a tendency to leave himself open after throwing big punches and he just waited for the Paul to make a mistake. When he did, Martinez leveled the South Carolina fighter.
It took several minutes for Williams to come to and many experts doubt he will ever be the same.
Let me start by saying no one had a better year in 2010 than Sergio Martinez. He rebounded from his close defeat to Paul Williams by taking out Kelly Pavlik and knocking out Williams to avenge that fight.
Now he has to decide whether to try and get a fight with Pacquiao or Mayweather at 154 (which seems increasingly unlikely) or move up to 168 and fight any number of great fighters who could bring in big bucks.
What I don't see Martinez doing is waiting around at 160 and fighting for small paychecks. At 35 he knows this is his time. Look for Martinez to move up and fight the best at 168.
The 140-pound class is loaded for bare and there are several great fights just waiting to happen. Amir Khan was looking incredible in a tough fight with Marcos Maidana at the end of the year until the Argentine caught him with a big punch in the 10th.
He survived the fight, but not before showing why Khan, for all his skills, is still vulnerable to the big punch. And why Maidana is still a dangerous fighter for anyone in the division. Next up, Tim Bradley faces Devon Alexander in January in what could be another great fight.
Throw in the possibility of Juan Manuel Marquez coming up from 136 or Manny Pacquiao coming back down from 147 and you have a division that could give boxing fans great bouts for the next two or three years. The only question is can anyone take control of the division and dominate it.
Another division loaded with great fighters. The end is coming for the Showtime's somewhat successful Super Six Tournament, but when the winner is crowned we only know who should fight Lucien Bute to decide who is truly the best in the division.
Mix in Sergio Martinez who I believe will move up to 168 shortly and 2011 should be a great year in the Super Middleweight division.
Personally, I ask this question every year. There is no doubt a great heavyweight division is good for boxing. But it has been at least 10 years since anyone in the division excited anyone outside of the former Eastern Bloc.
I had hopes for David Haye, but the more boxing fans see of the British boxer, the less we are impressed. I doubt anything will change in 2011, but I can hope can't I?
Say what you like about Money May, he is a great fighter. Unfortunately, the combination of legal troubles and seeming disinterest could keep him on the sidelines this year.
The biggest problem I see, however, is if he does end up going to prison for a year or two. PBF is about to turn 34. If he ends up going through a trial and then being incarcerated for any length of time who knows how good he will be when he comes out.
That's why I think he should try and fight at least once this year and maybe twice. But he won't be listening to me, or anyone else for that matter.
He just turned 32.
He's beaten everyone of note in the welterweight division except Floyd, who doesn't seem to want to fight right now. He was elected Congress in the spring. He has plenty of money considering he lives in the Philippines.
So what does Manny Pacquiao have to fight for at this point? Not much, really. except to stay sharp for a possible bout with Money May. Look for Manny to fight twice this year including the announced bout with Shane Mosley. But if Mayweather continues to avoid even negotiating for a possible fight, Manny's retirement cannot be far off.