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Articles of 2005

Boxing Predictions: Spinks vs. Judah II

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The boxing writers at TheSweetScience.com make their picks for Saturday night's big fight – Cory Spinks vs. Zab Judah

There's no reason to believe the rematch will be any different than the original. In an otherwise even fight, you have to go with the bigger, stronger fighter – which is Spinks. And a good big fighter always beats a good little fighter. Unless, of course, Spinks' shaky chin cracks. Spinks by split decision.
Matt Aguilar

Cory Spinks will take what he learned in the first fight and make the needed adjustments to beat Zab Judah in their rematch. I always thought Zab was a bit overrated. Cory is a thinking man’s fighter. He will find a way to win. I say Cory by a unanimous verdict.
Jim Amato

The Spinks Jinx continues. Zab does not have enough to take down the champ in his hometown. Spinks by decision, not as close this time.
Steve Argeris

I think Zab has a lot of confidence. When he dropped Spinks – he dropped him. And he hurt him. There is nothing like a solid knockdown to give you the confidence you need for a rematch. No matter what Spinks says, he’s got to be worried. What I like about Judah in this fight is that he can punch, but he can box too. The fighters are equal in terms of hand speed. I think if the fight goes the distance, because it is in St. Louis, Zab will have a hard time getting the decision. But I don't think it will get that far. My pick is Judah by late round knockout.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy

Judah and Spinks are very similar. Both are southpaws, both have very quick hands and both are talented boxers. The difference is that Judah is the harder hitter. Plus, for the rematch, he'll be more comfortable at 147. I pick Judah by decision.
Robert Cassidy

The moment the fight ended, the reaction around the boxing world seemed to be “Thirty more seconds, and Zab finishes him off.” My thinking was that had he not taken 3½ rounds to get going, then it doesn’t come down to a last minute knockdown still not being enough. He insists that he won’t make that same mistake twice, but a greater problem w/ him as of late is his belief that he has enough one-punch power to turn the tide and possibly even end matters whenever he wants. In my opinion, this will be the difference in the fight; Zab will start stronger, but he’ll also be looking to end matters earlier. Spinks is steady, and you pretty much know what he brings to the table. It’s not even about what Cory will do (besides not get as careless as he did at the end of the first fight); it will come down to what Zab does not do. And that will once again be the difference between becoming undisputed champ and settling for second place. Spinks by UD.
Jake Donovan

I’d like to believe Team Judah learned something in the first fight with Cory Spinks, but I have my doubts. If Zab starts quick and avoids showboating this time around, he’ll at the very least make a fight of it. We’re a long way from 15-round championship fights. Judah will have to get out of the gate fast and get to work immediately. But Spinks will be as hard to catch as ever. Spinks by split decision.
Robert Ecksel

Spinks by decision again. If nothing else, the confidence factor should play a role in the outcome. Spinks won the first fight and though it was close, he's got to believe he'll do even better the second time around. And being champ always seems to make a fighter better.
Rick Folstad

Reflecting on rounds 1 through 12, it is tempting to lean towards Zab Judah in the rematch. Judah had Spinks all but out on his feet at the end of round 12, but how much should be made of this? Zab Judah has not proven he has the proper match-day temperament on the big stage. Until he proves otherwise, it is hard to ignore Spinks’ ability to rise to the occasion. Judah’s edge in power notwithstanding, Spinks finds a way to navigate the choppy waters once again while boxing his way to a decision victory. Cory Spinks by UD.
Chris Gielty

While Judah made it interesting late in their first fight, I don't see Cory Spinks making the same mistake this time. Spinks will stay focused and maintain his awesome boxing skills which have made him a champion – and will keep him a champion in Spinks/Judah II. Cory Spinks beats Zab Judah via 12-round unanimous decision.
Mike Indri

Cory Spinks has proved himself the class of the division until proven otherwise. Why should one believe that Judah's last round surge will become a template for a total reversal of Spinks' commanding performance? One should try to differentiate speed from effectiveness and by that reckoning, Spinks boxing ability trumps Judah's raw speed. And though Judah's hungry, Spinks remains fully committed; the all important mental edge goes to Spinks. Spinks UD12 Judah.
Patrick Kehoe

With the hometown crowd behind him there's little reason to suppose Spinks won't fare at least as well as he did the first time around. Spinks by decision.
George Kimball

Much like the first bout, Spinks should be better, faster, stronger than Judah and box his way to another decision victory. For a change, I actually believe what Judah is saying, that he will come out and try to take the fight to Spinks. Still, that doesn't mean it will work – and it won't. I don't see Judah as strong at 147 and his tendency to give away a round or two will burn him again. Spinks has the home crowd in his favor and should be able to use Zab's aggression against him. A few good rounds and maybe a flash knockdown keep Judah in the fight but he comes up short . . . again. Spinks SD 12 Judah.
Joey Knish

A controversial draw. Judah comes out trying to KO Spinks early – and nearly does it as Spinks gets up off the floor in the early rounds. Spinks gets back on his game plan halfway through the fight. Like last time, Judah assets himself in the final round. The decision should go to Judah, but Spinks keeps his title by majority draw.
Marc Lichtenfeld

This fight will most likely go the distance. Judah is a big underachiever in my book. This is probably his best and last chance to change his perception as being all show without much go. I anticipate Judah will fight more aggressive this time, he has to. Spinks just needs to be himself and box and counter Judah. I have a feeling the scoring will be weighed in favor of Judah resulting in him getting the nod in the close rounds. Judah by decision.
Frank Lotierzo

Unless Spinks doesn’t handle the big moment in his hometown well, which can happen, it should give him a solid edge in the rematch. Probably a little easier this time. Spinks by decision.
David Mayo

Spinks is a cool cat who shouldn't fall for any of Judah's nonsensical trash talk. He beat him once, and there's no reason for me to believe he won't beat him again. Spinks W 12.
Robert Mladinich

Judah can press more, Spinks can't be much cuter can he? However, Spinks cant just run, he has to trade and earn respect at some stage, possibly early, Judah has to capitalize and win any of these exchanges by adding more devil and substance to his work. The early rounds will be crucial in setting the tone, if Judah doesn't really get in Spinks' face, his fate is sealed. Spinks will counter, peck and poke to the finish line. Judah has to get Spinks out of that comfort zone for prolonged periods where his heavier hands and competitive hand speed should give him the edge. But everyone keeps underestimating Spinks. I'm trying not to. Another squeaky one, with possibly another knockdown, but I think Cory pulls it out. Spinks clear but close UD.
David Payne

Max Kellerman says that Zab Judah is spectacular but flawed. Flawed? The last time he fought Corey Spinks, Judah hung around for three or four rounds wondering why he was fighting a junior middleweight. Blame it on the morons that thought boxers should weigh in the day before a fight, which means that except for the Whales, there has not been an honest title fight since. The day before their match, Judah's first as a welterweight, he weighed in at 146; Spinks weighed 147. When the opening bell rang the following night, Judah had gained a pound; Spinks had put on nearly 10. By the time Judah figured out the big guy in front on him was really Spinks, almost half the fight was over. Still, he almost won; it could have been ruled a draw. Looking for Judah to come out of the blocks a lot quicker, I favor him this time by decision.
Pat Putnam

Judah is one of the most naturally talented fighters today, but simply hasn't matched his potential with a breakthrough performance. This is a must win fight for him. To this point, Cory Spinks has proved many of the critics wrong, and has developed his potential admirably. He can adjust to different styles, and is cool under fire. Whereas Judah is a reactive fighter, Spinks is cerebral. Expect Spinks to overcome to shaky moments to carve out a close decision.
Greg Smith

Judah has had his difficulties with southpaws in the recent past (Spinks 1 and Corley), which shows that he can be easily frustrated, and now he finds himself fighting in Cory’s backyard. It adds up to another twelve-round duke for Spinks in a fight that only a chess fan could love.
Scott Yaniga

Cory Spinks vs. Zab Judah is on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005. In the co-feature, Owen “What The Heck” Beck faces Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett in a 12-round heavyweight elimination bout. SHOWTIME will televise the doubleheader at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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