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Articles of 2005

Ten-Count for Max Schmeling and Coley Wallace

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Heavyweights Max Schmeling and Coley Wallace died within days of each other. At the times of their death, they were separated by an ocean. In life, the distance between them was even greater than the Atlantic.

One was a champion, the other a journeyman. One died a rich man, the other in modest surroundings. One was a nation’s hero, the other a Hollywood footnote.

The common bond they shared was Joe Louis. Schmeling fought him and Wallace portrayed him on the big screen.

Wallace died in New York City on January 30 at the age of 77. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of his career was beating Rocky Marciano in a Golden Gloves bout in 1948 at the Ridgewood Grove Arena. Marciano would never lose another fight.

Schmeling died in Germany on February 2 at the age of 99. He won the vacant heavyweight title on a foul when Jack Sharkey was disqualified for low blows in their 1930 bout at Yankee Stadium.

Although their careers did not overlap, they competed when the title of heavyweight champion was still the most prestigious in sports. Yet for all their strength and stature, these two heavyweights were victims, pawns manipulated by powerful men: Schmeling by Adolf Hitler and Wallace by the gangster Blinky Palermo.

* * *

AT THE TIME of his death, Schmeling remained one of the most celebrated sports figures in Germany. As the news of his passing spread, German President Horst Koehler and heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, based in Hamburg, near Schmeling’s home, issued statements to mark the passing of a champion.

When the news arrived in the United States, Franz Szuzina was heartbroken. The former middleweight contender was born in Bremen, Germany, and like most young Germans he idolized Schmeling.

“I saw him fight Walter Neusel,” said Szuzina. “I was 16 or 17 and me and my friend from the gym took the train down to Hamburg and watched the fight. It was after the war. He lost that fight. Max was past his prime.”

Szuzina, who is 74, beat Willi Besmanoff and Randy Sandy and lost a majority decision to Joey Giardello in a career that spanned 1950-61. He also beat Virgil Akins in 1957 and three fights later Akins won a version of the welterweight title. Szuzina left Germany to further his boxing career in 1956. The last time he saw Schmeling was during a boxing card at the Nassau Coliseum in the 1970s.

“I hadn’t seen him for many years until that night,” said Szuzina. “I was walking through the Coliseum – and all of a sudden there was Max Schmeling. He came over to me and said “Hey. What are you doing here?’ That’s the way he always was. He was very friendly.”

By then, Schmeling was a rich man. He invested some of his ring earnings and purchased the rights to distribute Coca Cola to all of Germany.

“He never acted like he had money,” said Szuzina. “He was down-to-earth. He was terrific. He never forgot where he came from.”

Apparently, he never also forgot his opponents. Schmeling’s generosity toward Joe Louis has been well documented. He reportedly sent Louis money over the years and paid for his funeral in 1981. With much less fanfare, he did the same for the great Mickey Walker, who he knocked out in 1932.

“When Mickey Walker was in my hospital, Schmeling sent me $500 a month to take care of him,” said Dr. Charlie Gellman, a one-time bootleg boxer who later became a hospital administrator. “He sent pajamas for Mickey Walker. He never forgot him. Max Schmeling was a gentleman.”

* * *

AT THE TIME of his death, Wallace was not hailed by politicians or dignitaries, but he was remembered fondly by the New York fight crowd. At the monthly meeting of Ring 8, New York’s Veteran Boxers Association, Wallace was given an honorary 10-count salute by his pugilistic brethren.

“I saw him once or twice a month,” said Tom Hoover, the former New York Knicks center who was active in Ring 8. “The thing that I will always remember about him was that infectious smile. He was a great human being.”

Wallace was a longtime Ring 8 member, although his participation declined in recent years as his health worsened. Whenever he did attend a meeting, he usually sat with former middleweight Bill Tate and fellow heavyweights Keene Simmons and Doug Jones. A lineage of champions ran through their careers and the thread of great heavyweights united the men. Wallace fought Marciano and Ezzard Charles, Simmons fought Marciano, and Jones fought Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It was not often that you could find a group of men sitting together and two of them fought Marciano while the third fought Ali, but they were there, pleasant and polite and always ready to reminisce.

“Just the fact that you have these four beautiful people coming together at these meetings was one thing,” said Hoover. “But you had these four guys and they fought everyone. That’s something special.”

They said the cause of death for Wallace was heart failure. On the outside, he appeared to age gracefully. He was tall and regal and a sharp dresser until the end. In words and manners, he embodied class.

“He was a boxing gentleman, that’s the best way to describe him” said Tony Mazzarella, a longtime Ring 8 officer who attended Wallace’s wake. “He was such a nice man. I never knew him to really talk about himself. He didn’t brag. He didn’t walk around saying ‘I beat Marciano.’ He was a humble man.”

* * *

THE CAREER OF Coley Wallace was one of broken promises. He never lived up to the expectations that came with two New York Golden Gloves titles and a win over Marciano.

“When we fought, Rocky was just a beginner,” he told the author in one of many conversations at Ring 8 over the years. “He was more like a street fighter. All he knew how to do was swing wild. He didn’t hit very hard then. I don’t think he hit me hard the entire fight. It wasn’t a tough fight for me at all. But even then you could tell he was tough and determined.”

Wallace lived in Harlem and when he turned pro he was supposed to be the next Joe Louis. He was tall and lean and shared the same mocha complexion as the Brown Bomber. He looked like Louis and shadowboxed like him, but unfortunately he couldn’t punch like him.

The similarities stopped short in the ring but they paid off when movie producers selected Wallace to play the title role in the 1953 film “The Joe Louis Story.” Many years later, in a clever nod toward boxing and film history, director Martin Scorsese cast Wallace in the role of Louis for the 1980 classic “Raging Bull.”

If Wallace encountered trouble maturing into the fighter some projected, he had little help from his manager Blinky Palermo.

Palermo was a Philadelphia-based gangster who was notorious for skimming purses, fixing fights and relying on intimidation as a means to an end. Palermo was a major figure in boxing when the sport was run by Organized Crime. Among the fighters he controlled were Wallace, Billy Fox, Gil Turner, world champions Ike Williams and Johnny Saxton, and later Sonny Liston.

“The fact that Coley got hooked up with a manager whose only concern was what he could get out of the fighter is a tragedy,” said Hoover. “But you also have to remember those times. I think Coley was just looking to fight and survive, so he did what he had to do.”

When Wallace was once asked about his relationship with Palermo, he responded emotionally. “I get angry when I think about Blinky Palermo,” he said. “He could have done better by me. He ruined boxing for me.”

Wallace said that Palermo robbed him of his entire purse from a September 1953 bout against Bill Gilliam and paid him just $3,000 from a $20,000 purse for a bout against Ezzard Charles three months later. He also always maintained that he was drugged in the Charles fight and that led to his 10th round stoppage.

But Wallace was not prone to bitterness. He rarely complained about his career. His only lament was that he never got a return match with Marciano in the pro ranks.

“I wish we could have fought as pros but we never did,” he said. “I always wanted to fight him again. You could see he had potential even when we fought. Still, I wanted to fight him again because I always thought I could do the same thing again.”

* * *

THE CAREER OF Max Schmeling is identified simply by his fights against Joe Louis. The first was an upset victory by Max and the second was known as “The undercard to World War II.” Yes, Schmeling defeated Jack Sharkey and Young Stribling and Mickey Walker, but his fights with Louis were classics.

Schmeling appeared to be nothing more than a steppingstone for Louis when he was summoned from Germany in 1936 to meet the future champion at Yankee Stadium. Schmeling was always dangerous with the right hand but came into the fight a 10-1 underdog. What the Louis camp underestimated was his ring intelligence. When Schmeling arrived for the bout, he announced to the New York press: “I zee something.”

What Schmeling noticed was that Louis dropped his left hand after throwing a jab, the perfect opening for his right hand. The German banger exploited the mistake and stopped the previously unbeaten Louis in the 12th round.

In the two years that passed after the first fight, Louis had become heavyweight champion and Schmeling had become a propaganda tool for Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had risen to power and pointed to Schmeling’s victory over Louis as proof of Aryan supremacy. Schmeling had become the party’s poster boy. As the spring of 1938 turned to summer, Germany had already annexed Austria and began to consider moving on Czechoslovakia and Poland. As Hitler’s empire grew, the United States inched closer toward World War II.

A few weeks before the rematch, Louis visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House where the President of the free world told him, “Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany.” Meanwhile, as photos of Schmeling dining with Hitler circulated, protesters picketed the fighter’s New York hotel, chanting, “Nazi, Nazi.”

In his 1976 biography, Louis wrote, “I knew I had to get Schmeling good. I had my own personal reasons and the whole damned country was depending on me.”

The rematch lasted 124 seconds but its outcome would endure forever. It remains one of the major sports events of the 20th century, not only because of what happened in the ring, but because of what Louis’ victory represented. He knocked out the pride – at least symbolically – of Nazi Germany. It was a prelude to Armageddon.

They came together on June 22, 1938 with 70,043 paying customers filing into Yankee Stadium. Millions more throughout the world heard the bout on radio. It was broadcast in four languages: English, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

At the opening bell, Louis forced Schmeling to the ropes. Suddenly a Louis right lifted Schmeling's right foot in the air and the German grabbed the top rope to steady himself. Schmeling extended only his left arm for protection. Louis then unloaded a barrage of punches, many landing against Schmeling's head. Schmeling turned away from the champion and a body shot seemed to leave him paralyzed.

With Schmeling pinned on the ropes, Louis launched a right hand that buckled his knees. Schmeling wobbled forward and another Louis right sent him down. The German gamely got to his feet but another Louis barrage dropped him again. Donovan had reached the count of five before Schmeling’s corner threw in the towel.

It was over, but the fighting had really just begun.

Both men served in the military for their respective countries during World War II. At the age of 35, Schmeling was drafted into the German army as a paratrooper and was wounded in action in Crete in 1941. Louis, who spent four years in the U.S. Army during his career, did not see combat during the war. He often staged exhibitions for the troops and donated more than $100,000 to the Army Relief Fund

In his autobiography, Schmeling wrote of his loss to Louis: “Every defeat has its good side. A victory over Joe Louis would perhaps have made me into the toast of the Third Reich.”

Yet for many years Schmeling was considered a Nazi sympathizer. He was often criticized for not distancing himself from Hitler, even though he dangerously defied the Fuhrer by refusing to join the Nazi Party and by retaining the services of a Jewish-American manager, Joe Jacobs.

“Schmeling was not a Nazi. He was a good man,” said Gellman. “His manager here was Joe Jacobs. When Hitler tried to get him a new manager, Schmeling refused. But sometimes Max had to sit back and take whatever was said or written about him because those were dangerous times.”

In 1946, British military authorities cleared Schmeling of any complicity in war crimes.

Still, a cloud of suspicion hung over the former champion for decades. He wasn’t allowed a visa back to the United States until 1954.

Then, in 1993, University of Rhode Island researchers finally dispelled the notion that Schmeling was a Nazi. Citing an interview from a Holocaust survivor, they produced evidence that Schmeling put himself at great risk by hiding two Jewish teenagers in his Berlin hotel room, protecting them during the infamous Kristallnacht, a pogrom where Nazis and their sympathizers set synagogues on fire.

“Max Schmeling was never a Nazi,” said Szuzina. “If you got drafted then, during the time of Hitler, and you didn’t show up, then you disappeared. They’d show up at your front door and that was that. Hitler was a bastard. Remember Ali. He refused to be inducted into the Army. That didn’t happen in Germany.”

* * *

Max Schmeling and Coley Wallace, a pair of heavyweights, died an ocean apart. After listening to the voices and reading the stories, it turns out that in death maybe they were more alike than their careers would suggest. They will be missed, not so much for what they did in the ring, but rather for how they carried themselves outside of it.

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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