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Articles of 2005

Castillo and Corrales Discuss Their May 7 Fight

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In a highly anticipated match-up, the two best 135-pound boxers in the world will square  off when two-time WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo takes on WBO champion Diego “Chico” Corrales in a world title unification bout Saturday, May 7, 2005, on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

In the excellent Showtime Championship Boxing co-feature, IBF/WBA featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez will defend his titles against WBA No. 5 contender, Victor Polo. The world championship doubleheader at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas will be co-promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, Top Rank, Inc. and Banner Promotions.

Corrales:  The time for talking is almost done. I have trained hard. I am ready to fight. I am ready for war and come hell or high water, I am leaving with the WBC and the WBO belts.

Castillo:  I just came down from the mountain. I will stay in Mexicali the rest of this week before I go to Las Vegas. I had a real good training camp and am looking forward to what I consider to be a great fight. But there is no doubt in my mind that I am coming out the winner.

Begin Press Questions.

Question:  Jose, are you glad that finally this fight with Corrales is happening?

Corrales:  Yes, after a couple of postponements, we did not know if we were ever going to fight. But I am looking forward to fighting him. Now we have a date, we know where we are going to be at on May 7 and I am looking forward to the fight.

Question:  Diego, you have made strong references on using your power punches to make a statement. If you do not break Castillo’s concentration that way, what other style will you use?

Corrales:  I will use a barrage of punches. The power punches are with both hands. I can actually punch sharply with both. In order for this fight to go the way I want it to go, I have to make sure he feels my presence early and fast.

Question:  Jose Luis is a strong puncher with all of those knockouts. How do you plan to deal with him if he matches you in speed, cuts the ring off and forces you to adapt to another tactic?

Corrales:  I expect him to bring it forward and try to cut off the ring and to use his power and his physical strength. The thing about it is, I will be a strong guy as well. So we can kind of offset each other’s strengths and power. If my original plan to attack does not work, well, when all else fails, fight.

Question:  Jose Luis, Corrales says he is driven to drive you to dangerous waters with his punch. Do you think he is going to switch gears with you by using his left hooks and then box you?

Castillo:  His strategy could be to come at me or to box, me if that is what he wants to do. All I know is that whatever his strategy is, it will not work against me. I have proven that I can fight the punchers and I can box with the boxers.

Question:  Diego, a lot of people are picking Castillo because they feel he has a much better chin and they feel that your chin might be a liability. How do you answer that?

Corrales:  I do not answer it. I just let them think that and, hey, whatever they feel . . . if they believe that, then that is OK. My chin has stood up against some of the best and it does not bother me at all.

Question:  Some are making a comparison, saying they feel Castillo did a better job in his fights against Mayweather and Casamayor than you did. Does that enter into your thinking?

Corrales:  Not at all because I am Diego Corrales and he is Jose Luis Castillo. The two styles have to match up with each other and we will see exactly what happens in a couple of weeks.

Question:  Jose Luis, you have not been given the recognition like the other great Mexican boxers, Barrera and Morales, have received. Do you feel a victory over Corrales will finally get you that recognition?

Castillo:  I think once I defeat Diego, everyone will look at me as the real champion, a durable champion, for what I have done. I think this is a big fight.

Question:  Jose Luis, you have been in two excellent fights and proved you are a champion in both. But they were two hard-fought fights and Joe Goossen (Corrales’ trainer) made the statement that he believes they may have taken a little bit out of you and that it may work to your disadvantage. How do you answer that?

Castillo:  I know there have been tough opponents that I faced, but fortunately, I have not really been hit that much. I have not really gone through a real tough time in those fights. I did well in those fights and I think I will have more than what I need for this fight come May 7.

Question:  Diego, was there ever a time that you thought that this fight was not going to happen?  Or was this a fight that you felt you had to have to make your career valid?

Corrales:  From the point that it was brought up to me, it was a fight I was gung-ho for. I had to have it and so I always kept my faith that something would work itself out and it did.

Question:  So you never felt that you were going to have to move on and look at another superfight?

Corrales:  Not at all. At one point, I was actually down here in training camp to get ready for this fight. There was never a doubt in my mind that this fight was going to happen.

Question:  Chico, it has been a long time since you faced someone who is actually going to come toward you. Even though Castillo is as tough as they come, do you see this as kind of a luxury that you are actually going to have someone who is going to come toward you instead of having to chase someone around the ring?

Corrales:  Yes, it is much nicer to have someone actually coming to me for a change and it will be a little bit of an adjustment early on, but it will be very nice.

Question:  Would you be surprised if Castillo took the role of a counterpuncher and made you come forward?

Corrales:  Yeah, I would be surprised.

Question:  Chico, are you approaching this fight any differently than you did Freitas or Casamayor?

Corrales:  Just in the sense that I have been in camp a little bit longer. I have spent a little extra time in training camp, putting a lot more focus on different things. I worked harder because I know he is a late round pressure guy and, even though we both are strong in the late rounds, I wanted to have a little extra in there. So we worked a little harder on that.

Question:  Jose Luis, you said that Julio Diaz had rocked you at one point in your fight and hurt you. If that is true, how are you going to handle Corrales’ power?

Castillo:  I think a good solid punch can knock anyone out. Even an elephant can go down with a good, solid punch. I am looking to see if he really does have the power to knock me down, to knock me out. We have to go up in the ring and find out. I think I am strong enough to take his punch and we will find out who really is the strongest guy up there.

Question:  Jose Luis, all your fights are high-profile and you do not have any easy opponents. Is that the way you like it?

Castillo:  As a boxer, you know those are the ones that will give you the respect of the people. The people are going to respect you as a boxer, and those are the ones that you will make more money with. So, obviously, yes, I like to have those big profile fights.

Question:  Jose Luis, you have been saying for a while that making 135 is tough and you are looking forward to moving up to 140. Do you think this will be your last fight at 135?

Castillo:  It looks right now like I may have to do one more fight at 135. On Sept. 10, I could have a fight at 135. So I might stay for one more fight before thinking of moving up to 140.

Question:  Diego, it seems like all your fights are also high-profile type match-ups. You do not have any easy fights. Is that the way you prefer it and, if so, why?

Corrales:  Yeah, because at this point I have achieved my goals as far as becoming world champion. I have repeated it on a couple of occasions now. Now, it is just to see where I can place myself in history. Now, I am working for when they bring up the (junior) lightweights of the world and the junior welterweights, or wherever I wind up at, and hearing my name being brought up in comparison to the young guys who will be up and coming in 10, 20 and 30 years down the line. I am now working for the history of the sport, and it is something that drives me.

Question:  Diego, are these the kind of match-ups that are fun for you?

Corrales:  They are, absolutely. It is a great chance for blood and guts with people like Castillo and Freitas and Casamayor. These are some good, solid fights. You have got to rise to the occasion for these kinds of fights. I love them.

Question:  Chico, where do you rank Castillo in terms of opponents that you have faced so far?Secondly, what would a win over him mean to you compared to all of your other wins?

Corrales:  I rank Castillo right at the top of the list. He has proven himself over and over again that he belongs. He keeps wining the world titles. He defends the title very well. And the guy is an awesome world champion, so he ranks extremely high on my list of people that I have ever fought and he has all my respect. All of it. With that being said, a win over him would be awesome. It would be huge to me. I have been working very hard for this thing and I am determined to win it because he is such a great fighter and such a great, great champion.

Question:  Jose Luis, your fight with Chico is going to be your fourth tough fight in a year. You have wanted this fight since December, but it kept getting pushed back. Was there any thought of possibly just taking a break before taking this fight or did you not mind this busy pace?

Castillo:  No, I am fine with it. The opportunity has come along and I knew this fight was going to be made eventually. It has been talked about so much.So I am ready for it and I am glad it is coming and I am glad I am active and I am glad that I am ready to fight. Hopefully, everything goes well because I am looking forward to fighting again in September.

Question:  Diego, when you lost to Floyd Mayweather, it was attributed to you having difficulty making the 130-pound weight limit. Yet after that fight you stayed in that division for awhile. So did having to make weight have anything to do with that loss?

Corrales:  Yes, the weight actually had something to do with the loss, but all in all, I cannot take anything away from the kid. The kid fought an awesome fight.

Question:  Mayweather is a junior welter right now. If you win this fight, does he head your list of potential opponents who you would like to fight next?

Corrales:  Right now, I have not thought of anything but Castillo and I will not even entertain the idea of anyone else but Castillo. Until May, Castillo is the only thing I will think of. I have not given anybody else any thought.

Question:  Jose Luis, if you move up to 140 after this fight, does Mayweather top your list of opponents you would like to box?

Corrales:  Not necessarily. I think I will fight the first guy that gives me the opportunity to fight. If it is Mayweather, it will be Mayweather.

Question:  Chico, everyone knows that Castillo is a rough fighter. Some people say he fights dirty. What are your thoughts about that and do you anticipate this possibly being the roughest fight and how will you deal with his tactics?

Corrales:  He will be rough. There is no way around that. That is his style and that is what he does, but I have enough firepower to keep him honest or at least semi-honest and we will let the referee do his job and I will do mine. I am not worried about his rough tactics and what can happen in the ring, or cuts or bruises or any of those things. They do not worry me. I will just do my job and let the referee do his.

Question:  Chico, how much of your preparation for Jose Luis is based on Joe Goossen’s experiences in the past versus watching tapes of common opponents such as Mayweather or Casamayor, etc.?

Corrales:  We based it off of everything – all of his good performances, all of his bad performances, all of his recent fights and a little bit of Joe’s recollection and a little bit of mine. That is what we always do. So it is a lot of homework put in by both of us and game plans are long and drawn out. Joe is like a mad scientist. He pulls things apart.

Question:  Chico, was there a difference in the way you felt on the stool in between rounds in the second Casamayor fight having Joe there and knowing he knew Casamayor so well? And again, against Freitas, it seemed like he had a real calming influence on you. Is that a difference between having Joe in your corner?

Corrales:  Joe is very calm. It is a little bit of both. You still have to go out there and take punches, but Joe is a very calming person in the corner. He is relaxed and almost kind of chipper in there, which is kind of hard to be when you are in the corner, especially in the heat of battle. But he kind of finds a way to do it.

End Press Questions. Begin Closing Comments.

Corrales:  Like I said earlier, the time for talk is pretty much over. Time for speculation and questions is almost over. Everybody knows what I am there to do and everybody knows I am prepared. I never show up unprepared. Come hell or high water, I am leaving with both those belts.

Castillo:  I expect a tough fight, but I also expect to win the fight. I expect that once the bell ends, once the fight is over, to have my hand raised. That is all I am thinking about.

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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