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Articles of 2005

Winky Wright Career Facts



First Undisputed 154-Pound World Champion in 29 Years
Born Nov. 26, 1971, in Washington, D.C., now living in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Height: 5’ 10½”  Weight:  Middleweight (160)
Record: 48-3, 25 KOs

On July 30, 1992, Ronald Wright, an undefeated  junior middleweight out of St. Petersburg, Florida, knocked out one Carlos Santana in the second round of a scheduled eight-rounder at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in nearby Tampa. For that, his 16th victory, he earned $800, which was $200 short of his largest purse. The ring announcer called him Winky Wright.

Five months and three days later, after several months of negotiations with the Don Kings of France, the Acaries brothers, Michel and Louis, Wright knocked out one Darryl Lattimore in one round in Differdange, Luxembourg. Little changed. Wright was still undefeated and underpaid. Sure, the language was different. The pay was in francs, but they still only added up to a couple of thousand dollars. And the ring announcer called him Roland, a first name that would stick for the all-world junior middleweight champion’s International Period, a 5 1/2-year span of 20 fights in seven countries and three continents.

The bridge from Tampa to Europe for Wright was erected by Dan Birmingham, who, except for a street fight with another teenager in Youngstown, Ohio, might never have wound up in St. Pete teaching young men how to throw and block a hook. “All I will say about that fight,” said Birmingham, “is that I did not win it. I decided if I was going to fight, I had better learn how.”

After moving to Florida in 1977 to operate a construction business, Birmingham opened his now famous gym in St. Petersburg, a higher institution of milling that, besides Wright, has produced Jeff Lacy, the undefeated IBF super middleweight champion. Wright walked into Birmingham’s gym when he was 16; he’s never left.

Birmingham’s method of training is simple: it’s hands on, no-frills, discipline and execution.  “I’m not some rah-rah guy looking for the spotlight. When they walk in the door for the first time I tell them what I will do and what I expect, and that is what they get. No sugar coating, no empty promises.”

After Wright had knocked out Santana for his 16th victory, Birmingham knew he had an undefeated slick 5' 10 1/2″ tall southpaw that was flying under every major promoter’s radar screen. He called Don King. He called Bob Arum. He called Lou Duva. He called every major player he could think of. He called all of them twice, some of them three and four times. Nobody called him back. Then he got lucky.

He called Art Mayorga, who had trained him as an amateur back in Ohio. Mayorga said he knew some people in France and would he and Wink consider talking with them. A few weeks later, Wright and Birmingham were on a plane to France to meet with the Arcaries brothers. A deal was struck; for his European debut, Wright would exchange the warm climate of Florida for the cold wintery season of Luxembourg.

The first trip was a bitterly frigid nightmare. Birmingham and Wright flew to France, then rode a hard-benched train for six hours to Luxembourg. From there, it was another hour by car through the mountains in a snow storm to reach their lodgings in Differdange. Their rooms were inexpensive and Spartan. That’s where they spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve. A few days before the Lattimore fight, Wright came down with the flu.

The late Arye Fain, who had signed on as Wright’s agent, suggested a remembered remedy of honey and onions.

“You take a whole cup of honey and a whole onion and you leave the onion in the honey for a whole day,” said Birmingham. “An hour before the fight you remove the onion and drink all of the honey. I’ll tell you, it really works. It only lasts for an hour or an hour and a half, but while it is working, it dries up and makes you feel great.”

Wright dropped Lattimore three times, stopped him in the first round. It was better than onions and honey.

Still fighting six- and eight-rounders, Wright went on a tear, ripping off eight straight victories in places like Levallois, France; Philipshalle, Dusseldorf, Germany; and a sporting club in Monte Carlo; with a brief stop (KO 1) in Punta Gorda, Florida. He was undefeated in 25 fights; his highest purse had been $5,000. There still were no calls from King, Arum or Duva.

Looking back, Wright has to laugh. “I was fighting in places I had never heard of; that I could not even pronounce.”

Then the Acaries brothers offered him $50,000 to fight WBA super welterweight champion Julio Cesar Vasquez on Aug. 21, 1994, in another place Wright could not pronounce, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France. The undefeated Wright had yet to fight a main event, had not gone more than eight rounds, and that far only twice.  He had never even been in a scheduled 10-rounder. Vasquez was 50-1 and had fought just five less championship rounds (74) than Wright had fought in his whole career. “Where do we sign?” asked Wright.

“In France they do not have screens for the windows,” said Birmingham. “It was hot and the mosquitoes feasted on Winky. The food was bad; the training facility was terrible. I kept wondering what else could go wrong.”

Vasquez knocked Winky down in the second, seventh, ninth and twice in the last round, or so claimed Enzo Montero, one of the WBA’s more-favored referees.

“The first three were slips,” said Birmingham. “Winky was wearing new shoes and he was slipping all over the place.”

“The first knockdown in the last round was legitimate,” added Wright. “He caught me good. The last knockdown was a push; I was so tired my daughter could have pushed me down.”

Despite the controversial knockdowns, Vasquez won by just three points on one card (Marcial Vargas 113-110), by four on one (Ove Ovesen 114-110) and by five on the third (Marcos A. Torres 115-110).

Undaunted, Wright went back into some of boxing’s more unheralded trenches: Tucuman, Argentina; Beziers, France; thrice to Levallois, France; St. Jean de Luz, France; Le Cannet, France. with brief appearances in the States in Inglewood and Norfolk. All were victories, raising his record to 34-1.

His 35th fight, against Andrew Council in Norfolk in March of 1996, was on the USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights. Six months earlier, Council had gained prominence with a decisive victory over former WBC welterweight champion Buddy McGirt. That was McGirt, this was Wright; Council (25-3-3) had no chance; Wright barely broke a sweat as he swept all three cards 118-109, 116-111, 116-112 in his second defense of the NABF super welterweight title. (His first two North American Boxing Federation championship happened in France. He took the title from Tony Marshall in February of 1995 in Beziers, and defended it against Anthony Ivory three months later in Levallois, a mere three metro stops from Paris.)

The door that Wright had been banging on for so long opened slightly for him after the Council fight. April of 1996 found him in Monroe, Michigan, the hometown of newly crowned WBO junior middleweight champion Bronco McKart, where he picked up $50,000 and McKart’s title with a split decision in an ESPN Friday Night Fights telecast.

“Well, at least I could pronounce Monroe,” Wright joked.

King, Arum and Duva failed to return calls. The Acaries brothers switched Wright’s base of operations to England, where he earned a small but welcome fortune defending his WBO title against a trio of Brits – Ensley Bingham (Manchester,W12), Steve Foster (Manchester,TKO6) and Adrian Dodson (London.TKO6). For the three fights, he made approximately $300,000, which was about what most American champions were taking down as expense money.

With his contract with the Acaries running out, Wright agreed to defend his title against South African Harry Simon for $300,000 at the Carousel Casino in Hammanskraal, South Africa in August of 1998.

“Do they have mosquitoes in South Africa?” Wright asked Birmingham.

“They have screens,” responded the trainer.

“How do you pronounce this place?” asked Wright.

“South Africa,” said the trainer.

They both laughed.

South Africa to the WBO is what the government calls a “Favored Nation.” It is a natural phenomenon of the place, like the Kapama Private Game Preserve and the Vrdefort Dome, that controversial decisions never go to the guy with a passport in his back pocket. Now when Wright fought him, Simon, a Nambian by birth, was 16 and 0, if you want to count the victories over such folks as Kasi Kaihau and Petros Twala and Thabiso Diamini and Tandi Boyane. Wright was only Simon’s second 10-round (plus) bout. In his first, he knocked out someone named Kasi Kaihau in Sheffield, England.

No matter. When it was over, and Wright had played professor to Simon’s unwilling student, the three WBO judges decided that it was a majority draw, which meant that Wright had retained his title. A few minutes later, while Wright was sitting in his dressing room unwrapping his hands, an official came in to tell him that there had been an error in the scoring, he had lost by a majority decision.


Then they released the new scoring: Aubrey Erasmus 117-113 for Simon. Julie Lederman 115-113 for Simon. Manuel Oliver Palomo 114-114. No one explained how there had to be at least a three-point swing in one of the judge’s scoring to change the decision.

There is an old South African proverb: “The three-toed blue-horned frog watches cautiously from the lily pad.”

His contract with the Acaries expired, Wright returned home, to St. Petersburg, where he lives with his high school sweetheart, Tammye Ryan, and their two children, Raven, 12, and Roemello, 9. When not training, he plays golf (shoots in the 90s, but has dipped into the high 80s), bowls (a 180 average) and plays basketball in all the charity tournaments in Florida.

“We were not unhappy with the Acaries,” Birmingham said. “Far from it. They did everything they said they would do and more. Winky was just tired of all the travel. They understood and wished us well. In fact, I speak with them even today.”

Once resettled, Wright began Phase Three of his career, “Winky Does the United States.”

He opened by knocking out Derrick Graham in three in Miami in March of 1999. In December of that year, he stepped out of character and went toe-to-toe with ferocious Fernando Vargas, the undefeated IBF junior middleweight champion, only to be saddled with another controversial loss by majority decision. One judge scored it a draw, the other two leaned to Vargas, though the media and fans at ringside thought Winky had won.

Undaunted – “People keep waiting for me go away; it ain’t gonna happen” – Wright scored his second decision over McKart for the NABF and USBA titles. Three months later, he successfully defended his USBA title, this time against former world champion Keith Mullings.

When Felix Trinidad moved up to middleweight, he left an opening at the top of the IBF junior middleweight division. Wright, the mandatory challenger, stepped in and filled the void in October of 2001 by scoring a unanimous decision over highly regarded Robert Frazier. The judges said it was no contest. Pat Russell scored it 119-108. Judge Jose Cobian scored it 119-108. Judge Lou Moret thought Wright pitched a shutout 120-107.

In his first defense, Wright stopped Jason Papillion in the 5th round. That out of the way, he then turned to his old friend and mandatory challenger, Bronco McKart, for a second rematch, this one for the championship.

They fought on Sept 7, 2002 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. On his way to his third loss to Wright, McKart’s frustration boiled over. After referee Michael Fischer had penalized him five points for low blows, he was disqualified in the 8th round. “One more low blow and I would have auditioned for The Sopranos,” cracked Wright at the post-fight press conference.

After all the years of fighting in places like Lincoln City, Nebraska and Beziers, France, the lights of Las Vegas finally blinked welcome to Winky Wright. In his Vegas debut, he was a little tight in scoring a decision over Juan Carlos Candelo. That was in March of 2003. When he signed to fight Angel Hernandez in Vegas eight months later, he promised a better performance. “This time I will be a little bit more adapted and give the fans more of what they like,” Wright said at the signing. “The first time it was awkward.”

Hernandez was a blowout: Judge Valerie Dorsett scored it 119-109. Judge Adalaide Byrd scored it 118-110. Judge Chuck Giampa had it 117-111 for Winky Wright.

Then to Wright’s astonishment and delight, up stepped Sugar Shane Mosley, whose management problems kept him out in the cold much of his early career. Mosley owned two victories over Oscar De La Hoya, but was having trouble nailing down a big money fight. With a $10 million dollar fight with Trinidad in the wings, Mosley offered a junior middleweight unification fight to Wright.

He did not want another fight with De La Hoya. He also liked that Wright agreed to take only $750,000 out of the purse. That left $2.1 million for Mosley. Using a jab honed in faraway places, Wright stayed on top of the bemused champion all night, never allowing him to use his speed. Mosley rallied in a furious final three minute burst, but it was too little, too late against a guy who had found the brass ring and was not going to let go. Wright won 117-111 on two cards, 116-112 on the third, becoming the division's first undisputed champion in 29 years, and the first man to ever hold all three major belts simultaneously.

“I’ve chased the big guys my whole career. Shane is the only one who would step up. We will do this again,” Wright said. “Just show me the money.”

They showed him $1.6 million and he said “yes.” They did it again on November 11, 2004. It was a better fight, with Mosley spurred by the memory of that first loss. As in many of the really good fights, the last round – one that truly ebbed and flowed – decided it. One judge called it a draw. Two others scored it for Wright, 115-113.

Later that night, an exhausted Wright said: “If it wasn’t for Shane, I’d still be fighting on ESPN, probably in West Virginia somewhere.”

Articles of 2005

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



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

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




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



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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