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Articles of 2005

Heavyweights Samuel Peter and Taurus Sykes Discuss July 2 Fight

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Explosive Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter, who possesses perhaps the most devastating knockout power in his weight class, will attempt to continue his ascension to the top of the heavyweight ranks when he returns to the network on Saturday, July 2, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (tape delayed on the west coast). Touted by many as the hottest fighter in the division, Peter, the United States Boxing Association/North American Boxing Federation (USBA/NABF) champion, will try to tame “The Bull” when he battles North American Boxing Association (NABA) Heavyweight Champion Taurus Sykes on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING. All three titles will be on the line in the 12-round bout, presented by Duva Boxing from the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada.

Dino Duva: We are really excited about this July 2 event for a number of reasons.  One, we are obviously thankful to SHOWTIME for giving us the support to put this great fight together.  SHOWTIME was the initial supporter for Samuel Peter’s escalation to prime time television and we really are thankful to them to keep this going.  SHOWTIME has had a great string of fights in 2005 and now in July the fans will be treated to the hottest heavyweight in the world, Samuel Peter.  This is his toughest test against the toughest opponent he has ever faced and Taurus Sykes is a very excellent fighter and we expect it to be a great fight.

Sykes:  I am very excited. For this fight, I know I am being underestimated, but it is all good. It has been like this my whole career. Everybody I have fought was supposed to beat me, but I came out on top. I am definitely looking to come out on this fight. I am training hard and doing everything I can possibly do to prepare myself. I know this is not a regular fight; this is a big fight for me.  I understand the magnitude of this fight and I know what it brings as far as going to the next level and fighting bigger and other opponents. Sam Peter is, like I said, just an ordinary fighter. He does not even think when he boxes, he just swings. I will outsmart him and outthink him. I am going to be a slick, crafty boxer. I know that he has never really fought anybody like that. Everybody he has fought is running from him, looking to get a check and leave. I am going to be there in the fight. I am coming to win. I come to fight and that is basically what I am going to do. Anything less than that would be uncivilized for me, especially for where I am coming from and where I am trying to go. I am prepared mentally and physically.  I am waiting for this fight so that I can prove to the world all that hype about Sam Peter is not about that. All he is is a puncher and all he will do is try to come in and swing big and throw low punches. He does not throw any combinations. He does not do anything but throw one big punch at a time. I know what he is going to do.  He is going to come right at me and try to knock me out because of my knockout ratio. He is going to think I cannot punch.  But I am extremely strong for my division and he is going to know that and he is going to see that.

Peter:  On July 2, I will prove to you that I am one of the best heavyweights of all time. I am going to make that statement and I am going to be ready.  I am going to implore you to be my sparring partner.  You think you are smart, but it is not smart.                                                                                                                         

Sykes:  If you think you are going to come in there and just swing and knock me out, you have got another think coming.

Peter:  That is what I am going to do.

Sykes:  I know you have a little fire going on, your name popping and all that, but I guarantee you after this fight, after I beat you, you are going to be exposed.

Peter:  I am going to beat you before I knock you out.  I am going to punish you before I knock you out.

Begin Press Questions. 

Question: Samuel, do you generally dislike Taurus Sykes?

Peter:  I like him. I do not hate anybody. This fight is just business. Everything I am saying is because business is business. I do not hate him.

Question: Samuel, do you expect to knock him out?

Peter:  Yes, definitely.  I am going to do everything to make sure that I put that cat back on the floor.

Sykes:  You are a knockout specialist?  Who are you knocking out?

Peter:  I am a knockout specialist. That is what they call me.

Question: Samuel, how long do you think this fight is going to go?

Peter:  I am just going to punish him, and then knock him out in round four.

Question: Taurus, how do you think the fight will go?

Sykes:  I think it will probably go six rounds or later because he is going to understand who he is in there with and he is going to realize that he cannot hit me with those big bolo punches he is throwing and then he is going to take some power off of that and I am going to step right to him. As soon as I see him breathing hard like he will be doing in the fourth round, I am going to step right to him and I am going to be just overwhelming him. 

Peter:  When I saw you fight in Reno, you looked like a dead man. That is how I will see you – a walking corpse. 

Sykes:  That is what makes this fight so good is because you threatened me. You made it different. 

Peter:  I will step in there, I will punish you and I will knock you out.

Sykes:  Sam is getting all hyped. That is how I am going to take him out of the fight. I am going to bust him down and then I will just walk away with a smile. 

Question: Samuel, other than his height, what does Sykes have over you?

Peter:  Well, his height does not mean anything because I have been fighting a lot of people that are taller than me and I beat them.  So height or size does not matter.

Question: Taurus, how does your four-inch reach advantage play into your strategy in fighting him?

Sykes:  I am going to be jabbing him like the bag I am jabbing in the gym.  I am not going to let him get up arm distance on me, so he can throw those looping power shots. I will be moving and I am going to be slick and I am going to counter him. I am definitely faster than him, stronger than him and my arms are longer than his and I am in tremendous shape.

Question: Do you feel you have the power to stop Peter?

Sykes:  I am sure I will have the power to stop Peter. A boxer can be a slugger any time. I am not worried about him and his power.  I am going to step right to him. I have a chin, defense and I have a jab.  I am very confident in what I am going to do.

Question: Taurus, do you plan to set the pace?

Sykes:  I am definitely going to set the pace and dictate this fight. I am going to let him swing and punch whenever I want him to. You all are going to see a different Peter.

Question: Samuel, will you be able to stay with a boxer who is looking to box instead of staying on the outside and jab and stay away from your power?

Peter:  He is not going anywhere because the corner will be behind him, so I will get him. He will never be able to do anything because the four corners will be behind him.

Question: Samuel, do you think the altitude in Reno will create any problems?

Peter:  No. I am from Africa.  When I went to the Olympics, I went to Australia.  It was so cold. I went there and I won my fight.  I went to Belgium and it was so cold.  It is hot in Nigeria.  None of that will bother me because when I go into the ring, I am going to do exactly what I am going to do and the victory will be mine.

Question: Taurus, do you think the altitude in Reno is something you have to concern yourself with?

Sykes:  No, not at all.  I have fought there before.  I fought there two or three fights ago and I did not have any problems with the altitude.  So I am not worrying about that either.

Question: Samuel, are you going on a missionary with Mike Tyson. If so, where and when would you like this to happen?

Peter:  I always like to do my stuff.  Anything I want to do, I do by myself.  If Mike has it in his mind to help people, he can go ahead and do whatever he wants to do to help people.  But when the time comes, I am on my way. I will help my people and I will help everybody in the whole world when everything is right.

Duva: Samuel has been telling me for some time now that he wanted to do some humanitarian work in Africa in his homeland to try to help people over there.  The reason we put that thing (release) out the other day, as far as Samuel reaching out to Iron Mike, is because Mike said after he retired that he would like to do some missionary work.  So we took him on face value and we thought it would be a good idea to reach out to him and ask him if he wanted to join him in doing it.  Samuel is going to do that on his own regardless of what Mike wants to do.  If Mike wants to join him and help him, that would be tremendous.  As far as a time frame, it really depends on when the right time is.  It could be maybe later this year or in between a certain two fights. We are not sure yet. We have to still look at the time frame and see when it makes the most sense.  But Samuel will be doing that at some point as soon as it makes sense from a timing standpoint. One more thing:  Samuel, eventually, if and when he realizes his dream of being heavyweight champion of the world, wants to bring a heavyweight title fight  to Africa. That is his dream.  Hopefully, someday he will be able to realize that.  We will do everything we can to make that happen, but at the same time, there is only one thing that is on Samuel’s mind right now and that is July 2, Taurus Sykes. 

Question: What is the significance of this fight to the heavyweight division?

Peter:  I do not play games when I go to the ring. So I take my time, I am going to use my time. I am very fast, quick and nice. I am the next heavyweight champion of the world and there is no doubt about it.

Sykes:  It is not even about the division.  This is about me and me feeding my family first and foremost and then whatever happens after that is what happens. But I am an entertainer as well and you are going to see that. I am just going to do my thing. I am thinking about Samuel Peter and I take one fight at a time. I am not trying to be any legend or none of that.

Peter:  Well, I am not thinking about you right now. I am going shopping.

Sykes:  Good.  Do not think about me, but I guarantee you that your life is going to change after I beat you because you are going to see all those people that are talking for you right now are not going to be with you because you will be exposed.

Peter:  Nobody talks for me. I talk for myself and I stand up for myself.

Sykes:  And after I beat you, they are going to do what they did to all those other African heavyweights.

Peter:  You will never see the light beating Samuel Peter.  You are a dreamer.

Sykes:  They are going to send you right back to Africa because they are not going to need you anymore.  Just like they had those other Africans that they had high expectations about. Ask them where are they at.  The minute you lose, you are out and they are going on to the next African.

Peter:  I am telling you, you will never, ever see that light.  You will never see that light.

Sykes:  Anybody can lose.  Any man can be broken.

Peter:  Well, I am not like you.

Sykes:  Oh, you are invincible, OK. That only further lets me know that you are going to be real hurt when they flip on you – your so-called managers and promoters. Once I beat you, I am going to pull the covers off of you and then your next fight is going to be so hard and as soon as you lose two fights back to back you will be back in Nigeria working.

Peter:  You just made me mad.  I am just telling you because you will never see the light.

Question: Taurus, we are not expecting you to go toe-to-toe with Peter. What can we expect? 

Sykes:  You can expect me to knock him out because I was told I could get a bonus if I knock this clown out and that is what I am trying to do so I can get extra money.  I am definitely going to box him and I guarantee you, when he feels my power, he is going to fight different.  I know he does not think I have any power.  But I guarantee you that he is going to have a newfound respect for me.  You are going to see him hugging me after he feels my power.

Peter:  His punch will never move me.  Question: Taurus, what is your prediction?

Sykes:  My prediction is I am going to win.  I know I am going to win, but it is how I am going to win and I cannot really predict that. I can predict that as the fight goes on when I see him breathing all hard and taking deep breaths and all that and when he sees he cannot hit me with the jab.  This fight is going to be so easy and I am going to show the world it is so easy.

Begin Closing Comments.

Peter:  No doubt about it, the victory is mine because of the almighty God.

Sykes:  Oh, you think God is the only one that loves you? You are always saying the almighty God and this and that. Do you think you are the only one that loves God?  I go to church too, but I do not have to show or tell you that.

Peter:  I do not know what you are talking about. I have to pray with my God because we need prayers all the time.

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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