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Articles of 2005

Rahman-Barrett Fight Predictions

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Saturday’s fight for the WBC Interim Heavyweight Title has many people shaking their heads – and not because of Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett, the evening’s main eventers, but because of the Machiavellian backroom-ism that led to the fight in the first place. But Rahman and Barrett are bona fide heavyweight contenders, and the winner has been promised a shot at Vitali Klitschko. But first we have to get past this weekend’s clash in Chicago. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Rahman-Barrett.

This is a big fight, so why aren't people excited? This is the former heavyweight champ of the world versus the former WBC Continental Americas champion (what?). For some reason, I can't see either fighter winning, so I'll go with the guy I'm rooting for: Monte Barrett, who has a ton of heart but for some reason I think will get stopped in a tough fight late, maybe the 10th round. I see this being a slugfest that begins slowly, picks up steam by the fourth round and ends with the referee stepping in. Rahman and Barrett both taste the canvas and Rahman wins a thriller similar to his victory against Cory Sanders. Rahman by 10th round TKO.
Mitch Abramson

I like Rahman's size. Give Monte Barrett credit because he has a lot of heart. And he can hurt you. But overall, Rahman is too big. I like Rahman by 8th-round knockout.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy

I'm going with Barrett because I think Rahman is looking past him. The Rock is often too inconsistent. I think this will be one of those times. Barrett by unanimous decision.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

Both guys sound extremely confident and ready for this fight, but Rahman is the more dangerous of the two fighters. If he comes in under 238 pounds, it's a good sign he's taking this fight and Barrett seriously. If he's 245 or more, bet the house payment on Monte. I'm picking Rahman by TKO inside 10.
Rick Folstad

Monte Barrett is tough, hungry, prepared and has decent skills. Two of those adjectives have often been nowhere to be seen as far as Hasim Rahman goes, but by today’s standards in the heavyweight division Hasim Rahman has some tools – power and possibly the best jab in the division, when he chooses to use it. An in-shape Hasim Rahman is superior to Monte Barrett, and the Rock has been in shape over the last year. I'll assume that will be the case Saturday night. Rahman by decision.
Chris Gielty

Rahman may be as complete a heavyweight as there is. He's got a full arsenal that includes a major-league jab and heavyweight power. Barrett continues to improve, but his best will fall a bit short. Rahman by decision, then bring on Vitali Klitschko.
Randy Gordon

Hasim Rahman, unanimous decision. Rahman's ring generalship should carry him to victory. Monte Barrett is no pushover, but Rahman is too big and too experienced on the big stage. Look for Rahman's jab to control the fight.
Tim Graham

Hasim Rahman comes into an arena in one of two states: (1) overweight and unmotivated or (2) fit and sharp. Lately it’s been the latter. Rahman at around 230 is a powerful hunter who operates behind a punishing and accurate left jab. His jab, reminiscent of a peak Sonny Liston’s primary weapon, can befuddle an opponent and reduce his will. The other, fatter version of Rahman reduces him to a very ordinary heavyweight fighter. If there is one glaring weakness of Rahman – even in his best form – it’s his chin. It has let him down against David Tua (though in disputed fashion), Oleg Maskaev, and Lennox Lewis. Monte Barrett is always fit and makes the most of his abilities. He’s riding high with wins over fringe contenders Dominick Guinn and Owen Beck. He also fought well while losing against former contender Joe Mesi. His one major loss, a blowout against Wladimir Klitschko, may be the most telling about what we may expect in his match with Rahman. He couldn’t punch hard enough to unhinge the big man and he couldn’t really get past Klitschko’s jab (or anything else). Assuming Rahman is motivated for this one, he will crack his jab into Barrett’s face early and often. Look for Barrett to fade badly around round five. Look for a stoppage shortly thereafter. Rahman by KO in 7.
JE Grant

Tough fight for Rahman who has his sights set on fighting Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title but instead must settle for a smaller payday versus Barrett and an interim title. The Rock was hyperactive in 2004 fighting five times and winning four by KO in going undefeated. That helped keep his weight down – he was 257 in April and 232 against Meehan in his last fight in November – but now it has been eight months since his last bout. Still, Rahman possesses one of the best jabs in the division and sets up his hammering right hand with it. I doubt Barrett has the power to keep Rahman away for too long, although he does jab and move well. Still, there are times in every fight that Barrett stands and trades and that is where he loses this fight. A potentially boring fight early gets exciting as Rahman wears Barrett down and stops him late.
Joey Knish

I think the 2-1 underdog Barrett will decision Rahman.  Every time I put my faith into Rahman, he lets me down. He blew it in rematches with Lewis and Tua, against a faded Holyfield, and almost against Al Cole of all people! After he sleep-walked through that 47-minute nightmare against Ruiz, I vowed “Never again!” The Rahman that pummeled a defenseless Kali Meehan was a beast, but I can no longer assume that guy will show up when it matters most. Barrett, on the other hand, is good in the clutch. He has the skills, maturity and resolve to continue his impressive run.
Zachary Levin

Rahman supposedly will weigh in at 235 pounds or less, which shows that he's taking this fight seriously. However, I'm not sure that I've ever encountered a hungrier fighter than Monte Barrett. Plus, the man has skills. I'm looking for Rahman to come on strong and hurt Barrett early. However, “Two Gunz” will weather the storm and win a split decision in an entertaining fight.
Marc Lichtenfeld

I actually back this fight to be pretty entertaining viewing. Barrett makes a fight out of every contest and is hungry, confident and willing, whilst Rahman is probably the greatest enigma in the division but does, so we are promised, have the tools and focus to be a major force. I'm not convinced. Is he the powerful, incisive heavyweight with the ram-rod jab and howitzer right he claims to be or is he the under-motivated, overrated, immobile lump who once landed a lottery shot? Well, there is plenty of evidence for the latter. The Lewis victory lives long in the in the memory because of its significance, but this is a guy being beaten up by an fossilized Evander Holyfield, a fighter outscored by the mundane John Ruiz, and a fighter so out-of-shape he couldn't outpoint the worst version of David Tua. In short, it wouldn't take much to argue that Hasim Rahman's consensus status as the number one contender on the back of victories over opponents that would make Audley Harrison's matchmaker blush is as valid as Tommy Hearns comeback. But, nauseas from the extra helpings of mediocrity we've endured since Big Lennox swapped controlled violence for Violet control we'll try to suspend reality, ignore the facts and cling to the hope that Rahman's lottery shot in South Africa was something more permanent. That the noisey 32-year-old can actually save the division, heck maybe even unify it? Have things got that bad? Oh for a Joe Frazier to sort these chumps out. In the meantime, these two are probably matched well enough and have enough at stake to create a decent rumble. I fancy Barrett will try and start fast, get Rahman's respect and force him to fight at a quicker pace. Rahman's had it his own way in recent bouts, whilst Barrett's been the underdog against prospects so could be sharper early on. I hear Rahman looks in good nick and has waited a long time for action. Whether his mindset is right given the Klitschko cancellations won’t be evident until the bell rings. But he's more experienced at this level and that has to count. But I still can’t get away from Barrett's form, confidence and hunger. He wants this bad, has had to get here the hard way and will give everything, and I'm not sure how mentally prepared Rahman is for a fighter who won’t go away. He couldn't shrug Ruiz off and he let Holyfield bully him too. This is tighter than the bookies have it, but I'll go with their instinct. Rahman UD12
David Payne

If you had the Palomar Telescope, you still couldn't find my interest in this fight. It's hardly a matchup that's had me breathless – let alone willing shell-out for PPV. Back-in-the-day, this would've been a routine Friday night main-go at the Old Garden, with nothing more at stake than bragging rights – certainly not for a title – interim or otherwise. Just two “good boys mixin' it up.” Think Corrales-Castillo and Arce-Hussein, as a double bill, on Oct 8; that's a PPV event. Pushed to the wall for a prediction: Barrett's hand-speed is the difference over 12 rounds, in a fight that doesn't electrify the boxing world, signify a new marquee name, or inject desperately-needed life in a division fast going MIA.
Joe Rein

Monte Barrett is the hungrier fighter who's beaten better competition than Rahman, who's only beaten tomato cans who don't even rank on the bum-of-the-month club. This fight is yet another sad display of the continuous decline of the heavyweight division. Barrett by decision, look for Rahman to fade away.
Benn Schulberg

It is a shame that this fight is on pay-per-view and has the foul stench of WBC bureaucracy. One look at Barrett/Beck or Rahman/Meehan indicates this fight will be a slugfest. That still does not mean anyone should have to pay $39.95 to watch it. My two predictions for the fight are that the highest number of pay-per-view buys come out of the Washington/Baltimore area, Rahman’s hometown, and that he scores a 6th round knockout. When “The Rock” is in shape, he is one of the most dangerous fighters in the game.
Aaron Tallent

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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