Connect with us

Articles of 2005

Klitschko-Peter Fight Predictions



The heavyweight division gets some serious shaking up this weekend when Wladimir Klitschko meets Samuel Peter in Atlantic City. Although certainty is a fool's game in the best of times, and flimflam in the worst, it looks like someone's gonna fall Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall and on HBO. Does Dr. Klitschko take Peter to school? Or is time for Sam the Man to graduate? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.

It's easy to dismiss Klitschko as a weak-chinned, heartless fighter, someone who bullies weaker fighters and falters at the first sign of adversity, so I'm going to do what's easy and take Peter by third round KO and continue to beat the drums that younger brother was one of the most over-hyped fighters in recent memory. I think his fight with Sanders ruined him as an athlete, and not that I'm a huge fan of Peter, but he hits too hard for this to be a competitive match.
Mitch Abramson

Based on experience, physical advantages and pure ability, the edge on paper would have to go to Klitschko. He is an accomplished boxer who has the tools to completely befuddle the still-green Peter. But it's hard to ignore Wladimir's two crushing losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. In the Sanders fight, Klitschko was ambushed. In the Brewster fight, he was outlasted. Either way, Klitschko appears to have neither the chin, the toughness, or the mental fortitude of a legitimate threat. It's not clear exactly when Peter will win, but it will be the “Nightmare” by knockout – whether it's early devastation or systematic deterioration.
Matt Aguilar

I'm going to pick Peter in a TKO by the seventh round or earlier. I think that Emanuel Steward, who I have great admiration and respect for, has gone the wrong route, Klitschko should be fighting guys who aren't big punchers.
Irish Bobby Cassidy

I'm picking Klitschko. I visited his training camp and I think he has it all together – his mind, his body. I think he's going to control the fight with his jab and then stop Peter in the 10th round.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

It's a wonderful little game we play when underestimating a Klitschko. Wladimir could be discounted for not being an aggressive knuckle flinger, but he's dangerous enough with a jab that sets up his devastating right hand. Unfortunately, it's about the time you invest yourself in a Klitschko – one that hasn't been out of the ring for what seems like ages – that you find yourself wondering what made you think you had him pegged. The hype surrounding Samuel Peter will prevail in the form of a TKO in the latter rounds.
Jesse K. Cox

Peter sounds like the second coming of Mike Tyson, but he still hasn't beaten a top contender. Though considered by many to be the underdog, Klitschko still has pop in his punch and more experience than Peter. Going with the upset. Klitschko by knockout in eight.
Rick Folstad

I can't help thinking Klitschko vs. Peter bears similarities to Lennox Lewis vs. Andrew Golota … Emanuel Steward training a fighter who is at a career crossroads decides to put his charge in against a hard-punching heavyweight on the rise – one who not many other heavyweights are keen to face. Hard to believe now, but after effectively ending Riddick Bowe's career (whilst losing twice!) not many heavyweights were lining up to face Andrew Golota way back when. Steward insisted that Lewis needed to make a statement stateside and eventually got his way, and the rest is history. It looks like a similarly high-risk, high-reward strategy is in play here. However, Wladimir Klitschko is no Lennox Lewis, and I suspect Samuel Peter is more dangerous than Andrew Golota ever was – largely because Peter's psyche has not been cobbled together with a deck of playing cards, as was the case with the Foul Pole. Though Peter has appeared unrefined and plodding at times, I suspect that Wladimir Klitschko will not be able to withstand the pressure the Nigerian Nightmare will apply. Look for Klitschko – he undoubtedly has some tools – to control the action early behind the jab and some effective power punching, but the huge Ukrainian will inevitably begin to tire and Peter will get to him. The days of opponents fighting scared against Wladimir Klitschko – think Jameel McCline – are long gone. Behind steady pressure, Peter eventually gets to Klitschko. Peter by TKO 7
Chris Gielty

How many out there remember Mac Foster, who faced Jerry Quarry back some 35 years ago? Foster was something like 24-0, winning all by KO. He was expected by most to make it 25-0 by pounding JQ. It didn't happen. In fact, the only pounding was dished out by Quarry. I know that the younger Klitschko doesn't have JQ's whiskers, but he is a terrific offensive fighter with a monsterous, Category 4 (see Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) jab. Plus, like Mac Foster, Peter – who may be a contemporary Mike Tyson –  has fought “record builders” in lieu of facing quality opponents. Certainly, Klitschko is by far and away the best fighter Peter has ever faced. Most of Peter's opponents have not been able to withstand his early, all-out assaults. I believe Klitschko can. It is for that reason I see Wlad – employing newly-added stamina – wearing Peter down rather quickly with an assortment of punches, tools and tricks and handing him his first loss. Klitschko in five.
Randy Gordon

Samuel Peter, KO-8. These are two flawed heavyweights, but Peter's relentlessness will conclude with a fight-ending haymaker.
Tim Graham

It can never be said that Wladimir Klitschko is taking the safe route to redemption. In facing the young bull, power-hitting Samuel Peter, he is attempting a complete image repair in one fell swoop. For his part, Peter is also making a giant leap into the great unknown. Perhaps the main motivation for the bout for both is the fact that neither fighter is in the promotional stable of Don King. That means that for either to get a shot at any of the numerous alphabet belts their name must appear as a “mandatory” defense. They won’t be anyone’s optional defense, ever. Klitschko still brings significant skills, speed and power into the ring. While no one doubts any of his athletic ability, it’s the one necessary heavyweight attribute he may be missing that gives this fight its allure – his chin. Peter, the relative neophyte, brings, if nothing else, an ability and willingness to punch hard and with abandon. It’s assumed by many that if one of his wide mega-punches clips Klitschko on the chin it will be Corrie Sanders revisited. On this night, however, despite being a very exciting prospect of undeniable energy and strength, his lack of polish and diversity of attack will relegate him to a being a willing but unsuccessful youngster who will return another day better for the lessons he will take away from this fight. Klitschko will establish his jab early and continuously pull Peter out of position and land hard counters. Peter will give it his all but will wind up exhausted and without answers to the many puzzles Klitschko will present. Klitschko by KO in 9.
JE Grant

Much as I'd like to say “the bigger they are, the harder fall,” Wlad will probably gain a win by unanimous decision. If prepared and conditioned, he's too big and too much experience wise for Samuel Peter. If we see the Wlad that fought Corrie Sanders or Lamon Brewster, the “Nigerian Nightmare” will have a happy ending.
Amy Green

I can't see Klitschko lasting more than 4 or 5 rounds. Frankly, I will be amazed if he gets out of round one, let alone round two. I think Peter knows full well he needs to close off Klitschko, walk him down and punish, first the body and chop at the head. Just let those bombs fly and Peter is going to hit serious pay dirt. Can Klitschko fight a rugged affair? I doubt it. He's going to get clocked. And I suspect Emanuel Steward knows it too!
Patrick Kehoe

Last I checked, Mad Wlad and his team never did figure out why his body gave out against Brewster (as it had against Ross Puritty years ago) and how DaVarryl Williamson was able to hit him so often. He certainly can win this fight by staying outside and using his jab and right to keep the Nigerian Peter off him. The question is: Can he do it for 12 rounds or until Peter goes down? The answer is “no.” Samuel Peter is no great fighter, but he does pack a heavy punch and looks built to take a licking and keep on hitting. He has big legs and a shock absorber neck suggesting he can withstand Klitschko’s shots long enough to land one of his own to end the bout. I think Wlad will look good for the early rounds and then start to fade, to the point where he is dropped and stopped once more.
Joey Knish

I've been see-sawing on this fight. But, no matter which fighter I'm partial to on a given day, I never feel too confident about my pick – that's how it goes with great matchups. I love that both fighters possess such promise … yet have big question marks looming over their heads. What has swayed me towards Klitschko was Fox Sports Net's most recent installment of “Nothing But Knockouts.” Last Sunday's show had a young Lance Whitaker – before he went Goofi on us – facing journeyman Thomas Williams in 2000. Whitaker was 19-1 (16 KOs) at the time. His sole loss was a split decision to a vastly more experienced Lou Savarese. Whitaker had beaten B-level guys like Alex Stewart and an undefeated Monte Barrett. After he dispatched Thomas Williams in two rounds with a crushing right hand, he went on to stop an undefeated Robert Davis and Oleg Maskaev – also in two rounds apiece. Then like so many prospect/contenders of the last several years, he proved to be The Next Big Bust. My point: With all of his great attributes of size, heavy hands and decent skills, Mount Whitaker looked every bit the future champ we hope Sam Peter to be. He had the boxing industry and fans salivating over him, the same way many are doing over Peter now (actually, Peter is being marketed better). How soon we forget: Andrew Golota, Michael Grant, David Tua, Ike Ibeabuchi, Kirk Johnson, Dominic Guinn: All heartbreakers, all busts, all hyped at one time or another by HBO Boxing and resident pundits Merchant & Lampley. I would suggest that Peter is just the next behemoth in a long line of disappointments, a humble offering to the desperate masses searching for a heavyweight to believe in.  Those of us who see greatness this early in the raw Nigerian are wearing the boxing equivalent of beer goggles. Like the young Whitaker, he has beaten a few B-level guys, he has displayed good power.  And that's all we have thus far. Does he have stamina?  How does he handle adversity?  Can he punch upwards (Wlad. is a good five inches taller)?  Can he take a punch?  Don't tell me he looks like he can – Bruce Seldon had a thick neck too. Wladimir Klitschko, on the other hand, has answered some questions for us that Peter has not.  Some of them have been the wrong answer.  All this has been well-documented.  Assuming (and I'm putting extra emphasis on that word) Manny Steward can put Humpty Dumpty back together again – at least apply enough enough Crazy Glue to his cracks to get him through this challenge – then we should not forget what an awesome offensive weapon he has been on occasion. When he uses it, he has the best jab in the division, perhaps the heaviest right hand; he throws punches straight down the pike. I don't believe he will punch himself out as he did against Lamon Brewster, or if he does, he won't fade as early. So I expect Wlad to punish an in-rushing Peter – who will learn that skills pay the bills, not brute strength – and turn his face into hamburger by round five. I see Peter's corner throwing in the towel by the mid rounds, and preserving his chance to overcome this loss down the road.
Zachary Levin

On paper Samuel Peter wins this fight by KO. But the bout will be fought in the ring and not on paper. I don't believe Wlad is as bad as many people think and I suspect that Peter isn't quite as good as many people think. We know that Peter can bang and if he taps Klitschko on the chin it's over. However, I'm going with Klitschko here. Wlad and his brother are smart, tough men who still feel they have a lot to prove. This is basically Wlad's last chance. I think he guts it out, gives a gritty performance and stops Peter late.  Don't forget, Klitschko can hit like a ton of bricks as well and we've never seen Peter's chin get tested.
Marc Lichtenfeld

This is one of those heavyweight bouts that hopefully will give the division a much needed shake and stir. Both fighters need to prove they belong and both can bang so this should be interesting for the short period of time it lasts. While Klitschko has the big-fight experience, history normally repeats itself and since he's folded in the past, my feeling is he'll fold again. Peter is young, strong and most importantly doesn't know what it's like to lose. Sure he's raw but once Klitschko tastes the “Peter Power,” the fight is over. Peter will follow Klitschko around the ring for a couple of rounds and once the fight settles into it's natural rhythm, the bells will toll for Klitschko and he'll end up stumbling around the ring wishing he was back in med school. “Peter Power” in four via bludgeoning.
Scott Mallon

Both guys are as talented as they are likeable. Considering Klitschko's suspect chin, it is easy to see him getting destroyed by Peter. But I have a feeling a highly motivated but still cautious Klitschko, working behind his pulverizing jab, will wear Peter down in much the same fashion he wore Jameel McCline down. Klitschko TKO 7.
Bob Mladinich

I love Klitschko in this fight. People forget how well Klitschko can box, how fluid he can be, how much range and variety he has and how much more athletic than his older brother he can be. Though I seem to disagree with Emanuel Steward instinctively, I have to agree with him on this one. Peter is based on ten months of hype amongst fans and writers desperate to unearth a Tyson-like savior for a derelict division. But the gulf between Tyson and Peter is too large to measure or describe, but I believe the big Nigerian's limitations will be ably highlighted this weekend. And, ironically, the guy highlighting those shortcomings may yet emerge, belatedly, as the closest thing the division has to a savior. Remember, at 29 Klitschko is still younger than those bracketed as the “next generation” of heavyweights – Harrison, Brock, Valuev, Guinn, Ibragimov et al. Klitschko KO7
David Payne

OK, so I was disappointed that the Wladmir Klitschko-Samuel Peters heavyweight dance was not going to be on the Comedy Channel. Dr. Glass Jaw meets the Nigerian Nightmare. Hey, I’m a big boy; I can handle it. How do you have it scored, Hal? “Well, Jim.” Mute button. Zap!  If they were telecasting this one from a bowling alley, Wlad the Horrible would be the One Pin. Must be a terrifying feeling, seeing all that power hooking toward you, nowhere to run, bam! Falling. Lights out! And the other guy, the Nightmare, hits like a mule. Has the boxing skills of one, too. Undefeated king of the heavy bags. Can even hit one when it swings; a little. Has the moves of Joe Louis; the white marble one that stands on the ground floor of Caesars Palace. Thinks a jab is what you do with a fork to a piece of porterhouse. What happens after the fight is even funnier; the winner gets to fight either Chris Byrd or John Ruiz for one of the world’s Best Whale titles. Byrd, who won’t fight; Ruiz, who can’t. Oh, yeah, a pick: if it goes six or less, the Nightmare. If it goes more than six, they’ll both play Humpty Dumpty.
Pat Putnam

Wlad's a big, agile athlete – more fluid and varied with his arsenal than his brother, though not the tactician. He knows what he wants to do – has heavy hands – and if he can keep people on the end of a busy, stiff jab, he can keep them away. If they give him room to follow that jab with combinations, unless a man's unusually durable they'll fall. His Achilles' heel (Besides a fragile constitution and psyche) is: he freezes (The deer in the headlights syndrome) if a jab comes back his way, just long enough to catch him with the follow-up right hand, the way Williamson dropped him in the first round – textbook. Peter is ponderous, both of hand and foot; and though he lumbers – as Jeremy Williams can attest, he hits-a-ton. If Wlad can't take-him-out with his initial blitz of unquestionably quicker hands, the glacier will catch up to him about the 8th or 9th round.
Joe Rein

The biggest question in this fight is Klitschko's stamina. He collapsed against Brewster after dominating him early and hasn't given me any reason to believe that he will be able to sustain himself in this fight. Peter is untested with knockout power in either hand. His biggest weakness is his immobility but he will offset that by coming right at Klitschko and being the aggressor. I like Peter by KO in round 4. Even though he hasn't fought on this big a stage, he's the more confident fighter and that will show.
Benn Schulberg

This is a watershed fight if there ever was one. Wladimir Klitschko has sloppily battled his way back into heavyweight contention. If he wins Saturday, he can also regain some of respect lost after his embarrassing defeats to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. However, there is just one problem. Klitschko has a clay chin and his hungry opponent has star-making punching power. My only question is how many rounds will Samuel Peter’s coming out party last? Peter by KO.
Aaron Tallent

Michael Grant. Joe Mesi. Dominick Guinn. Wladimir Klitschko. These names represent the most recent crop of “can't miss” heavyweights. The question is, are we going to be able to replace Klitschko's name with that of Samuel Peter after Saturday night's fight? I think so. It is reasonably certain that Klitschko is the more gifted fighter of the two.  His physical advantages, along with the higher quality of opposition he has faced should guarantee that he will be more poised than the rather green Samuel Peter. Peter's heavy hands have given him a certain feeling of invincibility, and we have all watched as that type of hubris has led to the downfall of many a good heavyweight suspect through the years. Look for Klitschko to come out strong behind his big, long left jab. As Peter is no defensive master it shouldn't be too long before Wlad sees an opportunity to drop an overhand right behind his jab. Say what you will about his whiskers, but Klitschko's power is at least the equal of his opponent. It is how Peter will react once he is hit hard that will dictate the outcome of the abbreviated fight (there is no way for this to go more than three sessions). My money is on Peter to panic, trying to get his way out of trouble by throwing caution to the wind with counters, which will give Klit the opportunity of setting off a barrage of leather against the shorter, slower man. Klitschko by second round stoppage.
Scott Yaniga

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

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading