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Articles of 2005

Raging Bull: 25 to Life (Act 3)

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Two years later Jake LaMotta gets his shot at the middleweight title held by the French-Algerian champion Marcel Cerdan. The fight is scheduled for June 16, 1949 in Briggs Stadium, an open-air arena in Detroit, but the bout has been delayed 24 hours due to rain. Jake is on edge in his suite of rooms at the Book-Cadillac Hotel. Vickie is there. Joey is there. The cornermen are there. Jake is snappy with everyone. He is trying to kill time, and time is trying to kill him in return.

Tommy drops by to wish Jake good luck.

All Jake can think about is the fight.

As Tommy is leaving, he gives Vickie a goodbye kiss. Tommy holds her face in his hands and says “Would you look at that face?  What a face. Can you believe that girl? Look at that beauty. Just as beautiful as ever.” Vickie smiles at the compliment. Jake sees what’s going on and seethes. 

When Jake meets Cerdan he delivers the goods and forces the champ to quit on his stool after ten. Jake LaMotta is finally middleweight champion of the world.

In the next scene we see the new champ and his brother in Jake’s house messing around with the TV and squabbling about Jake’s weight.

Vickie comes home after running some errands and casually kisses her brother-in-law hello. She goes upstairs, leaving Jake and Joey alone. Jake asks Joey, “Did you [bleep] Vickie?” Joey can’t believe what he’s hearing. “You really let this girl ruin your life,” he says with disgust. “Look at you. You’re killing yourself the way you eat, you fat [bleep]. She really did a job on you. You know how [bleepin’] nuts you are?” Jake asks again, “You [bleep] my wife?” “How could you ask me a question like that? How could you ask me? I’m your brother. You ask me that? Where do you get the balls big enough to ask me that?” Jake says, “Just tell me.” “I’m not gonna answer that. It’s stupid. You’re a sick bastard. You know what you should do? Try a little more [bleepin’] and a little less eatin’. You won’t have troubles upstairs in your bedroom and you won’t take it out on everybody else. Ya understand, ya [bleepin’] wacko? You’re crackin’ up. [Bleepin’] screwball ya.”

Joey storms out of the house.

Jake goes upstairs to confront Vickie. She’s puffing up the comforter on the bed. “Where were ya?” asks Jake. Vickie says she went to the movies. “What did ya see?” “Father of the Bride.” Jake asks Vickie, “What about the Copa,” and gives her a good hard slap. Jake grabs Vickie by her ponytail and slaps her again. “Did you [bleep] my brother?” “Get off me, you fat pig!” “Did you? Did you?” Vickie runs to the bathroom and locks the door. Jake breaks down the door. “Why’d ya do it? Why’d ya do it? Why’d ya do it?” Jake slaps Vickie again.

The middleweight champ goes to his brother’s house. Joey is sitting with his wife and kids in the kitchen when Jake bursts in. “You [bleeped] my wife, huh? You [bleeped] my wife?” Joey’s wife screams as he tries to run away. Jake gets hold of him, grabs him by the throat, and starts punching. Vickie arrives and tries to help Joey. Jake takes her out with a single punch.

Back home, Vickie is packing her bags; she has had enough. Jake arrives and does his sorry act and Vickie falls for it another time. She wants to leave Jake, she knows it’s the right thing to do, but their bond is still too strong, so they stay together, despite her black eye, swollen jaw, cut lip and wounded pride, despite her better judgment.

Jake tells her, perhaps a little too convincingly, “I’m a bum without you and the kids.”

We leave the Bronx and revisit Detroit. It’s September 13, 1950. Jake LaMotta is defending his middleweight title against Laurent Dauthuille. Don Dunphy is ringside: “Less than a minute to go and LaMotta is losing the title that he won from the gallant Marcel Cerdan. After the tragic plane crash that took Cerdan’s life, Laurent Dauthuille vowed to bring the title back to France. And tonight, he only has to last this 15th round to be crowned the new middleweight champion. LaMotta is taking terrible punishment on the ropes as Dauthuille bangs him with lefts and rights to the head. Another left, another right to the jaw – And LaMotta turns around. He’s been playing possum! He’s got Dauthuille hurt! He rips a right hand to the body, two left hooks to the jaw, another left and a right to the head! Dauthuille is reeling around the ring! The tide has turned. No question about it!”

LaMotta lands hard and Dauthuille is out on his feet. He goes down and his head bounces off the ropes, coming to rest on the final strand. The ref picks up the count. “Six … seven. He’ll never make it. Nine … ten! You’re out. It is all over. He is knocked out. And Jake LaMotta, with thirteen seconds left to go in the final round, has made one of the most remarkable comebacks in all boxing history. – Jake LaMotta!”

LaMotta’s victory over Dauthuille was one of the greatest comebacks in boxing history, but there will be no comeback at home. Jake and his brother Joey no longer speak. Vickie gives her husband wide berth. It seems the only place where Jake can really and truly be himself is inside a boxing ring.

It’s February 14, 1951. The place is Chicago. Jake is fighting Sugar Ray Robinson for the sixth and last time – and he’s getting the stuffing beaten out of him. LaMotta is on the ropes, using the ropes to keep him upright. He taunts Robinson – “Come on, Ray. Come on” – and Sugar Ray obliges.

The call from ringside: “Robinson hurting LaMotta. He’s hurting him now. He has LaMotta on Queer Street, holding on. Certainly, that was one of the most damaging evidences of punching that you have seen in recent years.”

“Come on!” LaMotta says to Robinson, waving him on with his hands at his sides. “Come on!”

Joey is watching the fight on TV, sees just what’s going on, and is sick to his stomach.

“Come on! Come on! What are you standing there for? Come on!”

Robinson assaults LaMotta with lefts and rights.

Vickie is sitting ringside and it is more than she can bear. She buries her face in her hands.

“Come on, Ray! Come on!”

Robinson, dramatically lit from behind, lets it all hang out and it’s like the wrath of God let loose on a masochist.

“These are clean, whistling shots. How he can survive them, nobody knows. No man can endure this pummeling!”

Robinson unloads on LaMotta with every weapon in his arsenal … and Jake takes it like a man.

It’s the thirteen round – the so-called “hard-luck round” – and the ref has seen enough and waves it off. Jake loses the fight and his middleweight title, but he proves a point. He stumbles toward Robinson and his cornermen. “Hey, Ray. I never went down, man! You never got me down, Ray! You hear me? You never got me down.”

Robinson laughs and brushes off LaMotta likes he’s out of his friggin’ mind. Jake collapses in the arms of his cornermen.

A dozen bouts later and Jake has had enough of the fight game. He has given up boxing for the good life with Vickie in Miami.

“It's over for me,” Jake tells some reporters joining him by the pool in the back of his home. “Boxing's over for me. I'm through. I'm tired of worryin' about weight all the time. That's all I used to think about was weight, weight, weight. After a while, you know, you realize other things in life. I mean, I'm very grateful. Boxing's been good to me. I've got a nice house. I've got three great kids. I've got a wonderful, beautiful wife. What more could I ask for?”

Jake fulfills a lifelong dream and opens his very own nightclub on Collins Avenue called Jake LaMotta’s. “It's a bar, a package store, everything.” It’s also where Jake plays out his ambitions as an overweight master of ceremonies before a thankless crowd of celebrity gawkers. Men with pompadours and women with cleavage are a little less than amused when Jake tells them, “I haven’t seen so many losers since my last fight at Madison Square Garden.”

After a series of lame jokes as flat as day-old champagne, Jake wobbles off the stage to meet and greet some of his distinguished clientele. He says to State’s Attorney Bronson, half-jokingly, “You shouldn’t be here this week. It’s next week we got the shakedown payment, right?” That’s Jake for you, always the big kibitzer. Then the champ plants a big, wet, sloppy drunken kiss on the bureaucrat’s wife’s cheek – and succeeds in knocking her cocktail onto her lap.

Jake calls for a busboy to clean up the mess.

There’s some trouble with a couple of guests that needs Jake’s attention. Two female patrons claim they’re 21 but have no identification to prove it. No problem. Jake falls back on a hallowed tradition for determining a woman’s true age.

Jake and the broad lock lips.

“Any girl that can kiss like that,” he says with a laugh, “can drink at my joint any time.”

The party atmosphere at the club goes on into the wee small hours of the morning. When Jake finally sees fit to call it a night, he leaves the club and the hot Florida sun burns a hole in his bloodshot eyes. Vickie sits in her Cadillac, with the engine running and her window half-cracked open. Vickie says “I’m leaving you Jake.”

“What else is new?”

“No, this time I mean it. I didn’t wanna tell you until I had everything worked out … I got a lawyer. We're gettin' a divorce. I'm gettin' custody of the kids. I already made up my mind. I'm leavin'. That's it. The kids are gonna be with me. And if you show your face around, I'm gonna call the cops on you, all right?”

Vickie speeds away in a cloud of dust. Jake hitches up his pants and reenters the club.

The next thing we know Jake is being awakened by two detectives from the DA’s office. “C’mon champ,” one of them says. “Wake up. C’mon champ.”

Jake asks what they want and they show him a photo of an innocent-looking schoolgirl with pigtails. “Do you recognize this girl?” Jake shakes his head. Then they show him another photo of the same girl, but this time she’s all dolled up with makeup, jewelry, and a bouffant hairdo.

It’s the 21-year-old from the club.

Jake asks, “Is this the same girl?”

“She says you introduced her to some men.”

“I introduced her to men,” Jake repeats. “I introduce a lotta people to a lotta people.”

“She’s 14,” the detective says.

“She’s how old?”

“She’s 14.”

“Let me ask you something’. You gonna tell me that girl looks 14?”

“We gotta go downtown.”

Jake LaMotta is in big trouble. Introducing a 14-year-old girl to “some men,” even in a place as loose as Miami, is a serious crime. Call it pimping, call it pandering, call it what you will, Jake is facing hard time. He can’t rustle up the ten grand his lawyer says he needs to have the case against him dropped, so they lock the former champ in the Dade County Stockade for a year.

He pounds his fists and forehead against the stone wall of his cell. “I’m not an animal,” Jake cries. “I’m not an animal.”

When Jake emerges from the joint he’s a changed man, but he’s not changed enough to turn to what he doesn’t know, so he resumes his career in showbiz.

In the final scene of Raging Bull we’re right back where we started. Fat old used up Jake LaMotta is sucking on a cigar in his dressing room. The old trouper looks at himself in the mirror, sorta likes what he sees, and recites Budd Schulberg’s immortal words from On the Waterfront (1954), where Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando/Jake LaMotta) confronts his older brother Charley (Rod Steiger/Joey LaMotta) in the backseat of a dark sedan.

“It wasn't him, Charley! It was you. You remember that night in the Garden, you came down to my dressing room and said: ‘Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson.’ You remember that? ‘This ain't your night!’ My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors in the ball park – and whadda I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville. You was my brother, Charley. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me – just a little bit – so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.”

Charley tells Terry “I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.”

Terry is shot through with regret. You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it . . . It was you, Charley.”

Then LaMotta throws a left at the figure in the mirror. Then he throws a right. Then he throws a left and a right and another left and another right in quick succession. “I’m the boss,” he says. “I’m the boss. I’m the boss. I’m the boss.” The Bronx Bull lives. Go Jake go. Knock ‘em dead champ.

Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull is a cultural touchstone. It may be the “anti-Rocky,” the dark side of a crimson fairytale, but Raging Bull is a masterpiece, the last word in boxing movies, a dream ménage of subject, object and auteur.

The last thing we see in Raging Bull is a passage from the bible, John IX.24-26. Although intended as a dedication to Haig Manoogian, Scorsese’s film teacher at NYU, who passed away while Raging Bull was in production, it contains a message for LaMotta, and a message for you and for me.

So, for the second time, [the Pharisees]
summoned the man who had been blind and said:
“Speak the truth before God.
We know this fellow is a sinner.”
“Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know,”
the man replied.
“All I know is this:
once I was blind and now I can see.”

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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