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Articles of 2005

Showtime Boxing: Lacy, Pemberton, Marquez, Mabuza Discuss Matchups

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Undefeated Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy will defend his IBF and IBO super middleweight titles against IBF No. 5 contender Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). In a second world title fight, IBF bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez will defend against IBO/IBF No. 1 contender, Silence Mabuza.

Questions for Marquez and Mabuza

Question: Rafael, what are your thoughts going into the fight and how is training going?

Marquez: Right now, I feel very, very good. I am well over the flu. My training has been proceeding at 100 percent I am physically and mentally in excellent condition and I want to be able to go into Lake Tahoe and give a great show for all the fight fans.

Question: Silence, do you have any opening comments?

Mabuza: Well, we were ready from the onset. We were supposed to fight on Oct. 1 and the fight did not happen. You never know, it may have been for a good reason. It could have happened to me. I could have gotten sick or something and would have had to go back home and take a week’s rest and then go back to business. I am just waiting for Nov. 5. Let’s get it on.

Question: Rafael, were you disappointed you could not fight Mabuza the first time?

Marquez: I did not want to postpone the fight, but I did not feel well. My body was not really up to it and my manager and trainer told me that I really could not go into this type of a fight if I was not at 100 percent. But I felt very badly about it.

Question: Silence, what was it like to have to go through the postponement?

Mabuza: It was very, very disappointing to travel all the way to get here and then, the next thing you know, the fight (is postponed) only four days prior to the fight. But I am a professional athlete. These things happen. Also, I saw it as a window of opportunity for me to go back home and work more on something which I needed to work hard on. So, actually, I am in pretty good condition now and I believe that we will put on a good show.

Question: Rafael, if your manager or trainer had been on the fence about whether you should fight or not, would you have gone in and fought anyway, or did you realize you were so ill that you would not be able to get in the ring?

Marquez: I had severe headaches, was kind of weak and did not feel ready to get in the ring. The doctor had also informed me that he would not give his approval for me to fight because I was not in good shape. I did not want to give any advantage to Silence Mabuza. I respect him as a fighter and an opponent, so I would not give him that advantage by walking into the ring without being completely ready to fight. So my decision would have been no, I would not have fought.

Question: Rafael, there have been some issues going on between your camp and your promoter, as well as the situation with your brother. Has that been a distraction at all?

Marquez: No. When I get ready to fight, when I go into training camp and walk into the ring, I am 100 percent focused on what I have to do. Although there were many other issues that certainly were taking place, they did not affect me and they are not affecting me. The only thing that could affect me has been sickness and at this point, I am at 100 percent, and that is the way I conduct myself.

Question: Rafael, what do think about Mabuza as a fighter and could he be your toughest fight?

Marquez: I have tremendous respect for Mabuza and I consider him a very strong, very skilled and very tough opponent. So I know that this is a very dangerous fight and, yes, it is a difficult fight. But at this point, I cannot quite say it will be my most difficult because I still believe that Tim Austin was probably my most challenging fight. Another one that was very tough was Mark Johnson. I cannot say that at this point because I have not fought him yet.

Question: Silence, how long have you been at Lake Tahoe?

Mabuza: We have been here a week.

Question: Has that been enough time to adjust?

Mabuza: We only came in early because of the weather conditions. Right now, in South Africa, it is summer and so it is a lot warmer than it is up here. But we found the weather to be very pleasant here in Tahoe at the moment and the facilities that we have in Caesars are great.

Question: Rafael, are you on schedule with weights and training?

Marquez: With my weight, I am right on schedule, right on program. I feel wonderful, physically. Mentally, I am strong. I am only two pounds over at this point, which is just the way that it should be. I am actually doing better than I have felt in a long time.

Question: Silence, how do you plan to neutralize Marquez’s power, especially his right hand?

Mabuza: Just watch on Nov. 5 [and you’ll see].

Question: Rafael, is there any plan for moving up in weight regardless of the outcome?

Marquez: I am confident that I will be victorious and therefore will probably have one more defense, actually a possibility of unification of the title. Then, after that, I am strongly considering moving up to the 122 pounds.

Question: Silence, how important is this fight to your career?

Mabuza: For me to be given such an opportunity to fight the No. 1 in the world with Marquez – I have got great respect for Marquez as a champion and No. 1 in the bantam – and I believe that it is time for me to now prove that I can step up into the big leagues and be the best bantamweight. I am here again to take back what rightfully belongs to us in South Africa, which is the IBF belt. So this is very, very important for me, my family and my country.

Closing Comments by Marquez and Mabuza

Marquez: I want to be sure that everyone knows that I am not one to talk much on conference calls or in interviews. I like to do most of my talking in the ring. But I intend to defend my title to the death. I know that God will protect me and I am absolutely certain that I will be the victorious one on Nov. 5.

Mabuza: I also feel that I do not talk too much outside the ring. I will be doing my talking in the ring. I have been boxing almost half of my life. My talking will be done greatly on Nov. 5. I believe that Marquez is ready, and I am ready. This is going to be the best fight ever to be seen in bantamweight.

Begin Questions for Lacy and Pemberton

Question: Jeff, everyone seemed to think that your next fight would be against Joe Calzaghe, but it is going to be against Scott Pemberton. Was that a letdown at all?

Lacy: No. By him (Calzaghe) taking a fight two months out for a bigger fight, I knew (our fight) was not going to happen. So we just moved on. It is a disappointment that the fans will not get to see who the best 168-pound world champ is, but I have to carry on with my career.

Question: Scott, what is going through your head now as your near your first world title fight?

Pemberton: I just have to prepare the best that I can. I feel great and I am ready to rock and roll.

Question: Scott, what is the key to winning this fight?

Pemberton: Not making any mistakes. I am in with a great fighter. I am just going to go out and try to utilize my jab and give angles and do what you are supposed to do in boxing.

Question: Jeff, what is the key to retaining your title?

Lacy: It comes down to hard work in the gym. That is where you start. I am totally prepared for this. Scott is a dangerous fighter. Everybody has been ducking Scott and everybody has been ducking me. So it is only best that the two people that have been ducked the most in the weight class should fight. I take nothing away from Scott Pemberton. It is going to be a great fight on Nov. 5.

Question: Scott, you have had to wait so long for a world title fight – did you ever wonder if it was going to come?

Pemberton: Well, of course I did. I was supposed to fight Danny Green in Australia but then he broke two bones in his back. It actually worked out for the better because now I get to fight Jeff Lacy for the IBF world championship.

Question: Scott, how have you been able to stay at a top level as long as you have?

Pemberton: I am trying to better position myself to get better things for my family. The No. 1 thing I want to do is buy a home for my family and that has been my motivational factor throughout this whole ordeal.

Question: Scott, what was it like to beat Omar Sheika twice impressively, once by knockout, and then watch Sheika get the title shot against Jeff before you?

Pemberton: It is about making money – that is the motivation for everything.

Question: So it did not bother you that if got the opportunity ahead of you?

Pemberton: It did not really bother me too much. I was more interested to see how he was going to do. The fight, in my opinion, was pretty close, but Sheika could not close the show like Jeff did in the later rounds.

Question: Scott, does that give you confidence to see a guy that you beat two times hang pretty well with Jeff?

Pemberton: Well, styles make fights. I do not take anything for granted.

Question: Jeff, did the two of you spar together for awhile?

Lacy: In training camp up in Big Bear a couple of times, yeah.

Question: What do you remember about those sparring sessions, if anything?

Lacy: I am going to leave it for the fight.

Question: Scott, what are you willing to share in regard to what you recall during your sparring sessions with Jeff?

Pemberton: When we sparred, we were not going in there to try to kill each other or anything like that. I was there, for my purpose, to help Jeff and we moved him out a little bit. It was very controlled and it was just working very easily.

Question: Jeff, because Scott is a dangerous puncher, how do you approach fighting him?

Lacy: Well, actually, I like fighting punchers more because you do not have to chase them. They have the confidence in standing there enough and trying to get their shots in. So that is the best type of fight you ever want to have, especially for the boxing public.

Question: Jeff, what is the preparation like for this fight as opposed to when you were fighting in your hometown in the last fight?

Lacy: Scott is a puncher and he is a dangerous fighter. Everybody ducked him. I am not doing any ducking and we are going to fight Nov. 5. It is something that I like to have around my waist that he is trying to get and I am not looking to just give it to him.

Question: Jeff, do you think you are becoming a more well-rounded fighter?

Lacy: In the last couple of fights that I had, I was more relaxed. I am more positive on what I want to do in the ring and how to take someone’s advantage away from them and use it to my strength. I am coming around and I feel more comfortable in the ring.

Question: Jeff, every fight is important, but put this fight in your perspective.

Lacy: Well, this fight is a great fight for the boxing public. You have two warriors that are coming to fight and both of them are punchers. There is no denying me retaining this world title that I have because I love it. Scott has waited so long to fight for the world title and I am looking at it as if I was fighting for the world title.

Question: Jeff, what gets you so geared up about the challenge of boxing as opposed to just the big paydays of it?

Lacy: I love the fight. I love the challenge. Your opponent – he is training to knock me off my throne and I am training to make sure that he does not do that. That is what excites me the most out of all this. The night of the fight, my trainer sends me in, his trainer sends him in and say, ‘Do it, go make us proud.’ That is what I like. I like having that weight on my shoulders.

Question: Scott, you and Sheika have a relatively cordial relationship. Have you talked to him about what it was like to be in with Jeff and what he thought some of his strengths and weaknesses were?

Pemberton: Yes, I did. He just said that he thought that he won the fight and that Jeff was not all what everyone said that he was cracked up to be. That is his opinion. I know what I saw on the tape. I thought the fight was fairly close going up into the ninth round, but (from there Jeff took him) into the deep waters and then just drowned him. Sheika could not keep up the pace in the later rounds.

Question: Scott, did he tell you anything specifically about something to watch out for with Jeff?

Pemberton: They call him Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, but he has a great right hand. He is definitely a powerful man. You cannot just go in there and just sit there and be slapped or just sit there and bang with the guy. You will get your block knocked off. So you have to give angles and step around and you have to box and not just go in there and just throw it out.

Question: Scott, you have been training for other fights, but are you concerned that you have not fought in about a year or so?

Pemberton: I have been in the gym all this time and I have been sparring. I think people get rusty when you have not trained for awhile, but I have been training for a long time.

Question: Jeff, how frustrating is it for you to have to wait even longer for the Calzaghe fight to possibly happen?

Lacy: I am not worried about a Calzaghe fight. It was supposed to happen Nov. 5. Now, we have Scott Pemberton. He is the only person on my mind. I am not thinking about Calzaghe.

Question: Did you have to make any changes in terms of your training or sparring partners?

Lacy: We were just getting ready to set up for the Calzaghe fight. It was two months out. That is the time it takes to be in training for a fight like that. Being that he took a fight two months out before that fight, we knew before we started camp that he was not going to fight.

Question: So there were no surprises there?

Lacy: No, there were no surprises. I already had it in the back of my mind that he was basically talking like he was going to pull out of the fight anyway.

Question: Jeff, do you feel that if a Calzaghe fight does not happen that you may have to move up in weight for a real challenge or do you feel comfortable at this weight and would you like to stay there for awhile?

Lacy: I feel comfortable at 168, but my goal is to become the undisputed middleweight champion. If I cannot do that at this time, I will explore other options.

Question: Would that include moving up in weight?

Lacy: Of course.

Question: What about fighting some of the guys at 160?

Lacy: I will either move up or down.

Question: Scott and Jeff, what are your predictions?

Pemberton: I cannot give any predictions as far as the outcome of the fight other than I feel pretty confident that I am going to be victorious.

Lacy: There is no way I am losing my title next Saturday night.

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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