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Articles of 2010

Las Vegas Journal: Mayweather-Mosley

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LAS VEGAS-When one of the biggest fights in three years is about to happen and you’re a boxing writer, it can be a little more exciting than usual.

Driving from Southern California through the desert to Las Vegas is a relaxing almost therapeutic endeavor as you whisk past small towns, military bases and cactus on two-lane freeways that are usually stacked on Friday.

Luckily, I’m driving on a Thursday.

A late start kept me from attending a press conference for the under card of the Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Shane Mosley fight card. By the time I arrived in Las Vegas (carefully staying within the speed limits as Nevada police are known for hiding in speed traps) it’s already early Thursday evening. A dinner invitation by Golden Boy Promotions will have to be overlooked though anytime you can get a free meal in Las Vegas is always nice.

The first thing I usually do is go to boxing gyms to see who is training and what’s going on. In the past five years numerous gyms have opened in Las Vegas. Before there had been three or four and now there seems to be at least 25 in the gambling mecca.

Because it’s already evening I make a few calls to fighters to see what they’re doing. One is Layla McCarter the lightweight world champion considered among the top three Pound for Pound fighters in female boxing. The other is Melinda Cooper an undefeated junior featherweight who is looking for a fight. She isn’t training but her advisor says they may be traveling to Canada soon for a title fight.

I visit the Pink Taco located inside the Hard Rock Hotel for my customary margarita. It never feels like fun unless I have at least one margarita. Now the adventure begins.

Because it’s late, I decide to return to my room, write an advance for a newspaper, and plan the next two days. Thursday is done.

Friday

During a mega fight the media comes from all over the world. You have writers and photographers from United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Mexico, Ireland, Canada and all over the United States. So I arrived early in the massive media center to grab a seat and set up my computer. And also to get some coffee because no real writer can do work without that caffeine surge.

If you’re lucky the boxing promoter will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not this time. Coffee is served with some pastries but that’s ok. That’s all the fuel I need to do what I do.

Inside the media center I spot old friends and make a few new friends. Tony Walker of HBO pay-per-view is there. We became friends several years ago after discovering we share a passion for UCLA basketball. He’s definitely one of the best guys in boxing.

Jeremy of Swanson Communications is there and asks me for a prediction. I give it to him. He later returns to ask why I made this prediction so he can put it on a press release. Later Kelly Swanson, the actual namesake of Swanson Communications, asks me to do a television interview for the upcoming rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz. I consent. Doing the interviews on camera is my old and good friend Doug Fischer. He’s been making a name for himself doing television commentary. I remember years ago when he and I would have problems getting credentials for a fight. Now here he is interviewing me. Things change.

A decade ago when Fischer and I first became friends I always thought he had the perfect voice for television. I would tell him and he would respond: “do you think so?” Doug is one of the real boxing guys. I say this because most so-called boxing writers never visit a gym unless it’s some media day. A lot of boxing writers only know boxers who fight on HBO or Showtime. Not Doug, he knows guys from the get-go until they’re gone. Other guys who go to gyms regularly are Steve Kim, Gabriel Montoya and Robert Morales. Now in many cases today’s newspaper boxing writers are doing triple duty with all of the layoffs. But when it comes to boxing web sites there really is no excuse for not visiting boxing gyms to go directly to the source. Anybody can write an opinion. Few can do actual reporting where they contact the fighters, trainers and managers. That’s where you separate the real journalists from the armchair scribblers. Anybody can write an opinion. That takes no work at all. It takes time, patience and fortitude to track down a fighter and his people to do a story with quotes. That’s a real boxing writer.

Ok, no more soapbox.

Inside the media center I see Tattoo of Power 106 radio who will be emcee for the weigh in later in the day. Later my buddy photographer Paul Hernandez arrives with Igor from Burbank Times. Still later, Francisco Salazar of Fightnews comes in. Cisco as I call him, has been a friend of mine since 2000. He’s a teacher in Oxnard and tries to attend most fight cards in California. Once in a while he’s assigned a Vegas fight card. Larry Merchant is sitting nearby and Harold Lederman passes by and shouts hello in his distinctive voice “David Avila how are you!” Good guy. Loves boxing. If he’s in a town and there is a boxing event going on you can believe Lederman will be there. A younger guy that I haven’t seen is sitting next to me. His name is Rene he works for Diamond Boxing. Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns enter the media room with a throng of photographers flashing in front of them. They talk about what they think of the Mayweather and Mosley showdown. Both say they don’t think it will rival their own first battle but feel it will be a tight struggle with Mayweather coming on top.

I return to my room to change clothes, shower and get ready for the fight card later in the night that features Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, bonus baby Frankie Gomez and others.

A few hours later I returned to the MGM Grand and in that time hundreds of people are milling around the lobby that had been rather empty a few hours earlier. People are beginning to arrive. Inside the media room Igor tells me that everybody in the plane from Burbank was talking about the fight. The buzz is definitely in the air.

Since there is no food being served I decide to get some pizza. Cisco agrees and we both head to one of the pizza joints inside the casino. HBO is going to play the final episode of the 24/7 Mayweather-Mosley fight. We decide to attend the viewing as long as it comes before the fight card begins across the street at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. The final episode is pretty good. I like the casino neon graveyard scene. Nice touch. Most of us head directly to the Tropicana to see Guerrero in action.

Inside the Tropicana I quickly see that a lot of renovations have taken place since my last venture there. Marble floors, spanking new tables, new outfits for the dealers and better lighting are now part of the casino that was the talk of the town when it opened in the early 1960s. Very nice.

We make a long walk to the conference are where the fight is going to be held. Once inside the place quickly filled up. By the time the first bout begins there has to be at least 3,000 fans inside and many of the best boxing writers watching the first Telefutura fight card in a couple of years. As I sit down Bernardo Osuna and Ricardo Celis the Solo Boxeo Tecate announcers for Telefutura greet me and Cisco. It’s great to see the dynamic duo back in action. I tell them so. “Not as happy as we are,” cracks Osuna. It feels like home again to see them in action. They’re very good.

Once the fight card begins Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Richard Schaefer, and Jorge Paez take their seats. Fans are huddled behind De La Hoya to take his picture. A few of the smart ones ask for De La Hoya and Morales together. Somebody mentions that maybe Morales is going to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in the future. These guys never did meet in the ring. But does the public want to see it?

Another boxing celebrity arrives. It’s Alfredo “Perro” Angulo fresh off his victory from a week ago in Ontario, California. Fans rush to Perro and a few even give the “arf arf arf” bark as he goes to his seat.

The fights are great. Guerrero, a former featherweight and junior lightweight world champ, looks like he can handle lightweights with ease. The kid hits hard and he’s left-handed. Argentina’s Roberto Arrieta tasted the Ghost’s power early and went into survival mode. But even that tactic didn’t save him when Guerrero decided to turn it on. He blows him out of there,

After writing up the story I head back to the room to change once again. I get a call from some of the guys that they’re meeting at the Rouge bar inside the MGM.

Walking back into the MGM I run into Steve Forbes of the Contender reality television fame and a former world champion who fought Oscar De La Hoya and Andre Berto. He’s with a friend and we chat a bit about what’s going on. He says he is back in Las Vegas and will begin training. He’s going to let me know when and where.

Walking into the MGM the place is packed now. It’s hard to walk in. But I know it will be more packed tomorrow.

I finally get to the Rouge and most of the Golden Boy people are there sitting and chatting. I sit at the table with Bob Santos, one of Guerrero’s advisors and Mario Serrano who is Guerrero’s publicist. In the same table are Paul and Igor. We talk about the Ghost and other things.

Robert Diaz, one of Golden Boy’s matchmakers, stops by to say hello and chat. I mention that maybe Vicente Escobedo should fight the Ghost for Northern California bragging rights. He says it’s not a bad choice but they want to get a world title at stake first.

Diaz, who once worked with Marco Antonio Barrera, talks about the visa problems Amir Khan recently experienced. The WBA junior welterweight titleholder is fighting New York’s Paul Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden. Malignaggi is no joke. He can fight. Lots of fighters and fans dislike Malignaggi. I always tell people right away that Malignaggi is one of the coolest guys in the sport. He’s got class. Really he does. People are always surprised. I told Khan and he was surprised. The British speedster was recently signed by Golden Boy and is facing a very stiff test in the former world champion Malignaggi. Both Khan and Malignaggi are good guys. It’s one of those fights where skill will prevail.

Diaz has to leave and a few others decide to depart too. It’s already 1:30 a.m. and we need to get up early for a press conference at 10:30 a.m.

Saturday

Ok, so this column is getting too long. Well, it’s the day of the big fight. I have to get up early to make a press conference for Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz at the MGM Grand at 10:30 a.m.

To begin the morning I start off for the local Starbucks located about a block from Top Rank’s offices on Paradise Road and Flamingo Road. It’s about 8:30 a.m. and I’m hoping a large coffee and breakfast sandwich can last me through the afternoon.

I drink up the coffee, eat the sandwich, iron my clothes, shower and pack my bags because after the fight I’m heading immediately back to Southern California. As I’m heading out the door I begin to feel queasy. Real queasy. I get a call from Cisco asking if I can take him to the conference. He’s staying at the same hotel as me so I say yes and tell him to meet me at the lobby. As I walk to the lobby to check out I feel like I ate something rotten.

Nearly 20 years ago I had cancer and went through six months of chemo then another three months of radiation. After going through that it takes a lot to get me nauseous. I’m feeling big time nausea.

We walk into the MGM with all of our equipment. Its crowded. A bunch of fighters are near the lobby including the Dirrell brothers and Mosley’s cut man Cassius Green is holding court. I also spot boxing writer Chris Robinson. Women are walking around in bathing suits inside the casino and you can’t walk a straight line because people are every where. I zigzag through the multitudes like halfback Gayle Sayers back in the 1960s. Inside the media center I grab a seat in the front with a bunch of friends. Soon after the Golden Boy group comes out including the two fighters Diaz and Marquez.

The last time they fought it was voted Fight of the Year with Marquez knocking out Diaz with a vicious uppercut. Diaz had been ahead on the score cards when Marquez set the trap for him and unloaded. Pretty stuff.

After they finish the conference, Beristain comes over to talk with us about what’s going on in his camp. He’s very open about everything. Makes fun of my Spanish but what can I say, it’s pretty awful.

Beristain leaves then enters Alfredo “Perro” Angulo. He spots me and comes over to talk and we laugh a bit. His brother Cesar is also with him and he asks what I think about the fight tonight. I tell him I think Mosley can pull it off. Both he and Perro hope I’m right. Perro was in a tough fight with Joel Julio a week ago. That Colombian kid had guts. I mean he was taking some shots and dishing it back. It reminded me of Miguel Cotto against Manny Pacquiao. Out-gunned and beaten down they refused to quit. It was the some of the greatest acts of courage I’ve seen in boxing. Julio never impressed me a lot until last week in defeat. That kid can fight.

It’s still about two hours from the first bell and I’m starting to really feel bad. I drink water hoping it will help. Nope, no improvement. I’m getting worse by the minute. I feel like sleeping. I look at the Kentucky Derby on the big screen in the media room.

Finally it’s time to go inside the arena. I’m getting chills and feverish and start thinking about leaving to go home. Man, I don’t want to vomit in front of press row and in front of thousands of fans.

The first fight begins and it’s Luis Ramos. I made it and Ramos makes it a quick second round knockout. I’m reeling too and for the next six hours I barely manage to survive. I’m like the postman even in sickness or stormy weather I’m going to come through with that story Jack.

It was the worst crap I ever put out.

Sorry everybody.

Everybody has their bad nights. Mine happened to occur on the biggest fight in three years.

We all know what happened in the big fight. Mayweather was Mayweather and Mosley couldn’t pull the trigger after the second round. From my perspective Mosley seemed afraid of getting KOd by Mayweather and pulled back from charging in and banging. The banger was out-banged by the boxer.

A big party was going on at the MGM Grand after the fight but I sped out of there, got in my car and headed back through the desert night to California.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

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UFC_Edgar_and_Maynard_Dec._2010
Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

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As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

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