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Articles of 2010

Checking In With Andre Ward Ahead Of Allan Green Clash

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On Thursday, TSS took a nice drive through Oakland and ended up at Kings Gym to watch Andre Ward train for his upcoming showdown against Allan Green on June 19th. Ward was fresh off of a 13 round sparring session when I got ahold of him.

Ward told me that he was ready. And well, he looked ready. “Sparring is going great, but you can’t go pedal to metal every day. That is called over-training, my friend, Ward told me.

“I am putting in work. We got three weeks to go, man, Ward said as he was wrapping his hands in preparation for what his trainer Virgil Hunter had in store for him.

The philosophical Virgil Hunter had a lengthy discussion with me about Ward’s training routine, Allan Green, and some other matters in their training camp as I was able to corner him while Andre Ward was jumping rope.

RM: In the past you have talked about Allan Green losing sleep over the fact that he has to eventually face Andre Ward. Let me ask you this: How is Team Ward preparing for Allan Green?

VH: We’re preparing the same way we always prepare. During the fight, things are always changing. You have to be able to make adjustments. I believe that preparation for a certain style is overrated. You just have to know your athlete, and what works best for him. So in this particular case, our preparation is the same as always. We are preparing to win.

RM: So you are preparing to do what is best for you? You are not preparing to stop Allan Green from what he wants to do?

VH: No, we are preparing to win. And that is by any means necessary. As the fight progresses Andre will know what to do, from the opening bell.

RM: Do you see the fight going the distance?

VH: No, not this fight.

RM: Would you like to make a prediction on the outcome?

VH: No prediction on how the fight is going to end. It just will not go the distance. We have had a plan from the very beginning. Everything I have said about Andre Ward has come to fruition. One thing that is vastly overrated is KO percentage. We were never interested in that. When we were coming up through the ranks, we put a down payment on a house. When we got the championship, we purchased the house. Now, we intend to keep the house. Just from that scenario alone, I do not expect to see very many fighters going the distance with Andre Ward in the near future.

RM: So the mentality is that Allan Green is trying to break into the house you have built and you guys are trying to keep him out right?

VH: Well, I would like to say that this is Andre’s mindset. To get the title, you have to have a “go getter mentality. Now that we have the title, it is a keeper mentality. I could see the difference in his training. Andre has a keeper mentality now. It is something that I wanted to naturally evolve. When he was coming up, I didn’t want to get him a whole bunch of opponents that he could have easily knocked out. That would have given him a false sense of security that he was a knockout artist.

RM: How would you rate Allan Green’s knockout power? There have been reports that he considers himself a knockout artist.

VH: You know, Allan Green specializes in knocking out people who have already been knocked out. It is incredible really that several opponents that he has fought had already been knocked out seven or eight times. So, I don’t think we could accurately gauge “this power that Allan Green thinks that he possesses. I mean, I can’t knock him. If he is crowning himself a puncher because he has knocked out people that other people have knocked out then that is ok. But until you knock out the best, I would not even consider myself a knockout artist.

RM: In your mind, do you feel like he is not prepared for this fight?

VH: No, I think he is prepared. Someone brought an article to my attention that said that Green is looking the best he has ever looked in a camp. I think he is going the extra mile. He is training harder than he has ever trained. So, that tells you right there where his mind is. He is worried. And he has a good reason to be.

RM: A good reason to be worried?

VH: A very good reason to be worried.

RM: Do you think it is good to be worried before a fight?

VH: It all depends on how it affects you. If you take it into the fight the wrong way, it could drain you. But if you take it into the fight, and you are able to use it in a positive way, then it could help you learn how to master worries and concerns.

RM: So it is all about controlling your anxiety.

VH: Exactly. Talking about controlling anxiety, I have seen him (Green) in several situations where things did not go his way. Even in his last fight, he came back to the corner and asked trainer John David Jackson a few things that he should have already known. In particular, he was asking how to fight Tarvis Sims. Sims was hitting Green with lead flush punches. Green was confused in that fight. I was surprised. But it is one thing to walk, and another thing to walk it.

RM: Are there any other specific instances where you feel like Green has been confused and out of his element?

VH: Let me say this, I have a lot of respect for this kid. And I have a lot of respect for the fight game. So anything that I am saying is not intended to be a put down, or an insult. He also says some of the things that he feels. But he also says that he has respect. So you can’t knock him. But there have been a few instances in his career that make you wonder. For one, he turned down the Antwun Echols fight that was going to be on ESPN. And he turned down the opportunity to fight Kelly Pavlik. Those are two well known hard punchers. So I think he is worried about the other guys’ ability to knock him out. I don’t know if something happened in the gym. Maybe he doesn’t have the ability to take a big punch. I don’t know that. Maybe he is afraid to get hurt. We have seen him hurt. But we have also seen him recover. It is all speculation. The main thing is that we are going to find out on June 19th if all of these things are true.

RM: So you don’t think the fight is going the distance. But you told me before that you think Allan Green is going to quit in the middle of the fight. Can you elaborate?

VH: Well, he puts a lot of emphasis on his punching power. He puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that he could afford to make mistakes in this fight. But no, he cannot afford to make any mistakes. He cannot afford to rest. He cannot afford to take his time. In this fight, he is going to fight at a faster pace that he has ever fought before. In this fight, he is going to have someone in front of him that he cannot hit. He is going against someone that is stronger than him, has more stamina, and has a tenaciousness of a game bred dog. Again, it is easy on the outside, but once you get in there, you are going to find out why Andre Ward has not lost since he was 12 years old, why he is an Olympic gold medalist, and why he is the super middleweight world champion after only 20 fights. We don’t mind continuously proving it to the opponents, to critics, and the fight world, until the concession is made, that you are dealing with one violent individual when you get into the ring against Andre Ward.

RM: You have also told me that Andre Ward has never been in a close fight.

VH: Well in respect to people who keep saying that he is getting a hometown advantage. There has not been one fight where a referee or judge has had to save him. We have never had a close fight at home. All of the fights have been lopsided. So you can’t say that he has the favor of judges, and referees. He has been in close fights early in his career. And that was to develop him. We have spotted age, weight, and experience from the amateurs all the way to where we are today.

RM: So are you satisfied with where Andre Ward is at right now in his career, as being considered the best super middleweight in the world at 26 years old?

VH: No, I am not satisfied with where he is right now. We have a long way to go. We have a lot of canvas to build on. But I expected him to win the super middleweight title when he got the opportunity. He has only had 20 fights. So he does not have as much experience in terms of fights, as some of the other opponents have had. But he has the experience overall, of being battled hardened. Andre has been doing this since he was nine years old. And he has been fighting the best from the amateurs up to the pros. So no, we are not satisfied. There is a long way to go. That hunger is increasing with every fight.

RM: How do you feel about the preparation in camp so far?

VH: Well, I am holding him back right now. Andre is a fighter that has never been out of shape since he started fighting. Even with that setback with the knee, it never affected his conditioning at all. And when you have a clean living kid, who does not run the street, drink, smoke, or chase women, his strength continues to stack. If the fight takes place tomorrow he would be ready to go. We are right where we want to be.

RM: Allan Green has said that Andre Ward is not a warrior. And basically that it is not in Andre’s DNA to have the warrior mentality during a fight. What do you think about that?

VH: I have to agree with Allan Green 100%. Andre does not have the DNA of a warrior. He has the DNA of a winner. He is groomed and built to win. It is almost an insult to say that all a fighter has to offer in this sport is to be a warrior. So my thing is that you could put a warrior, a gorilla, a tiger, a lion, or any other predator in the ring, but the drive to win will overcome that warrior instinct or whatever he says that he is. We have seen warriors quit. I have seen the king of the beasts get kicked in the head and give up. So, I think that it is an insult to pursue boxing from a warrior capacity. We set out to pursue three goals in this sport. One goal was to win the goal. We did that. The second goal is to be a world champion. We did that. The third goal is keep it until we retire. We are going to do that. So to answer your question, Andre is not a warrior. He is a winner.

RM: So it does not matter what you call yourself. It is all about going in there to win?

VH: It does not matter what you call yourself. There will be certain situations in this fight where he will have the opportunity to prove that he is a warrior. I have seen some of the so called warriors, some of the greats, take one beating and transform themselves into boxers. Marco Antonio Barrera turned into a boxer because he was too much warrior. Arturo Gatti turned into a boxer in the latter part of his career because he found out what happens when you try to be too much warrior. You could be a warrior if you want to. Come on with the warrior mentality and put yourself in the line of fire, and we will gladly accept that challenge.

RM: Do you feel like Green talking about being a warrior is a lack of confidence?

VH: You know, each individual has to get themselves mentally ready for a fight in their own way. Andre Ward is a money fighter. When it comes time to perform, he is going to perform. I think Allan Green is a courageous fighter. I don’t think he is afraid of Andre Ward. I think that he is definitely leery of the unknown and that is where he is going, the territory of the unknown. I think what he needs to understand is that Allan Green will look slow motion to Andre Ward. He is going to see everything. He is going to know what to do. And he is going to execute.

RM: So Allan Green might be talking a good game to get himself pumped up for the fight?

VH: Even though he is talking, he understands that he is in the most dangerous situation that he has been in his life. His coach said that Allan Green is training with the most intensity in his life. Green knows what he is up against. That is why he is working so hard. When you flip the coin, he thinks he has a punchers chance. But when he looks at it from our perspective, he knows that we could when with more than just one punch.
SPEEDBAG
Check out Green in camp:

www.youtube.com/watch

The inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic is a groundbreaking, six-fighter tournament from SHOWTIME Sports® featuring the class of the super middleweight (168-pound) division from around the world. All bouts in the Super Six tournament will be contested under the Unified Rules of Boxing. Each boxer fights three bouts against different opponents in the field in the points-based Group Stage of competition (Win – 2 pts with a 1-pt bonus for KO/TKO; Loss – 0 pts; Draw – 1 pt.). After the Group Stage, the four fighters with the highest point totals will advance to the single-elimination Semi-Finals. The winners of the Semi-Final bouts will advance to the Finals and fight for the inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic trophy.
OAKLAND (June 3, 2010) – Undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) Super Middleweight Champion and America’s last Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward (20-0, 13 KOs) will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at his hometown Oakland As game against the Minnesota Twins tomorrow/Friday, June 4, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Ward, who captured the WBA belt with a convincing, 11th-round technical decision over Mikkel Kessler in the Super Six World Boxing Classic opener on Nov. 21, 2009 at Oracle, is looking forward to taking the field.

Im excited for this opportunity to show my support to The Oakland As,’’ Ward said. “They are my hometown team and I am a baseball fan!’’

Ward will make his first title defense against world-ranked contender Allan “Sweetness Green (29-1, 20 KOs), of Tulsa, Okla., in a Super Six World Boxing Classic Group Stage 2 bout on Saturday, June 19, on SHOWTIME® at the Oracle Arena. Ward will look to successfully defend against the mouthy Green in front of his local fans and take another step toward winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

Tickets for the June 19 event are priced at $300, $150, $65 and $35 and are available at the Oracle Arena Box Office, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621, Phone: (510) 569-2121 or online thru www.Ticketmaster.com.

The Ward-Green event is presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions, Antonio Leonard Productions and DiBella Entertainment.

ABOUT SUPER SIX WORLD BOXING CLASSIC

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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