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Articles of 2010

CHASING JACK CHASE, Part 4: Californ-I-Am

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Six thousand fans were on their feet at the Legion Stadium in Hollywood on April 24th 1942 watching Jack Chase trying to tame Costello Cruz. Cruz was fighting like a “wild man and it’s easy to see why. He had not been defeated as an amateur or professional and no fighter worth his salt lets the vaunted zero go easily.

A loss is rarely just a loss to a fighter. Some, like Cruz, follow a warrior’s code that is as severe as it is ancient. For them a boxing match becomes a demonstration of worthiness and defeat a non-option. The ancient Aztec, like the Zulu, like the Samurai, like the Spartan, was compelled to fight to the bitter or glorious end. They thought nothing of injury and pain, or even death. By defying his humanity, the warrior declares something existential -he declares his worthiness and so proves his worth. Madness? Perhaps, but it is compelling. The next time you hear a fighter say “I’d rather die than lose, or “he’s gonna have to kill me, watch him closely. Such words are not always mere bravado. There are those who mean it.

Cruz did not want to lose.

He would anyway.

The man slinging leather at him also followed the warrior’s code –and this created optimum conditions for a good fight. The victor in these types of engagements is not determined by will because each often cancels out the other. When all is said and done, they are usually determined by skill or luck. Chase showed no hint of being a lucky man, though he had skill to spare.

Cruz was practically out cold on the ropes and was down for a count of four just before the end of the fifth round. As the bell rang for the sixth, he was still wavering in the breeze when Chase came out behind what the Los Angeles Times called “a volley of jolting blows. The crowd thought it was all over and began heading for the exits when suddenly Cruz “unleashed a vicious attack, sending Chase running for cover -and the crowd running back to their seats. Chase pounded out a victory and with that, set off the first rumblings of a West Coast reputation.

Big Boy Hogue was in his way. Hogue was a grinding type of fighter who joined his twin brother Shorty as gatekeepers of the middleweight division. Chase kept Hogue at bay behind a high-speed jab and dropped him for a nine count in the third round. Then he switched from left to right and cut his eye. Hogue managed to bore inside and land enough short punches to score a flash knockdown. Chase took the decision. After beating Bobby Birch twice in a row, he would reduce Tabby Romero to a bloody mess and win every round. By November, Chase had been a headliner on six cards at the Legion Stadium in Hollywood and sold it out every time.

There was talk that he was ready for Henry Armstrong himself.

Then he faced The Ring magazine’s number one middleweight contender, Archie Moore.

The “Old Mongoose wasn’t old when Chase met him. He was entering his prime. Moore had dropped anchor in San Diego after an Australian tour and was already an established ring general. But he did not feel so secure. He had recently undergone emergency surgery and pundits and other fighters looked at that cauterized scar on his abdomen and saw an invitation. “I practiced very hard at picking off left hooks to my body, Moore said, “as everybody in the fight game knew about my operation and would be shooting for that weak spot. He was punching harder now and had just cleanly knocked out Romero six rounds earlier than Chase. He then went after Chase himself to prove that he was back at full power. “If they can’t buy you after spoiling his twenty-two straight wins, his manager said, “they never will!

News coverage of the bout was as terse as the bout itself. “Winning convincingly, the Associated Press reported, “Archie Moore, San Diego middleweight, tonight handed Jack Chase a 10-round lacing.

All told, Chase would fight Moore in six roaring battles. You can bet that Chase was winging left hooks at that weak spot until his arm looked like a shepherd’s crook. In the second match, they fought at Lane Field in San Diego under an angry sun. Moore remembered a trick that he learned from the old-timers and maneuvered Chase into its glare. Even so, Chase was tougher that time out, dropping Moore for a nine count despite the sun in his eyes and despite the fact that both those eyes would be closed by the fifteenth round. The third match was a different story altogether. “Chase was a good fighter, Moore remembered, “and by this time he was able to figure out my style. Chase took eleven of fifteen rounds. Eddie Muller of the San Francisco Examiner could barely contain his admiration:

“We can’t recall when we saw two fighters as near to perfection as were Chase and Moore. They know what boxing gloves were made for. In clinches they didn’t bang away with reckless abandon; if they found an opening they punched; if the opening wasn’t there, they tried to make one.

The spindly legs of Chase were particularly impressive. Muller watched him negotiate around the ring “with the grace and ease of a ballet dancer, every move “a picture.

Moore made $500 dollars in losing to Chase. After deductions, he was left with far less. “Here I was piddling around against tough competition, he complained, while stars like Sugar Ray Robinson were making 200 times that amount against competition that looked like pickpockets next to Murderers’ Row.

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Bookie Jimmy Ryan had a favorite fighter. He’d typically lay 3 to 1 odds on San Francisco’s Eddie Booker. However, a few days before Booker was scheduled to face a rising Jack Chase, Ryan wasn’t so sure. He had taken an anonymous jaunt to the gym where Chase was training and came out concerned. He’ll be “no cinch, he said, “The guy handles himself like he knows what it’s all about. The fight was scheduled for fifteen rounds and was California’s first ‘marathon bout’ in thirty years. It was for the State Middleweight Title. Booker had a sterling record of 61-3-8. Chase was fresh off a month-long break and was ready to begin yet another year with an exclamation point. Now residing in San Francisco, he could walk to the Civic Auditorium from his apartment.

A crusty old manager from the 1920s sat next to Eddie Muller at ringside and watched a clinic. “I’ve been watching ‘em for a long time, he told the reporter, “but this Chase really showed me class. He’s a thinker. He makes moves for a purpose. Chase’s manager knew this already. He threw down $200 at 1 to 3 odds and cleaned up. Booker took only four of the fifteen rounds.

As he walked home, Jack Chase carried another state title with him. Fans began filling seats to see the fuss. No less than Governor Earl Warren, future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, came out for one of his fights and sat in the press section. The victory over the dreaded Eddie Booker was among the most remarkable achievements of Chase’s career but Booker only presented the opening argument. If Murderers’ Row had a chief justice, it would have been Charley Burley.

Burley’s style was as complex as tax law. His uncanny sense of timing and distance allowed him to throw shots at blind spots, and he was intelligent enough to lull his opponent into a false sense of security and then do irreparable harm. He would often enhance his leverage by leaping into his shots, and the force of delivery was enough to anesthetize anyone, including full-blown heavyweights.

Chase stood in the corner across from Burley one month, two fights, and one tonsillectomy after defeating Booker. He was still recuperating on the night of February 19th. No one remembered the last time Chase had been knocked out but when Burley slung a right cross in the second round, he went down like it was yesterday. He had the grit to stand up as the count reached nine and then returned the favor in the fourth by knocking Burley down. Over the next six rounds, Burley blasted away and Chase’s lights were flickering and dimming so much he probably thought a prankster was in the Legion Stadium. He lost the decision, though finishing on his feet in a fight like that against a force like that was no small victory by itself.

In the summer of 1943, Chase faced Aaron “Tiger Wade. Wade was a chunky and powerful fighter with a vicious left hook. He was “feared, according to insiders, “by most of the so-called topnotchers. Even Burley resorted to being cute with him –hopping on a unicycle to take a close decision. Boxing fans on the lively coast were in for a surprise. Back in 1936, when Chase was fighting as Young Joe Louis against George Black and Eddie Murdock, he gave away the first three rounds. The same thing happened here. Like a baseball player watching the first pitch sail over home plate, Chase took his time making calculations and then adapted accordingly. What he came up with was almost counterintuitive. He went inside with “short, jolting blows against a stronger man and dominated that range and the fight.

The box office at the aptly-named Coliseum Bowl opened at 11am on the day before Chase met Lloyd Marshall. Back in 1934 and 1935 while Chase was cooling off in the clink, Marshall was winning two Golden Gloves championships in Cleveland and by this time, he had defeated Charley Burley and punched Costello Cruz loose from his warrior’s code.

The early betting said even money.

The day of the fight saw the odds tilt toward Chase at 10 to 8, which was unsurprising due to his well-publicized recent accomplishments. This was before television. It was an era when watching a fight meant leaving the house and buying a ticket. Gamblers like their eyes. They trust them. Given that, the betting public will pick a fresh and local plum over a rumor of the same. They go for what they know. But in the next morning’s paper, “Mr. Boxing himself, the omniscient Eddie Muller, came out in favor of Marshall. He predicted that the larger man’s “harder punching and “ability to fight at close quarters would make the difference. Those statements circulated and the betting public perked up –it was Marshall who entered the ring the favorite at 10 to 7 odds. This goes to show that a fresh and local plum is not picked when a veteran grocer speaks against it.

Muller should’ve picked both plums.

Fans in the San Francisco Bay Area said that Chase-Marshall I was “one of the greatest middleweight fights ever fought here.

Two minutes into the first round, Marshall threw a long left hook that caught Chase and sent him sliding across the canvas on his back. Chase jumped up without a count, grabbed a red cape and became a matador. He immediately deferred to the power of Marshall and stayed away while jabbing. In the fourth round, he got caught again with a left hook, and Marshall followed this one with a right cross. Chase spun into the ropes of his own corner, bounced off and sagged down. Seven seconds later he got up. Marshall proceeded to demonstrate how well-rounded he was by outjabbing and outboxing the sleeker Chase from rounds five through nine. Chase fell behind and then began fighting more aggressively. In the ninth round, he was moving again and outclassed Marshall who was beginning to tire. In the fourteenth round, Marshall turned on the heat and connected with a right cross and left hook that landed “wrist deep into the title holder’s stomach. Two uppercuts later Chase was “dazed and bewildered.

“Then, Muller tells us, “out of clear sky Chase let fly in desperation with a left hook which landed on Marshall’s jaw and sat him down near the ropes for a count of nine. Chase finished strong enough to take the last round and the fight was declared a draw. “He’s a good fighter and a smart one, Marshall admitted afterwards.

The build-up to the rematch was easy because fans in both camps disputed the draw. They didn’t have to wait long for a resolution. The rematch was held only a month later and would pull in a whopping $17,753 and fifteen cents. On the undercard was a heavyweight named Clarence Brown, a protégé of former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. When Brown was given a dubious decision over someone named Bob Smith, the crowd jeered. Johnson, now 65, moved to center ring and did a shadow boxing routine to lighten things up. It went over like a lead balloon.

Chase-Marshall II picked up where it left off –in a hurry.

Chase was the aggressor this time around, while Marshall, despite claims that he was in better condition for this bout, seemed puzzled. Chase was leading alternately with both hands and was digging short shots inside. Despite their eyes, the gamblers were betting 10 to 7 on the wrong man right up until the sixth round. In the ninth round, both fighters met in the middle for an exchange that lasted for a full thirty seconds as the screaming crowd rose to its feet. Chase took command at the end of the exchange with his jab and stayed in that posture for the rest of the fight.

In the last two minutes of the eleventh round he “cuffed Lloyd around with little reciprocation. In the thirteenth, he did “a paint job on Marshall. In the fourteenth, it was “target practice. In the last round, Chase gave him “a thorough going-over.

A humbled Muller admitted that Chase outpointed Marshall with “ridiculous ease.

Eddie Booker. Charley Burley. Aaron “Tiger Wade. Lloyd Marshall. The annals of boxing history have lifted a purple curtain on these fighters. Along with Holman Williams, Bert Lytell, Cocoa Kid, and Jack Chase himself, they’re eight fingers in the black fists of Murderers’ Row. Years after the last of them faded away, Jim Murray remembered them as “the most exclusive men’s club the ring has ever known. They were so good and so feared, he wrote, that they had to have their own tournament. All of them lost now and then but that’s all right -America likes scars. She pins medals on them. Travel to the opposite end of the world and the very idea of struggle is beautified. You can drop a vase in Japan and they’ll fill the cracks with gold. Murderers’ Row had tarnished records, Murray snapped, “because they tarnished each others!

They exalted each others.

Burley beat Chase. Marshall beat Burley. Chase drew with Marshall. Booker beat Marshall. Chase beat Booker, then beat Marshall in a rematch. Fans were almost guaranteed a doozy when these men clashed. Murderers’ Row, Murray wrote, “put on better fights in tank towns than champions did in Yankee Stadium.

As history rang the final bell on 1943, twenty-nine year old Jack Chase held a victory over two International Boxing Hall of Fame fighters and was the second-ranked middleweight on the planet.

Was he proud?

…..
Photograph courtesy of Harry Otty.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at scalinatella@hotmail.com.

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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