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Articles of 2010

THE TSS TAKEAWAY: Readers' Cleanest, Hardest Shots Post LTP-Martinez

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Many thought it would be the fight of the year, but Im pretty certain nobody foresaw the Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez rematch, and guessed that it would feature the KO of the year, and would be the platform for the victor to become the odds on favorite to be the BWAA fighter of the year.

Most thought wed get a thriller, that the rematch wouldnt sag under the weight of expectations, but the oddsmakers and the rank and file leaned towards Williams to get the W, in more convincing fashion than he did the first tussle.

He got the W, if the W stands for whacked. Martinez threw a left hand that separated Paul from his senses, and his his middleweight crown, in the second round. Holy sh–s, resonated in the living room of fight fans everywhere, as we all knew, from the way he went down, that Long Tall Paul wouldnt be beating a count of 30. We needed that, one of those shockers, a result nobody really saw coming, after we had that October-November slow season, and the all but expected Pacquiao manhandling of Margarito.

TSS Universe weighed in, after they picked up their jaws. There are 14 faves, in honor of Martinez, who will be starting his 14th year in the game, in 2011.

14) Anonymous user: Martinez has lost as many potential suitors as Paul has finally found. No one will rush to greet that newborn middleweight king…but plenty will suddenly appear at Pauls door.

13) Smoke: If Sergio says he can make 156 he and Pacquiao ought to tangle. Make the fight PPV and in a 100,000 plus venue, a promoters wet dream. I am real curious to see if Roach will let his fighter take on Sergio. I know fearless Manny would go for it. Oh, and did I mention that Floyd Mayweather is a bum?

12) The Roast: I agree with DaveBs comments. Feroz and others have brought this up before. LTP has never learned to fight tall. He should be Thomas Hearns but he gets down like hes from Philly. I was thinking in that first round that Paul was winning but his chin was hanging out there. Boom shock-a-laka, fight over in the second round. I have to stop underestimating Sergio from here on out. A fight with Manny would truly be PPV worthy. I think Sergio is too big for Pacman but you never know. Williams will have to start over. Hire a new trainer. Floyd will not get in the mix with these guys. He doesnt want Manny and after tonight he will stay away from Sergio.

11) RED:
In a single moment, Sergio Martinez turn himself from a dangerous, solid fighter, to the man to beat at the middleweight and an overall force to be reckoned with. Frankly, his devastating punch reminded me of the Antonio Tarver bomb that ended Roy Jones night (and aura of invincibility) at their rematch. I think those of us who have followed Sergios career enjoyed this moment so much because of a simple reason; the man deserved it. Sergio has paid his dues in boxing. He has shown that he belongs in the ring with anyone. Last night, he put an exclamation point to that statement. Like many, I picked Williams to win not because I wanted him to but because I thought he would establish a controlling jab and would keep Sergio off balance most of the fight. Ironically, I said that I would enjoy Sergio winning by brutal KO. Well, Sergio delivered. After his monster left, he kept Williams off balance for the rest of the night. Anyone that had doubts about Sergio being the real thing can now put those doubts to rest. Sergio is here to stay and now he has the highlight film to prove it.

10) The Watcher:
The Pacman will only take this fight when they (Roach) believe Sergio is finished, just like Hatton, Cotto, Goldie & Margarito. Sergio is too much for him right now & Pacman wont be around long enough for this fight to happen. He may however fight Williams cause Williams is done! Now the questions is does Sergio dominate his division or does he start picking guys that people are saying their careers are over like Pacman & start jumping divisions? WBC President Jose Sulaiman wont be around to make up fake titles at fake weight divisions for him like he did for Pacman? What to do?

9) Tonton tan: PLEASE CONSIDER AND SPREAD THE IDEAS…( copy paste it or email it to the people concerned) If the Mayweather fight does not happen, PACQUIAO should fight MARTINEZ for the middleweight title under a catchweight of 155/156lbs. This would allow Pacquiao to win his 9th title in as many divisions and his 5th lineal title in 5 divisions, another double milestone for his legacy. This is possible because we should remember that Martinez is shorter than Margarito and he already lost to him before. Pacquiao also beat Margarito weighing 165lbs (which is a supermiddleweight) when they fought. Im sure Martinez would take the deal because it would mean a lot for both fighters career. Its possible… lets push for it. Another choice if Pacquio-Mayweather or Pacquiao-Martinez would not materialize… PACQUIAO-MARQUEZ III for the LINEAL lightweight title (135lbs.) Pacquiao is a natural lightweight. This would be ideal because it would not only settle the score for both fighters but it would also make Pacquiao capture his 5th LINEAL title in 5 divisions. Another first! Take note that Pacquiao won a lightweight title before but not the LINEAL title. This would bring in interest, a classic trilogy, a mark in history and an end to all doubters… what do you guys think?

8) Truthinfinite @ Bill Major:
Solid point, the foot movement of Martinez is like no other in the middleweight division. Manny goes over 150 and hell be sluggish. The only way Manny beats Martinez is if there is a weight negotiation of a 150 pound limit. Which Martinez shouldnt have to do at this point in his career, it would be unfair and in all honesty uninteresting to see a weight drained Martinez get pummeled by Pacman. However, if the contracts are signed, no excuses.

7) Anony: SO WHERE ARE ALL OF THOSE TSS FANS who always culted Paul Williams and chorus out that he is (was) the most feared fighter in the sports??????… Pleassssseeee…. ever since Carlos Quintana won their first fight you could tell he is was vulnerable. I dont know if it is a lefty thing or style thing (Sergio and Quintana have same style) but here it is. I congratulate him though, he accepted it was a good punch and was a gentleman. But know he should drop the nobody fight me B$. Thats what annoys me about him.

6) MisterLee:
Paul was and still is a great fighter. He has and is taking on all challenges. Lets give him props for taking this fight, and campaigning between 3-4 weight classes. Its not the end for him… and big or small fights… I like good fights… Martinez vs. Pirog/Clottey… please… Floyd wont take Martinez… Martinez would be a harder fight for Floyd than Pacquiao, and that says a lot. If Floyd takes on MartinezI will eat crows including the feathers… pc!

5) Rico Mambo of Quezon City: Thats what u may call a BLIND FLUKE LEFT HOOK. Boxing just like any other sport depends on your bio-rhythm. It so happens Maravilla got the better of the trade. Paul on the other hand will surely request a rematch and it will be like a Rambo or a Terminator like of a redemption fight. Like what happened in 2008, after losing the 1st fight to Carlos Quintana, Paul knocked out El Indio in the 1st rd of the rematch of the same year. For sure BOB ARUM is on his way or already negotiating for Pacquiaos 9 division quest. Thatll be a great fight. And for sure, Bob will make him an offer Martinez cant resist. And like any other Pacman foe, theyll be making the biggest paycheck of the career. 9 million dollars (3 million + 6 million ppv)…..sign it Maravilla.

4) RED: I have serious concerns about a Pacquiao-Martinez fight. First of all, the fight would have to be made at what has become a customary catch weight bout for Manny. There are clear disadvantages for both fighters. Manny would be fighting a full blown middleweight, not a blown up welter. Martinez would have to lose weight, which as most of us know, can affect fighters quite significantly. Manny has mowed his competition at larger weights simply because of his speed. Critics argue that being bigger and presumably stronger, is no advantage when speed is lacking. Of course, that’s what makes Manny great. However, Sergio is no slouch. Sergio also has power. When we think about the fighters that Manny has conquered at larger weights, you have fighters that had strength but not one-punch lethal power, a la Manny himself or Sergio (just ask 2 folks named Hatton and Williams). Second, the risk to both fighters, as compared to the benefit, is suspect. If Manny beats another opponent at a catch-all weight, especially someone that has to come down a lot to make the pre-determined weight, his accomplishment will come under much more scrutiny. A Sergio victory will undoubtedly be looked upon as the win of a legitimately bigger fighter over a smaller one that simply tried to bite more than he could chew. The point is that the continued artificial arraignments of catch weight fights for Manny will inevitably reach a saturation point. I doubt that the general public cares. The bigger the guy Manny beats, the more accolades he receives. To a degree, he deserves every single one of those. But Max Kellerman, while acknowledging Manny’s greatness, pointed out what many have been saying for a while: Manny’s opponents have been bigger but not much more when it comes to presenting a threat. I believe, however, that Max countered his own point: Manny is a great fighter and that’s why he has handled the bigger competition. Is the catch weight plan benefiting him? Perhaps so far. But that practice should stop sooner than later. It’ll be ultimately good for Manny as well as the sport.

3) MisterLee: I dont like how people are calling Martinezs left hook, and Pacquiaos victory a fluke. Martinez was landing that shot all night, and he whooped Pauls arse the first fight hands down, and Pacquiao beat a motivated Marg who still had a cast iron chin, high volume, pressure, and 4 inches and 17 lbs advantage. Calling these victories a fluke or luck or a win over a pushover is ignorant. If you forgot, Mosley wasnt the first one to beat Marg, there were 5 other opponents before that, and if anything, Cotto softened Marg up a good deal too win or lose. Just like Mayweather, did Kosta Tszyu, Baldomir both soften Judah up for Mayweather? Did Luis Collazo, who beat Hatton first, soften him up for Mayweather? Did Cotto, Forrest, and Wright soften Mosley up for Mayweather? Take a win for a win. Did Pacquiao soften Marquez up twice for Mayweather? Did Castillo soften Mayweather? Or Chop Chop Corley? Take a win for a win, or you undermine in your head how skillful and Marvelous Martinez and Pacquiao really are. I say Mayweather would have fought Williams if he had won, but now you got Martinez, who is a harder fight, and less money than a Pacquiao fight. Mayweather gonna stay retired. Fo sho! Tss rules!!!

2) FeRoz: First of all.. props to Sergio. Great KO victory. After losing an all too close decision the first time, he came with a plan and executed his man. Never has the cry Timberrrrr been more apt. Like a long tall Georgia Pine ready for the mill, that he is, down went Paul. No matter what you thought of the young man…and we all know Radam has been on this since day one….he comes to fight. Not uniquely skilled however, given his time and experience in the ring. If ever a man needed a new trainer and regime, its PW. Peterson had/has taken him as far as he knew/knows how. Its unfortunate that he has not made a single fundamental adjustment in his last three fights. As for the Champion Martinez, he put to bed all the nonsense….most often used to attack Pacquiao…about catchweights. Too clever to be pinned down, Sergio said he would wait to hear what is out there and weigh his options. No sooner did he say those words than he volunteered to fight next at 156! You all heard it. With the microphone in his face and the world watching, Sergio the professional prize fighter said that for the right fight, he would proffer to weigh in at 156…a catchweight. Because Sergio is mature enough to know that if you want to make matches that people want to see..you make them where you want and need to weigh. With all of the absurd trinkets being handed out, titles mean virtually nothing today. Good matches and good fights do. Oh, and good victories. That gentlemen is how it rolls. The man with the bigger draw has the most leverage. How do you get the bigger draw? You fight lots of thrilling fights. Not against mandatory stiffs from some sanctioning body…but against other top flight fighters. If there is a weight discrepancy that is fungible, then two reasonable men can make the decision to work out a happy medium. Better that than fighting some unknown who paid sanctioning fees for a rating no one gives a sh-t about (Pardon my French). Fans want fights. Entertaining ones. Martinez and Williams are top P4P fighters. They fought a re-match at a catchweight. Did it matter? Ask Paul, the man who capped his opponents weight. Did everyone here and elsewhere cry catchweight last night? NO. Because it was not a great little man this time. It was two ordinary champions. Double standards are a bitch….so lets leave them aside. And hope for great matches. All that said, I dont think Manny should be fighting Sergio. Radam may very well be right…but after battling and battering a much bigger Margarito, I thought I saw a much more extended Manny. And why not. With the exception of one fight (SSM) Margarito was a fierce competitor. Through three rounds…or until Mannys sharpshooting power busted his orbital, Margarito was smiling. Just like he did against lesser men who broke under the pressure. Like Antonio, Sergio is an endurance fighter. Last night was an exception. KOs of that sort come when they come. That is not SMs stock and trade. Stamina and strength combine with slick crafty fighting is what wins Sergio fights. He is naturally bigger than all top welterweights. If he wants the money, he can listen and decide what and who to fight next …come what Weight. Thats his prerogative. Hes the champ.

1) Brownsugar, still in mourning: Shockingly sweet victory for Martinez… Instead of a wild celebration by the audience with announcers screaming over the top of one another in jubilation, it was like somebody turned off the light switch at a New Years Eve party. Max was looking around as if he was trying to locate the sniper who shot Paul from the cheap seats. Emmanuel Stewart looked like he was ready to apologize to the HBO audience for the fight not going 12 hard rounds…Only Maravilla and his team seemed to be happy with his work. Martinez made the fight look closer than it as he weathered Pauls windmilling offense in order to get closer like he said he would so he could land that perfect merciless counter. I feel bad for Paul, I gave him my sympathy vote and reasoned that Martinez would try to blitz him early, but never did envision a 2 round blowout. I may have to schedule a couple of visits to my psychoanalyst to overcome my grief. Hopefully Williams can overcome and become as resilient as Hearns was who suffered many KO defeats but kept on coming back to beat good boxers. He could also learn to box while hes reassessing his options. Just Say No to Pac vs Martinez., theres too much of a bone and muscle mass barrier for Pac to traverse. A natural 140 pounder vs a natural and talented 180 pounder would be so unamerican. Let the shot Margarito earn a shot at the middleweight and junior middleweight titles. He never deserved his last payday. However, Cotto vs Margarito would be a perfect fit. And no, Mayweather dont want none! Maravilla deserves the honors and praise, but I doubt that hell survive a defense against Pirog, or Gennady Golovkin (too much ability). A fight with Martinez and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam would be a straight up FOTY candidate; both guys love to box, move, and set up crushing counters.. Hopefully hell take Sturms belt in a much deserved breather. Sure, Martinez could fight a stream of unknown goons that the sanctioning bodies of boxing always seems to have on tap for mandatory defenses, but I have a feeling that Martinez will be much more selective. Bravo Maravilla! Boxing is starting to look like a real sport again.

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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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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