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Articles of 2010

PREDICTION PAGE: Abraham-Froch……….Who Do Ya Like?

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HELSINKI, Finland (Nov. 24, 2010) – Former world champions Arthur Abraham of Germany and Carl Froch of England were confident, yet respectful, during Wednesday’s Super Six World Boxing Classic jam-packed final press conference at Hartwall Areena in the Power Play Restaurant here on Wednesday.

While there was no trash-talking — Froch (26-1, 20 KOs) was very quiet and didnt want to get into anything beyond answering his questions simply andAbraham (31-1, 25 KOs) was in a more jovial mood but also kept his responses short — the fight itself this Saturday, Nov. 27, on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, same-day-delay) from Hartwall Areena also for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight title — has the potential to be a classic slugfest from start to finish.

In the second bout of the split-site doubleheader on SHOWTIME, unbeaten Andre Ward (22-0, 13 KOs) will defend his WBA 168-pound crown against Sakio Bika (28-4-2, 19 KOs) live from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

What the fighters and their promoters said before the Group Stage 3/WBC title fight on Wednesday:

ARTHUR ABRAHAM

“The first couple of days here have been nice. Im in a good mood, a comfortable mood. This is a bit cold for me since my coach has had me training in 110 degree temperatures. It is good for the body. Im well prepared for Saturday night.’’

In response to a question about the size difference and Frochs comments that he was much bigger, Arthur said: “Inside the ring all that matters is to be mentally stable. It doesnt matter (about being) bigger or stronger, just clever. The clever fighter always wins.’’

KALLE SAUERLAND (Abraham’s promoter)

“Right now this is the calm before the storm. Coverage in Finland has been tremendous. Arthur and all of us are touched by the Finnish fans who are rooting for him. Arthurs training camp has been the camp of his life. This is the fight of his life. He will reclaim the title in his second division.’’

WILFRIED SAUERLAND (Abraham’s promoter)

“Ive been promoting boxing for more than 30 years and I cant remember the last time I was this excited. I dont like to make predictions but Im very confident Arthur will win the belt Saturday night. From what I heard from his trainers he is in the shape of his life and may even have a few surprises that will test how versatile Froch is.’’

CARL FROCH (who greeted the media in Finnish and then repeated it in English)

“Its great to be here in Finland. I go into every fight to win. If that means throwing bombs and breaking ribs then, yeah, Ill do everything I can to win my belt back. I come into the fight with self belief and confidence. I plan to come into the ring and win this belt back. I dont think it should have ever been taken away in the first place. I predict Im going to win by any means necessary on Saturday night’’

MICK HENNESSEY (Froch’s promoter)

“This is a sensational fight between two fantastic warriors with big punching power. Froch is here to claim what is rightfully his, the prestigious WBC belt. Ive said it before and I truly believe it, he is the best super middleweight in the world.

MEDIA PREDICTIONS AND COMMENTS

National and International Boxing Writers are 50/50 on

Abraham-Froch Picks for this Saturday on SHOWTIME®

NEW YORK(Nov. 24, 2010) – The experts both in the States and abroad may not all agree on who is going to win, but there is a general consensus that the Super Six World Boxing Classic matchup between Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham has Fight of the Year potential.

As the close Las Vegas odds indicate with Abraham listed asa slight 7-5 favorite(-165), people are having a tough time picking a winner in this clash of European heavy hitters. In a recent poll, national and international boxing writers were evenly split between Abraham and Froch with nine writers picking Abraham and nine predicting a win for Froch.

In quintessential Showtime Championship Boxing fashion, Abraham-Froch is considered by many as too-close-to-call and a can’t-miss war. “This is a great fight. It has Fight of the Year written all over it, says one U.S. boxing writer. “These are two extremely tough, durable guys who love to fight and whose skills are probably a little better than they get credit for.

Added another international scribe, “I think it could be a classic because Abraham likes to stand in the middle of the ring, dominate and trade, and so does Froch. It has all the potential for a memorable fight.

And another, “Froch and Abraham has every ingredient to make it the best fight so far in the Super Six. The main ingredient is desire; a desire to get back on top.

Not only is getting back on top at stake, but so is crucial seeding for the semifinals of the World Boxing Classic and the vacant WBC Super Middleweight title belt when Froch (26-1, 20 KOs) and Abraham (31-1, 25 KOs) climb into the ring on Saturday, Nov. 27, on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT) on same-day-delay from Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland. In the second bout of the split-site doubleheader, unbeaten Andre Ward (22-0, 13 KOs) will defend his WBA 168-pound crown against Sakio Bika (28-4-2, 19 KOs) from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

A couple of SHOWTIME boxing analysts are split as well. Antonio Tarver believes Froch will win by unanimous decision. “I feel this fight has a great chance to be Fight of the Year. These two fighters have serious disdain for each other, said the former light heavyweight champion turned heavyweight contender. “If this fight is going to end with a KO, I see Abraham having that type of power and not Froch. But if this fight comes down to a knock down, drag out where both fighters are having there moments and need to adapt and make changes along the way, I see Froch having the ability to out box and out fox Abraham for a decision win – which I feel is more probable.

Longtime SHOWTIME ringside reporter Jim Gray sees it differently. Said Gray, “I think that Abraham will win. His performance against Dirrell will be a motivating factor. Froch does not have a good enough defense for Abraham. Also, Froch has been taunting Abraham and I believe that he has gotten underneath Abraham’s skin, and he will pay a price for that.

Calling the fight for SHOWTIME, analyst Steve Farhood remains neutral but expects fireworks. “Its difficult to envision anything but an action bout, said Farhood. “The taller Froch might try to box more than usual, but Abraham doesnt figure to wait as long as he did against Dirrell, so no matter the strategies, there are going to be several exchanges between championship-caliber fighters with big punches and solid chins. Thats a pretty good formula for any fight.

“When you add the fact that theyre both coming off their initial losses, the motivation is deep. And a vacant title is at stake as well. I wont offer a prediction since Im calling the fight, but I see a Super Six war–and probably a distance fight as well.

Here’s what just a few national and international boxing experts think will happen during the mega-matchup Saturday:

Marcus Henry, Newsday, (Froch): “Arthur Abraham was exposed during his bout with Andre Dirrell. That said, he still has the power to end any fight quickly. But he wont be able to end it with Carl Froch early. Froch has proven to be one of the most resilient fighters of this era. His chin and his jab will enable him to outlast Abraham. Froch prevails on points, 115-113.

Lem Satterfield, AOL FanHouse.com, (Froch):> Carl Froch W 12 Arthur Abraham is my pick. If Froch can resist the urge to get into a slug-fest, I believe that he can and will be the busier fighter over the course of a 12-round decision over Abraham. Froch is capable of displaying his boxing skills against Abraham, who failed to adjust while being outboxed in his most recent loss to Andre Dirrell. Froch fared much better opposite Dirrell in a disputed split decision win, and he still is working with the confidence of believing that he is an undefeated fighter coming off of his disputed loss to Abrahams promotional stablemate, Mikkel Kessler. So my pick here is Froch by decision.

Rick Reeno, Boxingscene.com, (Abraham):“Both of these guys are very strong punchers for the weight, but I believe Abraham has a much tighter defense and displays a much better ability to pick his spots. Froch is often reckless with his style and easily lured into brawls. Based on the styles of Abrahams past two opponents in the Super Six, Froch should be easier for Abraham to deal with. Im picking Abraham by knockout in the late rounds.

Michael Rosenthal, RingTV.com, (Abraham):> “First, this is a great fight. It has Fight of the Year written all over it. These are two extremely tough, durable guys who love to fight and whose skills are probably a little better than they get credit for. That said, Andre Dirrell demonstrated that Abraham has problems with quick, slick boxers who are reluctant to engage him. Froch is slower and a lot more aggressive than Dirrell, which will work to the hard-punching Armenians advantage. I believe Abraham, a little tougher and a little better, will score a late knockout.

Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com, (Abraham): “I like Abraham in this fight. I think he and Froch will make for a good match-up of styles, but Froch cant or wont move like an Andre Dirrell and I think that plays into his favor. I like Abraham by decision.

Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register, (Abraham):“This has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year. I’m picking Abraham to win by decision or perhaps late stoppage. Froch will dictate the early rounds, but at some point Abraham’s punching power will eventually wear Froch down.

Michael Woods, The Sweet Science, (Froch):“To me, Abraham comes off as the ‘older’ guy, less fresh, even though at age 30, hes two and a half years younger than Froch. Cocky Frochy is coming off a loss against a fighter – Mikkel Kessler – not so dissimilar from Abraham, while Abraham is coming off a loss to a boxer quite unlike Froch, Andre Dirrell. Abe will have to make a much more severe adjustment to style. Both will have an extra element of desire coursing through them after the defeats – but I see Froch taking it to Abraham, and Abe not being able to counter as well as Kessler did. The action will be persistent, and back and forth. But Froch is a bit fresher, more active, more mobile … and will get the UD, by a margin of two points or so.

Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com, (Abraham):“While each of these fighters have an enormous amount of talent and the ability to bounce back after losing to high-caliber opposition, it is difficult to envision Arthur Abraham dropping two fights in a row. His will to win is unmatched. Froch is sure to bring his A-game, but it wont be enough to deny Abraham — who wins by unanimous decision.

>Kevin Mitchell, The Guardian, (Froch): “If Carl is injury free, he should be too big for Arthur — but Abraham is so tough. It could be a re-run of the Kessler fight. Froch on points, maybe getting off the canvas.

>Niall Hickman, The Express, (Froch):“It is a great fight, brilliant match-up and I regard both Froch and Abraham as world class operators. I think it could be a classic because Abraham likes to stand in the middle of the ring, dominate and trade, and so does Froch. It has all the potential for a memorable fight. As for predictions, I take Froch to win, either with a late stoppage or on points. Froch has, I think, got the edge. His defense allows opponents to land, but Froch has got a fantastic chin.

Steve Bunce, BBC News and author of ‘The Fixer’, (Froch): Froch and Abraham has every ingredient to make it the best fight so far in the Super Six. The main ingredient is desire; a desire to get back on top. Froch hates not being champion. I think that it will go long and that Froch will win a tight one. Can they stop each other? Yep, they can. But, I see some brain behind the power. Froch on points.

Phil Barnett, Press Association, (Froch):“If Froch has studied the tapes from the Kessler fight – and, crucially, of Abraham against Dirrell – he can frustrate Abraham and either stop him late or get the decision.

Matthias Brzezinski, Welt, (Abraham):“I believe Arthur Abraham will win, because Carl Froch underestimates him. Furthermore, a loss would be a debacle for Arthur. He is extremely motivated to prevent a defeat.

Haruka Gruber, Spox, (Abraham):“Abraham has the heart, the punch and the toughness. His biggest weakness throughout his career was that he was a slow starter in almost every fight, but he worked on it after his loss to Dirrell. If Abraham wins two of the first four rounds, he will win the fight. I dont know exactly what to expect from Froch, but he was a disappointment against Kessler and Dirrell.“

Jörg Lubrich, Bild, (Abraham):“This can be the fight of the year. Abraham has learned his lesson from the fight against Dirrell and will win by KO in the later rounds.

Björn Jensen, Hamburger Abendblatt, (Froch):Froch on points because I think he will wear Abraham down and not allow him to get through.

Torsten Püschel, ARD, (Abraham): Abraham wins a close points decision. Froch will dictate with his jab but his combinations will land on Abraham´s guard. Abraham will be successful with counter-attacks to body and head. Both have a strong chin, that´s why a KO is unlikely.

Corey Erdman, SIRIUS 98,(Froch):>Carl Froch may be the most underrated boxer in the world. For some reason, the consensus seems to be that hes nothing more than the plodding, rugged type of fighter Arthur Abraham can prey upon. In reality, he certainly is rugged, but he has an excellent, well-timed jab and solid footwork. If he wants to keep Abraham at the end of it, he can. And after getting suckered into a brawl against Kessler, I cant imagine hell do it twice in a row. Froch UD-12.

Super Six World Boxing Classic rivals and European superstars Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch have been throwing verbal haymakers at each other since their Group Stage 3 showdown for the vacant WBC super middleweight title was announced.

Abraham is a slight favorite to triumph this Saturday, Nov. 27, on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, same-day-delay) from Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland, but Froch has the advantages in height and reach.

So whos going to winwhat’s expected to be an exciting slugfest between arguably the two toughest and most aggressive punchers in the Super Six?

Stay tuned. In five days, well all know.

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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PacquiaoClottey_Booth_6

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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