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Articles of 2010

THE TSS TAKEAWAY: Readers' Cleanest, Hardest Shots Post Soto-Antillon

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Such as shame…fight of the year candidate ran on Saturday night, and a couple hundred thousand people saw it.

Soto-Antillon was a barnburner, but because it was on pay per view, basically nobody saw it.

Sigh. Such is the state of the game. Not much we keyboard tappers and you fans can do, I guess. We make clear our preference, for fights on free TV, or at least premium cable. But free TV treats us like were porno, and there is only so much budget to go around from the cablers.

Were eager to slide out of that rant, and get happy, considering this is the holiday season, and our problems rate as luxuries to so many with so little. Mudsides, landslides, flooding in Columbia and Venezuela, Haiti still in shambles…so lets keep perspective, right?

But wait..we wanted to look on the bright side…how can we do this when our shining star of pugilism, Manny Pacquiao, is allegedly set to glove up in April against Sugar-free Shane Mosley, a fighter whose reflexes are almost completely gone? This will be like watching those perverse pay to spray hunting deals, where lunatic losers with firearms fetishes pay to empty bullets into wild animals set loose in a big backyard. Hey, maybe Mosley can reverse his slide, find some magic potion which reverses the aging process. But it seems like even Manny-iacs, who understandably do tend to accept and cheerlead most decisions made by Manny and Team Pacquiao, arent warming up to Manny-Mosley. OK, so many Manny-iacs arent inclined to give the guy they call the Canvas Kisser, Juan Manuel Marquez, a third crack at Pacquiao. Seems like they feel like he hasnt conducted himself with humility as hes chased a third scrap with Pacquiao. But cant we find another option, other than Mayweather, who is holed up in a bunker doing lord knows what instead of plying his trade, and Mosley, five years past his prime? Im betting, and still holding out hope, that we can. Hey, the holidays here are so much about hope. Hoping that the better instincts of mankind emerge, that those in power dispense their power with a primary focus of the Have Nots in mind, that people treat others as they themselves would want to be treated, that people make choices based on the enrichment of many, not the few, that promoters who spend so much money and energy suing each other find compromise, and work with each other…heres hoping that as we look ahead to 2011, more choices are made, in boxing and the world at large, for the greater good.

Speaking of greater good, we got a good batch of comments following my post on the likelihood of Manny-Mosley, and the In Harms Way card. Thanks, as always, for reading TSS, and taking the time, energy, and effort to share your passion and wisdom with all of us. –Editor Mike

PS The Boxing Channel, a sister site to us, is doing good things, Please log on their, and support the effort!

DaveB: Soto vs Antillon was like the Thriller in Manila. That fight was crazy. Now it will be on to Brandon Rios and Vasquez. Wow. Definitely Fight of the Year.

DaveB:I couldnt agree with you more EM, on the Manny-Mosley deal, I couldnt agree with you more. This is possibly the worst choice that could be made. It gives the fans nothing. Of course by fight time they will say that Margarito hurt Pac to the body and Mosley has fierce body work and some will buy into that way of thinking. But in truth this is a terrible match. A bad beating and a great payday for Mosley.

Radam G: The theatre of the unexpected is what many call this game. Im on spot with #1PacFan. Money May should step up than it would not be Sugarlite Shane. Hes lost a lot of steps. But the truth of the matter is that Money May is acting so strange because of a genetic disorder that causes him to rapidly age. Da Manny would definitely destroy Lil Floyd as of now. Thirty-years-old-plus something destroyed Big Floyds legs faster than normal, not a bullet. The same thing happened to Uncle Roger and Uncle Jeff. Just do the research and investigation for yourself. Money May fought Sugar Shane at that slow coming forward style because that is all that Money May could do. He has lost his legs. All of those years of not listening to Pops Joy May and running on cement has gotten to Lil Floyd. A lot of those in the know know the secret behind Lil Floyds fright in not fighting da Manny. The jive about PEDs is just that — JIVE! Try saying that Lil Floyd is suffering from fast-affecting arthritis in the legs and knees. [Dudes legs are stiffer than a mummy.] Where is the slick African American with boxing skills for da Manny to fight? SSM is going to have to do. Or Miami-born Haitian Berto is going to have to do. Forget about Tim Bradley. He probably wont get pass Alexander The Great. Long-in-the-tooth SSM deserves a good payday. Nonetheless, it is not a 100 percent certain that he is the winner of da Manny derby. Stay tune for the official word after December 17. Holla!

Frankly: Who is he going to fight if its not Mosley? Martinez? Williams? I dont even mention PBF because hes on vacation or retired now… Honestly I dont know…I do know that Pac shouldnt be fighting Mosley @ this time…Maybe Pac should move down to the VERY Competitive 140 Division…It would be nice to see Pac cleanout a division to finish his career off…But nowadays thats taboo…Just get the Big Paycheck and get out…Alas, this is the times we are living in.

In touch: It is unfortunate that this fight will take place. But there are some major issues to consider: 1) GBPs very own Bernard Hopkins has put it out there that Pac should fight a black American. Mosley is the only black American Pac can fight who can bring money to the table. 2) Mayweather refuses to fight Pac. 3) GBP owns Marquez and GBP dont get along with Bob Arum. Theyll never be able to come to terms to make this fight happen. Sad for everyone. Mostly for boxing fans. 4) Marquez wants a 50-50 split against the fighter of the decade and the best fighter fighting right now. Cant happen. Wont happen. Marquez needs to agree to a more reasonable split like Mayweather did against De La Hoya when they fought. It was 75-25 for ODH. 5). Berto is young and fast but wont bring much to the table as far as ppv is concerned. Too bad for the fans. Too bad for boxing. 6). GBP should control their smaller partners (Hopkins) if they are serious in putting on shows like Pac vs. Marquez fight. Hopkins spouting out about Pac needing to fight black Americans to prove worthy had everyone talking. Thats bad talk if GBP intended on getting pac to fight a Mexican. Fans lose. Boxing loses. At the end of the day, Pac will get paid another 25 mill. In that sense neither he nor Arum lose. My wish is that guys like Berto step up and fight better competition and become stars so that they can demand big fights. 7) This deal with Mosley might prove another thing; GBP are cursed. They dont have a superstar. Theyve been trying to ride on Mayweathers coattails and that ride is over. Mosley had to leave GBP to get this fight with Pac. He was trying to get the Pacquiao fight before there was talk of Mayweather fighting pacquiao. After Mayweather refused to fight Pac, GBP never gave Mosley a chance to step in against Pac. Maybe they were afraid Mosley might win and therefore ruin the big money fight between Pac and Mayweather. Either way, Mosley had to do what was best for him. Maybe Marquez needs to do the same.

Shadow_vmn: As a true boxing fan, not just a Pacquiao fan, I am disgusted with this fight. I was telling my dad a while ago that this will just end up bad for Pac. Not that hes going to lose, but for sure the critics will have a good time firing their guns, and this time the bullets wont be dodged. As big a Pacquiao fan as I am, will I defend him? Not this time. Id like him to fight either Marquez, to shut the pee-pee mouths mouth (although if Pac manages to beat him, critics will just say that Marquez is unproven at 140lbs and up, and hes old, and hes not African-American, and… you know what I mean), or since hes a welterweight, Andre Berto (even if Pac manages to beat him, critics will just say that why didnt he fight Marquez, and Berto is still unproven, and…. you know what I mean). But what can I do, eh? What can WE do? Pac always says Ill fight anybody THAT MY PROMOTER PUTS IN FRONT OF ME. That means, Pac never tells Arum who he wants to fight. And thats sad.

The Roast: Say what you will but even at this age Shane Mosley has a better chance to win than Margarito or Clottey did. If the Pacman would be the first man to bust up and or KO Sugar Shane Mosley that would be a big achievement. Im not sayin Im just sayin.

Boxmeister: I used to think Arum is making sound decisions in match-ups. But this time he has lost it. Mosley is a spent, washed up fighter after his last two fights. If Arum thinks the fight fans are excited about it, he is dead wrong. He already said he does not care about the boxing fans on this match-up. He is not doing Pacquiao a favor by making him look bad even to his die hard fans who want to see him fight meaningful and challenging fights. Berto is undefeated, black and the WBC Champion. It just makes sense to put him instead of worn out, left-over of Fraud Mosley. This is a disgrace to Pacquiao and his fans. Hopefully, Pacquiao wakes up and if he is really sincere about putting up a good entertainment for the fans, he should consider fighting Berto and not Mosley and certainly not the money monger pee drinking Marquez.

Thommy: Lets hope Manny puts the kibosh on this farce. He should bypass his handlers and issue a public statement to the effect of Shane WAS a great fighter, hell be in the Hall of Fame, etc, but hes a self-avowed shot fighter fighting only for one reason: Money. If Shane wants to fight on, so be it, but hes no longer a headliner. He is nothing more than a stepping stone/resume builder for up and comers to bang on. Remember, Manny just got through with a gimme. He doesnt need another. Margarito has absolutely nothing left, and hes been badly damaged goods since January 2009. If Manny fights Shane, thats back to back gimmes. If he does, and assuming he fights a worthy challenger after Shane, then hes effectively sidelined for a year plus. I think Berto is a much more attractive fight. The guy is young and hungry and looked good in his last fight.

Tess: Not going to pay for this fight if it happens. It is a terrible fight, and not the one everyone wants to see. Manny is in part to blame for the hostility between GBP, and Top Rank. He should not have signed with both of them, and this might not have been as bad. As far as GBP Oscar leaving Top Rank to start his own company, Arum should get over it. Real fight fans want to see real fights. Marquez should not take 25%, he should take 60/40 or 70/30. He is generating interest as well.

Edgar: I dont believe for one second that Pacquiao will fight Mosley. This is just speculation. Look, Pacquiao is aware that Shane is a shell of his former self. The guy has looked nothing short of atrocious, and that fact isnt lost on Manny. Hes not going to wreck his momentum and legacy by fighting a guy that should have retired 5 years ago (Mosley beat up on a plasterless, shot Margarito). Its getting to the point where a Holyfield decision might have to be made regarding Shane – pull the plug on his license. Mosley belongs nowhere near a boxing ring these days, and Pacquiao knows this, and wont let this circus come to town.

DaveB: I cant blame Mosley if this report is true. Hell get another nice payday and obviously he is in need of the money. IMO I think both Pacquaio and Mayweather are hurting their respective legacies, if that means anything and I think it does to each of them. Catchweights, favorable matchmaking, not fighting fighters at times when the fighters were viable opponents, not fighting each other for stupid reasons, Pac letting Roach and Arum always tell him what to do – Im sure he doesnt do that in Congress. The Mayweather people on here always make up excuses for their man, the Pacquaio people always make up excuses for their man. The whole thing is sickening. These fights can come together if either man really wanted it. But if it cant and one man steps up, calls the other one out, negotiates smartly with no outrageous demands it would show the public who the real coward is and then he could say well if the fight never happens I tried my best. I think we could all live with that.

RG: Amen! Its time for Manny to say NO to this kind of fight. Mosley was an elite fighter but not anymore after the beating he got from Floyd. He barely got a draw with Mora who is way below Mannys class. If it does happen, I would still watch the fight but wont buy the PPV. There are lots of sports bar in our area that show all Mannys fight. Its time for Manny to give the younger fighters a chance like the winner of Devon and Tim if Floyd is too scared to fight him.

Radam G @ the Roast: I got a sickling feeling that da Manny is going to destroy Sugar Shane like mean ole Larry Holmes destroyed my idol GOAT Ali back in my kiddie days. History is so ironic and so repeating. Not that I will cry for Shane. He will get paid righteously.

FeRoz : If this is sad, it is because manny has already wiped out his own stable…and with it most of the elite names in the welterweight division. Hindsight is 20/20 but most of us moaned when Shane was chosen to fight Floyd a year ago. Hes been old and less dangerous long before this bout began shaping up. Floyd only confirmed what we suspected and/or knew. Why did Floyd fight him. Same reason as Manny. Money. Big name, big reward. Small risk. So this time its Manny giving SSM a payday (can you think of a more deserving veteran) and adding a name to his his list of vanquished. And like Floyd over JMM, Manny is fighting over someone elses leftovers. But that is how it works at this level. Virtually everyone is someone elses leftovers. But back to next spring. Only one man can de-rail this fight from happening. And Lord only knows why it aint Floyd. All he has to do is say Im Ready.

Anony: YES… this ranks at the top of FOY candidates. This one and last week Katsidis vs Marquez are the best from 2010. Antillon is insane… with a better defense he could have won this one but Sotos experience and coolness was the real winner here.

Mattressmania@FeRoz: So Antillon was the one with no power? Why didnt Soto knock Antillon out? I think Soto was the weaker but slightly faster technical fighter. If Antillon had landed what Soto dished out to Antillon he would of got knocked out….the kid ran for his life and did a good job of it. Antillon will be a top lightweight for the next couple years with his great showing in last nights fight. Honestly people pay money to watch real scraps, dont get me wrong great technique and athleticism is appreciated but i think in the sport of boxing you need more fighters with iron Ba**s! If youre athletic go play basketball or even football where footspeed is more needed. Cause I know darn well that 75% of the boxing fans that are out there dont wanna see two men dancing inside a ring for 12 rounds and get charged 54.99 for that. Fight of the year definitely round by round!

FeRoz : Soto was beautiful against an absolutely relentless pressure attack by the incredibly resilient Antillon. In fact, had Antillon had KO power, Soto would have been in even greater danger. The fight was minute to minute one of the years best. Two men, each with different skill sets, both phenomenally well trained, executing their respective plans to the T. Antillon attacked…and Soto was like a matador. Moving fluidly side to side, fighting going forward…and back…he nailed Antillon hard with pinpoint accuracy. But still Antillon came. And the more he did, the better Soto was. I cant remember seeing two fighters since Gatti and Ward show each other so much respect after such a war. Antillon, no stranger to roughhouse tactics, literally hugged Soto BEFORE the final round. For those of you who missed it, Dont. This one was worth all of the bad PPV monies we have spent before. It was a night of ….Fights, with a capital F.

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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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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