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Articles of 2010

The Kimball Chronicles: Of Jerry And Manny

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NEW YORK — Boxing history is littered with the carcasses of guys with more money than brains who, having watched their intellectual inferiors accumulate cash, decided that if it was that easy for some dope to get rich out of boxing, then they themselves might as well get even richer.

Whether they were financiers who fancied themselves possessed of the Midas touch (see Trump, Donald), consortiums of local banks (see Shelby, Montana), despotic third-world dictators (Mobutu Sese Seko), or embezzlers in search of a creative outlet for their ill-gotten cash (Ross Fields, a/k/a Harold Smith), since the earliest days of the sport they have shared a common experience: When the box office receipts were counted they were left holding an empty paper bag as the real boxing guys got out of town with all the dough.

A word to the wise here (not that Bob Arum doesn't know it already): Don't count on Jerry Jones being one of them.

Arum, in New York Wednesday to announce the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight at Cowboys Stadium, called the March 13 site “the greatest venue ever to host a boxing event,” and then went on to sing its praises in terms we hadn't heard in fifty years since another generation of Texans described the Astrodome.

On the other hand, when Arum described Jones as his “partner” and suggested that Jones might revolutionize boxing — or at least the marketing of boxing — in the immediate future, he may not have been far off he mark.  

I found myself reflecting on a conversation in a bar at Caesars Palace a few days before the 1987 Ray Leonard-Marvin Hagler fight. Leonard's lawyer/advisor Mike Trainer had brought Jim Troy, the NHL goon-turned-WWF marketing guru, on board in a consulting role to Team Leonard, and Troy had in turn introduced Trainer to his boss.

“Bob Arum and Don King and the rest of them had better pray that Vince McMahon doesn't get interested in boxing,” Trainer said that night, “because if he ever did, he might put them all out of business.”

Vince McMahon never did. But Jerry Jones has been thinking about it for the past quarter-century.
***
Madison Square Garden might be the Mecca of Boxing, but even stuffed to capacity it can only accommodate half of the 40,000 Arum and Jones anticipate to pass through the gates at Cowboys Stadium come March 13.  On the other hand, the 5,000-capacity WaMu Theatre was just about the right size for the press conference.  

The wording on the schedule — “lunch will be served at 11 am, with the news conference beginning promptly at noon” — pretty much guaranteed a substantial early crowd.  Press conference veterans knew they could spend a leisurely hour gorging themselves on the usual Madison Square Garden fare (pausing only to throw an extra wrap or two into the briefcase while nobody was looking) before Pacquiao and Clottey even showed up.  

The first sign that this might not be business as usual came around quarter past 11, when the first Debbie approached a table filled with masticating boxing writers, placed a full-color glossy photo of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders in front of one, and asked him if he'd like her to autograph it.  

The expression on the guy's face was the look of a man who'd just been offered a free lap dance.

Similar occurrences took place around the Garden's WaMu Theatre as other Debbies worked the room in this campaign to win the hearts and, uh, minds of the media.  Batting her eyes, one Debbie even told a grizzled fight writer she hoped she'd see him in Dallas when he came for the March 13 fight.

“Boy,” he sighed as Debbie Three moved on to the next table. “Getting these cheerleaders here was a great idea!”

Yeah, but with the Cowboys out of the playoffs and Tiger Woods in rehab, it wasn't as if they'd have been real busy that day anway.

Promoter Bob Arum revealed that the initial plan had called for four Debbies to fly to New York. At the Texas stop on Tuesday it emerged that another of the Cowboy cheerleaders was of Filipino extraction. Invited to join the the Pacquiao-Clottey traveling entourage, Debbie Five raced home to pack an extra thong and was shortly on her way to the Big Apple.
*****
“Jerry Jones is one of the shrewdest men I've ever met,” says Arum of his new partner. “He told me that even before he bought the Cowboys he'd learned that the most important number in the NFL is nine. If you can maintain eight solid allies you control nine votes. And since the rules require a 75% approval to do anything, they'll never be able to go against your wishes.”  

The extension of this logic is that a guy with nine votes and five Debbies at his disposal could make for a truly formidable ally — and an even more dangerous enemy.

Jones bought the keys to the last-place Cowboys in 1989. The new owner promptly fired the iconic Tom Landry, the only coach America's Team had ever known, replacing him with his lifelong friend and former college teammate Jimmy Johnson. Four years and two Super Bowl titles later, he fired Johnson and replaced him with Barry Switzer. By ownership standards he his considered meddlesome to a Steinbrennerian degree, but justifies his extraordinary involvement by pointing out that he is also the Cowboys' General Manager, having appointed himself to that position.  

How his employees — and ex-employees — feel about him may have been aptly illustrated late in the telecast of last Sunday's playoff loss to the Vikings. As the waning minutes ticked off the clock in the embarrassing 34-3 loss, the Fox broadcasting team speculated on the future of coach Wade Phillips.  

“Jerry Jones,” said former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman with all the diplomacy he could muster, “is not a patient man.”   

Jones appears to regard Cowboys Stadium as he crowning achievement of his career. Built as a monument to himself at a reputed cost of a billion dollars, the utramodern playpen opened for business this year. The cost alone may be be precisely why it is also being touted as a multi-use facility. A team could sell out every football game for eons and not make a dent in the debt service.

But as Jones has pointed out on more than one occasion over the years, “I didn't buy the Dallas Cowboys looking to make money. Fortunately, I already had some of that.”
***
Robert Kraft's $172 million offer to purchase the New England Patriots had been approved on Jan. 21, 1994. Two days later I flew to Atlanta. Jerry Jones, whose team would play the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII a week later, was there too. (O.J. Simpson, who would cover his last Super Bowl as  a sideline reporter, was also there, but that's a story for a different day.)

When I ran into Jones in Atlanta he almost immediately launched into effusive praise of Kraft, who he predicted (correctly) would be a great NFL owner. At this point I was still trying to encourage Kraft to come down to the Super Bowl. He had initially been ambivalent about the idea, since he wasn't sure he'd exactly be welcomed with open arms.  He had purchased Foxboro Stadium out of bankruptcy court in 1988 and then wielded the Patriots' lease like a hammer, not only heading off at least two attempts to relocate the franchise and successfully beating back an NFL-backed attempt to build a new stadium in downtown Boston, and for the previous half-dozen years he and then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue had communicated only through their respective lawyers.

I then told Kraft what Jerry had said about him.

“Gee,” he said, “that was awfully nice of him, but Jerry Jones doesn't know me from Adam!”

“I know a lot more about him than he probably thinks I do,” said Jones, a twinkle in his eye. Jerry sat on the league's finance committee, one of whose functions was to quietly vet the credentials and financial status of prospective members of the world's most exclusive club. When rival suitors for the Patriots had leaked rumors questioning Kraft's financial suitability to their favored columnist at the other newspaper about town, the NFL's stony silence had been take by some as a suggestion that the league shared that view. Jerry Jones, on the other hand, not only knew pretty much to the penny what Kraft was worth, but his politics as well. (He's a Democrat.)

“Tell him to come on down,” said Jones. And, when I relayed that message, Kraft did.

“Robert, I remember telling him just before I hung up that day, “I realize that up until now this has all been a series of business decisions, but I don't think you have any idea how much you're going to enjoy it.”

By the time of the Commissioner's Party that Friday night, Jones and Kraft might have been joined at the hip. As the pair of them staggered from table  to table, the Cowboys' owner introduced his new friend to his old ones, pausing intermittently to refill Kraft's glass from the whisky bottle Jerry was clutching in his left hand. They were trailed by a somewhat anxious-looking Jonathan Kraft.  

“But Dad,” the present-day Patriots' president kept trying to remind his father that night, “you don't even drink!”

That Bob Arum has also fallen under the Jones spell was evident. By all accounts the pair were on their best behavior in Dallas on Tuesday — and while Jones had to pull out of the New York trip the next day, as a gesture of good faith he did place the five Debbies under the promoter's care.  

And just wait till next week.

“Jerry and I are going to Mexico together,” said a beaming Arum, who hastened to add that it would be a business trip.  “Monterey and Mexico City have some of the greatest fight fans in the world — and they're all Dallas Cowboys' fans!”
***
There was another wonderful moment in New York when Arum introduced Freddie Roach as “the greatest trainer in boxing.”  No one was arguing with the promoter's description, but it does illustrate just how ephemeral boxing's ever-shifting alliances can be.

The last time Arum promoted a Pacquiao fight in Texas — Manny vs. Jorge Solis at the Alamodome three years ago — Roach was off in Puerto Rico training Oscar De La Hoya for his fight against Mayweather and didn't fly into San Antonio until the night before the bout, leaving his assistant Justin Fortune in charge of Pacquiao's day-to-day preparations.  

Arum was still furious at Roach, whom he blamed for Pacquiao's attempt to jump ship to Golden Boy. (Freddie proclaimed his innocence, maintaining that all he'd done was introduce the two, at De La Hoya's request, which was kind of like Oscar saying “I didn't do anything wrong. All I did was hand Manny a satchel full of cash in the back seat of a limo.”)  

When the fight was over, Arum made out the check for the trainer's end of the purse to Fortune, who promptly cashed it and pocketed the dough, pausing only long enough to stop by the Wild Card, where he cleaned out all of his stuff and some of Freddie's.  

It was one of those little twists of the knife Jerry Jones would have appreciated.  
***
Jones had involved himself in boxing even before he involved himself with the Dallas Cowboys. In January of 1983 he teamed up with the late Pat O'Grady to promote a card at the Little Rock Convention Center.  The main event saw Anthony Davis (13-1) knock out Otis (Hardy) Bates (9-3-2) to win the cruiserweight title of O'Grady's short-lived World Athletic Association.  

Even as club fight shows go, that one would seem singularly unattractive, but Jones' promotion produced the largest crowd in the history of Arkansas boxing — a record that stood for more than twenty years until Jermain Taylor won the middleweight title and came back to Little Rock to defend it.

In 2010, Jerry Jones wasn't just looking to get back into boxing and he certainly wasn't thinking about Pacquiao and Clottey. He wanted to make the biggest splash possible for his new stadium, and the prospective Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight loomed the biggest attraction boxing had ever seen. Jones was so anxious to land it that he ponied up a $25 million site fee offer — a fairly ostentatious pre-emptive strike, since unlike the places he was bidding against, Jerry couldn't count on hijacking the paying customers to a roulette table on their way out of the stadium.

In early December Arum, HBO's Ross Greenburg, and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer were due to fly to Dallas to meet with Jones. Schaefer, who was presumably operating at Mayweather's direction, telephoned his regrets at the last minute, and the trip was canceled.  Since the blood-testing issue had yet to surface, it was the first indication that Money might not be quite as anxious to fight Manny as he kept telling people he was.

Arum, for his part, was livid, particularly over what he considered the dismissive slap at Jones. Then, two weeks ago, after things had fallen apart with Mayweather, Arum, a lifelong Giants' fan, flew to Dallas at Jones' invitation and watched the Cowboys' playoff win over the Eagles from the owners box. By the time the game was over the two were partners.

“You know how long it took us to make a deal?” recalled Arum. “Fifteen minutes.”

“Yeah,” noted Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler. “Good thing Schaefer didn't get on that plane. Maybe none of this happens if he does.”

Or maybe that's exactly why it is happening. Those with a cursory understanding of Texas assume that football is the guiding obsession among its natives, but the truth of the matter is that while Texans do spent their Friday nights watching high school football played under the lights and their Sundays are devoted to the Cowboys, the other five days of the week are generally devoted to the pursuit of the real state game: Revenge.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

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UFC_Edgar_and_Maynard_Dec._2010
Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

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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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