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Articles of 2010

Two Nice Consolation Prizes

Bernard Fernandez

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It is the age-old question, one that has puzzled mankind for what seems like forever.

All right, so maybe the foremost such puzzler is “Why did the chicken cross the road?,” but right behind it is the little matter of whether ’tis  better to have a bird in the hand or two in the bush.

Boxers, their managers and promoters have contemplated that perplexing choice ever since men first determined that they could earn a living by tugging on padded gloves and punching one another for fame and profit. You’d think by now that some sort of pattern would have emerged, but every year someone in the pugilistic arts is required to determine a course of action that could severely affect their bottom line, in addition to satisfying or thwarting the cravings of a public that is notoriously impatient when its will is circumvented.

Not so very long ago, fight fans had a bird in the hand, and it was ostrich-sized and as majestic as a bald eagle in flight. Welterweight superstars Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., generally acknowledged to be the top two pound-for-pound boxers on the planet, had agreed to a megabout that almost certainly would have been the sport’s highest-grossing showdown. Each combatant would have earned in excess of $25 million, with some estimates topping out in the $40 million range. Cleveland Cavaliers icon LeBron James would have to play back-to-back, 82-game NBA seasons to earn a comparable bonanza.

With such a ridiculous amount money on the line, and with a rare opportunity to steer boxing back into the mainstream, it seemed impossible that the powers-that-be would do anything to unravel what initially appeared to be a done deal. But boxing being what it is, the opposing sides found a sticking point upon which they could agree to disagree, transforming the Fight of the Century into still another war or words, with each camp claiming to hold the moral high ground.

In short order, the fight that would have had the whole world buzzing with anticipation had split into a couple of still-attractive but lesser events, with the headline attractions digging in for a possible court fight instead of the one we all wanted to see in the ring.

When in doubt, call in the lawyers.

“It causes chaos and it’s wrong for one fighter to try to impose his own rules and regulations on the sport and on another fighter,” Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum, who has paired Filipino national hero Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs), the WBO 147-pound champion, with Ghana’s Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) on March 13 in Cowboys Stadium, said of Mayweather’s demands that “Pac-Man” consent to random, Olympic-style blood-testing as a prerequisite for their matchup to be made. “It’s as silly as, say, Alex Rodriguez getting struck out four times by a Boston Red Sox pitcher and saying he’s not going to face him again until the pitcher takes a blood test.

“We have commissions to (make rules). You can make any request you want of a commission and if the commission feels there’s any validity to what’s being petitioned, it will then dictates what it feels is best. The proper procedure for Mayweather, if he wanted extra testing, was to go before the Nevada commission and request it. He didn’t do that.

“For Mayweather to try to bully another fighter into additional testing simply because he demanded it is preposterous. The Nevada commission has in place random testing, and that’s urinalysis. Nobody (with Team Pacquiao) is against random testing. But urinalysis is not invasive; blood-testing is.

“You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what (Mayweather) is trying to do. It’s an attempt to get into Manny’s head, to get him completely discombobulated so he would be easy pickings for Mayweather. But Manny didn’t put up with the bullying, so Mayweather is getting his wish to not have to fight him. Mayweather vs. Manny is a no-contest. Manny would wipe up the ring with Floyd Mayweather.”

Arum’s indignant protestations represent one side of the dispute, and they are reasonably compelling when viewed a certain way. If Pacquiao-Mayweather was to take place in Nevada, as was originally scheduled, the NSAC’s current rules and regulations should be the standard, right?

But Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions, which is working in concert with Mayweather Promotions to stage the May 1 matchup of WBA welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) and Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, take the position that rules fraught with loopholes through which a drug cheat could wiggle is as bad as no rules at all, and that “Money” is a crusading knight whose noble quest for a more even playing field should be enacted forthwith.

“Floyd feels very strongly about bringing Olympic-type testing to boxing,” said Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy CEO. “I don’t think Floyd’s position on this is to be belittled or criticized. To the contrary, I think it is something to be applauded.”

Mayweather, at a Tuesday press conference at the Nokia Theater in New York to hype his scrap with Mosley, alternated between the roles of boxing’s would-be cleanup man and character assassin.

“I want to show the world that my sport is clean,” Mayweather said with the earnestness of Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith going to Washington. “I think we should take a stand in all sports to show that. We have to separate the average from the good from the great.”

But although Mayweather said “I never said Pacquiao was on nothing,” he soon turned from the suggestion of impropriety to something that sounded more like outright accusations that Pacquiao’s rapid rise has been something less than all-natural.

“I never seen a fighter go from ordinary once he reached, like, 25 to extraordinary,” Mayweather said in taking another verbal jab at Pacquiao. “It just don’t work like that. I don’t like to throw no nails, but they all cheaters.”

Among the rules-benders and rules-breakers, Mayweather continued, is Mosley, who admitted to a grand jury that he had once taken performance-enhancing drugs on the suggestion of an employee, but that he did not know the substances were controlled and illegal.

“Mayweather just blurts things out he really doesn’t know about,” Mosley said, seemingly bemused by his upcoming opponent’s latest tirade. “That can be dangerous. People have filed lawsuits over that kind of stuff.”

Arum and Pacquiao, in fact, already have taken legal action against Mayweather, his father Floyd Sr., adviser Leonard Ellerbee, Schaefer and Golden Boy front man Oscar De La Hoya for defamation of Pacquiao’s character. Pacquiao has never failed a drug test, although those he has taken and passed are not as stringent as those preferred by Mayweather and insisted upon by the International Olympic Committee.

When asked if he still thought his fighter would someday mix it up with Mayweather, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, said, “Manny really wants to fight Floyd in the future, and he will knock him out.” Arum, who also was participating in the conference court, immediately chimed in that “We’ll knock him out in the court, too.”

Somewhat obfuscated amid the intrigue is the fact that the two consolation-prize bouts that arose from the ashes of Pacquiao-Mayweater are, upon closer inspection, fairly attractive as stand-alone events.

Pacquaio is the crossover star and reason Cowboys Stadium, scaled to a capacity of nearly 42,000, should sell out before the opening bell. Clottey is simply the other guy, the opponent, and someone few believe has much chance of pulling off the upset, but insiders know that he is tough, resilient and the naturally larger man. No, Pacquiao-Clottey isn’t the “Super Bowl of boxing,” as Roach boldly stated, but it ain’t chopped liver, either.

“People were looking forward to a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, that’s clear,” Arum conceded. “But Manny Pacquiao has a huge, huge fan base now. He’s crossed over. Every sports fan knows Manny Pacquiao.

“You cannot say there’s two household names fighting on March 13. That would be ridiculous. But there’s excitement in Dallas. It should be a great show.”

Also lending substance to Pacquiao-Clottey is the fact that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who offered a record $25 million site fee for Cowboys Stadium to host Pacquiao-Mayweather (which Schaefer rejected out of hand), has made it clear that he wants his new, $1.2 billion stadium to be the Southwest’s answer to Madison Square Garden, a Mecca for boxing with a Tex-Mex flavor. If the pay-per-view buy rate is anywhere near as impressive as what figures to be a sellout crowd at the live venue, Jones could emerge as a latter-day Donald J. Trump, reminiscent of a time when The Donald was pouring millions into his Atlantic City fight operation, with Pacquiao the sort of draw that Mike Tyson once was on the boardwalk.

Schaefer, De La Hoya, Ellerbee and those involved in putting on Mayweather-Mosley figure their fight will do better than Pacquiao-Clottey, both aesthetically and financially, because it figures to be much more competitive. In The Ring magazine’s end-of-2009 issue, a panel of experts had Mayweather and Mosley at Nos. 2 and 3 in the pound-for-pound ratings, behind Pacquiao.

“I have no doubt that our fight is going to do substantially better (than Pacquiao-Clottey),” said Schaefer, who boldly predicted a record 3 million PPV buys for Mayweather-Mosley.

So the battle lines are drawn. Pacquiao-Clottey and Mayweather-Mosley are distinctly different, separate and perhaps unequal tests of obstinant men’s wills as well as of the fighters’ skills. By May 2, someone might have emerged as the possible claimant of the all-in pot in the fight game’s version of the World Series of Poker.

It’s a major gamble for all involved. What happens if Clottey shocks Pacquiao? Or if Mosley gets past Mayweather in a fight that, on paper at least, figures to be more closely contested than the one that takes place 19 days earlier in Arlington, Texas? Does everyone’s dream of Pacquiao-Mayweather go by the boards in the same manner of other alluring bouts that never came off, like Riddick Bowe-Lennox Lewis and Tyson-George Foreman?

The guy who has the best chance of holding a winning lottery ticket when all is said and done is Mosley, who has not fought since, as an underdog, he dominated and stopped Antonio Margarito in nine rounds on Jan. 24, 2008. Mosley had been preparing for a unification fight with WBC titlist Andre Berto when Mayweather-Pacquiao fell through, again thrusting him into the conversation regarding boxing’s No. 1 performer.

“It’s been a long time since I had a chance to show the world that I’m the best fighter,” said the 38-year-old Mosley. “But then Mayweather’s fight with Pacquiao fell out and mine with Berto fell out (because Berto, who is of Haitian descent, was too emotionally spent to fight after the earthquake that devastated that country). God works in mysterious ways.

“Really, this is the best fight that can be made, unless either one of us is fighting Pacquiao. We three are the best, and we have to figure out which one of us is the very best. But that will be revealed in due time. God has a plan.”

Mosley, who has agreed to the Olympic-style blood-testing demanded by Mayweather, clearly is hoping that he can ride the momentum of a victory over his supremely confident and somewhat arrogant foe into a clear-the-decks throwdown with Pac-Man.

But if the favorites clear their respective hurdles, what then? Can Pacquiao and Mayweather find enough common ground to resurrect the big fight that came tumbling down like a house of cards?

Schaefer isn’t so sure. “I feel both sides are entrenched,” he said. “Floyd feels very strongly about bringing Olympic-style drug-testing to boxing. He’s at the forefront of that. There’s a lot of pressure on sports in the United States to rise to that standard.”

You have to wonder, though, if Pacquiao and Mayweather will wake up one morning, after they’re retired, having never faced each other, and wonder how the hell they could have botched the multimillion-dollar equivalent of a two-inch putt or an uncontested layup. Standing on principle is one thing, but collecting principal on a $40 million payday is quite another.

Other fighters regrettably have been down this what-if road before. In Four Kings,  author George Kimball notes that Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns were nearly paired early in their professional careers, before Hearns had established himself as a legitimate threat to 1976 Olympic hero Leonard. Their first meeting years later was elevated to legendary status because the correct decision was made for them to develop into something much more than interesting prospects.

But every two-birds-in-a-bush risk taken and rewarded is countered by the failure of someone to strike when the iron is hot. Ivan Robinson’s manager, Eddie Woods, once turned down a fight with De La Hoya because he determined his man “wasn’t ready for it just yet,” a decision that cost Robinson a handsome payday and needed exposure. In boxing, when the train leaves the station, there’s a good chance it’s never coming back. Just ask Mexican-American heavyweight Alex Garcia, whose management passed on a $1 million shot at second-time-around champ George Foreman in the mistaken belief that, by waiting, $5 million would be offered for Garcia to tangle with Big George later on. Garcia promptly went out and lost to journeyman Mike Dixon, a bout for which he was paid $15,000.

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

David A. Avila

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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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