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Articles of 2005

Steroids Kayoed Bob Hazelton



Steroids Kayoed Bob Hazelton – The asterisk is an explicit sticker.

That’s why, in the steroid era, it can be stamped on any number of dubious records. The asterisk would set those marks aside, invalidate them, ostracize them.

Bob Hazelton doesn’t want an asterisk affixed to his life.

He longs to feel a sense of purpose, fearful his life has been wasted because steroids have ravaged his body, leaving him a literal fraction of his former self.

Hazelton wants his life to stand for something, even though he hasn’t stood for 18 years.

He was a blond-haired, blue-eyed Adonis. He stood 6-foot-6 and flaunted a physique that could’ve been chiseled by a renaissance sculptor. He was a heavyweight fringe contender who battled a young George Foreman and ended Bob Foster’s career.

Hazelton is about 4 feet tall today. The steroids that made him a freak of stature caused both of his legs to be amputated. His livelihood was cut short, too.

He has two nubs just below his trunk. He’s stuck in a wheelchair because his bones are too soft for prosthetics. He has been unable to locate meaningful work since his last leg was taken in 1987, and at 57-years-old his professional prospects are slim.

He can handle not having legs a lot easier than not having a vocation.

“I don’t know why they look at me as though I’m nothing just because I don’t have legs,” Hazelton said, his deep, raspy voice wavering. “I am something. I know I can do something.”

He gives the strong impression he would be willing to wash jock straps if he could just feel the camaraderie of a locker room, be part of a team.

“They don’t want me around,” Hazelton said. “It breaks my heart to think they would think so little of me. I would work with any professional team or league at any level, doing anything they asked of me, just to get involved again. But nobody wants me. There must be some job out there, but without legs it will just never happen.”

Hazelton, who lives in Howard Lake, Minn., has made a few bucks from public speaking. He lectures kids on the wickedness of doping, using himself as Exhibit A. He was warning young athletes and their parents across the country long before steroids became a cause celebre.

That’s why it makes him sick to see steroids in screaming headlines lately. He has been screaming for years, but apparently his message fell on deaf ears. He believed he was redeeming the life he messed up. He thought he was stopping athletes from following the path that cut him down.

Now he’s afraid his voice is too faint in a world too big and too filthy. He fears he has been wasting his energy.

“I’m wondering how concerned people are,” Hazelton said. “I know parents are, and I know schools are, but what about everyday people? Should I keep doing this or should I stop? I need to know if the public is really behind what I’m doing.”

On March 16, Hazelton hoped to make an impact when he spoke before the most significant audience of his life: U.S. Congress. Steroids had become a hot-button topic on Capitol Hill mostly because of the intensifying BALCO lab scandal, which had ensnared baseball stars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. Retired slugger Jose Canseco’s salacious tell-all book was close to being released.

Suddenly it was popular to care about steroids, and important people finally wanted to know what Hazelton had to say – or so he thought.

He cried before the House subcommittee that day, an emotional release from the sheer magnitude of the moment. But when he was done he might as well have heard crickets chirping. It was a Congressional hearing, but he felt nobody was listening.

“I know they brought me there to make a case,” Hazelton said with disgust. “I’m an example for everybody. ‘You used steroids. We need to tell them they’re bad. Now move along.’

“I’m sick of being used. I’m totally sick of it. I’m mad because I do what they need me to do and keep educating and speaking, but when it comes to anything important, they want to take the ball and run with it: ‘Bob Hazelton, thank you, but sit there and watch us work.'”

So sit there he does – he has little choice – and he casts a skeptical glance at what will be done to curtail steroids in sports.

“They didn’t want to believe it before,” Hazelton said. “Now they see I was right.”

A disclaimer about Bob Hazelton: He has a propensity to exaggerate. Research for this story uncovered many inconsistencies about his age, his past, his boxing career. He seems easily tempted to embellish for the sake of a good yarn, and many sportswriters have been all too willing to go along for the ride, relaying his colorful narratives unchecked.

None of that is necessary. His story is compelling in its most basic, verifiable form.

When I interviewed him for the Las Vegas Sun eight years ago he told me his career record was 26-5 with 25 knockouts. A major newspaper once listed him at 25-6 and another at 19-7. His ledger according to is 20-11 with 18 KOs.

BoxRec says Hazelton made his pro debut in 1966 and lost five of his first six bouts. In December 1969 he became fodder for George Foreman at the old International Hotel in Las Vegas. The 1968 Olympic gold medalist, making his 11th pro appearance, dropped Hazelton twice and ended the fight in 82 seconds.

Hazelton has claimed that fight was pivotal in his decision to start taking steroids. He has said in many articles Foreman outweighed him by 40 pounds, but Big George’s official weight that night was only 214.

Regardless, Hazelton had some decisions to make. He was 3-7 and had just discovered he had no shot to compete with the sport’s elite – not without some help.

“After Foreman I was totally confused,” Hazelton told Knight-Ridder in 1988. “I felt I embarrassed myself.”

He said he began taking steroids in 1971, dianabol tablets at first, and his weight climbed to 230 pounds as he concentrated more on weightlifting than boxing.

He didn’t fight again for three years, getting stopped in the seventh round by Ray White. So he shied away from the ring for two more years and returned to sculpting his body with the help of those magic pills.

In 1975 he decided to rededicate himself to boxing. How could he not? He was a tightly wound bundle of rage and testosterone, full of fury and force.

“I think there was a lot of anger,” said Hazelton’s third wife, Valerie, who didn’t know him before the amputations. “I can’t imagine him the way he explains himself before he lost his legs. He used to tell me about he would go into bars and just beat people up. He was just so angry, and it didn’t take much for him to get into a fight.”

Hazelton evidently channeled that emotion in the ring. He lost to the respectable Jose Luis Garcia but rebounded to win his next 10 bouts, nine of them by KO before the end of the second round. The streak lasted deep into the summer of 1977 and got him a date with Foster in Curacao.

Hazelton took the future Hall of Famer into the 10th round before getting stopped. One year and three victories later he got a rematch and scored the biggest triumph of his career, recording a second-round technical knockout and sending the light heavyweight legend into retirement.

Hazelton had won 15 of his past 16 bouts. He was on the verge of breaking out, claiming an oft-scrapped match with Duane Bobick could lead to a title shot. And in May 1979, he took on Lucien Rodriguez, a former European heavyweight champ.

Rodriguez easily won via third-round stoppage. Hazelton blamed the loss on a painful, steroid-related groin infection.

“My leg had turned gray on me,” Hazelton was quoted by the Omaha World-Herald in 1993. “I called a doctor in Nevada, flew out there and tests showed I had a three-foot blood clot in my left leg . . . My leg was so big I couldn’t even box. He knocked me down three times, but I wasn’t even hurt. The ref kneeled down and said ‘Bob, the fight’s over tonight.’ I knew the fight was over for the rest of my life.”

He fought once more, according to BoxRec, scoring a quick win in 1980 over a pug making his pro debut. And that was that.

Hazelton, however, didn’t stop doping or lifting weights. He fell in love with the cut appearance of his gargantuan body, and his vanity wasn’t affected by emerging vascular problems. In 1981 he said he had the first of three heart attacks, and the blood clots in his left leg became so horrible he required bypass surgery.

By 1985 he said he was spending $200-$300 a week on black-market steroids, mostly Deca-Durabolin. He estimated he took as much as 1,400 milligrams of Deca-Durabolin, whereas a prescription for the drug might call for a patient to take five or 10 milligrams a day.

In 1986, with his weight hovering around 320 pounds, his body started to disintegrate. Operations on his left leg stopped working. One triple bypass was rendered moot after three weeks because of additional clots. Gangrene emerged.

“His calf would look like an elephant’s leg,” Liz Hazelton, his wife at the time, said in the 1989 Knight-Ridder article. “Then he had open ulcers on his ankle and foot. His leg was dead.”

Hazelton’s left leg was taken off below the knee in November 1986.

That should have been enough to dissuade him from steroids. Yet it wasn’t. He was back on them by September of 1987, and three weeks later excruciating pain developed in his right leg. In a matter of days, that one had to be amputated below the knee, too. His legs have been cut back much farther over the years because of recurring infections.

The physical changes weren’t the most painful.

“Steroids was the breakdown to my body and the destruction, but what it did to me mentally took me to a whole new world,” Hazelton said. “It was like living in hell. There was never a happy focus.”

So he took up the cause of speaking out about steroids and the damage they can cause, but he never really felt his – or anyone else’s – message was given its due.

He watched All-Pro defensive lineman Lyle Alzado make useless pleas before dying of brain cancer (at age 42) in 1992 and noted the contempt MVP Ken Caminiti and Chad Curtis received after they told Sports Illustrated three years ago steroids were rampant in baseball.

Today’s furor is reminiscent of Capt. Louis Renault, the Claude Rains character in “Casablanca.” The world is now shocked – shocked! – to learn steroids are being used in major U.S. sports.

Doping has become a sexy topic as baseball’s home run records continue to fall. Mark McGwire walloped 70 homers in 1998 to obliterate Roger Maris’ 37-year-old single-season record. Three years later Bonds hit 73 homers, and he’s 42 shy of Hank Aaron’s hallowed career mark of 755.

Asterisks anyone?

“I’ve been upset because I think of all my heroes from childhood – Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford – and I knew some of these guys were breaking their records with steroids,” Hazelton said. “I saw these celebrations for McGwire and (Sammy) Sosa and Bonds and anybody that was breaking records because of drugs.

“They can lie all they want, but they can’t lie to me. What irritated me was that everybody accepted it. Bonds, Canseco and McGwire – and I’ve had people tell me I’m full of (crap) – but I could tell by their bodies and their faces and their puffiness. You don’t get that body without steroids.

“I’ve been told I’m jealous. Jealousy went out a long time ago. The records they broke, that’s fine. You had to be a great athlete to do what you’ve done. Let the records stand. But when they die young, they paid a helluva price. And that bothers me because of all the time I’ve done this, I’d like to think I did something. But all these guys just want to turn their back on it.”

Hazelton doesn’t want to name anybody, but he has strong suspicions boxing is rife with steroids, too.

“There’s steroid use in boxing. I have no doubt,” Hazelton said. “You look at the neck or the face or the shoulders, the cut in their muscle . . . I see it in basketball, too.”

And that’s what upsets him about not having a career, not having a purpose, not being taken more seriously. It’s why you can tell he’s on the verge of tears when he talks about getting a chance to attack the problem, not just speak at high schools here and there.

Hazelton said he tried to contact Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig earlier this year to offer his assistance. Perhaps, Hazelton thought, he could visit clubhouses in spring training and speak to players face-to-face about the dangers of doping.

Hazelton claimed he was passed off to an underling and then given the brushoff.

“These kids are seeing it, that steroids work,” Hazelton warned. “If you enhance your life with steroids, unless you die off the bat, it will turn you into an aggressive power hitter or power runner.

“But my answer to kids is ‘Steroids is like a credit card. You go to the store and buy all the things you want, but there comes a time you want to pay the bill. Are you ready to pay the bill?'”

Hazelton’s still a religious weightlifter. He admits his vanity won’t allow him to stop. His biceps are 21 inches, his chest 52½ inches.

Even though he can’t walk on them, he wears prosthetic legs sometimes when he sits in his wheelchair because he likes the way they look.

“Sometimes I dream about having legs,” Hazelton said. “I wonder what I would be like right now if I still had legs and what I’d be doing with my life. I’ve woken up two times in the past few years and thought I had legs. You sit up and reality quickly comes back to you.”

(Bob Hazelton is soliciting feedback regarding steroids and whether speakers like him can truly make a difference in cleaning up sports. He can be reached at P.O. Box 1015, Howard Lake, MN 55349.)

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More



A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06



Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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