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Articles of 2009

Jermain Taylor Wondered: Who Is Carl Froch?

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WBC SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMP CARL FROCH, FORMER UNDISPUTED CHAMP JERMAIN TAYLOR PRESS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2009

World Title Showdown Takes Places On Saturday, April 25, Live On SHOWTIME® from MGM Grand

At Foxwoods, Mashantucket, Conn.

NEW YORK (March 25, 2009) – Undefeated Carl “The Cobra” Froch and Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor participated in a press conference on Wednesday in London – Froch was joined by a host of U.K. journalists and television crews, while Taylor took part via satellite from his training camp in Miami, Fla.

In a highly anticipated world title fight on Saturday, April 25, Froch will look to make a major statement — and enhance his reputation in America — when he defends his World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight title against Taylor, a former undisputed middleweight titleholder, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) from the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn.

The event is being co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Hennessy Sports.

Froch (24-0, 19 KOs), of Nottingham, England, will be making the first defense of the vacant 168-pound crown he gained in his last outing with a unanimous 12-round decision over Jean Pascal on Dec. 6, 2008. He earned the title shot after registering a fourth-round TKO over Albert Rybacki on May 20, 2008, on ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME.

Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs), of Little Rock, Ark., has had a prolific pro career since winning a bronze medal for the United States in the 2000 Olympic Games. The six-foot-one-inch, 30-year-old Taylor is the only boxer to twice defeat future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins.

Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $75 and $50, are on sale at www.mgmatfoxwoods.com, your local Ticket Master and MGM Grand Box Office 866-646-0649.

Froch, Taylor, who both spoke confidently yet respectfully, their trainers Robert McCracken and Ozell Nelson, and Mick Hennessy, CEO of Hennessy Sports, discussed the upcoming match and fielded questions from the media.

Press conference highlights:

CARL FROCH

“I’m a fan of Jermain Taylor. He is a big name world-wide and a great fighter who knows his way around a ring. It is strange that now we are going to meet and he is fighting me.

“But I am looking forward to going to America and showing to SHOWTIME and the fans what this English guy can do. I feel I am a world star in the making and looking forward to showcasing my talents.

“Taylor says he is going to take me into deep waters, but I can swim. I like it when opponents come forward and say stuff like that…

“I’m sure he is prepared to fight and I expect to see a lot of movement, but I can adapt to any style. More than anything I box and move and love to counter-punch. I am looking for 12 rounds, in the trenches, going blow-to-blow. I hope he is a very good swimmer.

“Obviously, it is correct that American fans don’t know me. But I am a boxing superstar, which is why I am coming to fight on American soil on SHOWTIME.

“If British fighters want to become big stars, they definitely need to go to America. It took (Joe) Calzaghe 10-12 years to go there and make a name for himself.

“(But) For me, as a fighter, I need to do this (now). I am 31 and my best years are now. I could stay in England and fight mandatory defenses, but I want to prove to the boxing press and America that I mean business and that I am the real deal.

“I am the defending WBC champ. I’ve never had a hard fight, or struggled. I’m not sure if Taylor moved up because he can’t make the weight at 160. But I am fit and the stronger fighter. He is in for a surprise.

“I don’t want to sound bigheaded, but I can’t see Taylor going the distance with me. I’ve been training too hard. He was one of the best middleweights and junior middles, but he fought small men who wouldn't go two or three rounds with me.

“I don’t want to disrespect Taylor, but I can’t imagine him doing more than he showed against Jeff Lacy, a fight I turned off after seven rounds.

“By me going to America it shows I want the fight more than him. But we will settle everything in the ring. He was a great middleweight champion, but I am the WBC super middleweight champion and it is my belt on the line.

“I am not insulted by anything he might say. I will fight anybody to prove that Carl Froch is a marquee superstar.

“If I can emulate what Kelly Pavlik, a good fighter was who bigger than Taylor, did, I will be fine. I am going to try and get him out of there soon as soon as I can.’’

JERMAIN TAYLOR

“I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time. I was ready after I fought Lacy. But now that I have the opportunity, I am going to take advantage of it. I can’t wait for April 25 and I am really looking forward to doing my thing.

“I wasn’t dodging anybody. But I wasn’t going over there. Not that I couldn’t beat him in England–it didn’t matter where we fought–but nobody knew who Carl Froch was.

“To be honest, I didn’t know who Carl Froch was. I would tell people all the time here in the States that I was fighting Carl Froch and everybody was saying, ‘Who?’ It was kind of embarrassing.

“He needed to come here to make a name for himself, so people would know who he was. He can make a name for himself by beating me, or by getting beat up.

“Froch needs me as much as I need him. This is his way to prove that he’s the best.

“I was hungry for the Hopkins’ fights but I think I got too relaxed and too comfortable after them. I was confident against Pavlik but I did some unnecessary things that I should not have been doing. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do in the gym. In the second fight with Pavlik, I had him ready to go but I was too cautious.

“But you learn from mistakes and that makes you a better fighter. This is my way of getting back on track and showing everybody that the fights I lost, it wasn’t me in there.

“This fight means more than the Hopkins’ fights meant to me. I am going to get the belt. I (once) had all the belts. The WBC belt means as much to me as any of the others.

“Since the fight was made, I’ve watched tapes on Carl; he’s a good fighter but he showed me nothing that I can’t handle. Nothing he did impressed me. I think he gets hit too much.

“I was supposed to move up anyway a long time ago, but I just waited. After I lost to Pavlik, I decided to move up. I was always a big middleweight, but I can’t make 160 anymore.

“I wish Froch the best. I hope he makes for a good fight because I plan on winning the belt. He will be leaving the belt here with me. That would make me a two-time world champion.

“I am not nervous. I’ve been through this before and fought at this level for a while.

“There is nothing wrong with trying to make a name for yourself and I give Froch respect for going to another man’s country to do it. But, that's it.

“I predict a victory and already have decided on the place on my arm where I am going to have ‘Two-time Champion’ tattooed.”

ROBERT MCCRACKEN (Froch’s Trainer)

“Taylor is very good, but the differences are that Carl is a little fresher, has a better reach, a higher work rate and the edge in power.

“This is just the start. What we needed to do was get to America, fight a great fight and be victorious. There was no point in us staying here for three or four years. When it is all said and done, the big fights, the money are in America where legends are made.

“We’ll see whose intentions are right on April 25. How special is Carl? He’s always been thought to have the makings of great fighter. You could see that way back when he was an amateur, even when he wasn’t training 100 percent like he does know.

“Carl is a throwback fighter with the kind of power and strength that fighters aren’t used to. He’s awkward, but he learns and always listens. He is 100 percent professional and is not only totally comfortable fighting in America, but looking forward to the occasion. He’s not like other Europeans who have fought there. He makes all the sacrifices.

“Taylor is obviously a great fighter with a couple wins over Bernard Hopkins. But Carl is a special guy and this is his big opportunity.

“It will be a great fight, but there will only be one winner and it will be Carl Froch.’’

OZELL NELSON (Taylor’s Trainer)

“Carl Froch is a good fighter who is giving us this opportunity to get the belt and we are looking forward to getting it. Jermain is very dangerous and hungry and wants to make for a good fight on SHOWTIME, who we thank for putting the fight on. Bring it on.

“I know Carl has been saying a lot, but Jermain is a quiet guy who does his thing in the ring. Jermain is a lot bigger, faster and stronger. I see him giving Froch a real good whipping.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Froch. He is strong, has long arms and a good right uppercut. But I just don’t see him getting in a lot of punches and I don’t see him slipping any either. He’s too slow. He’ll be a sitting duck. Jermain will tear his head off with those jabs.

“I am very happy that this fight is happening and looking forward to a good fight. I know in his heart that Froch believes – well, I don’t know that he believes – that he is going to win, but Jermain has nothing on his mind but bad intentions and winning that belt.

“I won’t predict a knockout but only that Jermain will win and there will be a new champion. I hope Froch can survive the deep waters because Jermain might drown him on the beach.’’

MICK HENNESSY (CEO, Hennessy Sports)

“I consider this a super fight between two fighters at their peak, at similar ages and with similar records. They both could have gone in different directions, but they didn’t and I applaud them for that. This is truly a special fight between two marquee fighters and it should be treated like one.

“It is common knowledge that this fight doesn’t happen if it doesn't come to the States because Taylor didn’t want to fight in England. But Carl wanted a big fight and it was his decision to go to the States. He made the fight and is doing what no other English fighter has done, going to the States (for his initial defense). We thank SHOWTIME for really getting behind the best fights.

“We have always believed in Carl and we feel he is the best super middleweight on the planet. We expect (to see) a lot of Brits at this fight.

“Something special is going down on April 25 when Carl Froch wins a sensational fight by knockout and proves that he is on his way to becoming a major star. He is going to really shake things up.’’

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Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

David A. Avila

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Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Paul Malignaggi Explains Why He Thinks Manny Has Used PEDs

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In theory and in practice I am vehemently opposed to people tossing out unfounded allegations against someone. Supply evidence, then we can talk. But saying someone is using steroids, or EPO, or HGH, based on a theory, or your gut instinct….I have to consider, what if the allegation were thrown at me, and I was 100% innocent. I'd be mightily irked. And so too would you be.

Manny Pacquaio has been hammered from all sides with folks insinuating and coming right out with the contention that they think he's been cheating, that he's been using illegal performance enhancers to give him an edge in competition. Floyd Mayweather Sr, Paulie Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto and Kermit Cintron have either accused Manny, or insinuated that he's been using PEDs. One has to wonder, where's all this smoke coming from? Is it possible that there's fire lurking? That these folks aren't just lobbing unfounded barbs at Manny, that their allegations and hints aren't just sour grapes, or posturing, or a ploy to lure Manny into a fight?

By and large, there hasn't been much in the way of coverage from the standpoint of: what if Manny is using PEDs, or was using PEDs? I think that is rightly so; I'd be more comfortable if none of us trafficked in the innuendo and speculation, and worked within the realm of evidence, and facts. But it's out there, and a topic of conversation and speculation. Perhaps it's a symptom and sign of the times we live in…

TSS reached out to Malignaggi, just off a solid win in his Dec. 12 rematch with Juan Diaz. The Brooklyn-based pugilist has never been shy about speaking his peace (I picture him exiting his mom's womb and barking at the labor and delivery crew to get the room cleaned up, stat!), and he shared with TSS what he bases his allegations, which he's careful to label opinion, upon.

First off, Malignaggi is of the belief that if the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are at a fatal impasse, Yuri Foreman, and not he, will get the coveted date with Pacquiao. Malignaggi has been mentioned as stand-in for Mayweather.

He started off by insisting that ” I have nothing against Pacquiao” but then went from mellow to madman in a 30 second span.

First off, the boxer wonders why Team Pacquiao isn't going after big-time newspapers, with deep pocketed owners, for libel, for insinuating that Pacquiao is drug cheat.

“If Pacquiao's so sue happy, why not sue the New York Daily News?” he asked. “Maybe they know the steroid allegations are true.”

By and large, Malignaggi thinks it is impossible, utterly impossible, for a boxer to put on 15 or more pounds between March 15, 2008, when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed 129 pounds at the weigh in, and Nov. 14, 2009 when he fought Miguel Cotto and was 144 pounds at the weigh in, and more on fight night.

“It's not natural looking,” Malignaggi said. But, I countered, what if Manny's supremely blessed, that unlike some other fighters who go up in weight, and look a bit bloated, and lack definition, he's just a special creature?

“He's not supremely blessed,” Maliganngi said. “I know body builders. They can't put on 17 or whatever pounds of muscle in a year. It's not doable, in my opinion. These are my speculations, my opinions based on certain factual evidence. Does his weight gain look normal to you? And his head looks like it has blown up in size, too.”

I offered to Malignaggi that perhaps we should be attacking the system, if we believe it to be lacking, rather than the individual.

“We can blame the system a little bit, but if you were Manny, wouldn't you want to leave no doubt? Or speculation?” said Maliganngi, who believes that by not agreeing to the terms set forth by Team Mayweather, and opposing a blood test within 30 days of the bout, Pacquaio appears guilty.

Pacquiao has agreed to take 3 blood tests: the first during the week of the kickoff news conference in early January, the second random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test after the bout. A video making the rounds from the HBO 24/7 series shows Pacquiao submitting to a blood test two or three weeks before he was due to fight Ricky Hatton, and that has cast doubt on Team Pacquiao's stance that Manny is disinclined to get a blood test too close to a bout, for fear he may be weakened. Originally, it was reported in error that that test was taken 14 days before the Hatton bout, but subsequent reports pegged the test as being taken 24 days before the scrap. Malignaggi feels Pacquiao has been caught lying, that the report from Team Pacquiao that he “has difficulty taking blood” is a cover story. “Why is he effing lying?” Malignaggi said, heatedly.

The New Yorker doesn't believe too many fighters in the lighter weight classes are using PEDs, but thinks usage isn't uncommon in the heavyweight division. “That's hard to do and make weight,” he said.

The question is asked of Malignaggi: why does the issue make him so steamed?

“I don't like cheaters,” he said. “This is not baseball. You're not just hitting home runs. You have to worry about peoples' lives. Miguel Cotto in my opinion has been beaten by two cheaters. Manny if he's cheating is taking away from guys who are doing things the right way. His team is reneging on their words.”

And what if you're wrong, Malignaggi? What if Manny is clean, and you are hurting his rep with these allegations?

“I bet everything I own that I'm not,” he said. “But we'll never find out. Hey, I would take the test in a heartbeat. I would want people to know I'm clean. He wants to leave doubts!?? His entire legacy is being questioned, he's willing to hurt his legacy and leave $40 million on the table?”

Maliganngi, after reminding TSS that he was correct in predicting he'd be gamed by judges in the first fight with Diaz, insisted that he isn't singling out Pacquiao for a personal vendetta. “”I've never had anything against him. But that's enough now. I call it like I see it.”

What about those who'd say he's just trying to anger Pacquiao, to lure him into a fight?

“No. I expected he'd take the random tests to get this fight. No way I thought he'd throw away everything. That blew me away. It was cool to have my name mentioned.”

Malignaggi thinks the boxing media has dropped the ball, and not exercised due diligence in examining the possibility that Manny has used PEDs.

“I understand most people like Manny, and not Floyd. Just cause that's the case doesn't mean Manny might not be cheating. It's nothing to do with him personally. But I call a spade a spade. Too many people avoid the possibilities because Manny's a likable person. He's got that front, his country loves him. That front works like crazy. Floyd plays the bad guy, but he's natural. Just don't downplay the fact that Manny might be cheating. You have to open your eyes and at least be willing to look at it. This is bigger than me. The fact that the fight is not being made, you have to question the integrity of Pacquiao.”

Malignaggi then offered an analogy to the Manny-refusing-to-be-subjected-to multiple-random-drug-tests prior-to-a-fight-with-Mayweather deal. “It reminds me of the drunk guy who's pulled over at 3 AM. He has a field sobriety test, the cop knows he's drunk, he looks and acts drunk. But he refuses a breathalyzer test. That don't mean the cop don't haul him to the police station.”

I reiterate…I don't think anyone should be casting aspersions based on circumstantial evidence. But with so many people ganging up on Manny, I think fight fans are owed some details on why people are accusing Pacman of using PEDs.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010

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As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of TheSweetScience.com I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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