Five Matches That We, The People, Want To See: Cotto/Judah, Hopkins/Wright, Hatton/Castillo, Margarito/Williams & Marquez/Vasquez
29.05.07 - By Taj Eubanks: Let’s pretend for a moment that we live in a perfect world, that our beloved sport was actually thriving. That it was not relegated to the back pages of major media publications and that it didn’t depend on one superfight to save it from its obvious decline. That politics didn’t prevent good matchups from happening and that there weren’t multitudes of champions at each weight class. That fighters didn’t duck and dodge one another or that you could, like in the seventies and eighties, see great fights for FREE on television.
Article posted on 29.05.2007
Wouldn’t that be grand? Well, down South (in my neck of the woods) there is a popular saying that simply states, “People in jail want out and people in hell want ice water.”
And while we boxing fans may never get out of the jail of horrible matchups that the promoters and networks all-too-frequently construct for us nor may we taste the soothing ice water from the oasis of hearty competition that is begging to spring forth, we can only hope. Here are 5 matches that just might provide us with the inspiration that we need to keep on keepin’ on:
The June 9 bout between Miguel Cotto and Zab “Super” Judah promises to be a classic matchup between the granite-fisted, bone-crushing Cotto and the power-punching, lightning bolt-on-rollerskates Judah. Questions abound! Which Judah will show up? Can Cotto take Judah’s punch? Or conversely, can Judah take Cotto’s punch? Will Cotto finally be exposed as an imposter? Or will Judah be sent packing for the last time? Full of intrigue and with both Cotto and Judah out to make a statement, this fight on the eve of the famed Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City promises to be a barnburner for as long as it lasts.
While viewed with skepticism by some, the Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright
fight on July 21 finds two certain future Hall-of-Famers and current pound for pound entrants on a collision course. Hopkins, the ageless Ring Magazine light heavyweight kingpin (and still de facto undisputed middleweight champ in the minds of many), is fresh off of a resounding victory over former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver. Winky Wright, Ring’s number two-rated middleweight and defensive genius, is itching for the chance to become the first man to definitively beat Hopkins since Roy Jones, Jr. Will Hopkins defy time yet again and become the first man to stop Wright (as Bernard claims that he will do) or will Winky come out of his defensive shell to retire Hopkins once and for all (like he has promised)? Hopkins states that we will see Wright get hit more than he has ever been hit (an astounding assertion coming from a man many consider to be more of a defensive fighter than an offensive one). Winky promises that Hopkins will get beat up for the first time ever. We shall see soon enough.
This June 23 bout features two of hardcore boxing fans’ favorite fighters, rugged Jose Luis Castillo, the tough-as-nails Mexican who was one half of the all-time classic Corrales-Castillo I, and Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, known by many as “The White Mexican” for his take-no-prisoners, constant pressure style. Not only does this explosive style matchup ensure that fans get their money’s worth (an increasingly rare phenomenon these days) but it will also allow us to get
much-needed answers about both fighters. Can Castillo restore the luster to his tarnished reputation after the “Weightgate” drama of Corrales-Castillo II (and the derailed Corrales-Castillo III matchup) and his two prior lackluster outings and trounce Hatton? Or will Hatton rebound from his own debacle at the hands of Luis Collazo and his subsequent bland win over Juan Urango? Further, can Hatton reignite the great expectations (no pun intended for all you Victorian literature buffs) that many fans had for him after he forced the great Kostya Tsyzu to quit on his stool? The hope that both pugilists will summon another great performance will most certainly keep our collective eyes glued to our screens and our butts in our seats.
The man that many deem to be the most avoided fighter in boxing, Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito, will make a mandatory defense on July 14 against highly regarded challenger, Paul “The Punisher” Williams. Adding to the excitement of the pending clash is the back-and-forth between the two camps regarding the outcome of their now-infamous sparring session three years ago. While Williams (who was brought in as a sparring partner) claims to have punished Margarito so badly that he was asked to leave, the Margarito camp claims that the session didn’t transpire as such and that William’s camp refused to allow The Punisher to spar more than three rounds with Margarito. Whatever the case, fans want to know: Will Margarito be exposed by the younger, taller, power-punching upstart? Or will Williams meet his fistic Waterloo a la Kermit Cintron? Only time will tell.
August 4 promises to provide a tasty treat to all that are hungry for action and satisfaction. Rafael Marquez, a perennial top-ten pound for pound entrant and one half of the most celebrated boxing brother tandem (along with older brother Juan Manuel Marquez) since Michael and Leon Spinks, squares off for the second time in 2007 against the exciting Israel Vazquez. Vazquez seeks redemption after retiring on his stool due to an apparent nose injury in their first bout, which had all the makings of a Fight of the Year candidate until the challenger couldn’t continue. Will the super bantamweight champion Marquez continue to showcase his boxing brilliance against Vazquez, sending the challenger packing once again? Or will Vazquez summon an electric performance and knock the celebrated champion from his lofty perch? There is not a snowball’s chance in hell of this matchup being a disappointment. All that is needed is a television, a hot pizza and a six-pack of cerveza and the good times shall most certainly roll.
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