Big Fight Predictions Part II: Pacquiao-Barrera, Mayweather-Hatton, Cotto-Mosley, More
04.10.07 - By Neil Thompson , photo by Naoki Fukuda - Earlier this year I wrote an article on the big fights for the first half of 2007. As we have some great fights coming up (from now until the end of the year) I thought I’d do ‘part 2’.
Article posted on 05.10.2007
In ‘Part 1’ I predicted a controversial points win for De La Hoya over Mayweather but to his credit, Floyd proved me wrong although it was a lot closer than many people (especially the Mayweather fans) expected. The next 3 predictions I got right, Hatton beat Castillo, Cotto beat Judah and Marquez beat Barrera. My 5th and final prediction was Winky Wright to beat Hopkins which, as you all know, was wrong. So 3 out of 5 wasn’t a bad result but I hope to improve on that score with my next set of predictions.:
Manny Pacquiao v Marco Antonio Barrera
This Saturday will see the first of the upcoming big fights that have made 2007 the best year for boxing match-ups that I can remember. As you all know this is a rematch from November 2003 where Pacquiao pulled off the upset and handed Barrera the worst beating of his career. 4 years on can an older Barrera reverse that outcome?
On thing I have learnt is too never under estimate Marco Antonio Barrera. After his controversial and undeserved win over Morales in their second encounter, I predicted Morales to out-point Barrera in their 3rd contest. In 2001 I expected Naseem Hamed to confuse and beat Barrera in style. And after a disappointing showing against Rocky Juarez, In the rematch I expected Juarez to put the final nail in Barrera’s career. In all 3 of those fights, I predicted a Barrera defeat and he proved me wrong each time. The only time I have correctly predicted a Barrera defeat was against Marquez and that was an extremely close call. So will Barrera prove me and many other boxing fans wrong once again? I wouldn’t put it past him.
The other day I re-watched Pacquiao’s perfect display against Barrera and once again it was mightily impressive. After his victory Pacquiao has had 8 fights with 6 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw. At first glance his post-Barrera performances may look impressive but under closer inspection it may ‘flatter to deceive’. In his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao knocked the Mexican down 3 times in the opening round but for the remainder of the fight was out-boxed. Against a fading Morales, Pacquiao found himself out-boxed again. However, Pacquiao came back to destroy Morales in the next 2 fights. Morales may not have been the force he once was but judging by Morales last performance at lightweight against Diaz, even a faded Morales can be a threat. Both Marquez and Morales have shown that Pacquaio can be beaten with the right game-plan.
With all that in mind, due to the nature of Pacquiao’s one-sided victory over Barrera the first time, it’s hard to imagine Barrera reversing the result. The style match-up obviously works in Pacquiao’s favour. That being said, Barrera is a crafty little Mexican and I’m sure he has worked out a new strategy. Also, you have to ask the question; ‘Is Pacquiao going to take Barrera lightly’? and ‘is Pacquiao totally focussed in the same way he was when he first met Marco’? I think its ‘yes’ to the first question and ‘no’ to the second.
I still have to go with a Pacquiao win but this time it will be a much closer affair. I think it’ll go the distance and Pacquiao wins a reasonably close but unanimous decision.
My prediction: Pacquiao W12 (unanimous)
Joe Calzaghe v Mikkel Kessler
This is how it should be; the number one of the division fighting the number two of the division. Since it’s creation the super middleweight division has been the ugly cousin to the classic middleweight division. A division that, since Roy Jones left, has seen mediocre champions like Sven Ottka, Byron Mitchell, Robin Reid, Markus Beyer and Glen Catley etc. In this unpopular weight class Joe Calzaghe has ruled and has been considered the best, by most, for the better part of 10 years. However, being considered the best of a bad bunch is not the greatest accolade one could offer. What Calzaghe needed was a star to perform against and Joe got that in Jeff Lacy. Suddenly there was a popular stateside fighter for Joe to showcase his talents against and as many expected this side of the pond, Joe Calzaghe made his name off beating the over matched Jeff Lacy. Now there is a new breed of contender in the 168 LB division and Mikkel Kessler is not only a star in his native country of Denmark but he’s also one hell of a fighter. This will not be one sided like Calzaghe-Lacy, this will be a tough, hard fought contest between two outstanding fighters.
Mikkel Kessler has a typical stand-up European style of fighting. He’s more comfortable boxing on the outside behind a solid left jab. There’s not much head movement but his balance is good. He can bang with both hands and is painfully accurate. In various fights I have seen him apply subtle changes to his style to help him overcome an opponent. More significantly he has shown the ability to travel well. This was evident when travelling to Australia to defend his title against the fast and talented Aussie’ Anthony Mundine.
Calzaghe’s strengths are now well known. He is very fast, his work output is phenomenal, he has a solid chin, incredible stamina and has the ability to box or brawl and equally competent at both. Despite his reputation to slap, he is also a hurtful puncher as well as being a big super middleweight fighting out of an awkward southpaw stance. Believe it or not, even Floyd Mayweather has been singing his praises saying “the only British fighter I rate at the elite level is Joe Calzaghe because of his adaptability”. Such high praise from a fighter that usually reserves such comments only for himself, is impressive to say the least.
Eventhough I believe the hostile crowd will not bother Kessler, I will have to go with Calzaghe. At 35 there are still no signs of Calzaghe fading. He doesn’t abuse his body between fights and always stays in shape. Calzaghe’s speed, workrate, stamina and his adaptability will allow Calzaghe to pull off an impressive, hard fought win. It will be close and probably a split decision, but I feel this will be Calzaghe’s night.
My Predicted Result: Calzaghe W12 (split decision).
Miguel Cotto v Shane Mosley
On another website this was voted the most exciting upcoming match-up for the remainder of the year and its not hard to see why. Shane Mosley is a former lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight champion of the world and judging by his recent impressive victories over Fernando Vargas and Jose Collazo, Mosley still has enough left to beat most fighters around his weight class, even at the grand old age of 36. Over an impressive 14-year career Mosley has built up a record of 44-4 (37) with a total of 18 world title fights on his CV.
Miguel Cotto is already a 2-weight champion and looks more comfortable at 147 LB’s than he did 140. At only 26 years of age Cotto has a lot of time left in this sport but the time is right for Cotto to test himself against one of the better fighters of the last 10 years. With an impressive record of 30-0 (25) this will be Cotto’s 3rd defence of his WBA welterweight title. If victorious Cotto can go on to fight the winner of Mayweather-Hatton. At 5’ 7” tall Cotto is not the biggest welterweight out there but he still looks strong at the weight. Cotto has shown good adaptability in his career. He can box or brawl when he needs too and is heavy-handed.
Well this is a tough one to call. I’d give the edge in power to Cotto, whilst Mosley is certainly the faster of the two. Cotto definitely throws more punches than Mosley does these days, but Mosley has the better chin. So whom do you pick? Do you go for the youth and aggression of Cotto, or the speed and experience of Mosley? In truth there are strong arguments that can be made for either result. Personally, I’m going for the younger and more aggressive fighter from Puerto Rico. Prior to his fight with Zab Judah I had some doubts about Cotto but he answered them on that night in New York. Judah was faster than Cotto and hit Cotto with some stunning single shots. Sure, he wobbled Cotto but his recovery skills were good, he regrouped and continued to stick to his game plan and wore down the faster American to win by stoppage late in the fight. Although I doubt Cotto will be the first man to stop Mosley, I still see Cotto wearing Mosley down. I think the first half of the fight could belong to Mosley, but Cotto will eventually gain control to claim a reasonably close decision.
My Predicted Result: Cotto W12 (unanimous decision)
David Haye v Jean Marc Mormeck
Another fight I have been looking forward too is David Haye’s tilt at beating the premier cruiserweight fighter of today, Jean Marc Mormeck. David Haye has been a highly touted prospect ever since he won a silver medal at the world amateur championships and this is the ultimate test in the cruiserweight division. Haye has a plan of winning the real world championship at cruiserweight before an immediate move up to the heavyweight division. David Haye is a huge cruiserweight and this will certainly be his last fight in the division. Despite being a huge puncher, having an attractive style, a good talker and being good looking to boot, it is surprising that David Haye is not well known in his home country of Great Britain. This is probably because he has avoided fighting under the main UK promoter and therefor has not received much terrestrial TV exposure. A victory over Mormeck should solve this problem as Britain has a terrible need to find a new heavyweight capable of having success at the highest level.
There’s no doubt about it, Jean Marc Mormeck is a more experience fighter at world level than Haye. Forget all the various alphabet title-holders, Mormeck is the real World Champion and all others claiming to be that are mere pretenders to the crown. There is only one king of the division and that is Jean Marc Mormeck. At 35 and an impressive record of 33-3 (22) this will be his 8th world title fight. Like David Haye, Mormeck has one stoppage loss on his career and like Haye that was at the hands of another world rated boxer. Unlike Haye, Mormeck has gained revenge for that defeat by beating O’Neil Bell to recapture his crown.
As Mormeck has the advantage in experience and having the fight staged in his home country of France, Mormeck may well be the betting favourite. However, I have to go with David Haye as I just happen to think that he is the better fighter. I obviously have my doubts but David Haye is very strong, skilful fast and extremely powerful. My doubts where about his heart, stamina and chin, but most of them were answered in Haye’s war with Fragomeni. Expect a tentative start with both fighters doing well until a big counter-right hand sends Mormeck wobbling and with Haye finishing the job with barrage of punches forcing the referee to intervene.
My Predicted Result: Haye W KO 6
Floyd Mayweather v Ricky Hatton
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This is the fight that I have been looking forward to more than any other fight. The top welterweight and P4P number one fighter in the world fighting the number one junior welterweight in the world. People’s opinions on how this fight will play out are varied to say the least. I have huge respect for both fighters but I will admit that I am a much bigger fan of Ricky Hatton. I accept the idea that Floyd has earned the right to be considered the best P4P but that doesn’t mean Floyd will be victorious. The style match-up is an intriguing one. In one corner you have a classic out-boxer with fast hands, great conditioning and a defensive genius. In the other corner you have a swarming in-fighter with speed and the stamina of a rampant bull. This is a great match-up of completely different styles, a boxer against a fighter.
Some people think this will be one-sided in Floyd’s favour. Well if you look at this fight with objectivity and from an unbiased viewpoint, that is unlikely. Some say this will be like Floyd’s fight with Baldomir. I doubt that, Ricky is much, much faster and throws much more leather than Baldomir does. Baldomir was just too slow to close Floyd down but Hatton’s game is all about closing people down and beating them on the inside. Some people say this will resemble Floyd’s one-sided beating he gave Gatti. This is another unlikely outcome. Gatti has a completely different syle to Hatton. Gatti is a brawler who fights mainly on the outside and to be honest Gatti is not as good as Hatton. Other people say that Floyd is too big and his reach too long for Hatton; but in-fighers like it close were longer arms are a disadvantage. Also, Floyd came up from super featherweight, which suggests that while Floyd is taller he isn’t necessarily bigger.
Even with all of the above, I’m not fooling myself, I accept that Floyd will be the big betting favourite. Most fans, pundits and critics will favour Floyd to pull off the win and I can understand their viewpoint and I can see the reasoning behind their arguments. However, I respectfully disagree. I think the style match-up works in Hatton's favour. Floyd likes to work at his own pace, Hatton's style is all above forcing an opponent to work at his. I have watched Floyd for years and I have never seen Floyd taken out of the comfort zone for an extended period of time, I believe Hatton will force Floyd out of this zone and that’s were it’ll get interesting. Hatton is the sort of fighter that will force a fighter to work 3 minutes of every round.
Eventhough I’m picking Hatton for an upset win I still have many questions that cannot be answered until December. Can Hatton impose his style on a fighter as talented as Floyd? How will Floyd compete with Ricky on the inside? Can Ricky close Floyd down if Floyd chooses to run all night? Can Ricky keep up the phenomenal pace required to beat Floyd? Can Floyd stay with the pace Hatton set’s? and if so, in the later rounds when Floyd usually comes on strong, can Hatton maintain that pace?
There are many people out there who hate Floyd Mayweather, they think he’s a fraud and undeserving of his standing in this sport, I’m not one of them. There are many people who see Ricky Hatton as all hype and simply not in Floyd’s league, I certainly don’t share that view. In truth, both fighters have their fair share of ‘haters’ but all the top fighters do. It takes a sensible, fair and unbiased head to properly evaluate a fight and even though I’m a fan of Hatton I pride myself on not letting my feelings get in the way of predicting a fight. Having examined this contest time and time again, I do believe this is a ‘pick ‘em’ fight. I believe this is the best clash of opposite styles that you will see in boxing today. It’s not just that their styles are completely different but their personalities are equally different as well. I think this could be the start of a great rivalry. If I’m wrong and this doesn’t turn out to be the fight I expect it to be, I will be the first to admit that I got it wrong but I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is and put a decent bet on the underdog. I know my Hatton pick is a bold one but there have been a lot, lot bigger upsets than this one would be.
Nothing last’s forever and I think Floyd’s reign as the P4P Kingpin is coming to an end. Floyd has been talking about himself being the best the world has ever seen, he’s splitting his training with a spot on a dancing reality TV show, he’s been talking about retirement and his fans talk about him as if he’s unbeatable. All this contributes to my opinion that a Floyd defeat is on the cards and Hatton has the style to do it. In-fighters like fighting boxers because on the inside they have the advantage, the question is; can Hatton get Floyd on the inside and keep him there. I think he can.
My Prediction: Hatton W12 (unanimous)
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