'Great In 2008': An Early Look At Next Years Ring Headliners
29.12.07 - By Vivek Wallace: As great a year as 2007 has been, there's actually reason to think that the 2008 landscape will be just as loaded. Perhaps even more so.
Article posted on 30.12.2007
Between the fights already scheduled and the hypotheticals that loom large, the mere thought of what lies ahead exudes a feverish passion that remains uncontained.
As we get set to close the chapter on '07, today we take a quick snapshot of what '08 has to offer..
Roy Jones Jr. vs Felix Trinidad
Skeptics in the world of boxing find the timing of this fight to be a bit off, but for those of us who acknowledge talent - even if it is near the 'shell' stage - there's simply never a bad time for a good fight.
In Roy Jones Jr. we have arguably the most talented fighter of this generation - only rivaled by Floyd Mayweather Jr. - and in Felix 'Tito' Trinidad, we have arguably one of the most spirited fighters to ever lace up a pair.
Both men have seen better days, but it's hard to dispute the heart, and pride of these two warriors. The catch weight of 170lbs will make this fight interesting because neither man will find it an easy task to get there, but on fight night, there's no querstion that the 'pride' of Puerto Rico will be very 'game' as he mixes it up with an opponent who also knows how to deliver.
Residing in the back of both mens mind is the fact that a victory in this fight propels them to much greener pastures. A Trinidad victory puts him back in the thick of things if he decides to stick around, while a solid Jones Jr. victory gives him a bona-fide reason to challenge someone like Joe Calzaghe, providing he is able to deliver against Bernard Hopkins in their highly anticipated matchup.
If such a fight between Roy Jones Jr and Joe Calzaghe were to come to fruition, it would be a matchup of pure speed and skill between two of the only three men in the sport - (Jermain Taylor was the other) - to have effectively defeated the 'Executioner'.
Some consider Jones Jr. well past his prime, but I would strongly disagree. His stamina may not be what it used to be, but it's hard to discount the ring knowledge and sheer ability of this fighter when he's motivated and truly driven for greatness. His style to me would make for a much better matchup with Calzaghe than Hopkins.
I could be alone in saying this, but I personally think we have yet to see the last of Jones Jr. on center stage in this sport. Come January 19th we'll know for sure.
Hopkins vs Calzaghe
This matchup is one that I personally find a very intriguing matchup. This fight would pair a man - (Joe Calzaghe) - whose worth as a fighter is still not truly realized in the minds of most fight fans globally, against man who has proven that he can effectively descramble nearly any 'puzzle' in the ring.
The Mayweather/Hatton fight got tons of hype based on the fact that there was international implications but if that fight was viewed in such a way, consider this: Hopkins - An American fighter - has destroyed arguably the best recent Mexican fighter in Oscar Dela Hoya, and arguably the best recent Puerto Rican fighter in Felix Trinidad. No knocks on other international fighters, but aside from Puerto Rico and Mexico, there's no other countries globally that boast comparable names in the sport than the U.K.
Hopkins' resume is one country short of a perfect trifecta, and also makes him a bona-fide representative for the U.S. against a man who is arguably the best fighter (non-heavyweight) outside of the U.S. The recent and very ignorant comments by Hopkins have provided a sub-plot that divides some among racial lines, yet none-the-less, go very far in helping promote this mega fight as another blockbuster with "fight of the year" implications.
A victory for either man solidifies his resume and reputation.
Best Of The Rest
Other interesting matchups on the horizon include Pacquio/Marquez, Klitschko/Ibragimov, and the Pavlik/Taylor rematch.
Those are the obvious. The not so obvious that would totally light the fight game on fire would be a summer showdown between Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
As much as we all want to see this fight, I personally predict that it won't happen until the fall or possibly winter of the new year if at all for two major reasons.
First off, Mayweather has stated clearly that he wants to take a well deserved rest.
Secondly, while he sits idle, I expect Oscar Dela Hoya to appease fight fans who feel that it would be meaningless for him to face a much smaller Hatton, and instead decide to face the dangerous Miguel Cotto. The winner of this showdown will face Mayweather in what will probably be his true retirement fight.
If Oscar Dela Hoya wins against Cotto, he will own bragging rights to state that he beat the man who most wanted to see Mayweather face, thus earning himself the chance and building the buzz for a rematch with Mayweather that few currently wants to see.
If Cotto wins, it would set the stage for two of the biggest names in the sport to take part in another mega fight with all the 'trimmings'.
Yep, another 24/7 series, yep, another city to city tour filled with heavy Mayweather antics, and yep, another chance for fight fans to wear out their couches and pack sports bars to watch two of the best in the game get it on.
One can only hope either of those fights comes to fruition, but with or without them, things for '08 look great.
In closing, I'll repeat a line I've often felt a need to state throughout this year....and I repeat:
"Damn, isn't it a good time to be a boxing fan"!!!
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