My favorite fighters –a baker’s dozen plus one
By Evan Young, BoxingForecast.com: Some of these guys are the best in their respective divisions while others are exciting young contenders on the precipice of great things. Be that as it may, these are my favorite guys based on fighting style, unique abilities and personality. I expect all of these fighters to engage in important and exciting fights in 2009. These guys are all good for the sport and have what it takes to make 2009 an excellent year in boxing. And if each guy can have 2 or 3 outings in the new year it will be a good year indeed. Anyway, here is the list in no particular order..
Article posted on 30.12.2008
Glen Johnson – This guy is 3 days shy of his 40th birthday and is fighting better than he ever has. Johnson is a gentleman outside of the ring and a tough, brutal and skilled pressure fighter inside the ropes. He has a legitimate gripe that he manhandled ultra talented Chad Dawson earlier this year only to be given the shaft. Johnson is deserving of fights with the very best but he is avoided like a bad disease. Will Hopkins, Calzaghe and Dawson step up and give this guy a fight? I have a feeling they won’t. Instead Johnson has to keep plying his craft against anyone he can find because that’s what he does – he fights. Up next is Daniel Judah in February. And I don’t think Johnson will let this guy survive in this unnecessary rematch.
Antonio Margarito – He has a chin of concrete and brings unrelenting pressure that breaks the wills of great fighters. Margarito’s coming out party came last summer in his thrilling win over excellent Miguel Cotto. Margarito toiled for years as a pro in and Southern California and has paid his dues. He engages in thrilling contests and is now in a position to get the best fights. He is the best welterweight in the world and I think he’ll remain that way throughout 2009. However, I do expect Margarito to jump a weight class or 2 in the near future. Up next is Shane Mosley on January 24.
Librado Andrade – He’s not the most naturally talented fighter but he may be baddest man on two legs. Andrade seems impervious to punishment, has great stamina and can out-will anyone he fights. I felt he was robbed of a KO win over talented boxer Lucien Bute several moths ago when Andrade, who was behind on points, nailed Bute with seconds remaining in the 12th round. But bad officiating allowed Bute to gain a decision win and retain his IBF super middleweight crown when he should have been deemed unfit to continue. This guy may have been born 30 years too late when 15 rounds was the championship distance. Better yet, 100 years when men fought 100 round fights. No one could beat this guy at that distance. Also, Andrade has a terrific attitude and philosophy on life. And that counts for something in my book.
Manny Pacquiao – The humble Filipino warrior has beaten some of the best Mexican fighters of this generation and he capped things off in 2008 by embarrassing the much larger Golden Boy, Oscar de la Hoya, as a handpicked opponent in a brutal eight round drubbing. The talented southpaw buzzsaw has flourished under trainer Freddie Roach’s tutelage and he now sits alone atop the boxing world as boxing’s mythical pound for pound best fighter. Massive fights with Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. await.
Urbano Antillon – This unassuming almost shy lightweight is simply tearing up whoever is in front of him. He has looked excellent in the past year and I believe 2009 will be a breakout year for Antillon. He is an extremely brutal fighter that imposes his will on his opponents and breaks guys down with a fury. He does catch a little a but he has a chin and deceptive reflexes – oh, and he’s deadly to the body. He’s ready for the best right now.
Chris Arreola – He’s a truly exciting Mexican American heavyweight that breathes several breaths of fresh air into the division. He brings an aggression and intensity that you just don’t see in with the heavyweights. Every fight Arreola has is a shootout and someone will be going down – and so far it’s been his opponents. Conditioning and work ethic remain a question but there is no question - he is a real fighter. I can’t see this guy enough. Is Wlad Klitschko next?
Alfredo Angulo – Cut from the mold of Margarito and Antillon, he has excellent potential showdowns in the very near future as a Jr. Middleweight. He takes on former champ Ricardo Mayorga in February. He’ll fight for a title before the end of 2009. Fellow contender James Kirkland will be in his future. That fight has to marinate just a little longer.
James Kirkland – He’s an undefeated Jr. Middleweight KO artist with fast hands a big punch and an unquenchable thirst for combat. He’s talented and has a fighters spirit. A match with fellow badass Alfredo Angulo in inevitable.
Chad Dawson - He’s a terrific talent with blazing hand speed. He’s young at 25 and has a bright future. I think he’ll fight anyone and wants to test himself. That said, I’m disappointed he’s taking on Tarver again in a rematch of a fight that he won widely. But a contract is a contract – I believe there was a rematch clause. He does have unfinished business with Glen Johnson and Tavoris Cloud is a worthy challenger. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in with Hopkins or Calzaghe but that seems highly unlikely.
Mike Alvarado – This late bloomer with the wrestling background has proved to be a quick study. He’s been banging out some very tough vets and former champs in his last several fights and is already a force to be reckoned with at 140. He’s a dangerous cat that can make some noise in 2009. He brings, power, pressure and underrated skills. He’s ready.
Ricky Hatton – He’s getting towards the end of his career but anyone that wants to gain 140 pound preeminence all roads still go through Hatton, at least for now – although when he leaves there are many worthy fighters to fill the void.. He’s a superstar in the sport because of his complexion and affable attitude. But he can fight, too, make no mistake about that. He can call his own shots and fight the biggest fights. He will probably take on Pacquiao in the spring. After that, who knows?
Sergio Martinez – He’s a very classy southpaw boxer with excellent speed. He looks like a guy that’s a super athlete and is able to apply that athleticism in his fights. But he’s busy and aggressive and will make for some excellent match-ups at Jr. middleweight with his more brawling rivals Angulo and Kirkland. He has a tough task ahead when he takes on talented youngster Joe Greene in his first title defense.
Tim Bradley – He has speed, talent and a great work ethic. He’s articulate and a student of the game – what’s not to like. He upset Junior Witter in to win a portion of the 140 pound title. He’s s a top player in the division. And he’s very young.
Nate Campbell - He’s the people’s lightweight champ with his stirring winning over Juan Diaz earlier this year. Campbell talks smack but he walks the walk and is extremely dangerous to anyone – ask Joan Guzman who got out of fighting him because of weight shenanigans. He’s older at 36 but he is on top of his game and has to be considered the top 135 pounder right now. He can do it all, box, punch and brawl. He’s fast, tough and grizzled. I hope he stays at a high level and fights guys like Antillon, Juan Manuel Marquez and Edwin Valero.
Juan Manuel Marquez – May be the best boxer/puncher in the world.
Edwin Valero – 24 KO’s in 24 wins. May be the most dangerous fighter in the world.
Bernard Hopkins – Not always thrilling but at nearly 44, he’s a special fighter.
Joe Calzaghe – Underappreciated for years, he’s finally found respect as a supreme fighter and very tough guy.
Kelly Pavlik – Hopkins loss stings but he’s still young, exciting and dangerous.
Vic Darchinyan – He can punch, box and he’s nasty.
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