Why You're Going To Like 2005

08.01.05 - By Chris Ireland - - There's an old saying for boxing fans: There's good years, and then there's better years. 2004 was a good year, and it already appears that 2005 will be a better year. Let me rephrase that: 2004 was a bad year, and 2005 should be pretty darned good. Last year we watched aging legends decay in the ring and collectively gagged on pay-per-views being jammed down our throats, while all we could do was dream about what next year might be.. It's usually incredibly pessimistic to be negative about an entire twelve months, but 2004 had that kind of effect on me. Certainly there were great bright spots like the Pacquiao vs. Marquez and Morales vs. Barrera III wars, the return of Felix Trinidad, and much more. However, watching superstar after superstar fall down in the ring instead of stepping it up left a nasty taste in my mouth. So what is it about 2005 that looks so promising? There's several reasons.

For one, the superstars of the sport seem to be much more eager to fight in 05'. Bernard Hopkins has already inked a fight with longtime shadow Howard Eastman. Manny Pacquiao has managed to line up a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez. Kostya Tszyu has apparently signed on to fight the exciting Ricky Hatton.

Arturo Gatti and Jessie James Leija will get together soon. Zab Judah and Cory Spinks will do it again in February, and Floyd Mayweather is back in action. Yea, it's a long list. At this time last year the most exciting thing going on was Gatti vs. Branco and the anticipation of Pac vs. JMM and Morales vs. Chavez. We had learned the Tszyu vs. Mitchell and Toney vs. McCline show was off and were waiting for Lennox Lewis' next move.

The table has also been setup for superfights later on this year. Gatti vs. Mayweather is virtually a lock provided both fighters make it past January, Pacquiao vs. Morales is a strong possibility if Pacman can eat up Marquez, and Lennox Lewis has made noise about coming back to fight Vitali Klitschko. Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley have moved back down to weights they belong, and Felix Trinidad seems to be the man everybody wants to fight. And yes, there's noise about Morales and Barrera doing it one more time.

Many young guns in the sport stop taking baby steps in 2004, and are bona fide contenders this year. Miguel Cotto has easily cracked the endlessly talented Jr. Welterweight top ten, Jermain Taylor is more than ready to take on a serious opponent, Rocky Juarez's power is more fact than fiction, and Samuel Peter has a chance to make a big splash on HBO in a few weeks. Juan Diaz is becoming one of the more exciting fighters in the sport, and Kermit Cintron appears poised to take on Antonio Margarito this year. The future of the sport may be safer than we thought.

Before fight fans get their hopes up too high, there's a few things to remember. John Ruiz is bound to fight again. For those of you who have never seen Ruiz fight, sit down in a chair and squeeze your head for about an hour. That should give you a good idea of how it feels to watch one of his bouts. There's no doubt Don King will convince us $49.99 is a bargain for five "title" fights, and the alphabet groups are sure to come up with some creative rankings. And, of course, there's the sad reality that Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson will enter the ring again. But the great thing about boxing fans is that they accept the bad times as a reality, and as merely a window leading to the great times. I assure you, the great times are well on their way this year.

When reading about the great times in boxing, run-on sentences and an endless fountain of comas is a great problem to have. I'm proud to say I supplied fight fans with all of that they can handle. The trick to truly enjoying the coming twelve months is to accept a few harsh realities, and soak in the unpredictable drama. Boxing, in a sense, provides for great cinema. The Lord Of The Rings has returned in 2005 after Gili' hit the theaters in 2004. So fight fans, grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy the show.

Article posted on 08.01.2005

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