Boxing Wish-List for 2005
11.01.05 - By Paul Ruby - firstname.lastname@example.org - Too often, boxing fans have no recourse against poor match-making and unjust decisions. Boxing has evolved from a game controlled by organized crime behind closed doors to a game that, today, is governed by feuding networks, crooked promoters, and the almighty dollar. Any fan can think of countless ways to improve the sport we love, but the sad reality is that we have little power to do so. I could write about implementing a system that empowers only qualified judges to score championship fights and I could write about a national sanctioning body that would attempt to discredit the bogus rankings systems in place today. Unfortunately, I know that either piece would fall mostly on deaf ears, so I’ve chosen to write the “If I were king for a day” article about my wish-list for the coming year in this fine sport.
Article posted on 11.01.2005
1. An end to Don King’s stranglehold on the Heavyweight titles.
Boxing is a business. Boxing is a sport, too. But, mainly professional boxing is a business. Don King has managed a way to become an important financial figure in the sport. Don King turns a modicum of skill into checks that have the sort of zeroes I don’t understand. For that, I respect him a tremendous amount – he is a very good, arguably great, negotiator. He makes a lot of money for a number of young men. John Ruiz? Chris Byrd? They are our heavyweight champions. Don King is the one who determines how much they drag in. Fair enough. It is a business, and I can respect that. Still, I have, as an inquisitive gentleman, a few questions about what Ruiz and Byrd did to garner high rankings and, indeed, their belts. Beyond that, I wonder what Andrew Golota did to earn the title shots he got in 2004. The answer is nothing – Byrd and Ruiz do not deserve major belts, in my opinion, and Golota should not have even gotten one (let alone two) opportunities to fight for a major belt in 2004. The Heavyweight division is boxing’s marquee division and, sadly, would be in a shambles even without Don King. Still, there are talented fighters on both sides of the Atlantic that deserve title shots and will go begging for them until they sign with King. I understand that boxing is business and King seeks to make money for those around him as well as himself. Still, the 8 fighter merry-go-round that King has continually (and undeservedly) challenging for titles makes a mockery of the sport and is precluding deserving fighters from competing for titles in boxing’s most famous and fabled division.
2. A mini-tournament at 140 pounds.
There are simply too many great fights to make in this division. Vivian Harris and Junior Witter are a pair of tremendously talented fighters, but they simply do not draw fans. I believe the mini-tournament that could bring a tremendous amount of ratings and cash to everyone involved would be one that pairs the winner of a Kostya Tszyu/Ricky Hatton fight against the winner of a Floyd Mayweather, Jr./Arturo Gatti fight. The first round fights are relatively straight-forward to make. Both Tszyu and Hatton are Showtime fighters. Personally, I believe Tszyu views Hatton as a moderate risk and would need to be compensated properly for fighting him. Unfortunately, the only way for that to happen would be to make the fight in Manchester, England. Tszyu has proven himself a warrior and I believe, if the money was there, he would take this fight. Gatti and Mayweather are both HBO fighters. Recently, HBO has had better luck with Gatti than Mayweather, but they both can draw fans. Gatti’s at the end of his career and deserves this payday as much as anyone while Mayweather desperately needs a marquee opponent to thrust him back into the limelight of an overcrowded 140-pound division. The finals of the tournament - presumably a showdown between Tszyu and Pretty Boy Floyd - would be tougher to make. Still, the networks have shown a willingness to work together if the money is right as was the case for the showdown between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson a few years ago. Another way to sweeten the pot for this event would be to have an undercard that featured the losers of the semi-final bouts as well. Can you imagine a card that featured Tszyu/Mayweather and Hatton/Gatti? It would be amazing - there would be something for everyone!
3. Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley live up to their word and return to welterweight.
Win or lose, Oscar and Shane are still among the very few fighters with whom the general public is on a first-name basis. Both fighters probably peaked at welterweight, but remained fairly effective at 154. I believe Oscar saw the writing on the wall after his troubles with Sturm and Hopkins and made the prudent choice to return to welterweight. Shane, after a pair of losses to Winky Wright, also realized it may be best for him to go back down in weight. If both men can make the 147 pound limit comfortably, that sets the stage for a number of interesting show-downs at 147 that could ultimately lead to the last big-money fight of both men’s careers - De la Hoya/Mosley III. I would like to see both men take a tune-up against a top-15 contender and then move on towards picking up some belts. I think the interesting fights are Oscar taking on Antonio Margarito which would be a barn-burner as long as it lasted and Mosley against the winner of the Cory Spinks/Zab Judah showdown. I think those fights would allow both men to regain some of the confidence and composure they showed earlier in their careers and set the stage for a third showdown between the two southern California fighters.
4. Felix Trinidad against anyone other than Bernard Hopkins
The first fight between Hopkins and Trinidad proved what many of already knew - Felix Trinidad is not perfect. Hopkins took Tito to school three years ago and it remains his crowning achievement in the sport. Still, Tito returned refreshed from a long layoff and looked spectacular against Ricardo Mayorga. He looked like the Tito of old, and it was great to watch. Personally, I have no desire to watch a replay of the first Trinidad/Hopkins fight; that’s what I believe the second one would look like. An obvious match-up that would be great to see would be Trinidad against Jermaine Taylor, but “Bad Intentions” is not ready for this yet and his people know that. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Felix Trinidad take on Felix Sturm. You could probably have some fun with how they should bill that one as they’re both named Felix, but even so I just can’t see it being to great of a fight. Sturm has a solid jab, but that’s about it. Eventually, Trinidad’s power would pierce his tight guard and make Sturm pay for throwing only one punch at a time. Still, it’s an interesting fight to consider as are fights that involve Trinidad taking on some heavier hitters like Howard Eastman or Maselino Masoe.
5. Make the big fights at 126, 130, and 135.
There is simply to much talent from all over the world in these divisions for big fights not to be taking place on a monthly basis. Let’s just run through some of the names: Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Scott Harrison, In-Jin Chi, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Yodsanan 3-K Battery, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Acelino Freitas, Juan Diaz, Julio Diaz. The main fights I’d love to see are Manny Pacquaio (win or lose against Marquez) take a rematch with Barerra, Harrison/Chi, Corrales/Castillo (who may no longer be able to make 135), and Juan Diaz/Julio Diaz (which could be billed as “One of these Diaz” which would be hilarious). Any of those four match-ups is a potential fight of the year.
So, those are my big wishes for boxing in 2005. I’ll wrap up with the fights I most want to see in the coming year.
Fights I would make:
Heavyweight: Vitali Klitschko/ Mike Tyson. Come on - you know you would buy it too.
Cruiserweight: O’Neill Bell/ Wayne Braithewaite. I’m high on Bell and I think he’s the class of the division with the Big Truck a close second.
Light Heavyweight: Rico Hoye/Montell Griffin. There are no great match-ups here, so I’d like a rematch of a fight that ended with the wrong man getting the victory on the cards. I think Hoye’s the better fighter, but he did not deserve a win over Griffin when they fought in September. I would also be intrigued by a match-up of US-based Australian Paul Briggs and Antonio Tarver.
Super Middleweight: Jeff Lacy/Danny Green. This one would be fun as long as it lasted. The only loss between them is a ridiculous DQ against Green in his fight with Marcus Beyer. These guys may both be in the top ten in terms of pound-for-pound power today.
Middleweight: Felix Trinidad/ Howard Eastman or Felix Sturm. Hopkins is clearly the class of the field, so we may as well see a good scrap.
Junior Middleweight: Daniel Santos/Kassim Ouma. They both deserve a shot at Winky Wright if he opts not to take on Hopkins or Trinidad. Who will it be?
Welterweight: Mosley/De La Hoya III. We’ve already been through this one, so I’ll give the bonus pick of Kermit Cintron/Antonio Margarito. Cintron’s chin and conditioning remain huge question marks to me.
Junior Welterweight: Ricky Hatton/Arturo Gatti. I’ve been wishing for this one going on two years now. Talk about a blood-bath!!!
Lightweight: Diego Corrales/Jose Luis Castillo. Great stylistic match-up of two guys who simply love to fight, but do so very differently. I have doubts about Castillo staying at 135 long enough to make this a reality because I think he’s having trouble with the weight.
Super Featherweight: Marco A. Barrera/ Manny Pacquiao II. I don’t care if Manny can beat Juan Manuel Marquez, and this fight may even be better if he doesn’t. This is a rematch that MUST be made.
Featherweight: Scott Harrison/ In-Jin Chi. I can just tell this one would be hard as hell to score.
Bantamweight/Super Bantamweight: Rafael Marquez/ Oscar Larios. Neither fighter has much to lose here. I think the Marquez should move up and challenge for Larios’ titles. This has the makings of a barn burner.
Lower Weights: Lorenzo Parra/Vic Darchinyan. This is probably the most exciting fight of unbeaten little guys that can be made. Darchinyan is a stud, but Parra’s not flashed much power since he started taking on elite fighters.
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