Looking Into the Crystal Ball
12.02.06 - By Aaron King: With an upcoming schedule positively bursting with quality fights, why not make a few conjectures on them? It’s never too early to start making your predictions, and so I will make mine.
Article posted on 13.02.2006
We’ll look at the fights by category: No-Brainers, Pick-‘Em and the Big Ones (not to be confused with Aerosmith’s 1994 greatest hits collection). I’m feeling hot after correctly picking every single playoff game this year in the NFL, which is a first for me. My apologies to “Rico Suabe,” whom was trying to avoid Super Bowl results when he read my last article. On to the predictions:
Feb. 16: Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Gilberto Keb Bass
Bass’s (26-12-1, 15 KOs) last three opponents had a combined record of 5-14-1. But this is just how things go for Wonjongkam (59-2, 31 KOs), right? He continues to fight in obscurity in his native Thailand. Wonjongkam wins via late round KO.
Feb. 18: Antonio Margarito KO7 Manuel Gomez; Ivan Calderon W12 Isaac Bustos; Feb. 24: Glen Johnson W12 Richard Hall; March 4: Miguel Cotto KO11 Gianluca Branco
I know that some say Branco has a shot. But really, he doesn’t. He has no power, and he’s fought but one fighter of significance – a loss to Arturo Gatti.
Feb. 12: Peter Manfredo Jr. – Scott Pemberton
Ah, the Contender special. Yeah, Manfredo (24-3, 10 KOs) definitely beat Sergio Mora. Yeah, Pemberton (29-4-1, 24 KOs) was destroyed by Jeff Lacy. But I still like Pemberton’s power and reach. Pemberton by KO in the middle to late rounds.
Feb. 18: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – Carlos Molina
The two fought to a draw two months ago. It was the first blemish on Chavez’s record (23-0-1, 18 KOs). As for Molina (8-1-1, 4 KOs), it was his tenth fight. He’s nowhere near his pop, but I like Jr. in this one. Chavez by unanimous decision.
Feb. 25: Shane Mosley – Fernando Vargas
Mosley (41-4, 35 KOs) and Vargas (26-2, 22 KOs) have both seen better days, obviously. I think they both got something left in the tank. Mosley can be out boxed, but Vargas won’t be able to do that. Mosley sticks and moves to a unanimous decision win.
Feb. 25: Jhonny Gonzalez – Mark Johnson
Johnson’s (44-4, 28 KOs) last fight was a loss in 2004. Mark won’t be “too sharp.” Gonzalez (31-4, 27 KOs) is one of the more fascinating fighters in the world. He lost his first two fights; both of his opponents were winless. But he’s been on fire for the past few years. Gonzalez wins by KO (on my birthday).
March 18: Hasim Rahman – James Toney
This is an interesting one. Rahman (41-5-1, 33 KOs) is a “champion” in the loosest sense of the word. Toney (69-4-2, 43 KOs) is considered by some to be the most skilled fighter in the division despite being a blown up middleweight. However, Toney has been battled tested for the past few years, while Rahman’s toughest bout in recent memory was against John Ruiz. Toney by unanimous decision.
April 15: Vernon Forrest – Ike Quartey
This is another intriguing matchup. Forrest (37-2, 28 KOs) has been on the shelf with various injuries since his losses to Ricardo Mayorga. Providing he wins in March against Raul Munoz, he’ll have three wins since the two year layoff. Quartey’s (37-2-1, 31 KOs) layoff has been even longer – five years. Since going through an even worse stretch than Forrest, Quartey has looked increasingly impressive in each of his comeback fights. The streak has to continue for one, and I’ll take the more sure fighter. Quartey by split decision.
April 29: Zahir Raheem – Acelino Freitas
Raheem (27-1, 16 KOs) is coming off the biggest win of his career by far with his decision over Erik Morales. Freitas (37-1, 32 KOs) beat up on a couple of bums in Brazil since his crushing defeat at the hands of Diego Corrales. Freitas is a very dangerous puncher and showed some heart in his fight with Corrales (despite telling the ref he wanted no more and that mouthpiece episode). However, I see a lot of parallels between he and Morales. Raheem will turn in a similar performance to the one we saw in September and win a unanimous decision.
Feb. 17: Kevin Kelley W10 Juan Carlos Ramirez; March 11: Felix Sturm KO5 Macelino Masoe; March 25: Marco Antonio Barrera TKO11 Jesus Chavez; April 15: Jermain Taylor KO10 Sam Soliman; May 6: Ricardo Mayorga SD12 Oscar De La Hoya
The Mayoga-De La Hoya fight is big, but I don’t have the space for more predictions, so I’ll leave my formal prediction for an article later.
The Big Ones
March 4: Joe Calzaghe – Jeff Lacy
The most captivating fight of the year so far. Since winning the title in 1997, Calzaghe (40-0, 31 KOs) hasn’t made an attempt to cross the Atlantic for a major fight. In fact, he still isn’t. It took someone with the stones of Lacy (21-0, 17 KOs) to cross it for him. Not to say that Calzaghe’s a coward; he’s a very capable fighter with a big punch. Looking at a common opponent, Omar Sheika, Calzaghe knocked him out in the fifth round. It took Lacy a hard fought decision to beat Sheika. Let’s be honest – Sheika stinks, so it wouldn’t be a long shot to say Calzaghe ought to win this thing. However, Sheika won’t be in the ring, and Lacy has continued to progress defensively and even more offensively to match his already tremendous power. Calzaghe won’t be able to stay away all night. Lacy by late round knockout, but it’s a struggle to the end.
April 8: Zab Judah – Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Super” Judah (34-3, 25 KOs) stands no chance. Mayweather (35-0, 24 KOs) will rip Judah with jabs and straight power shots, then move and do it all over again. This will repeat itself for a few rounds before a discouraged Judah can’t stand any more. Mayweather wins by ninth or tenth round KO, but it’ll be over long before that.
April 22: Wladimir Klitschko – Chris Byrd
Klitschko (45-3, 40 KOs) has a new found sense of confidence. All of a sudden, he discovered he could take a punch again. Technically he’s still as sound as ever, and he can hit like a mule’s kick. If Peter couldn’t put Klitschko away, Byrd (39-2-1, 20 KOs) certainly won’t be able to. Of course, that won’t be Byrd’s aim. Byrd’s last loss was to Klitschko, who beat everything out of him, put him down twice, and nearly pitched a shutout. It’s a different Klitschko, but not that different. Byrd will do better this time, but he’ll still lose a unanimous decision.
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