None but an incurable optimist would dare proclaim otherwise: it’s been a tough summer for us boxing fans. All-too-frequent monetary disputes and freak injuries appeared to double their incidence, ultimately leaving the sweet science barren for the warmer months.
But as of now, I am free to hoist my writing talents, pull them over my shoulder and (from the journalistic vantage point offered by my publication) announce the wider world: “Worry not, for your suffering is at an end! (although terms and conditions do apply)”
The reader, being entitled to ask questions without censor, is bound to glance askance and ask: “But George, you prodigal son, you, what prompts you to prophesize?”
Let me lay it all out for you:
August, arguably the weakest of these four months, contains a few intriguing cards that, whilst not of mainstream appeal, will go a long way to deciding who gets the future title shots and who is ripe for retirement.
It all began interestingly enough, what with Bradley-Campbell and the Alexander-Witter undercard. Although mildly disappointing, it sets future bouts up rather nicely. Here’s what we have to look forward to:
August 15 hails the beginning of the end (or maybe the end of the end) for the great Roy Jones Jr, who is slated to face Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy. Both men were seriously mauled by Joe Calzaghe at some point, and both have encountered hard times; Jones knows that, despite being the “Fighter of the 90’s” and a perennial pound-for-pounder, he has little choice but to retire if he loses again. Being bettered by Lacy would offer incontrovertible proof of his diminishing skills and likely prompt an exit from the sport. “Left Hook”, on the other hand, needs to get past Jones in order to earn another title shot in any division. A defeat would send him spiraling into the reputation of being a gatekeeper at best, and an anonymous former champ at worst. Should be a decently entertaining scrap.
A week thereafter, on August 22, we have a similar scenario: two former champions, attempting to rebuild their reputations and jockey for title challenger positions. This time, I’m talking about Juan Diaz and Paulie Malignaggi. Diaz, the former linear lightweight champion, is just getting back into the mix after suffering two defeats in his last three outings (to Nate Campbell and the great JuanMa Marquez). Malignaggi, still reeling from the beating Hatton gave him less than a year ago, is looking for a major coup in upsetting Diaz and thus paving the way to more lucrative fights. The victor will most likely win a belt over the next twelve months. The loser will have a couple of years’ worth of work simply to ascend the ranks again. Once more, we should have a good, technical fight on our hands.
That same week, on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights season finale, we will be treated to an interesting undercard that is still being finalized, but will most likely contain Juan Urango against Randall Bailey for the IBF 140 lb strap and Clinton Woods versus Tavoris Cloud for the IBF light heavyweight belt. Don’t miss it on the 28th!
This takes us into the month of September, where we are greeted by several upcoming matches that will go a long way to resolving some in the ever-expanding list of questions pertaining to a variety of celebrated pugilists.
First up (on the 12th), we have stay-busy bouts for Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, both of whom will compete in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, facing each other on November 21. It’s fairly safe to say that neither will encounter any serious resistance from Gusmyl Perdomo and Shelby Pudwill (the Dane facing the former, and Ward the latter). In fact, Pudwill has only defeated two fighters with a winning record in 26 bouts, while Perdomo may some day exhibit an actual pulse for Kessler to try and work against.
September 12 is D-Day for another three fairly reputable men (in underlined font):
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr faces Jason LeHoullier in the hope of proving his talent to a wider audience, and emerging from his father’s shadow. Although not an impending barnburner, the bout provides intrigue galore into Chavez Jr and the extent of his ability.
Ivan Calderon is also at a crossroads. After being held to a technical draw by Rodel Mayol as the result of a cut from an unintentional headbutt, Calderon plummeted in the mythical pound-for-pound standings, which had almost-unanimously showed him to be in the top ten. Now, he gets his rematch, and is fired up to silence his critics, who claim that, at age 34, Caledron no longer has the impeccable defensive game that has defined him for his entire career. Truth be told, Calderon wasn’t looking all that great even before his cut, so it will be interesting to see how he readjusts.
Cristian Mijares is sort of pissed off; no doubt about it. First, he gets upset by Vic Darchinyan, and loses his top ten pound-for-pound status. Then, he loses his next fight against … wait for it … Nehomar Cermeno. Never heard of him? Neither had I. In any case, Mijares got his rematch and is hoping to win his opponent’s WBA bantam title. A loss here will spell “early retirement” for the 27-year-old, who has looked nothing like his former self this past year. Tune in on September 12 to see if he gets his groove back.
Following this D-Day spiel, we get a weeklong break, before the eagerly anticipated HBO PPV card of September 19, which features Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr – a step-up in weight for the Mexican bomber and a challenging welcome back bout for the recently un-retired Mayweather. The articles on this will come flowing thick and fast as the fight draws closer, so there’s no point in detailing all of the intricacies of the situation in this article.
On the undercard, we have the rematch of Chris John and Rocky Juarez, who fought to a controversial draw in Houston (Juarez’s hometown) for John’s WBA featherweight title earlier this year; John relishes the prospect of facing Juarez in front of an impartial audience, whilst Juarez is on the precipice of the mainstream recognition that has eluded him for so long.
To fortify the undercard, HBO is also giving the ultra-talented Zab Judah a spot, either against Matthew Hatton (Ricky’s younger brother) or another welterweight contender.
Following the pay-per-view extravaganza, boxing enthusiasts will tune in to a bizarre, if slightly comical, match-up in the heavyweight division. Cristobal Arreola will face Vitali Klitschko on September 26. *pause for laughter*
Yes – hard punching Arreola, big belly and all, up against the Zeus-lookalike elder Klitschko. It has all of the makings of a mismatch; but the Mexican slugger has a puncher’s chance against the Ukrainian monster, which is more than can be said of any non-Klitschko on the face of the planet. Hey – that’s good enough for me!
Folks – this brings us to the month of October, which (in all honesty) is more of an opening act for the jam-packed November. Nonetheless, it still contains a fair share of interest-piquing fights.
First off, we are indebted to Top Rank for a PPV event on the tenth, which, although not finalized, contains exciting fighters such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Oldlanier Solis, Juan Manuel Lopez and Vanes Martirosyan. Statistically speaking, the night should feature a couple of good KO’s and some slick boxing; from a geographic standpoint, chances are that if you’re an inhabitant of planet Earth, then Top Rank has someone in their stable who might interest you by virtue of some ethnic/nationalistic similarity. Hence, you might just find a new pugilist to follow this October 10!
A week removed from this Top Rank event, we are treated to Showtime’s first Super Six World Boxing Classic doubleheader, on October 17. This consists of two matchups: Arthur Abraham vs. Jermain Taylor and Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell, which will air in close succession on Showtime.
Following this worldwide trip, we shall take a three-week break, thus carrying us into November, where we are thrown right back into the mix with two evenly-matched bouts in the first weekend. First, the heavyweight title fight of Nikolay Valuev and David Haye (which, if nothing else, will provide the audience with gales of laughter as the six-foot Haye tries to pound the seven-foot Valuev into submission). Second, we have the light heavyweight rematch between “Bad”
A week thereafter, we arrive at the piece de resistance HBO PPV event of the Fall schedule – the November 14 bout between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto! Once again, the column inches on this one will pile up over the coming weeks and months, so elaboration beyond the names of the combatants is not required here. Look for an early preview of the fight sometime in late August.
Following the fight for pound-for-pound supremacy, the first round of the World Boxing Classic will draw to a close, also on Showtime, on November 21 in a contest between Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.
And, as the month of November winds down, we are privy to one more exciting brawl, this time between Romanian Lucian Bute and Mexican badass Librado Andrade, who will stage a rematch of sorts, following a controversial first fight for Bute, who, whilst winning handily, was dropped with a few seconds remaining in the twelfth round, only to rise after a notoriously long count, which was punctuated by referee Marion Wright telling Andrade to go back to his neutral corner. With both men seeking to bury some demons, and
So, this concludes our boxing schedule between August and November. Please be sure to revisit the blog for updates on each fight, and more boxing news!
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