2009 was my first year as a full-fledged boxing fanatic. I got into it through my initial interest in MMA. I would get big fights every now and then, but now I find myself using YouTube to look up old fights, DVRing fights on Showtime and HBO. I used to think boixng was a dead sport, but its not. The problem is sports elites like ESPN and the people who use them as their sole outlet for sports still think it is. As Max Kellerman said during the Williams fight, "2009 was gooooood." And it was, so here is my wishlist for 2010:
1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather
Of course, this appears to be happening. There is no real equivilent to this match up for someone my age (28). I remember the hype for Tyson-Lewis, but that had less to do with real boxing skill and more to do with circus. Both men are at the top of their game, the best boxers in the world in any division, and have styles to match perfectly. Pacquiao is the punching machine, a tazmanian devil that tears through opponents. Mayweather is the patient counter-puncher who uses quick reflexes, superior athleticism, and ring smarts to get out of the way fast and the attack even faster. At first I had this as Pacquiao, but the more I think about it and the more I watch Floyd fights its going to be a lot closer than I thought and I have to say its close to being 50-50 now.
2. A junior welterweight tournament as proposed by HBO
They have tour names, but to be honest you could do a round-robin similar to Showtime, or a full eight-man bracket tournament. Right now the names are Devon Alexander, Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, and Victor Ortiz. But there is Timothy Bradley, Nate Campbell, Juan Urango, Juan Manuel Marquez,Kendall Holt, Ricky Hatoon, Paulie Malignaggi. But what is great about the Super Six, and why I'm not surprised to see HBO trying to copy Showtime, is that they guarantee top fighters fighting each other, and it makes for compelling fights. Junior welterweight is stacked, just stacked and a four-man tourney is just a taste. If HBO wants to match Showtime's grand planning, they need more. Showtime got six of the top fighters in the world, broadcast fights from all over the world, and has spent a lot of money hyping this.
3. Kelly Pavlik moves to Super Middleweight
I hate to say it, and I hate to see the lone good fighter in the middleweight division leave because it is so weak, but I want to see Kelly Pavlik in big fights. There is always Paul Williams, but as sad as it sounds even though HBO has made it their narrative, what is the upside of Pavlik fighting Williams? He won't make any money and he might lose. And then what after that? Felix Strum? Anthony Mundine? Winky Wright? There is nothing left for him.
But a move to super middleweight? Suddenly there are big fights left and right beginning with Lucien Bute. Business-wise, HBO looks to be pushing Bute as the true top super-mid in order to take some of the shine off of the Super Six. The Andrade fight was great theater with the story behind their first fight, but Bute needs someone new to fight. And while six of the top fighters are taken up, there is also Allen Green, Andrade, and Sakio Bika that could make for big Pavlik fights.
I'm a big Kelly Pavlik fan for many reasons and right now he is the most wasted champion in boxing. Now divison is weaker, in my mind, than the middleweights. He's getting heat for ducking Paul Williams, but I honestly can't blame him if he is because there is no upside for him win or lose. A move to super middleweight, a huge HBO fight with Bute among others could be just what the doctor ordered.
4. The Klitschko Brothers fight each other
This might come off as schtick or campy because they are brothers, but honestly they are the top two heavyweights in the world and I think we are owed to see who is the best of the big boys. Many have thought the two might dance around each other, and I'm pretty sure this fight won't happen. But while the heavyweight division has gotten better with the emergence of young talent like Chris Arreola, Eddie Chambers, Kevin Johnson, David Haye, and Tomasz Adamek in the division, the Klitschko's are the dominate force and I think a fight to find out who the best heavyweight in the post-Lewis era is worth it.
5. Chad Dawson vs. Bernard Hopkins
The cynic says because there is nothing else for Dawson. And the cynic would be right. A quick glace through the light heavies is a who's who of fighters that use to be great. Jones, Tarver, and Johnson lead the list. Underneath are good young fighters like Tavaris Cloud and Jean Pascal, but for Dawson whom HBO is looking to turn into a big star those names don't work. Hopkins is NOT a fighter that use to be great, he still has it. He beat Pavlik, looked good against "white boy" Calzaghe, and took apart Enrique Onaleas. Hopkins is the perfect match-up for Dawson to prove himself. He's smart, elusive, knows how to fight inside and out, and most of all he knows better than perhaps any boxer still fighting how to impose his pace and style on a fight. I don't think that Dawson has fought that yet. Beating Tarver and Johnson twice has given Dawson his degree, but he only will get his doctorate by fighting Hopkins. I know Bernard wants Roy Jones and he wants the heavyweight title, but this is a real fight I want to see and one that could make a huge star or a true legend.