Mostly for kicks, here are some predictions for 2011 in boxing.
Pacquiao-Mayweather Will Not Happen
For those who still think this is the most important thing in boxing, I'll just start here. The fight's not going to happen. Mayweather really doesn't want it, and I don't think Top Rank really does, either. Why should they risk cash cow Pacquiao on Mayweather when people are spending good money to see him lay waste to Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito? Mayweather is going to have his hands full with legal stuff for a while, too.
Pacquiao-Mosley Will Do Just Fine on Pay-Per-View
Mosley and Pacquiao both did really good PPV numbers this year. Mosley did about 1.5 million against Mayweather, and Pacquiao carried Joshua Clottey to 700,000 buys, while his fight with Antonio Margarito sold over a million. It's proof that Manny Pacquiao is a phenom. But can he sell against Shane?
There are people who think that Pacquiao-Mosley will flop. I understand their reasons, and at the end of the day, everyone might be better off it it did flop. But if you start throwing in the Sergio Mora fight as a reason that Mosley can't do business with Manny, the reality is probably that nobody even saw the damn Mora fight, and nobody really cares. It's easy to lie in boxing. They'll have plenty of clips of Mosley staggering Mayweather, but the commercials probably won't show him gasping for air against Sergio Mora. We'll see Mosley savagely ripping Margarito, knocking out Mayorga, doing battle with Vargas and Oscar, and so on. It's easy to make Mosley look good with video clips. He's got a lot of good stuff to show. And he's still a name. The fight will sell, because the casual audience is that in love with Manny Pacquiao.
Manny Will Fight Juan Manuel Marquez
If Pacquiao-Mosley does as well as I expect it will on PPV, you just might see Juan Manuel Marquez ditch Golden Boy and strike out on his own for the fight he wants so badly. Mosley just did it, and Mosley was a shareholder at GBP. Marquez will probably have to temper his money demands some, but if he's basically promoting himself with Top Rank doing all the heavy lifting, he would put a few coins in his pocket to say the least.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
Floyd Won't Fight in 2011
Lilfloyd has dug himself some legal holes, and the way he just keeps adding to the whole mess, I don't expect we're going to see Mayweather fighting in 2011. Beyond just the fact that he could be in so much legal trouble that he won't have the time, who would he even fight? There's nobody at 147 or 154 worth the risk of losing his precious record. The sad thing about Floyd's in-ring career is I can already see him, 39 years old and way past what he used to be, getting knocked silly by someone who couldn't have kept up with him for four rounds in his prime. He'll be fighting because he needs the money. Roy Jones Jr. said he wouldn't stay too long, and he has. Mayweather always says he won't let boxing retire him, but I'm betting he'll have to.
THE HEAVYWEIGHTS: BROTHERS KLITSCHKO, DAVID HAYE AND TOMASZ ADAMEK
David Haye Will Fight Wladimir Klitschko
We won't get Manny-Floyd, but we'll get Wladimir-Haye. I think David, if nothing else, has backed himself into a corner now. He could have gotten away with mediocre title defenses in the UK for a while longer, but that farce with Audley Harrison gutted a lot of his supporters. The fact is, people felt ripped off, and that's a lot different than trying to excuse your favorite fighter for not taking the fight(s) his detractors say he should be taking. It'll be a painful negotiation, but they'll hammer it out.
Vitali Klitschko Will Fight -- And Knock Out -- Tomasz Adamek
Adamek looks like he's going to fight Hasim Rahman next, since Rahman is right up Adamek's alley as a washed-up former name who hasn't done anything in years. Honestly, you know what the difference between Haye and Adamek is? Haye's cheap talk begs for backlash, and Adamek stays pretty quiet. If Adamek were louder, more people would probably call him a chump. But I think Tomasz will fight Vitali at some point this year, and he won't get past the middle rounds. Adamek will try to move in and out, but he won't be able to accomplish anything offensively, and then he'll eventually get shaken up by a stiff right hand, after which Vitali will pounce for the finish. It's not that Tomasz Adamek isn't as good as he's supposed to be, it's that the Klitschkos are both a truly terrible matchup for him. If Michael Grant can trouble Adamek, the Klitschkos will eat him alive.
Cotto Will Fight and Defeat Antonio Margarito in an Action-Packed Rematch
They're going to get there. Cotto is slated to face Ricardo Mayorga on March 12, and if Cotto can survive the still-powerful Nicaraguan brawler, you can make down Cotto-Margarito II for the summer. I expect an incredibly determined Cotto to not make the mistakes he did the first time around, and to outlast Margarito in a Fight of the Year contender that will be a bit rougher around the edges than their first war, but nearly as good. I just don't think Margarito has the punch resistance or the gas tank that he used to have, and without those two things operating at max capacity, would he have beaten Cotto the first time?
THE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: JEAN PASCAL, CHAD DAWSON AND BERNARD HOPKINS
Jean Pascal Won't Beat Chad Dawson Again
Statistically speaking, most rematches see the winner of the first fight taking the second fight, too. But I really, really don't see that happening this time around. Dawson's flaws are apparent, but I don't actually think Jean Pascal is the right guy to exploit them, despite that Pascal exploited them the first time. Manny Steward may not fix everything for Dawson, but I bet he can convince him to punch more. Dawson has nothing to lose fighting Pascal again, and everything -- including the legitimate light heavyweight championship -- to gain. It won't be exciting (when is Chad Dawson exciting?), but Dawson gets the duke.
Bernard Hopkins Will Retire
Hopkins is sort of relying on Pascal to beat Dawson so that Bernard can get a rematch of his disputed draw with Pascal from December 18. Since I don't think that'll happen, Hopkins-Pascal II would probably wind up canned. Dawson-Hopkins could happen, but I have my doubts that it will. They've never shown any real interest in fighting each other in the past, and I struggle to think of any venue in the U.S. where that fight could sell. Though Bernard would love to get a major title in his hands again, making him the oldest recognized "champion" in boxing history, who would he fight? He needs Pascal to beat Dawson again. Since I don't think that will happen, I think Bernard might gracefully hang up the gloves. If only Danny Green's IBO cruiserweight title was recognized by more people...
Roy Jones Jr. Will Not Retire
Amir Khan Will Beat the Bradley-Alexander Winner
While I'm perfectly well geared up for the January 29 fight between Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander, I have to admit that I sort of see the fight as a battle to find out who gets to lose to Amir Khan later in 2011. It probably won't happen right off, but Khan against the winner should come to fruition by year's end, and I like Khan big against either man. This is not a knock on Bradley or Alexander, who are both very good young fighters with a lot of guts. I just think Amir Khan is a better boxer than either of them, and if given the chance, will prove so with a fairly dominant decision victory.
Someone Is Going to Knock Out Brandon Rios
As dumb as Rios came across in November, I love watching the guy fight, and truthfully, I've met plenty of idiots who aren't really bad guys, so my gut instinct is that Rios isn't really a bad guy, just not the sharpest bulb in the crayon box. But watching him fight, he also reminds me of Antonio Escalante. I like Escalante, too, but when he got in with Daniel Ponce de Leon, it was like watching a man fight a boy. If Rios steps up in class, and he will, I expect something similar to happen. He's all heart, and he won't go down easy, but he'll go down hard. It could happen against Miguel Acosta.
Paul Williams Will Never Be the Same
I hate saying things like that, but I really don't expect Paul Williams to ever look like the fighter he used to be. At 29, Tall Paul has a lot of career left in theory, and I don't even know that he'll lose a fight or anything this year, but getting knocked out the way he did against Sergio Martinez is damaging psychologically, maybe even more so than physically. Williams always had a confident "swagger" about him, seemed like a really laid-back guy, and I hope I'm wrong and Paul is just fine out there. But my gut is telling me he'll never fully get back.
Anthony Mundine Will Act Like That Never Happened
Who's Garth Wood?
(Good Fighter) Will Be (Exposed/Overrated/Suck) for Losing to (Other Good Fighter)
One of the things that most bugs me in boxing fan sewing circles is the hatred of fighters protecting their "0," but that generally coming from the same people who act like all fighters who lose to other good fighters are completely finished and were never good. You can't have it both ways. This mindset breeds the protection that everyone bitches about. TV has thankfully gotten better about it, but the fans are still behind. One of the great things about UFC as a company is that they've convinced their fanbase that losses aren't the end for someone, or even a reason to question whether they were ever good. Yes, they were good, and the guys beating them were better those nights. Boxing could use a more encouraging reaction to guys who have the balls to risk losing fights by fighting good opponents.