2007 is shaping up to be a great year for boxing. We can already expect to see fireworks on the first weekend of the year, with Samuel Peter and James Toney fighting the rematch of what was a very solid fight on Showtime last fall. In fact, Showtime already has four strong fights scheduled for their first two Fight Nights of the year: in addition to Peter-Toney, we'll get Rivera-Simms, Adamek-Dawson and Diaz-Chavez. All of these fights have the potential to be crowd-pleasing slugfests (Adamek-Dawson will certainly be one), and--at least on paper--they all look to be pretty even matches. In addition to these, I wouldn't be surprised to see Miguel Cotto back on Showtime in March, making the first defense of his welterweight belt.
HBO isn't lagging too far behind, however. Although Shotime's Saturday Fight Night has, over the last couple of years, trumped HBO World Championship Boxing, HBO's Boxing After Dark series has proven to be far superior to ShoBox.
The last BAD card of 2006 may have been the most entertaining one of the year, and HBO is looking to start this series off with a bang in 2007. The always-entertaining Jorge Arce will headline the first BAD card in January, with Kelly Pavlik taking on Jose Luis Zertuche on the undercard. And in February, look for the return of Paulie Malignaggi, who--despite his big mouth--won a lot of fans, including myself, after his gutsy performance against Miguel Cotto. The Magic Man will be facing the always-dangerous Edner Cherry. In addition to that, we'll get Ishe Smith vs Sechew Powell, plus Andre Berto vs. an opponent to be named. These are some of the top, and most exciting, prospects in boxing.
HBO Championship Boxing has several cards already scheduled as well. The first one features both Ricky Hatton and Jose Luis Castillo in a doubleheader, the idea being that they fight each other in the summer should they both come out victorious. Both Hatton and Castillo will be overwhelming favorites to win their respective fights. I think Castillo will most certainly make easy work of his opponent, though it's possible some people may be overlooking Hatton's opponent, Juan Urango. Let's just hope, for the sake of Hatton-Castillo, that Hatton himself doesn't overlook him.
Shane Mosley will make his return to the welterweight division in February on HBO as well. Though he was slated to fight Kermit Cintron for his IBF belt, it looks like that fight has fallen through and that Mosley's opponent will be Luis Collazo. Now, I thought Collazo clearly beat Ricky Hatton last year, so I definitely think he's deserving of this fight. Cintron had a good 2006, rebounding from his loss to Margarito, but still, who could forget how Kermit froze against the Tijuana Tornado? I think Collazo has a better shot of beating Mosley than Cintron, and honestly, I'm glad he got the fight because he deserves it after his showing against Hatton.
Telefutura, ShoBox, ESPN and the Versus Network also have some decent cards coming up in the next couple of months. For starters, we'll get Anthony Hanshaw vs. Jean Paul Mendy on the ShoBox Super Middleweight Tournament final this Saturday. The Peterson brothers, Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Kid Diamond, Randall Bailey, Richard Gutierrez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Chris Arreola, Jhonny Gonzalez, Hasim Rahman and Joe Mesi are all scheduled to fight on these minor telecasts during the next two months.
And, of course, in May we'll have the grandaddy of them all: Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Oscar de la Hoya.
In addition to these, there are five or six potential big fights that are still not signed, but looking good. I'll take a look at these tomorrow. In the meantime, rest assured, January and February are gonna be--to paraprhase the late great Sammy Sosa--vedy vedy good to us.