It's almost 5am, I'm awake, and I've got nothing else to do but think about possible fights that we keep hearing might or should happen. And, since I'm thinking about the matchups, I can't help but think about the fights themselves.
If Floyd Mayweather, Jr., fights Miguel Cotto...
The one fight at 147 that everyone agrees needs to happen is this one. Many feel Cotto's pressure style, natural belonging at welterweight, and good power could finally be what proves to be too much for Money Mayweather. I have to disagree.
I love Miguel Cotto. I think everything about him is great for boxing. He fights in an exciting style, isn't at all invincible despite his undefeated record, and has a wonderful, appreciative fanbase that will sell out any venue in Puerto Rico or Madison Square Garden.
But his style is not something we've seen Mayweather beaten by. Yes, Jose Luis Castillo gave Mayweather arguably his two toughest battles, and Ricky Hatton's pressure tactics worked OK enough for about five rounds. But Castillo lost twice, and Mayweather legitimately won those fights. Mayweather wound up wiping the mat with Hatton. Floyd is also a better fighter now than he was when he fought Castillo. He's stronger than many realize, and Cotto's chin isn't exactly made of steel. Shane Mosley's speed and ring savvy gave Cotto everything he could handle. Mayweather is better than Mosley at this stage.
I'm not saying Floyd will never lose if he keeps fighting. But I don't think a pressure fighter, necessarily, is the guy who can beat him. It has to be someone who can box with him. And there's no one at 147 that can do it, probably the closest we come still being Mosley. I'd have to pick Floyd.
If Oscar de la Hoya fights Miguel Cotto...
Right now, who's the frontrunner in the Oscar sweepstakes? Mayweather isn't going to do a rematch. Hatton isn't viable anymore, and I don't think you can get serious boxing fans to get excited about Hatton above 140 pounds anymore. Mayweather slammed the door that Luis Collazo had left open for many of us. There's really nobody else besides Cotto. What, Cory Spinks?
It would depend on the weight. Cotto was becoming weak and drained by making weight at junior welter, but junior middleweight might be a notch too high for him. Seven pounds is a huge difference. Oscar has experience at that weight, too, so he's far more accustomed to making the weight than Cotto is. He knows how he fights at 154.
It would be a toss up, to me. Oscar still has the left hook, can still box, and comes to fight. Cotto might just be too much for de la Hoya to handle at 147 pounds, if Oscar can indeed make welterweight again as he's stated is his desire. At 147, I lean toward the younger, stronger Cotto, but give Oscar a shot. At 154, I lean toward "The Golden Boy," but don't count Cotto out. If they did a catchweight (150, say), I don't know. It's a fight I'd like to see in many respects, but I'd most want to see it at 147 for Cotto's strap.
If Oscar de la Hoya fights Ricky Hatton...
Oscar. Knockout somewhere between the sixth and ninth rounds. It's a no-brainer. Hatton is not close to being an elite welterweight. He's not strong enough and he's not big enough. These are not things that reflect a lack of boxing ability, it's just simple truth that every fighter has a cap in weight, and Hatton's happens to be the weight he's fought at his entire notable career save for two appearances at welter.
Considering Hatton's cap really is 140 pounds, can you imagine if he'd ever gotten serious about staying in shape between bouts and fought at 135? He might've been an utter wrecking ball. But if he fights Oscar, I won't be able to get interested. There's no question who wins, or how it ends.
If Ricky Hatton fights Manny Pacquiao...
It's interesting on paper because it'd be a dynamite international attraction. And it would need to be held somewhere other than Vegas. Hatton-Pacquiao could draw a massive crowd in England or the Philippines. It would be a phenomenal spectacle.
I figure the weight would eventually just be too high for Pacquiao, whose power I question even crossing over to 135 pounds. This is a guy that started his career by weighing in at 106 pounds. Few fighters in the history of the sport have ever advanced so much in weight and still been successful.
But I have no doubt it would be entertaining with a real event type of feel to it. Atmosphere makes a good fight great, in my opinion, and can make a fair fight really good. It's not an ideal matchup from a pure standpoint, but I'd love to see it. Why not?
If Ricky Hatton fights Paulie Malignaggi...
We're unlikely to see this one any time soon, with ex-lame duck champion Lovemore N'dou threatening to sue should he not get his contractual clause rematch with Malignaggi soon, which is something you can't argue with legally, because that was the contract, but is something at which you can and should absolutely roll your eyes.
Actually, let's consider this. Malignaggi dominated N'dou, who now claims that Malignaggi was undeserving of the title shot at the time, as if N'dou was ever deserving of being champion. He also has done nothing but piss and moan about bad refereeing. We've seen bad refereeing several times. Malignaggi's fight on Saturday night with Herman Ngoudjo featured what I felt was an awful performance from Allen Huggins. But Malignaggi-N'dou was not one of those cases. Paulie Malignaggi outclassed Lovemore N'dou and made him look bad -- simple as that. N'dou wasn't "not allowed" to fight his fight (which is on the inside), he was stopped from ever really getting there by Malignaggi, be it via the clinch or just superior defense. It's a rematch that no one wants to see, partially because the first fight was lopsided and only entertaining if you like Malignaggi a lot, and partially because N'dou is a B-level fighter who lucked into even getting into this conversation in the first damned place.
All that said, again, he has a strong case, and should it go to court, he'll win.
But let's just go with Hatton-Malignaggi, a fight I'd put near the top of my wishlist at 140, behind Hatton-Witter, which is not happening. I think Ricky steamrolls Paulie. He's better at getting inside than N'dou is, Paulie has constant trouble with his right hand, and Ricky Hatton just fought Mayweather, a guy that Malignaggi emulates in many ways. Paulie is a really good defensive fighter, and a damn good boxer. But Hatton has now seen that style, done better, by a guy that could hurt him with punches.
Malignaggi doesn't have the strength to beat Hatton, and he's not so good at his game that he can discourage Ricky's attack enough to take a victory. I think it'd be an entertaining fight if Paulie's hand held up. I don't think Malignaggi beats him, though. (For the record, I think Witter stuns the general public by making mincemeat of Hatton, if it's the same Witter that waxed Vivian Harris, anyway.)
If Antonio Margarito fights Zab Judah...
Zab's camp is saying it's possible, as Boxing Talk reported a few days ago. It would be April 26 in Atlantic City. Zab was going to fight Carlos Quintana, who wound up instead getting a crack at Paul Williams. Now Judah will have time to fully heal from his injury, which caused him to forego a matchup with Williams -- a wise decision either way, in my book.
Zab Judah is not the fighter he used to be. He fought valiantly in losing to Cotto, then was crap in his next two fights, both decision wins where you'd expect a Judah knockout to come at the precise moment he decided he'd had enough fiddling about with inferiors. Is he simply getting older, or just boxing up and down to the level of the opposition?
Probably a bit of both. Then there's Tony Margarito, hyped by Bob Arum for a while as the most feared and avoided man in boxing, when the truth was just that Floyd Mayweather didn't see any money in fighting him. And it was true, there wasn't much, or not enough, anyway. I think Margarito is a good, exciting, rough-and-tumble fighter, but he was never the great warrior that Arum was making him out to be. Bob and Top Rank did a great job with Margarito, and he's still very dangerous. But no one thinks of him as the overlooked true welterweight king.
If they did fight, I'd have to go with my gut and pick Margarito. He's too tough. But if they both showed up with their A-games, then I believe Judah is still the better fighter. He's quicker, stung Cotto repeatedly, and proved that he has guts.
If Arthur Abraham fights Winky Wright...
There's been some discussion out there, nothing too substantial, about the undefeated 27-year old German titleholder facing off with Winky Wright for the IBF middleweight strap. It makes plenty of sense. Winky has nothing on his calendar and needs to get back into the ring, and Abraham has stated his desire to come to the States.
King Arthur is the real deal. At 25-0, he's got power (20 knockouts), has beaten good opponents (Edison Miranda, Sebastian Demers, Howard Eastman, Kingsley Ikeke, and others), and is deserving of a big fight against a top-flight opponent.
Even if they held the fight in Germany, it's not like Wink has never been across the pond. When the subject of Calzaghe-Wright was brought up in passing to the Wright team, they said they'd be more than happy to go to the U.K. to face Joe Cool. But with Calzaghe now very much busy with Bernard Hopkins (all that's waiting is the official statement on that one), and Wright with no dance partner, this fight would be brilliant.
And it's one I'd really like to see. I'd love to see Abraham tested against someone of Wright's stature, and I'd love to see Winky in there with a young, tough, powerful fighter. Could I see Abraham knocking Wright out? No. I can't see anyone knocking Wright out. It's never happened, and I don't think we'll see it happen, perhaps unless he fights Kelly Pavlik or someone else who truly hits with murderous power. Abraham is strong, but I don't think he's Pavlik-strong. Winky would need to use his defensive mastery to win; in short, he'd need to forget his recently-found desire to provide any sort of excitement and get back to what brought him to the dance: Defense and the jab. Abraham would need to pick and choose when to really attack Winky. It would be as much a mental test as it would be a physical one.
I'd take Winky, with the fight looking something like Calzaghe-Kessler.
If Alfonso Gomez fights Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr....
This isn't going to happen on HBO when it was originally planned (March or April), but it could still come about by the end of the year.
Mostly I wanted to mention this one because I never understood why so many people think Alfonso Gomez would chew up J.C. Junior.
What's the appeal of Alfonso Gomez past him being a nice guy? He beat Arturo Gatti when Gatti was just beyond done. Gatti was finished a year before that, when a weak-punching Carlos Baldomir knocked him out. Gomez came back in October and looked decidedly average in a tight win over Ben Tackie.
Chavez, meanwhile, continues to look better and better. Ray Sanchez was probably the best fighter he's beaten, but nobody respects Sanchez's name much. Why not? What has Gomez done, past the Gatti win, that Sanchez hasn't? Been on "The Contender"? Knocked out Martin Concepcion? Come on.
Gomez is a great guy. He's a gatekeeper-level fighter. Do people think Jesse Feliciano would beat Chavez, too? Get used to it: Chavez isn't coasting off his dad's name anymore. He's a legitimate rising contender.
If Antonio Tarver fights Jeff Lacy...
...I'll need a five-hour energy shot or three. Showtime wants to do this, but Lacy has, at last word, no intention of doing business with Tarver and Gary Shaw. Tarver and Lacy, both natives of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, have never exactly been homies, and a bragging rights fight is probably the best that the faded ex-light heavyweight champion and the busted ex-super middleweight champion could do right now.
But does anyone really want to see this fight? Tarver looked like shit in wins over Elvir Muriqi and Danny Santiago last year, and I thought Lacy lost his dreadful comeback fight to Peter Manfredo, Jr., on the Mayweather-Hatton undercard, which made it three straight that I scored for the other guy against Lacy. Tarver is old and slow. Lacy is just slow, mechanical, and predictable. I don't consider his performance against Manfredo to be an instance of injury recovery or ring rust. Joe Calzaghe exposed Lacy like I've never seen a fighter exposed before, but if it hadn't been Calzaghe, it would've been someone else. Who did Lacy ever really beat? Scotty Pemberton? An old Robin Reid? Omar Sheika?
Count me as a non-fan of both guys, to say the least. Lacy is 30 now -- his young days are over. And Tarver fights like he's 53. I can't figure on why any network would be anxious to get this one on the air. I guess I'd pick Lacy, although Tarver being a southpaw does give me pause. Is it kosher to actually pick a draw that is roundly booed due to a lack of action and two guys looking totally exhausted by round seven?
Some of these fights I'd like to see actually go through. Others, you may have gathered, I'd prefer we pass, if that would be alright with everyone. But with each of them, I let my mind wander and picture the fight in my head.
What good is hype and rumor if you don't really let yourself get into the whole mess?