Now that we have officially put 2009 in the books, it's time to turn the page and dream about all the possibilities in store for 2010. Don't let the horrid affair between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. fool you; 2009 was a fantastic year for the sweet science. I have to be honest and tell you that my glass is half full, and I know that '10 can be even better than '09.
With a new year comes all sorts of resolutions: losing weight, saving money, spending more time with the family … you know, the usual. I don't want any of that though; all I want this year is some great boxing (OK, losing weight wouldn't be so bad either). Since it is the year 2010, I've decided to put down 20 fights I'd like to see in '10 (get it?). I am leaving Pacquiao-Mayweather off my list because we all know that's a fight that should happen, but I'm personally tired of reading and writing about it.
David Haye (23-1, 21KO) vs. Tomasz Adamek (39-1, 27KO)
These two former cruiserweight champions have since moved up in weight and are looking to cash in on what is a fairly dismal heavyweight division. I personally think the best way to do that isn't by joining the stack of Klitschko victims. These are two smaller heavies (both around 215 pounds) who are in excellent shape, have heavy hands and a decent boxing ability — very reminiscent of the old-time heavyweights. Let's turn back the clock!
Chris Arreola (28-1, 25 KO) vs. David Tua (50-3, 43 KO)
These are two guys who have the ability to knock out just about anyone in boxing if they have the chance to land a clean shot. These two guys would rather slug than dance and box, and neither guy is known for Maywether-esque defense. What does that tell you? Bombs away! I have read on several Web sites that HBO would like to put this one together.
Matt Godfrey (20-1, 10 KO) vs. Steve Cunningham (22-2, 11 KO)
It seems like lately there has been a mad dash from the cruiserweight division to the heavies (David Haye, Tomasz Adamek, and Jean Marc Mormeck have all moved north). Two of my favorite fighters are still left, however: Steve Cunningham and Matt Godfrey are two guys I have enjoyed watching over the years in a division that is commonly overlooked by casual fans. Of course, I will be pulling for Godfrey, who is a Rhode Island native.
Tavoris Cloud (20-0, 18 KO) vs. Chad Dawson (29-0, 17 KO)
Chad Dawson has made a name for himself over the past few years by cleaning out a division full of AARP members. When was the last time Dawson picked on a fighter his own age? Tavoris Cloud may be that guy. Cloud only had one fight in 2009, a unanimous decision over Clinton Woods to net him the IBF strap. What more could you ask for than what looks to be two undefeated future stars facing off in a battle for the rule of the division?
Bernard Hopkins (50-5, 32 KO) vs. Glen Johnson (49-13, 33 KO) II
Two of the senior citizens I was referring to in the last paragraph are Glen Johnson and Bernard Hopkins. I know what you're thinking. Yes, they fought back in 1997, and it was Johnson's first loss. Hopkins has looked like the ageless man lately, as he dispatched Kelly Pavlik last year in what could be a career-best performance (though he followed that up with a rather boring fight against Enrique Ornelas).
Johnson, on the other hand, lost a somewhat one-sided decision to the much younger Chad Dawson. I don't want Hopkins to fight Danny Green; I want him to give another old guy in the division a chance at evening the score.
Lucian Bute (25-0, 20 KO) vs. Jean Pascal (25-1, 16 KO)
Bute is coming off a career-defining performance against the usually durable Librado Andrade, and Pascal just defended his title for the second time against Adrian Diaconu. Bute and Pascal regularly pack the Bell Centre in Montreal, have proven they are on an elite level and have shown great heart in recent fights (Bute shouldn't have even been able to stand at the end of his first fight with Andrade, and Pascal had his shoulder popped back into place three times during his last fight). If this were to go down, the fans may take the Bell Centre apart.
Allen Green (29-1, 20 KO) vs. Sakio Bika (28-3, 19 KO)
With the super middleweight tournament going on, there aren't too many opponents for these two. Why not match them up? Green has been named the alternate in the tourney, but it seems as if he may not be needed. Bika is one tough hombre who has only lost to slick southpaws (Lucian Bute, Joe Calzaghe, and he avenged his other loss to Sam Soliman on The Contender). Let's see who the best of the rest is.
Kelly Pavlik (36-1, 32 KO) vs. Felix Strum (33-2, 14 KO)
Most fans are calling for the postponed fight between Paul Williams and Pavlik to go down in 2010, but I say let's see what Sturm can do with his new trainer Freddie Roach. Sturm is a solid fighter with a great jab, and he's got other skills that can only improve under master Roach's tutelage. After the disastrous 2009 Pavlik had, he is in dire need of a quality dance partner. I say let it be a proven middleweight champion (WBA).
Matthew Macklin (26-2, 18 KO) vs. John Duddy (27-1, 17 KO)
This was a fight I thought I would have seen a few years ago, but then both fighters took loses that set back their respective careers. Duddy was rumored to be an opponent for Julio Cesear Chavez Jr., but after his dismal effort against Troy Rowland (25-3, 7 KO) on the Pacquiao-Cotto undercard, I would hope Top Rank is rethinking that one. Duddy and Macklin are entertaining Irish men who can bang, they have similar styles, and defense is not a trademark for either. Let's see who drops first.
Sergio Martinez (44-2, 24 KO) vs. Paul Williams (38-1, 27 KO) II
The first affair was no doubt a contender for fight of the year. Both fighters have been mentioned as opponents for middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik recently (word on the street is it will probably be Martinez), but I would rather see these two square off again. Let's see who really won the first fight (I thought Martinez was robbed). Can Martinez close this one out better than he did in the first one? Will Williams dispatch Martinez like he did Carlos Quintana after his upset loss?
James Kirkland (25-0, 22 KO) vs. Alfredo Angulo (17-1, 14 KO)
After Kirkland was arrested and sentenced to two years in jail for gun charges, his promising career was put on hold. He is expected to be released this year, and hopefully he has done nothing but add to that scary chip on his shoulder with which he seems to fight. Angulo took one step back in 2009 with his loss to Kermit Cintron, but took two steps forward with his chilling knockout over Harry Jorgey (yeah, I paraphrased Paula Abdul, so what?). These are two fighters who don't take a step back and fight in the trenches. There can only be one loser here, and the fans will not be it.
Ricardo Torres (33-2, 29 KO) vs. Kendall Holt (25-3, 13 KO) III
Here's a fight I can't believe hasn't happened yet. The two are split at one apiece, with both earning knockouts that came under unusual circumstances (Holt was KO'd after fans were throwing trash in the ring in the first fight. Torres was KO'd in the second affair after what seemed to be a headbutt). A third fight needs to happen, and needs to happen on neutral ground. I'll get my dad started on the stadium seating in the backyard.
Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KO) vs. Kermit Cintron (32-2, 28 KO)
OK, I say this only because I know that Cotto is going to continue fighting no matter what I write. I mean honestly, no one listens to me, why should Miguel Cotto? I think he should retire while he can still be a functioning human being. He has taken some major punishment in his last few fights, and I would hate to see him start showing effects from it. If he goes on, I think this could be an interesting showdown between two islanders with heavy hands, and lots of pride.
Andre Berto (25-0, 19 KO) vs. Louis Collazo (30-4, 15 KO) II
I am interested in the Mosley-Berto fight, but I would've liked Berto to give Collazo a rematch before he moved on. Collazo is a slick, tricky, entertaining southpaw who had Berto in trouble throughout their encounter.
Shane Mosley (46-5, 39 KO) vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (40-0, 25 KO)
Of course, the outcome of the Andre Berto–Shane Mosley clash could affect the demand for this fight, but I think it still would be an interesting matchup. After his destruction of Antonio Margarito, Mosley sat out the rest of 2009 waiting for a big fight that never happened. If he can get past Berto, a fight with Mayweather is must-see.
Amir Khan (22-1, 16 KO) vs. Victor Ortiz (25-2, 20 KO)
These are two guys who were groomed for greatness, stumbled before they got there, and are in the midst of proving they can still be something special. Boxing these days needs more big fights between guys groomed for greatness, instead of guys skating along with easy paydays who act like they looked great.
Manny Pacquiao (50-3, 38 KO) vs. Timothy Bradley (25-0, 11 KO)
After being so frustrated with the Pacquiao-Mayweather fiasco, I actually started thinking I would be happier watching the two face off against others. I would love to see if Pacquiao could handle the pressure of Bradley, and if Bradley could continue his progression through the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.
Marcos Maidana (27-1, 26 KO) vs. Nate Campbell (33-5, 25 KO)
Maidana looked like he was going to be another victim to the aforementioned Victor Ortiz, but Maidana had other plans as he pulled himself off the mat a total of three times to stop the highly-touted star and force many to question Ortiz's true potential. Campbell, on the other hand, has had a rough stretch. He looked as if he wanted none of Timothy Bradley (I don't blame him), didn't make weight against Funeka and barely pulled that one out by MD. These two will no doubt go toe-to-toe and make for an entertaining night. The winner will then a have a chance to take on some of the big names. The loser, well as they say … back to the drawing board.
Michael Katsidis (26-2, 21 KO) vs. Edwin Valero (26-0, 26 KO)
The words "rough around the edges" is the exact term I think of when I watch both of these guys fight. Katsidis doesn't put on boring fights, and Valero is a wild-swinging KO artist hell-bent on putting his opponent to sleep. This would be an all-action fight that would have someone exiting the ring on a stretcher.
Juan Manual Lopez (27-0, 24 KO) vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa (16-0, 14 KO)
This is another showdown that must happen between two guys who have major star potential. Gamboa is the heavy-handed Cuban showboat who seems more interested in putting on a show than putting his hands up. The guy has hit the canvas a few times, but it just seems to add to the entertainment. Juan Manual Lopez is the latest Puerto Rican sensation who is coming off a fight that has to be a candidate for fight of the year in 2009 (vs. Rogers Mtagwa). The two are sharing a fight card on Jan. 23, and hopefully if all goes well, next up will be their fight.
If there is a 21st wish, it would be that someone gets a tournament started for the junior welterweight division (140). The division is stacked with young talent, and what better way to get all that you can out of than with a Super Six style tourney? I would be OK if they did it with the welterweights, too.
Let me know if I left any off or if there are any that you disagree with.
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