Last year at this time, I published a top 10 wish list for 2005. By my calculations I got 5 of them. Not too bad. I mean if we all got half of what we wanted, we’d be pretty happy, right?
Let’s take a look at the list and how it panned out.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. gets the credit he deserves.
Bingo. Mayweather is now widely regarded as the best boxer in the world. In 2005 he destroyed Henry Brusseles, Arturo Gatti and Sharmba Mitchell. He is tentatively scheduled to fight Zab Judah in April. A win against Judah, which is not a foregone conclusion, and Mayweather takes a big step forward towards being considered an all-time great.
2. Floyd Mayweather Sr. goes away.
He may still be training fighters but we didn’t hear his mouth much in 2005. Perhaps that’s because his star pupil, Oscar De La Hoya, didn’t fight this year. I’m sure the fireworks will erupt between Mayweather and Ricardo Mayorga in advance of their scheduled bout on May 6th. Wait a minute, it’s Oscar that is fighting Mayorga. Perhaps Mayweather should keep that in mind.
3. A heavyweight emerges.
No, Nicolay Valuev doesn’t count. Sultan Ibragimov was certainly exciting in his beat down of Lance Whitaker but it’s still a bit too early to call him the next great heavyweight. One more win over a notable contender, however, and the spotlight will increasingly shine on the Russian Olympic silver medalist.
4. Mike Tyson either wins the heavyweight title or goes away.
We certainly didn’t get the former but I think we may have gotten the latter. I generously counted this one in my tally because I think Mike is sincere when he’s done because his heart isn’t in it anymore. Of course, that’s never stopped a boxer from un-retiring. I would love to see Mike as a commentator. He’s excellent when he’s not being Mike Tyson and is instead talking seriously about boxing. Few pugilists know more about the history of the sport. Mike also knows a thing or two about the technical aspects of the game.
5. Bernard Hopkins goes out with a bang.
Swing and a miss. The fact that he’s fighting Roy Jones in 2006 is just sad. Why anyone would pay to see this bout is mind-boggling. It does nothing for either man’s legacy. Here’s a prediction: Ticket sales and advance pay-per-view sales are so poor that Jones comes down with an “injury” during training and the fight is canceled.
6. I'm proven right about Felix Trinidad.
Knocked the ball out of the park on this one. I have said for years that Trinidad is the most overrated boxer in recent memory. Winky Wright proved me correct. Of course, some of that had to do with Wright being the most underrated boxer in recent memory. He is very good. But if Trinidad were truly the all time great that so many have been saying for years, he’d have found a way to knock out Winky instead of being shut out.
7. Morales – Barrera IV.
We didn’t get that but we got Corrales – Castillo I & II. No complaints there.
8. Lennox Lewis stays retired.
So far so good. But I have a hunch he’ll be back to face an un-retired Vitali Klitschko within 18 months.
9. Poor officiating gets fixed.
Not even close. The Dale Brown – O’Neil Bell decision was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Referee Ismael Quinonez’ premature stoppage of the Miguel Cotto – DeMarcus Corley bout also heads to the front of the line for entrance to the Hall of Shame. There were plenty of others and I expect it will be the same thing this year.
10. A boxers union finally catches on.
Not only did the union not gain much traction, but now networks and promoters are restricting what kinds of ads boxers can wear on their shorts, t-shirts and backs. I understand not allowing a Budweiser ad if Miller is an important sponsor of the event, or GoldenPalace.com if the fight is being held in a casino. But short of any direct conflicts of interest, shouldn’t a fighter be allowed to make a little extra dough? Until there’s a retirement fund or pension for these guys, I say let them cash in.
And now a quick Top 5 wish list for 2005
1. Mayweather – Judah actually happens.
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a fight. Both boxers are excellent technicians with the advantage going to Mayweather. However, Judah is freakishly strong. I’m not sure who I’m picking yet but I know where I’ll be April 8th.
2. A heavyweight emerges.
I don’t need to see the big boys banging in order to enjoy boxing. But for the marginal fan, it is important. A popular heavyweight would bring those fans back into the fold. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the cruiserweights. There are a number of boxers in that division that are capable of doing some exciting things. The marginal fan might have no idea just what the hell a cruiserweight is – but get those people to watch Jean-Marc Mormeck, O’Neil Bell, Wayne Braithwaite and others, and I think they’ll like what they see.
3. Boxing receives better media coverage.
I don’t even bother to look in my hometown paper for coverage of boxing, whether it’s for local shows or superfights. They rarely so much as run an AP story. Gone are the days when most city newspapers had dedicated boxing writers. Fine. I accept that. But can’t you do a preview and write up of the club show in town? It’s usually only once a month at most. Boxers are interesting and make for terrific human interest stories.
I’d also like to see internet coverage improve. For speed, there are a few sights that are terrific. But accuracy is not always the top priority. One of the reasons I’m so proud to be affiliated with TheSweetScience.com is the quality of the writers. I never miss a Bob Mladinich column. Phil Woolever, the Cassidys, Tim Graham and all of the others make TSS the best boxing site on the web, in my biased opinion.
4. More successful club shows.
There’s certainly nothing like the electricity that surrounds a megafight. On the other hand, the intimacy of a club show is unparalleled by other professional sport. Fans can usually mingle with that evening’s participants as well as some of the game’s stars at a typical show. While ringside is usually costly, general admission tickets tend to be a good value compared with other sports. We also need local promoters to do well financially in order to provide a venue for tomorrow’s champions to hone their skills.
5. To see if Rafael Marquez is that good.
I think he is, but I want him to prove it. He’s been champ for nearly three years and it’s been too easy for him. I’d like to see Rafael take on Jhonny Gonzalez, Wladimir Sidorenko and then move up to junior feather to face Israel Vazquez.
6. More boxers act like Diego Corrales.
To my knowledge, Chico has never dogged it in camp or in the ring. He is the consummate professional. After the battle is over, he is respectful of his opponent and does not make excuses. He was extremely classy after getting knocked out by Jose Luis Castillo. Corrales would not admit to being at a disadvantage because of Castillo’s extra weight – saying that he didn’t want to take away from Castillo’s win. He knew that we all knew the answer – and he comes off looking like the good guy. Bravo.
Until next time, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?