Summertime is upon us, friends. This is the time of year, with time to kill and money to burn, when Hollywood pulls out all the stops in the battle of the summer blockbusters. Between the bombastic action sequences, transparent gimmicks, and even the rare solid plotline, this season is a time for moviegoers to relish.
Thankfully, the Summer of 2008 also marks a season for great fights. And, like their Hollywood counterparts, these can't-miss fights will serve up their own intriguing storylines and eye-catching explosions. Maybe after all is said and done, a few action heroes will emerge to define the boxing landscape.
If it's captivating fights you're after, look no further. Here are five coming attractions worth putting on your boxing calendar. Have your popcorn and Mike & Ikes ready; it's going to be a fun summer.
#5 – Kendall Holt vs. Ricardo Torres (Rematch) – July 5, 2008
The anticipation for sequels usually comes from the groundwork laid by the original. This is absolutely the case for Holt-Torres II. In their first meeting last September, the highly-regarded Holt was the slight favorite to defeat the rugged Torres, whose WBO junior welterweight strap was on the line. The feeling was that the slick Holt would be a bit too versatile for Torres to handle. The experts were wrong. Well, sort of.
That the fight was to take place in Torres' native Colombia ultimately proved to be a critical factor. Usually, when a fighter cries about homecooking, it is an excuse for a losing effort. Then again, those fighters usually aren't pegged in the melon with a full beer can while fighting, which unbelievably happened to Holt. Disgraceful spectator antics plus incompetent officiating equaled a highly inconclusive eleventh round TKO for Torres, (32-1, 28 KO), in a fight that begged for a more decisive ending.
Thus the logic behind the rematch, which will take place in Las Vegas and will be broadcast on American television on Showtime. Will Holt, (23-2, 12 KO), be able to live up to all his promise and show that the first fight was a farce? Will Torres be able to notch a legitimate win over Holt to establish himself as a top-flight junior welterweight? These are just a couple of the questions that should be answered on July 5.
Sequels don't get much better than this.
#4 – Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon – June 7, 2008
On the undercard of Kelly Pavlik's title defense against Gary Lockett is a gem of a fight which just might steal the show from the middleweight king. Juan Manuel Lopez, long-considered a blue chip prospect since turning pro, will meet one of boxing's most devastating punchers in Daniel Ponce de Leon. The only sure thing about this fight is it doesn't figure to go the full twelve round distance.
Lopez, (21-0, 19 KO), has demonstrated every conceivable skill from the onset of his professional career. His impressive handspeed and power are superseded by his intelligence and maturity, both of which exceed his youthful twenty-four years. Lopez, a 2004 Puerto Rican Olympian, has looked sensational in cruising up the junior featherweight rankings, though none of his opponents presented the level of danger he will be facing on June 7.
For Daniel Ponce de Leon, (34-1, 30 KO), a win could go a long way in his claim to 122-pound supremacy. A convincing win over Lopez could lead to higher profile matches against the likes of Rafael Marquez or Israel Vasquez. The scenario facing Ponce de Leon going into this fight shouldn't be too foreign. Not too long ago, he was up against another highly regarded, undefeated prospect named Rey Bautista. Less than a round into the fight, Ponce de Leon had his hand raised in victory, while Bautista had trouble remembering his address.
So what will happen on June 7? Will the Next Big Thing survive his first big test? One thing is certain: it'll be a lot of fun finding out.
#3 – Manny Pacquiao vs. David Diaz – June 28, 2008
When Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring, it's an international affair. Such will be the case on June 28, when the Pacman tests the lightweight waters against the hard-nosed David Diaz. Will the extra five pounds be mere chump-change for the pride of the Philippines, or will Diaz give Pacquiao a lesson in the law of diminishing returns in his first foray at lightweight? That is precisely the intrigue behind this fight.
The long-anticipated jump by Pacquiao, (46-3-2, 35 KO) comes hot off the heels of his exciting, but controversial win over Juan Manuel Marquez in March. In that fight, Pacquiao again proved why he is one of the most exciting fighters in the game. His potent offense combined with his defensive vulnerabilities remain an irresistible combination for fight fans.
But what happens when those same punches Pacquiao is accustomed to taking are being landed by a bigger, stronger foe? That's what tough Chicago native David Diaz, (34-1-1, 17 KO), aims to find out. Diaz, a no-nonsense, aggressive fighter, shares many stylistic tendencies with Pacquiao. Most pointedly, his eagerness to generate offense causes him to neglect a little something called defense.
Explosives? Check. Fire source? Check. Fuse? Lit.
Let's enjoy the show.
#2 – Edison Miranda vs. Arthur Abraham (Rematch) – June 21, 2008
When first these two met in September 2006, the result was a foul-filled brawl saturated with controversy. The bout featured low blows, head butts, major-league bombs, a broken jaw, lots of point deductions, a near-stoppage, and eventually a decision victory for Abraham.
Whereas the first meeting was for Abraham's IBF middleweight crown, the rematch will take place at 166 pounds and has grudge match written all over it. Miranda, (30-2, 26 KO), has been seething over the result of the first encounter since the scorecards were read, and Abraham, (26-0, 21 KO), looks to prove that, Miranda's dirty tactics aside, he is the superior boxer. Abraham's willingness to take the rematch is surprising, considering that he has a partially titanium jaw as a souvenir from the first match, and also considering that he is in line for a potentially huge fight against undefeated middleweight king Kelly Pavlik.
The rematch figures to be another all-action affair. Miranda still looks to decapitate his opponents at every opportunity, while Abraham intends to keep his perfect record intact. The moment of truth will come when Miranda tests Abraham's bionic jaw for the first time. If there are any lingering doubts in Abraham's mind, they will likely surface in that very moment. If Abraham's metallic mandible handles it well, it just may be gut-check time for El Pantera.
#1 – Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto – July 26, 2008
No-brainer for the number one pick of the summer. Margarito-Cotto promises to deliver so much action, it might seem like it's co-promoted by Jerry Bruckheimer. It is rare in boxing when a fight will be a guaranteed barn-burner, but this one is certain to be. Margarito, (36-5, 26 KO), takes it as a personal insult when his opponents do not engage with him, and Cotto, (32-0, 26 KO), has just the brutalizing style to mesh absolutely perfectly.
The winner of this fight will inherit the crown of who should be Floyd Mayweather's next opponent (though we all know what kind of weight theoretical phrases like “should be” actually carry in boxing). It also puts the pound-for-pound king on notice that life in the welterweight division will go on with or without him. Margarito-Cotto is a far more attractive matchup than any which would feature Money May.
In a sport where pay-per-view price tags should come with a “Buyer Beware” disclaimer, Margarito-Cotto promises to be money well spent for the serious fight fan. If you watch only one fight this summer, make it this one. So invite your friends over, have the snacks ready, and watch two welterweight freight trains collide. It may just serve as a reminder of why boxing is such a beautiful thing.
So, what do you think, TSS Universe? Which summer throwdown are you looking forward to most? Are there any “honorable mentions” that were omitted from the list? Weigh in with your thoughts.