Heavys Aside, Boxing Is Humming

BY Phil Woolever ON July 14, 2008
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THUMPING TOMMORROWLAND - The future of boxing is now and it looks pretty bright, at least when contested under 200 pounds.

Disappointing or not, how Tony Thompson fizzled out against Wladimir Klitschko was only the latest big action puzzle to be solved in a sizzling season where many talented tough guys have emerged from relative obscurity.

Thompson fell short where other main event debutants have made current career leaps, while Cautious Klitschko remained one of the game’s few elder statesmen.

It’s not a perfect pugilistic world, as the heavyweights proved again, and showing age and endurance is a double edged sword, or taser. Still, the game is much closer to thriving than it is to irrelevance.

So far in 2008 hungry, many fresh-faced fighters from around the globe have performed excellently in sterling slams spotlighted by US cable’s premium programmers HBO and Showtime at a better than weekly average. Viewers’ appetites remain whetted.

If current trends sustain the same bang for the buck of recent months, the next generation of sensational slugging standard bearers has arrived. The upcoming era may not be defined by standouts like Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler or Mike Tyson, but there will be boiling blood from an entertaining ensemble cast. New blood on the old canvas.

Who will the big stars of 2010 and that sooner approaching tomorrow be? Hard to call, but it’s a good bet a few have already begun making a grander names for themselves this year.

Kendall Holt became the latest new champion making waves, with his wild one round stoppage of Ricardo Torres. It may justifiably end up as Round of the Year, but it wasn’t close to the first frame of Hagler- Thomas Hearns, or even the three minute Nigel Benn -Iran Barkley epic.

This is not to debate the past, but praise the immediate hammering horizon.

As the halfway point for ’08, a number of boxers who were basically outside looking in at the payday party this time last summer are now either poised for big things or coming off triumphant steps to stardom’s fine fistic fiestas.

Three more relative newcomers made big steps toward center stage one recent weekend alone when Arthur Abraham, Andre Berto, and Chris Arreola all advanced as headliners.

Abraham’s destruction of Edison Miranda indicates “King Arthur” is ready to win a middleweight range mega-match. Berto should take a fine tuning stint by early fall, then go after a bigger name like the winner of Judah – Clottey.

You know things are hopping when even the heavyweights show signs of excitement. Fans are calling for Arreloa and if his proposed David Tua collision occurs it could be classic.

Charismatic conker David Haye looks to test the heavyweight waters against a “recognized” name this November.

Sergio Mora has a familiar televised face but he was still the new kid against Vernon Forrest, and now Mora has new respect after all the “Contender” razzing.

One of the biggest new splashes came as 22-0 Timothy Bradley showed he was ready to handle the spotlight and WBC junior Welterweight titlist Junior Witter.

Another unexpected eye opener was Shaun George‘s demolition of well established Chris Byrd. Hopefully Byrd’s wife will prove correct in her stated belief she’d talk him into retirement.

Stars and champs from earlier this decade are fading more and more. The night after George’s introduction to the big time, rising talent provided further blunt evidence there is cream in the cauliflower ear crops.

Yurlokis Gamboa had a considerable challenge against far more experienced, alphabet ranked Darling Jimenez. Gamboa, now 10-0, showed his youth but won a solid decision over well traveled Jimenez, and is scheduled for a quick return to tutorial action.

The other prospects on that same show were matched easier and came through as expected. Alfredo Angulo stopped Ricardo Cortes and James Kirkland blasted out Eromosele Albert. Angulo and Kirkland are just about ready for ten round tests.

A few weeks later after 22 year old middleweight Deandre Latimore, 19-1 (16), TKO’d sturdy Sachew Powell, Latimore’s PR team started lobbying for an immediate title shot. Latimore looks like he’s just a connection, whether gloved or contractual, away from a major title.

The undercard of De la Hoya – Forbes provided the opportunity to see some of Golden Boy’s well connected farm team like Danny Oscar Garcia, Daniel Jacobs, and Hector Sanchez.

Jacobs made the best impression, with a first round blast out but Sanchez and Garcia had tougher assignments. 6-0 Garcia got the progress award for his dominant victory over vastly more experienced Julio Gamboa, who was rendered ineffective.

Even at this early stage these babes in the ringpost woods are almost certain contenders, through golden grease.

Olympian Vincente Escobedo, has had primo showcase opportunities but failed to fully capitalize. Escobedo’s presumed party the night before De la Hoya - Forbes was instead a grueling waltz. The good news is Escobedo stayed busy and fought a stay busy eight rounder soon afterward. The bad news is he still looked like a work in stalled progress.

Currently, Kelly Pavlik is probably at the front of the pack pushing toward superstar status. He’s still a long ways from Hagler territory but he’s on the right track. Latest victim Gary Lockett, was lambasted as unworthy but the truth seems Pavlik would have pounded just about anybody.

Juan Manuel Lopez vaulted over Daniel Ponce De Leon near the top of recognizable champions with an impressive steamrolling. Lopez looks like a future elder statesman.

Much of the previously noted action transpired in a chronological frame of around 12 weeks, or approximately 1000 rounds, depending on how you measure certain time passages.

In another six weeks there’s likely to be more rumbling from names we’ve just begun to recognize.

Promising welterweight Freddy Hernandez, 22-1, will stay busy in Tucson this weekend and hope for a title try by wintertime.

One of Hernandez’s biggest victories came against Jesus Soto Karass, who meets David Estrada in a crossroads match during the Cotto-Margarito weekend.

Whoever takes the Cotto-Margarito blockbuster (I see a Cotto KO within 6) has as much a claim as anyone in the latest pound for pound debate.

It certainly appears that there enough young talent to keep up the sport’s impressive recent schedule. This is not a completely comprehensive chart of promising fringe liners. The wings are filled with other aspiring A-listers and the walloping well is far from dry.

Credit is due to the strong foundation of the game, regenerated in fountain of youth gyms around the world.

Boxing itself is the real star of a long-running show.

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