To read Part I of “More In The New Year”
In the second part looking at fighters I am hoping to see much more of in the New Year, I’ll continue by moving up in weight classes starting from the 130-pounders. I left off touching on some of the best action-packed from Minimumweight up to Featherweight and intend to keep things going here. Not only are the fighters listed herein among the best in their respective weight classes, they are noted here because they give fight fans the best bang for the buck every time they enter the ring.
Edwin Valero (130)
Asking to see more of Edwin Valero in the New Year isn’t asking too much, that’s because we’ve hardly seen any of him so far. The 25-year-old native of Venezuela has jumped ship and moved over to Tokyo, Japan, where he has been cleared to fight and can find a steady pool of opponents to test him on a regular basis. All the reports on Valero come back are the same: the kid is an amazingly gifted fighter with the right mental make-up. He started his professional career with 18 first round knockouts, and has only been past two rounds once in his 21 pro bouts. The 5’7” southpaw has stopped all 21 opponents he has faced on his was to becoming the WBA Super Featherweight champion. His medical history has kept Valero off our screens so far despite the fact that most other countries have given him the okay to ply his trade. Reports on some of his sparring sessions stateside are the stuff legends are made of.
Manny Pacquiao (130)
I don’t know if any fighter drums up excitement quite like uncrowned Super Featherweight kingpin “Pac-Man” Pacquiao does. The 28-year-old stick of dynamite is the Energizer Bunny of boxing, whistling away with a heavy work rate and explosive finishes. While Pacquiao may not have the best skill or balance in the division, what he has is a relentless attack, speed, and freakish power backed by trainer extraordinaire Freddy Roach. Now 43-2-2 with 34 KOs, the General Santos City fighter repeatedly cracked Erik Morales in their final bout in November of ’06 as his hand speed and power were simply far too much for the Mexican warrior. Pac-Man battered and broke “El Terrible” with blistering right hooks and searing left crosses. It was an awesome display by the best super featherweight in boxing.
Kermit Cintron (147)
“The Killer” Cintron made an impressive comeback in 2006, erasing his shocking collapse the year before against Antonio Margarito. Cintron’s performance had many questioning if he was champion material but his impressive stoppage wins over David Estrada and Mark Suarez have the good ship Cintron pointing in the right direction once more with steady Emmanuel Steward at the helm. The battle with Estrada was particularly telling as Cintron was in rough waters once again but showed the heart some felt might be lacking and overcame his opponent with pinpoint punching and IQ-shaving power. Now 27-1 with 25 KOs, the Carolinas, Puerto Rico fighter is still young enough (27) to be a major player in one of boxing’s deepest divisions but as the current IBF 147-pound titleholder, the challenges will only get tougher.
Edison Miranda (160)
Edison Miranda scares me. The kid simply knows how to fight – he fought for his life as a mere child on streets of Colombia, and now carries his air of invincibility to the upper echelon of the middleweight division. “Pantera” lost a unanimous decision in Germany to IBF Middleweight champ Arthur Abraham last year, but that bout was not without its controversy. A frightful puncher in need of a little polishing, the 26-year-old Miranda got over his unsuccessful title challenge by blasting out Willie Gibbs to end the year. With 24 KOs in his 27 professional wins, Miranda posses the type of power to change the tide of a fight with one blistering blow.
Kelly Pavlik (160)
Speaking of young kids with big power, Kelly Pavlik fits right in there with Edison Miranda. The 6’2” middleweight somehow squeezes down to 160 pounds where his height, reach, and power have made for a devastating combination. Undefeated but still considered untested, the Youngstown, Ohio native has amassed 26 KOs among his 29 career wins with his most impressive victory coming last year versus Bronco McKart. Pavlik became the first fighter to ever stop McKart by using every punch in his potent arsenal. A mere 24 years old, the “Ghost” Pavlik still has plenty of time to hone is skills and gain experience before challenging the division’s elite boxers.
Tomasz Adamek (175)
In a “Fight of the Year” type of battle against Paul Briggs last October, Adamek showed why he may be the best 175-pound boxer today; hopefully we will get to find out for sure this year. His performance in their rematch showcased Adamek’s very good boxing skills and the ability to face adversity and overcome it. A flash knockdown started the night for Adamek and by the time the final bell sounded both men were bloodied, beaten, yet still banging each other. In between, Adamek showed great poise and punching accuracy mixing things up from a distance and on the inside in what can best be described as a brutal fight. Tomasz heard the final bell ring as blood poured from his nose, mouth and eyelid while crimson ran from Briggs face. With the win the 30-year-old Adamek ran his record to 31-0 with 21 KO and retained his WBC Light Heavyweight title. The battle between the Pole and Aussie had me feeling grateful for the opportunity to see our foreign friends.
What has amazed me when listing all the fighters in both parts of this piece is how young so many of these fighters are. The future for the sport looks very bright with many of these talented boxers leading the way. True, there are many more that could be added to the list but that is where you come in – every one has favorites and these are just a few of mine. Who are yours? Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather, Paul Williams, Ricky Hatton, Arthur Abraham, John Duddy, Lucien Bute, David Haye, Wladimir Klitschko . . . the list might never end.