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One thing you have to love about boxing, even if you are a longtime watcher of the sweet science, the sport can still find new ways to shock and amaze you. Anything can happen, and often does. In 2011, FloydMayweathertaught Victor Ortiz to protect himself at all times, Bernard Hopkins showed Jean Pascal that a 46 year-old can still beat people up, and MiguelCottotold AntonioMargaritothat payback is a capital B. Those were three intense moments of an overall enjoyable year in the sport.
The unwritten chapter of 2012 begins with uncertainty. The best fighter in the world is going to jail, the heavyweight division has nothing of substance to offer, and the fight most of the world wants to see has not happened for three years.
So there is no closure but 2011 ended on a good note, with significant fights almost every weekend from September to December. At the end of the day, that is all we can ask.
Below are my prophecies for 2012. Some are farfetched, others are intended to be straight-faced predictions. You be the judge. You can agree or agree to disagree. That is what makes boxing fun.
There will be a Golden Boy/Top Rank Truce
When he established his promotional company in 2001, Oscar De la Hoya started a feud with Bob Arum and that feud continues to deprive boxing fans from intriguing fights, as it has for more than a decade. A struggle for power, market share and acquiring the best fighters for Golden Boy and Top Rank Promotions respectively does nothing but dampen their relationship and hurt boxing. A short period of peace began in 2007, you’ll recall, not long before the underrated battle between MiguelCottovs. Shane Mosley in November of that year. Proving that when they weren’t at oddsGBPand TR could create interesting matchups, Hopkins/Pavlik, De la Hoya/Pacquiao, andPacquiao/Hatton were some notables. ButCotto/Mosley was a classic struggle, a reminder that with proper communication and understanding between the heads ofGBPand Top Rank we could have special fights in 2012 and beyond. Golden Boy and Top Rank must work together again this year to make theMayweather/Pacquiaofight. The success of that super fight will lead to greater things for Golden Boy, Top Rank, and boxing.
Prediction:There will be two events co-promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy in 2012.
FloydMayweatherwill fight on May 5, 2012
FloydMayweatherbeginsa 90 day jail term on January 6th. Now, I am not a lawyer nor do I condone the actions of Mr. Mayweatherby any means, but his scheduled fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has not changed. MGM has not released any word of cancellation. Numerous websites linked to MGM Grand events and Las Vegas still have aMayweatherfight on May 5thpenciled into the calendar. Some experts of law sayMayweatherwill get out of lockup as early as March. Even ifMayweather does not get out of jail until April, he will have four weeks of training for a May bout. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he sticks to the May 5 date.
And while reporters, bloggers, and message boarders discuss the mistakes FloydMayweathermade in his personal life that led to this point, and blather about another delay for the biggest fight money can buy,Mayweatherstays cool. The guy posted a picture on Twitter, bumping shoulders with President George W. Bush and Jerry Jones. FloydMayweatheris sharing jokes with the former President of the free world and the owner of the most popular team in the country’s most popular sport while boxing heads debate his next move. Wait a second, he already told us his next move.
Prediction:Since beating Victor Ortiz in September, FloydMayweatherhas not said much about boxing besides that he will fight on May 5th. I expect FloydMayweatherto fight in May because he said he will fight in May.
AndreWard vs. Lucian Bute will not happen in 2012.
“Earn this… Earn it,” said Capt. John Miller in “Saving Private Ryan.”
We have seen this tale before in boxing.
Fighter A wants a shot at the title. Fighter B says ‘what have you done to deserve it?’ Substitute the names of Lucian Bute and AndreWard withTarver/Jones,Froch/Calzaghe, Vargas/De la Hoya, and Leonard/Haglerand you will understand the dilemma these two undefeated supermiddleweightsare facing.
Lucian Bute wants a shot atAndreWard, who earned fighter of the year honors foroutclassingtough competition en route to winning The Super Six Tournament. But Wardwas obligatedto beatfourtalented 168 pounders to win that tourney. He is not required to fight Bute. Ward has options. Bute is one of them. Options are one of the greatest tools a fighter can have in this sport.
As much as fight fans want Ward/Bute there is a business end to this fight game. And Bute must take care of some business against some of theeliteat 168 before facing Ward. Now, until the day of reckoning between the two combatants comes to fruition (which I think will be over a year from now) we are at the mercy of negotiation ploys and one-upsmanship. There is too much smoke and not enough substance for Ward vs. Bute. Right now it is all talk.
Prediction:AndreWard will take a tune up in the spring and then try his hand at 175 against a foe in the top 15. Bute is talking a home-and-home two fight agreement against CarlFroch.Ward vs. Bute will not happen in 2012.
MannyPacquiaoWill Not Fight Juan Manuel Marquez Again in 2012
Place me in the minority that does not want to see a fourthPacquiaovs. Marquez fight. All three battles were great but practically the same. Anything less than a one-sided decision, which I don’t want to see, or a knockout, which I do not expect, would be disappointing.
Not to mention the painful month of 24/7 episodes hearingPacquiaoand Marquez tell us how they want to prove themselves this time around all over again. Isn’t that what they said in 2008, and 2011?Pacquiaoand Marquez have contrasting styles. I get it. But Iam donewatching. They already fought three times and are not getting any younger. I’d rather see Marquez fight Bradley, Khan,Maidanaor Morales. Plus Bob Arum might hesitate potentially jeopardizingPacquiao’s marketability again before he fights Mayweather.Pacquiaowon arazor thindecision over Marquez in November. A loss to Marquez, whoMayweatherdefeated easily, will destroy a Pacquiao vs.Mayweatherfight.
Prediction:MannyPacquiaowill fight FloydMayweatheror MiguelCottobefore he fights Marquez.
Amir Khan will become aPPVattraction
Amir Khan reminds me of Vega from Street Fighter II. He hits, runs, and floats around the ring, then stands before his stalking opponent long enough to take a hard blow only to throw his hands up afterwards as if the shots were meaningless. Khan is fun to watch. Sure he has flaws, infighting is one of them, but his energetic presence makes him exciting. If he beats Lamont Peterson in a rematch at 140 and becomes successful at welterweight then boxing will have its next big star. If he loses again, then we will still have a young entertaining fighter in and out of the ring. Many times in boxing selling tickets is generally all that matters.
Prediction:Amir Khan will have his firstPPVfight at the end of the year or early 2013.
You can follow Ray on Twitter @RayMarkarian