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, Floyd Mayweather taught Victor Ortiz to protect himself at all times, Bernard Hopkins showed Jean Pascal that a 46 year-old can still beat people up, and Miguel Cotto told Antonio Margarito that 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 Miguel Cotto vs. Shane Mosley in November of that year. Proving that when they weren’t at odds GBP and TR could create interesting matchups, Hopkins/Pavlik, De la Hoya/Pacquiao, and Pacquiao/Hatton were some notables. But Cotto/Mosley was a classic struggle, a reminder that with proper communication and understanding between the heads of GBP and Top Rank we could have special fights in 2012 and beyond. Golden Boy and Top Rank must work together again this year to make the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight. 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.
Floyd Mayweather will fight on May 5, 2012
Floyd Mayweather begins a 90 day jail term on January 6th. Now, I am not a lawyer nor do I condone the actions of Mr. Mayweather by 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 a Mayweather fight on May 5th penciled into the calendar. Some experts of law say Mayweather will get out of lockup as early as March. Even if Mayweather 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 Floyd Mayweather made in his personal life that led to this point, and blather about another delay for the biggest fight money can buy, Mayweather stays cool. The guy posted a picture on Twitter, bumping shoulders with President George W. Bush and Jerry Jones. Floyd Mayweather is 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, Floyd Mayweather has not said much about boxing besides that he will fight on May 5th. I expect Floyd Mayweather to fight in May because he said he will fight in May.
Andre Ward 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 Andre Ward with Tarver/Jones, Froch/Calzaghe, Vargas/De la Hoya, and Leonard/Hagler and you will understand the dilemma these two undefeated super middleweights are facing.
Lucian Bute wants a shot at Andre Ward, who earned fighter of the year honors for outclassing tough competition en route to winning The Super Six Tournament. But Ward was obligated to beat four talented 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 the elite at 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: Andre Ward 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 Carl Froch. Ward vs. Bute will not happen in 2012.
Manny Pacquiao Will Not Fight Juan Manuel Marquez Again in 2012
Place me in the minority that does not want to see a fourth Pacquiao vs. 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 hearing Pacquiao and 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? Pacquiao and Marquez have contrasting styles. I get it. But I am done watching. They already fought three times and are not getting any younger. I’d rather see Marquez fight Bradley, Khan, Maidana or Morales. Plus Bob Arum might hesitate potentially jeopardizing Pacquiao’s marketability again before he fights Mayweather. Pacquiao won a razor thin decision over Marquez in November. A loss to Marquez, who Mayweather defeated easily, will destroy a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight.
Prediction: Manny Pacquiao will fight Floyd Mayweather or Miguel Cotto before he fights Marquez.
Amir Khan will become a PPV attraction
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 first PPV fight at the end of the year or early 2013.
You can follow Ray on Twitter @RayMarkarian
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?