There are plenty of reasons to be thankful 2011 is upon us. We may finally get a clash between the two best boxers on the planet, fans could see a hotly contested heavyweight title fight, new stars are ready to emerge and the possibilities of pound for pound match ups are practically endless.
Below are a few key fighters and events for fight fans to keep on their radar screens as the year progresses.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Alright, so let’s get the obvious out of the way first. After two failed attempts to get negotiations settled for a mega bout in 2010, the New Year offers just a glimmer of hope that the match we all want to see will happen sometime over the next twelve months.
But many obstacles remain, so don’t hold your breath.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. could be facing some serious legal trouble due to an alleged assault on Josie Harris, the mother of his children. This is simply the most current among a long string of troublesome incidents involving Mayweather that could put a halt to any planned fight in 2011, much less one with Pacquiao.
Additionally, from the look of postings on his Facebook page, boxing seems to be the furthest thing from Mayweather’s mind right now, as he appears to be having a great time spending up all that cash.
As for Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather’s circus act has not slowed him down one bit. After having convincingly defeated Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito over the past thirteen months, Pacquiao is now looking to add the name of Shane Mosley to his already impressive list of conquests in May.
People, should the Pacquiao – Mayweather fight not take place in 2011, it is not the end of the world. There will be plenty other intriguing matches to keep us occupied.
Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander
We are now only about three weeks away from one of the most anticipated bouts of the New Year. World junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley will seek to distance himself from a very talented crop of the division’s top contenders. First up will be undefeated St. Louis native Devon Alexander, an ultra fast southpaw capable of presenting the champion with all kinds of problems.
To the victor go the spoils, as he will position himself for at least one more major fight in 2011 against the likes of Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz or Joan Guzman.
When was the last time anyone cared about the heavyweight division?
Well, it was just reported yesterday a proposed fight between reigning world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and loud mouth titleholder David Haye is closer than ever. A 50/50 purse split has been agreed to by the fighters, and the match will likely take place in Europe sometime during the early summer.
Of course in boxing, an almost signed contract is anything but a certainty, and David Haye has pulled out of scheduled bouts in the past, so until the two actually step into the ring to square off, anything is capable of happening to yet rain on this parade.
As for older brother and titleholder Vitali Klitschko, the potential of lucrative bouts exist with U.K. based-fighters David Haye, Dereck Chisora or Tyson Fury, as well as Tomasz Adamek, Alexander Povetkin, Odlanier Solis…and I hate to say it, even Evander Holyfield, should he look good against Sherman Williams and Brian Nielson in upcoming bouts.
Going on 46 years old, the boxing great put on a clinic against light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal last month. He likely deserved a close decision but was given a draw. Based on the first fight, he certainly deserves an immediate rematch, but the champion seems poised to grant a rematch to former champion Chad Dawson first.
Time is certainly not on the side of Bernard Hopkins, and having to wait until the end of the year for another potential shot at Jean Pascal puts him that much closer to the edge of the cliff. If anyone can capture a major title going on 47 years old, it is Hopkins, but continuing to take care of business at boxing’s most elite level is a very tall order at that age.
On his side, Bernard Hopkins has certainly taken care of his body and remains in tremendous condition, but all it takes is one bad night, and the older one gets, the more bad nights he will tend to have in the ring. That being said, his skill level is from an era past and way above the competition, so maybe conditioning and skills will continue trumping the factor of age.
He has mentioned wanting to challenge for a heavyweight title in the past, and I for one will be watching if he ever does.
The Super Middleweight Division
Titleholder Andre Ward has everything to make him a superstar in boxing except for one thing…an eraser of a punch. Ward knows boxing is a form of entertainment and realizes what fans want, so to his credit, the undefeated native of Oakland, CA, has sought to mix it up more with opponents in recent fights.
Should he get past Arthur Abraham and the winner of the Carl Froch – Glen Johnson fight as part of SHOWTIME’s Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, Andre Ward will be in position to fight Canadian Lucian Bute in a huge divisional showdown.
It is the biggest fight that can be made at 168 pounds, and whoever emerges victorious will have his sights set on a run at the light heavyweight division. Big things should happen for both men in 2011 and beyond.
Juan Manuel Marquez
Forget about Manny Pacquiao. He is just too big, strong, fast and talented as a welterweight for Marquez to handle. Their first two fights were sensational, but Manny Pacquiao has physically outgrown Juan Manuel Marquez over the past couple of years.
The only way this fight becomes one that fans really want to see is if Pacquiao drops back down to lightweight for the fight, but that isn’t going to happen.
Hey! I am all for a great, old champion cashing out towards the end of his career, but he already got a huge payday versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in 2009. Plus there is a another scheduled cash-out fight against Eirk Morales scheduled for April, so at this point, the Marquez pension plan should be more than fully funded.
Besides, there are plenty of worthy contenders at lightweight for him to consider, including Robert Guerrero, Humberto Soto, Ali Funeka, Jorge Linares or even slightly smaller guys like Jason Litzau or Celestino Caballero.
Newsflash…Haitian-American Andre Berto can really fight. While he is no Bernard Hopkins or Floyd Mayweather Jr. in terms of ring skills, one can only be born with the speed and power this man possesses.
It is time for him to step-up into a big fight, but with neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather in his immediate future, why not campaign for a fight with another talented, young fighter looking for a tough opponent? Undefeated Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez just may fit the bill, and that would be a sensational match worth watching.
Another possibility, although more of a long shot, is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who should be able to get himself down to 147 pounds for a title opportunity against Berto.