Forgettable year

June 08, 2010 7:07 AM


The sound of silence reverberates through boxing these days, hopefully to end the disappointing clatter of the year so far. The silence-is-golden theory is based on the fact that neither side is making noise about a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight, an indication that they are too busy negotiating.

With no contests coming up in the next week that require any misguidance from this corner, it is a good time to quietly bemoan the game’s fate so far in 2010.

The year started badly with the unraveling of the biggest fight possible in a shrill atmosphere of accusations of cheating – that’s what the use of performance-enhancing drugs means, especially as the Mayweather camp directed at Pacquiao.

It is almost as if that acrimonious debate has somehow poisoned the game, hexed it if you will.

Good matchups on paper broke down in the ring as time and again one half of the equation broke down. See Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez, who gave us three memorable fights. But No. 4 decided nothing except that Vazquez is finished as a major force.

I don’t see much hope for the upcoming rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz, who gave the Boxing Writers Association the 2009 fight of the year, which after Marquez figured out his limited opponent became a mismatch. The only hope for a good bout is if the older Marquez is as faded as Mayweather made him look.

Amir Khan was supposed to get a real test of class from Paulie Malignaggi. Khan did nothing wrong – and a lot of things very right – but the overall perception of that non-struggle is that Malignaggi needs to get out of town, hence his plans to resume the downslope of his career in Italy, where they have some beautiful mountains to go down.

The classic example of too little too late was the Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones Jr. attempt at catching faded light. Turns out that not only Jones has regressed beyond recognition, Hopkins too is better off looking in the rear-view mirror than at the road ahead.

Pacquiao and Mayweather, going their separate ways, also came to a stick-a-fork-in-it in the road. Pacquiao had no trouble with the well-regarded Joshua Clottey, who didn’t bother to try very hard for the pay-per-view audience. Mayweather ran into some danger in a Sugar Shane Mosley right hand or two in the second round, but after weathering the storm had smooth sailing when Mosley began acting like a 38-year-old fighter.

A good matchup between Mosley and Andre Berto was wiped out by the Haiti earthquake. Injury sent Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik scurrying in other directions and both stumbled. Williams lost more standing with a poor effort cut to a fourth-round technical draw against Kermit Cintron. Pavlik was dethroned by Sergio Martinez, the guy who gave Williams so much trouble last year.

Wladimir Klitschko had as much trouble getting a fight as Winky Wright, even after he was in the ring. Eddie Chambers, a la Clottey, simply refused to oblige. In fact, the best news in the heavyweight division was probably the retirement of John Ruiz and the demise, hopefully permanent, of an Evander Holyfield-Frans Botha contest.

But if Mayweather-Pacquiao can be salvaged, 2010 can still turn out to be a vintage year, especially if Don King lets Devon Alexander out of the bottle. The game is desperate for new faces and King is doing no one, including himself, any good by keeping Alexander under a tight leash.