We’re hoping it’s not same old same old
With a voice that shatters glass, the Boxing Oracle looks into the crystal ball for 2010 and sees that the future is always darkest before the blood test. The Oracle cries out that his vision is as foggy as Gale Van Hoy’s hometown tainted stigmatism. Someone answers that old B.O. must not be on performance-enhancing drugs.
"Where do we begin?" muses the Oracle. As everyone else had, he had assumed that the linchpin of the entire machinery was Megafight, the proposed meeting of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. This was the event of the year! The fight of the year! The biggest bout in history! Let the new decade begin! This’ll teach those boxing-is-dead pessimists!
But the New Year begins not with exclamation points but with question marks and the Oracle considers it beneath his fragile dignity to consider such possible replacement matchups as Pacquiao vs. Paul Malignaggi or Yuri Foreman, or the more ludicrous Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton’s somewhat inept brother, Matt. If Blood Money (his latest nickname) must dally with someone’s brother, let him seek out a Klitschko. There should be enough blood for him and his camp which, hypocritically, has been calling on Pacquiao to submit to the vampires who doubt that his move up boxing’s divisions was done without a short cut.
The cynics have a point. Nowhere else has a fighter continued to move up in weight not only carrying his power with him, and his speed, but increasing them to the point where he is suspected of being one of the greatest boxers in history. In current SportsWorld, with success comes suspicion – from home run hitters to sprinters to former flyweights.
The idea that Pacquiao might simply be an athletic freak is not satisfactory for some.
B.O. was cynical, too – not so much of the charges and countercharges of cheating that suddenly put Megafight on the ropes. With $30-$40 million – EACH – on the line, the idea that a dispute over drug testing seemed insane, even for boxing. What B.O. first cynically suspected was that because of the bad scheduling – March 13 instead of May to satisfy Pacquiao’s lust for Filipino political power – the two sides had devised a devious scheme for keeping the public aware of the onrushing bout.
B.O. still finds it incomprehensible that a few drops of blood could clot so much money. B.O. plenty believes that Megafight will surface later in the year, when it makes the most economic sense. And then, and only then, will the Oracle look to see the winner.
Winners, The Oracle will not promise that 2010 will be better than the stinko year of 2009. This much can be foretold: there will be more terrific fights, more terrible fights and more canceled or postponed fights. The year’s first "name" fight, Evander Holyfield vs. Frans Botha for the first heavyweight title bout sanctioned by AARP – Jan. 16 in Kampala, Uganda, might be the next disappearing act. But Holyfield, 47, will not disappear, though many of his colleagues will, at least from the ring or apron.
Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins may exit slowly, but by year’s end B.O. predicts their long-awaited rematch will appear only on a video game called "Old Bones." Sugar Shane Mosley will be reined in after suffering the first major upset of the year when he discovers Jan. 30 that Andre Berto is too fast. Jermain Taylor will find a new occupation. Don King could be ready for the front porch. Maybe he can quaff some brews with Ricky Hatton, who should be reduced to drinking after Juan Manuel Marquez finishes off his boxing career – but he won’t drink what Marquez drinks.
Vitali Klitschko will continue to dominate the heavyweights for as long as his body permits and no one west of the Atlantic will care. Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez will give us the fourth installment of one of the greatest series in history, including "M.A.S.H." There could be another magnificent battle of little guys between Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriokis Gamboa.
Without King to hold him back promotionally, Devon Alexander will have a big 2010, enriching the already stellar junior welterweight division, which will be ruled by Timothy Bradley. The supermiddleweight class awaits a boxing fan’s classic showdown – B.O. thinks the general sports public is not ready for this – between Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward.
It is not clear whether Paul Williams or Kelly Pavlik will ever meet in the ring, or whether Williams will ever lure a Pacquiao or Mayweather into a beating. Chad Dawson is also looking for big-purse company.
Writers, B.O. is generously calling them that, will continue to over-rate the current fighters. Newspapers will continue to die. Same old, same old.