Fighter of the year: Well, it’s not Tyson

Jul 5, 2005 1:55 AM

Halfway through 2005, the leaders in the clubhouse for fighter of the year are nicknamed Winky, Chico and Pretty Boy.

Okay, maybe El Terrible (Erik Morales) will get a chance later at the prize, but it just goes to show you can’t judge a fighter by his coverage. Major media continues to fawn over Mike Tyson, with the word being that there could be some kind of four-round tournament where he could face both Evander Holyfield and Butterbean.

Butterbean may afford Tyson more to eat than just ears, but the indignity should be denied him simply by having him lose his boxing license permanently. It’s deserved for past crimes against the sweet sport combined with his last appearance, when he nibbled on Kevin McBride’s nipples, purposely butted him and tried to break the Irishman’s arm before finally quitting on his stool.

That would be my birthday present to Mike. He doesn’t want to fight anymore and I’d like to make it so no blood-sucker can ever enslave him again because of his financial straits.

I wish him well in his next chosen career, whatever that is, humanitarian work or boxing commentator. Let us now concentrate on what has turned out to be a pretty good age for boxing, if you amputate the heavyweight division.

Just look at those fighter of the year candidates. Some years, we don’t get anyone as good as any of those previously mentioned. Winky Wright, after beating Sugar Shane Mosley a second time, virtually shut out Felix Trinidad Jr. which normally would make him a shoo-in. But Diego (Chico) Corrales’ unbelievably thrilling victory over Jose Luis Castillo and Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s spectacular performance against Arturo Gatti last month are pretty strong arguments not to reach so quickly for the envelopes.

Luckily for us, there is no six-month award and there may be plenty of future candidates. Soon, the still No. 1 pound-for-pound king, at least on my list, Bernard Hopkins takes on his biggest challenge in years, the undefeated and talented Jermain Taylor. If successful, the longtime middleweight champion would like to move up and face Antonio Tarver, who got back his 175-pound title by reversing his loss to Glencoffe Johnson, and maybe talk Roy Jones Jr. into a farewell-to-boxing-see-you-in-the-hall-of- fame bout.

Winky should be able to get in another big bout this year (if he can’t get Oscar de la Hoya or Hopkins, he’s crazy enough to take on the talented Kassim Ouma). Mayweather has a pay-per-view date Nov. 12 and could be meeting an old friend in Corrales or Castillo (more probably the former). If Chico were to reverse his loss to Mayweather, he’d be a lock for fighter of the year. Probably.

Or he could be facing Morales, who after beating Manny Pacquiao, needs only another big victory (Corrales or Marco Antonio Barrera IV) to become a front-runner. Zab Judah could move into the picture if he gets Mayweather after having already zapped Cory Spinks.

Mayweather, meanwhile, has moved up from No. 2 on my pound-for-pound list to be given co-billing with Hopkins. There can be no question that Mayweather is the prettiest boy in the ring, an incredible talent with the mental discipline underlying the physical and technical abilities.

I don’t care if beating Arturo Gatti was no great deal. My eyes can’t be that bad that I can see him beating anyone else at 140 pounds after being the dominant fighter at 130 and 135.

There are fighters out there, like Jean-Marc Mormeck, who dominated Wayne Braithwaite in a cruiserweight unification bout, Ricky Hatton, who made Kostya Tszyu say "no mas" in Russian-Australian, who have made the first six months of 2005 a vintage year.

Even the heavyweight subdivision has had its moments — Lamon Brewster blasting out Foul Pole Golota in seconds, Calvin Brock getting up off the canvas to handily defeat Jameel McCline. Can’t give James Toney much credit for beating John Ruiz, and not because he tested positively for steroids. Never mind the juice. Beating Ruiz is no big deal.

The fall schedule is by no means complete, but there’s an old saying that big fights make big fights. The first six months have set up the final six for a lot more excitement, and possible profit.

Return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear when the Lone Ranger rides again and chalk bites the dust. Especially next week, when I’ll give you reasons why Jermain Taylor may be more than a live underdog against the great Bernard Hopkins.

Not that I would ever recommend anyone to bet against B-Hop. At least not with my money.