Nothing doing for two weeks, or until the Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler showdown. This is why I earn the big bucks.
Anyone can handicap fights. I get paid to pick ”˜em, not to be right.
When there are no matches worth betting on, filling this space takes a different talent, one which I have been spreading for years.
Having too recently filled space with my theoretical (is there any other kind?) pound-for-pound list, it is time to look ahead not to the few remaining big fights on the docket, but to the overall picture and the year-end awards.
Fighter of Year
Kelly Pavlik is the leader in the clubhouse, ahead of Israel Vazquez (drops points for losing first bout with Rafael Marquez), Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao (nothing out of the ordinary except for outboxing somewhat faded Marco Antonio Barrera), Bernard Hopkins, Calzaghe and Kessler (too little work). But Miguel Cotto, by beating Sugar Shane Mosley, or Ricky Hatton, by shocking Floyd Mayweather Jr., have yet to be heard from.
I still think it would take something really special to derail Pavlik, though, getting up off the canvas and stopping the talented Jermain Taylor (kind of the opposite of Jameel McCline against Samuel Peter).
Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy company, not only for setting the pay-per-view record for the boss’s battle with Little Floyd, but for settling the feud with Bob Arum (runnerup) and setting the stage for some wonderful matches.
No. 1 Fight
Tossup. I kind of lean toward the Vazquez-Marquez double-header ahead of Pavlik-Taylor. But it’s been a vintage year and we still have some nice bouts to look forward to in the remaining weeks.
I’ll let the wizards on the Internet decide. I, purposely, don’t watch all the ESPN-type shows, but for significance, I’d have to give that award to Pavlik and that right hand down the middle that set up Taylor for a frightening fall.
My choice is a "champion," because titles don’t mean much these days - Bad Chad Dawson, who has the look of someone special. He’s a big southpaw who can jab, box and hit. Maybe he’ll outgrow light-heavyweight and become another Michael Spinks or Roy Jones Jr. and conquer a heavyweight title. Other youngsters who seem on the way to stardom are Jorge Linares and Paul Williams.
Demetrius Hopkins over Steven Forbes.
Most Satisfying ResultJuan Diaz making Acelino Freitas quit again.
Zab Judah, who outtalked Floyd Jr. and Don King.
Worst Sanctioning Body
As usual, a four-way tie.
Best Sanctioning Body
None of the above.
Trainer of the Year:
Jack Lowe, Kelly Pavlik’s man, though Emanuel Steward for his work with Kermit Cintron and Wladimir Klitschko would have another trophy had not Jermain Taylor not let him down (or vice versa, I’m beginning to believe that partnership just doesn’t work, for whatever reason).
Manager of the Year
Bob Arum. Promoters do the real managing these days. Just ask Miguel Cotto or Kelly Pavlik after a victory who they want to fight next and they usually say "whoever my promoter wants." Arum, with the guile of his talented builder of champions, matchmaker Bruce Trampler, has had a hell of a year on that score. Think of it, in addition to Cotto and Pavlik, he also "manages" Pacquiao.
Worst ref job of Year
Geno Rodriguez for his handling of Ricardo Torres’s "victory" over Kendall Holt.
Best ref job
Steve Smoger for his handling of Pavlik-Taylor.
Welterweight, especially now that Ricky Hatton seems to be following Miguel Cotto up the ladder again. Mayweather is the ruler, but there are legit contenders, starting with the Cotto-Mosley winner, Paul Williams, Cintron, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey and still Zab Judah. Plus, I think I’m forgetting one or two.
The lightweights. Joining all those Diazes and Joel Casamayor should be such junior lightweights as Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The 130-pound division is also blessed with Joan Guzman and Humberto Soto, who will engage each other next month.
The heavyweights. It was bad enough that Samuel Peter was decked three times by Jameel (Small Time) McCline. He could not finish an opponent who was gasping for air after punching himself out in the third round. Peter is not the savior of the heavyweight division; he is barely the savior of Samuel.
Now, if I only had a topic for next week.