‘Fight of the decade’ would be a ‘monster’
The best bet this coming week is that I will overeat on Thanksgiving, but all you turkeys need not worry. Yes, there will be a chance of a humble-pie chaser for my one boxing selection – a mild lean toward heavy underdog Librado Andrade in his rematch with IBF super-middleweight champion Lucien Bute.
But Thanksgiving 2009, boxing has much to be grateful for – starting with what awaits in 2010. Suffice it to say that both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are coming off dominant pay-per-view shows that each registered more than a million buys and it looks very much as if they are going to give us the mega-fight of the decade next quarter.
Let’s get the mundane out of the way first. In his adopted province of Quebec, the Rumanian-born Bute has become a major star, although apparently not major enough to be invited to Showtime’s super-middleweight round-robin. Maybe that’s why he’s on HBO from Quebec City next Saturday, a 4-1 or 5-1 favorite over an opponent he needed to hold on to the first time they fought.
Bute, an undefeated southpaw who now makes his home in Montreal, was easily outboxing the plodding Mexican-born Californian in their fall 2008 bout, when he nearly unraveled after taking a few shots. The final scores were indicative of his early success – 117-109, 115-111 and 115-110.
Truth is, he probably will be a lot more careful this time around, but I can not recommend laying heavy odds on Bute. If I had to bet, it would be on the 3-1 or so takeback odds on Andrade. Again, this is not a fight in which to raid the piggy bank.
You might want to make an early investment, though, on the 2010 fight of the year. I have noticed online that Mayweather is the early favorite, like minus $1.45, with Pacquiao plus $1.15. I think that line is off. Most fan polls indicate that Pacquiao’s blasting of the dangerous Miguel Cotto was more impressive than Mayweather’s beat-down of the smaller and older Juan Manuel Marquez. I fully expect Pacquiao, when the bout is made (and it will be made), to emerge as the chalk.
You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to understand the value of loading up on the Pac Man early, then, and if you want later, to lay it off on Pretty Boy.
I was in Mayweather’s corner, I thought, before I saw how Pacquiao took Cotto’s shots. Now I believe the Filipino can apply enough pressure to beat another bigger man. After Mayweather’s brilliant return after more than two years off, I returned him to the No. 1 spot on my pound-for-pound list. I have reconsidered and put Pacquiao first.
In any case, while we look forward to the big fight, maybe around May, we should note that next year is likely to produce many intriguing matchups. It appears likely that a fourth meeting between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez is imminent. Hopefully, Paul Williams – my No. 3 pound-for-pounder who has an interesting appointment Dec. 5 with Sergio Martinez – can finally get to meet Kelly Pavlik in 2010. Sugar Shane Mosley, No. 4 on my pound-for-pound list, and Andre Berto meet Jan. 30 in case the Mayweather-Pacquiao winner is interested in another major, but dangerous, fight next year.
Former stalwarts like Juan Manuel Marquez, still No. 5 on my p-f-p ratings, and Ricky Hatton could be meeting. There could be a rematch between Nonito Donaire (No. 7, behind Ivan Calderon) and Vic Darchinyan. Even the seniors tour could produce some fireworks with a long-overdue rematch between Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins, should the two old men get by Dec. 2 tuneups.
Showtime will keep the super-middleweights busy. There’s ample talent in touching divisions like lightweight and junior welterweight to again decry the notion that boxing is dead. Hell, take away the heavyweights and it’s flat-out thriving, as witness the way my pound-for-pound top 10 winds up with Arthur Abraham, Chad Dawson and Miguel Cotto.
Yes, there is much to be thankful for. Some more stuffing, please.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Michael Katz