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Holiday cheer on the way

Oct 26, 2004 5:55 AM

The price of crude keeps rising, but we shall continue to take stock in the hiatus before the big finish. The boxing calendar, idle for baseball, will soon give the fanciers a fine pre-holiday season with weekly action.

The final two months of the year will have to be accounted for when taking stock of all of 2004. It’s not that the first 10 months have been stingy in supplying nominees for the yearly awards. Au contraire, as A.J. Liebling might have written. There have already been a plethora of worthy candidates, so much that Antonio Tarver, who had appeared a lock for fighter of the year when he scored that one-punch knockout of Roy Jones Jr., could actually slide off the ballot entirely.

Not on mine, mind you. My personal choices, and there’s no arguing with me since they are "mine," not yours, are still to be decided. For example, let’s take that fighter of the year designation. I am certainly willing to wait for the Nov. 27 rubber match between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera before making any decision.

Morales is on the cusp, having moved up and unified the 130-pound title with victories over champions Jesus Chavez and Carlos Hernandez. If he can decisively beat his old rival, in what figures to be another candidate for Fight of the Year, he certainly would be a worthy choice.

Tarver’s knockout of Jones lost some luster when Glencoffe Johnson repeated it, though having been the original dethroner of boxing’s longtime best, counts for much. It could be argued that Tarver took the spirit out of Jones, making him a setup for the sturdy but ordinary Johnson.

Tarver’s candidacy suffers from worse than Karl Rove going after him. The victory over Jones was his only work in 2004. Financial and managerial entanglements were responsible, rather than any disinclination to battle, but his body of work was not as impressive, say, as that of Diego Corrales.

Chico’s support could be strengthened if Joel Casamayor upsets Jose Luis Costello on Dec. 4. Casamayor, who lost to Corrales in a disputed decision early in the year is off a stunning performance in making Acelino Freitas quit.

Winky Wright, if he repeats his dominance of Sugar Shane Mosley on Nov. 20, would merit acknowledgement, although beating the same guy twice does not overshadow beating men like Casamayor and Freitas, who together had one loss. That setback was when Freitas was given a disputed decision over the Cuban a couple of years ago.

Danny Williams, who upset the remains of Mike Tyson in July, could add another shocker to his resume when he faces Vitali Klitschko on Dec. 11. But I am inclined to think that this is such a bad crop, that no heavyweight deserves Fighter of the Year consideration.

Another heavyweight, Lamon Brewster (if Williams doesn’t get by Vitali) should get the upset of the year for lasting long enough for Wladimir Klitschko to run out of gas. However, a bigger upset might well be Don King hiring the lawyer who has made a career of beating the promoter Judd Burstein in court.

Fight of the Year will almost certainly be Manny Pacquiao’s breathtaking draw with Juan Manuel Marquez, who came back from three first-round knockdowns to earn comeback of the year honors (yes, ahead of Riddick Bowe). I suspect Don King’s heavyweight card Nov. 13 will give us blight of the year, the matchup between John Ruiz and Andrew (Foul Pole) Golota certain to etch itself into history.

The Wright-Mosley rematch could influence Trainer of the Year voting. Joe Goossen, sent out Casamayor to beat Corrales last year, switched corners and got Corrales the victory in the rematch. Here, he moves into Mosley’s corner, replacing Shane’s father, Jack.

If Goossen can score another upset here, he might overtake Wright’s trainer, Dan Cunningham, who also took Jeff Lacy to a title this year. Nacho Beristain should always be considered a threat for the way he handles the Marquez brothers, among others.

Tarver is the leader in the clubhouse for Punch of the Year, because of its historic Value. However, that right uppercut by Rafael Marquez that knocked out Heriberto Ruiz in a bantamweight defense was as good as any one shot I’ve seen in years. (Well, there was Hasim Rahman’s takeout of Lennox Lewis (and vice versa). Rahman could get a chance at another against Kalli Meehan on the Nov. 13 heavyweight card (and vice versa).

I don’t believe in Manager of the Year awards. It is difficult to ascertain the difference between being a manager, a promoter, an agent and a wife. I say, a pox on all, except wives. I had a great one.