2007 Big Fight Predictions

floyd mayweather jr.07.03.07 - By Neil Thompson: 2007 is looking like a vintage year for boxing. I was disappointed with 2006 which, for me, was a poor year for match-ups. This year has already seen many mouth-watering contests being made, contest that’s will split boxing community right down the middle.

On the 28th February, Mr. Yero Moody, my fellow writer for ‘East Side Boxing’ wrote an article entitled “Why Mayweather, Castillo, Judah, Williams and Wright Will All Win in 2007”, in which he predicted many of the outcomes of the big fights of 2007. I disagree with a few of them so I have decided to write an article in response. I have made predictions on 4 of the big fights to come.

This is what makes 2007 look so promising, there are so many match-ups being made that are close to genuine 50-50 fights. We have Mayweather-De La Hoya, Hatton-Castillo, Cotto-Judah, Barrera-Marquez, Margarito-Williams, Hopkins-Wright and I’m sure there will be more for the second half of the year.

Like Mr Moody, I am putting my head on the ‘chopping block’ and I’m being brave enough to put my predictions out there at the risk of looking ridiculous should they turn out wrong. I pride myself on being able to spot the odd upset like Calzaghe-Lacy and Taylor-Hopkins. On the other hand, I have also got it completely wrong from time to time, like when I predicted a Collazo upset of Shane Mosley. This is what makes predictions such fun as all self-proclaimed ‘experts’ can, and do, get it wrong.

Fight 1: Floyd Mayweather v Oscar De La Hoya (5th May 2007):

I must admit I am in two minds about this excellent match-up. Oscar De La Hoya is approaching his mid-thirties, but he proved against the Ricardo Mayorga, last May, that he still has what it takes to beat a fighter of Mayorga’s standing, but what about a fighter like Floyd who is regarded as the P4P number one.

Both fighters have a fantastic amateur pedigree, although Oscar is an Olympic gold medallist, whilst Floyd was only a bronze medallist. Oscar is bigger, stronger and more talented than anyone Floyd has faced to date. Oscar also has the power advantage. As for Floyd, well he has the edge in speed of both hand and foot, he’s younger, fresher and has been much more active over the last couple of years. Floyd is also a defensive genius who very rarely has to take a solid punch flush in his face.

I have thought long and hard on this and at first it appeared that my heart was saying Oscar but my brain was saying Floyd. However, the more I thought about it the more I could see Oscar prevailing. You see Floyd has had an easy time fighting opponents that just cannot crack his defence, but Oscar may just have the experience, hand speed and sheer talent to crack Floyd’s guard enough times to make this a very interesting fight.

I think this fight will go down to the wire. On the promotional tour, Floyd has been his usual disrespectful self and that will only inspire Oscar. I predict this will be close and controversial. Many will see Floyd as the winner whilst many will see it Oscar’s way. Ultimately I feel Oscar will be given the decision in a fight that will split boxing opinion right down the middle. Mr Moody thinks Floyd will stop Oscar, I seriously cannot see that happening. Both fighters will try to outbox the other and the rounds will be ‘nip and tuck’ all the way. I think De La Hoya pulls off the win but it will be close enough and entertaining enough for people to demand a rematch.

Prediction: Oscar De La Hoya wins a close and controversial decision.

Fight 2: Ricky Hatton v Jose Luis Castillo (23rd June 2007):

Just like Mr Moody, this is a fight I’m really looking forward and true to form I have to disagree with Mr Moody’s prediction. I have full respect for Castillo; he was a big player in the Lightweight division for a long time and ran Floyd Mayweather very close over a tough 24 rounds of boxing. To this day, nobody has come close to beating Floyd except Jose Luis Castillo. Castillo certainly represents Hatton's toughest test since his epic encounter with Kostya Tszyu and I think Hatton will ready for the Mexican toughman. Both fighters seem suited to the other and in a fight like that, anything can happen.

The edge in power, even at 140, goes to Castillo, but Hatton is adaptable enough to change his style when fighting a power puncher. Tszyu, Urango, Tackie and McGee all had the advantage in power over Ricky. However, Hatton, and his team, are tactically very astute. Against Tszyu he over-came the Australian/Russian counter-puncher by smothering his power and out working the extremely talented Russian. Against Urango and Tackie, Hatton boxed instead of brawled and won lop-sided decisions. Against McGee, Hatton found himself on his arse early in the fight, so he changed tactics and won on points using speed instead of strength. Hatton has proven he is not the one-dimensional slugger some people would have you believe.

Most of this fight will be fought at close quarters with Hatton attempting to bust Castillo up on the inside using his superior strength. This may suit Castillo, as he won’t have to go looking for his opponent. Ultimately I feel Hatton will wear Castillo down. Castillo will have his moments but I feel that by the 10th round, Ricky will have established a clear lead. Castillo will try to up the pace for the remaining 3 rounds but will fail to close the gap completely. By the end of the 12th round Hatton will be victorious.

Prediction: Hattons wins a close but unanimous decision.

Fight 3: Miguel Cotto v Zab Judah (9th June 2007):

There are many reason why some people think Judah could take this one. Judah has the southpaw awkwardness of a Demarkus Corley as well as the power and sharpness of a Ricardo Torres. As most of you are aware it was Corley and Torres who had Cotto in all sorts of trouble. How much of this was due to being weight drained is debatable. My feeling is that Cotto is stronger at the heavier weight of 147-lbs and is an improved fighter at this new weight. Cotto has power, strength, ability and an impressive array of punches. He starts slowly but seems to get stronger as the fight goes on.

Neither man has the advantage in power. Judah is definitely the faster, whilst Cotto is the stronger. Both have been hurt and wobbled in the past but Judah is the only one to have suffered a stoppage defeat. The edge in boxing ability goes slightly in favour of Cotto, although Judah has the flashier style.

There is no doubt about it; Zab Judah has fought better fighters than Cotto has. Judah has faced elite opponents in Floyd Mayweather and Kostya Tyzsu but unfortunately, for Judah, he’s come up second best on both occasions. Mayweather outclassed him over 12 and Tyzsu stopped him in 2. This seems to indicate that despite being a very talented and world-class fighter he fall’s just a little short of being considered a P4P elite boxer. Whilst Judah has failed whenever he’s faced true ‘P4P’ opposition. Cotto, on the other hand, has not even mixed with the elite yet. For the majority of Cotto’s 9 world title fights he’s faced only fringe-world class. So how good is Cotto? Well we simply don’t know yet. On the other hand, we know exactly how good Judah is. Judah has proved himself to be ‘world class’ but doesn’t belong with the elite. Does Cotto belong with the elite? ….. well we’ll have a better idea on that when these two warriors ‘square-off’.

Judah is the faster starter and needs to use this to his advantage. I think Judah has to make an impression early to stand a chance and has to hurt Cotto within the first 4 rounds because once Cotto gets going he can grind a good fighter down. Judah can get his punches off first and trouble Cotto, who is a bit one paced and slow when compared to someone like Judah. Zab’s speed advantage will allow Judah to take an early lead, boxing well and hitting Cotto with more shots than he’s accustomed to taking. However, I don’t think it will last and by the 9th round I believe Cotto will gradually wear Judah down to come from behind and score a stoppage around the 9th or 10th rounds.

I think this fight will be a classic contest and possibly one of the best fights of 2007. Their styles should match up very well.

Prediction: Cotto wins KO 9 Judah.

Fight 4: Bernard Hopkins v Winky Wright (21st July 2007):

I was very surprised when I heard this fight was being made. Mr. Yero Moody thinks that Winky Wright may have what it takes at this stage in their careers to take the aging Hopkins. For once, I happen to agree. Having one foot in retirement, is Bernard Hopkins really fully focused on beating Winky? Against Tarver, Hopkins was the underdog. Against Winky, Hopkins will be the betting favourite.

Both fighters have my full respect although watching Hopkins is sometimes like watching paint dry. Too many of his fights end up being tactical-chess matches with little excitement. Hopkins is a very intelligent fighter and a great tactician. His boxing ability is excellent, his chin excellent, his defence impressive and throws hurtful, quick shots. He’s also one of the dirtiest fighters around and, like Evander Holyfield, has mastered the art of using his head as a third fist.

Winky is a master-defensive boxer with an excellent southpaw jab and intelligence. Once one of the most avoided fighters in the world, Its good to see Winky Wright finally getting the big fights. Like Hopkins, he is an impressive tactician with great balance and a great chin.

When considering their common opponents, it’s still hard to separate them. Both have had extremely close fights with the current Middleweight Champion Jermain Taylor. Both fighters have handed Felix Trinadad a sound boxing lesson, although Hopkins managed to stop him.

Hopkins is the bigger man and this may work in his favour. Against Taylor, Wright was hit more times than I had previously come to expect from a defence as sound as Winky’s. Wright is used to outboxing smaller Light-Middleweights but against the bigger fighters, of Taylor’s calibre, his defence is easier to crack. With all this in mind I think Hopkins has to be the betting favourite but how long can Hopkins keep on going? Like I stated earlier, Hopkins has had one foot in retirement for some time now, so you have to question his focus.

Considering all of the above, like Mr Moody, I will stick my neck out and predict a Winky Wright upset of Bernard Hopkins. I’m going for a close split-decision victory for Winky Wright. This is an even harder fight to pick than any of the above. This fight is definitely one for the purist’s. Last time out Hopkins looked outstanding against Tarver, but this time I feel he’s taking on a fighter whose every bit as crafty as he is. The different is, Winky has probably more to prove.

Prediction: Winky Wright beats Bernard Hopkins via. a close, split decision.

Thank you for Reading

Article posted on 07.03.2007

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