The Sun Rises Again*: Boxing Commentary, Looking at 2008

By Christopher Roche,

Boxing Questions (and answers) 1) 2007 was a wonderful year for boxing. Are we ready for 2008?

There is no doubt that fighters, promoters, managers and broadcasters deserve credit for making the matches that the fans wanted to see. Fans and media members will likely debate the “Fight of the Year” and the “Fighter of the Year” of 2007 for weeks, and the debates will be heated. That is the sign of a strong sport..

However, I am not going to rehash 2007; this segment is about the future. If you want to look at 2007 superlatives, I highly recommend reading Ted Sares’ recap on, as that is one of the best lists we are likely to see.

Before we crack the New Year’s champagne, ESPN’s Friday Night Fights returns on December 28, and then we are off to the races. Consider these scheduled match-ups for the first quarter of 2008:

1)Paulie Malignaggi vs. Herman Ngoudjo, Jan 5
2)Roy Jones, Jr. vs. Felix Trinidad, Jan 19
3)Alexander Povetikin vs. Eddie Chambers, Jan 26
4)Paul Williams vs. Carlos Quintana, Feb 9
5)Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor, Feb 16
6)Wladimir Klitschko vs. Sultan Ibragimov, Feb 23
7)Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez, March 1
8)Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao, March 15

Do not forget that each of these headliners has intriguing undercards attached to them, and some of the names we should see are Glen Johnson, Andre Berto, Ricardo Torres, Johnathon Banks and David Diaz. Further, the aforementioned list of bouts does not include the plethora of smaller bouts televised on ESPN2 and Telefutura. Some of the names attached to those shows are Edison Miranda, Darnell Wilson, Jean Pascal and Allan Green. I am willing to state that “Fight of the Year” or “Fighter of the Year” could come from that list of eight I mention above.

In the first three months of 2008, there will be compelling boxing shows nearly every week. The sport appears poised to capitalize on the momentum from 2007. My only wish for 2008 is that boxing somehow makes its way back to network television. We almost had a show this past year, but it fell through. PPV is not good for boxing, and it should only be used sparingly, if at all. Unfortunately, in order to see some of these shows in early 2008, we will have to hit the PPV button and see our cable or satellite bill nearly double for the month.

2) Who is the most worthy challenger at 140 Lbs.?

When Ricky Hatton moved up in weight to challenge Floyd Mayweather, most observers did not feel the move to 147 was permanent. Hatton is almost universally regarded as the champion at 140, but he has some fighters nipping at his heals.

On January 5 IBF champ Paulie Malignaggi will be taking on Herman Ngoudjo, and the winner of that bout will have a lot to say about who gets a shot at Hatton. The other name most often mentioned is Junior Witter, but it seems that Hatton’s camp does not want to enrich Witter, so that fight might not happen.

With the Hatton scenario on the horizon, the Ngoudjo bout could be seen as a trap for Malignaggi. Ngoudjo only has 17 pro fights, and most observers think he is not a threat. However, Malignaggi has made it clear that he is not looking past Ngoudjo, and the trash talk is heating up nicely between the two fighters.

In a recent Showtime conference call, Malignaggi said, “I noticed a lot of people talk about me fighting Ricky Hatton. Right now I'm focused on January 5, and shutting this chump's mouth up. So I'll discuss Ricky Hatton on January 6.” Ngoudjo, for his part, is the mandatory challenger, and he has had a lot of time to prepare for this fight.

Ngoudjo lost a controversial split-decision to Jose Luis Castillo back in January, but he came back in June and beat Randall Bailey, which earned him a shot at Malignaggi’s IBF Title. Ngoudjo struggled against Bailey, but he may have had a hangover after the disappointing loss to Castillo.

Ngoudjo, in the same conference call, spoke about his feelings after the Castillo bout. He said, “Sure, I was 100% the winner of that fight. I was down, I was very disappointed. But after a couple of minutes, couple of hours I felt better.” If Ngoudjo has a chance against Malignaggi, then he must be at the top of his game, both physically and mentally.

Malignaggi is the type of fighter who frustrates his opponents in the ring, and he wins round after round until he forces a mistake. Against N’Dou, Malignaggi won nearly every round, and when N’Dou got frustrated and careless, he found himself on the canvas. The knock on Malignaggi is that he lacks power, but Ngoudjo must be careful not to carelessly rush in, because he can get caught with a perfect shot.

I am expecting a fast paced fight between Malignaggi and Ngoudjo. The fight should be a showcase for Malignaggi’s skills, and I predict he will win a wide decision, similar to the one over N’Dou. If my prediction holds, then I expect a lot of push in the media for a Hatton vs. Malignaggi bout within the next six to nine months, and we would find out if Hatton is still the true king of the light-welterweight division.

Fight I Would like to See and Why

Ricky Hatton vs. Paulie Malignaggi. If I keep on saying it repeatedly, maybe it will happen. I like both fighters a lot, and this would be one of the biggest international fights of the year.

There are many reasons why this fight should happen in New York, not the least of which is I could roll out of bed and be at the Garden in 30 minutes. Further, thousands of people walking around singing songs and playing music would not seem out of the ordinary for New York.

Hatton’s fans would fit right in.

Quote of the Week I

“You're going to be my girlfriend in the ring.”-Herman Ngoudjo to Paulie Malignaggi.

Quote of the Week II

“I know you're like that. I don't go that route. I don't go that way, buddy.”-Paulie Malignaggi in reply to quote of the week I.

(quotes are from the Showtime conference call)

Injustice of the Week

The injustice of the week is that I paid $54.95 for the Hatton vs. Mayweather bout, and some of the announcers did not even bother to do their homework for the undercard. Edner Cherry was labeled as “not a talented fighter”, and then he was referred to as a “New York/New Jersey gym rat” with five losses on his record already.

If the announcer bothered to look at his record, then he would have seen it is very deceiving. Further, Cherry is from the Bahamas, and he now lives, works and trains in the Tampa, FL area, and he is a talented fighter, as evidenced by his KO win on that same HBO PPV card.

Non-Boxing Thoughts

The theme of this column for 2007 was one of hope for a new day in boxing. The sweet science used to be the measuring stick for all sports, and 2007 marked a rebound, thus the sun rose again for boxing. The spotlight is now bright, and the fight game must continue to deliver. So far, 2008 looks very strong, and if next year can top this year, then Boxing will once again stake a claim to mainstream legitimacy.

I recently re-watched A Bronx Tale, which is a film that takes place in the early 1960’s. At one point in the film, Sonny asks C if he wants to come to the fights with him. C, who is nine years old at the time, says, “I can’t”. When Sonny asks him why he cannot come, C says that he is already going with his father.

I doubt many adults take nine year-old boys to the fights these days. Times have certainly changed, but boxing has always found a way to survive. With more mainstream exposure, the sport will build a younger base of fans.

If anyone has any ideas for a new theme next year, please contact me at the e-mail given.

Reader Submissions
This one is from William L. regarding a past column where I mentioned my preference for a Hopkins vs. Calzaghe bout. I think he has a point, but the Hopkins vs. Calzaghe match-up still intrigues me the most. The marquis status of such an event cannot be matched in the division.

Calzaghe-Hopkins would not be more "exciting" than Bute or Froch. With Hopkins’ economical style it would be a technical borefest. I understand Joe will make more money at Light Heavy but Froch would be a much more exciting fight. To be called the best in your division you have to clean house and Froch and Bute are rising fact I think Froch is better than Kessler. Chris

I will be taking reader submissions and answering them in this space. Please e-mail me at with questions and commentary, and we will include as many as we can. Please include your first name and hometown for publication and type the word “Column” in the subject line.

*This column is inspired by the premier novel of the twentieth century, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway spoke highly of the sport of boxing, and he participated as both a fighter and a referee. Every other week this column will humbly pay homage to the man who helped glorify the fight game back in its early stages. With a little hard work, the Sun Will Rise Again for Boxing, as together we can restore the sport to the top, one fan at a time. Thank You for reading the column.

Article posted on 21.12.2007

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