A Boxing Christmas Wish List…and a New Year’s Resolution for Boxing

Joe CalzagheBy Max Lom: With just a week left until Christmas, I finally finished my boxing wish list for the next year, with five potential fights that would be fantastic for the sport if they could be put together. Some are closer to happening and more realistic than others, but each of these fights should happen and would make for a very exciting 2009.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton (Wembley): Before being destroyed over 8 embarrassing rounds, Oscar de la Hoya and the Golden Boy team were making noise about a super-fight with Hatton in the UK. There were even some suggestions that the fight could take place at a reasonable local time, which would translate to an afternoon bout in the States, an event that maybe even the free networks could find time for. Most people agreed that the fight had a chance to be a huge event for the sport, but these discussions proved worthless when Manny Pacquiao unexpectedly dismantled Oscar earlier this month.

As a match-up between Pacman and the Hitman appeared to be heading toward an agreement, the MGM Grand was reported as the likely venue for the fight, indicating an unfortunate lack of foresight by both sides. A sold out 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium, a near guarantee for this matchup, would be a great scene for the sport and would add great intrigue for everyone from the most casual to the most ardent supporters of boxing. An afternoon fight in the spring is sure to find a place on some over-the-air network, and although pay-per-view would generate more money in the short-term, an exciting fight on free TV would pay great dividends for both fighters because of the increased visibility it would bring.

Following this fight, it would only be natural for the winner to take on Floyd Mayweather, and coming off of a win on free TV, that fight could be a pay-per-view bonanza. Of course, if Mayweather comes back sooner than expected to meet either fighter, then this fight would be put on the back-burner, which might be exactly what the former pound-for-pound champ wants as he attempts to hog as much of the spotlight as he can. In the end, Pacquiao-Hatton in Vegas is a very good fight worthy of pay-per-view, but Pacquiao-Hatton in London is a huge event for the sport.

Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto II: After the first epic fight, an eventual rematch has to happen at some point, and it might as well be as soon as possible while the first battle is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Since both men are represented by Top Rank, this one looks like it should take place as long as neither suffers an unexpected loss in the meantime. As far as commercial success is concerned, you’d have to imagine that everyone who watched the first fight would come back for the encore – and probably tell all their friends at the same time. The strong sales for the first fight were an encouraging sign that there is still an appreciation for great fights, even if it doesn’t involve fighters that are necessarily glamorous.

Joe Calzaghe vs. Chad Dawson: This fight is kind of like the expensive toy you ask for without realistically expecting to receive it. Calzaghe believes his work is done after beating two 40 year-old American legends in consecutive fights, but if he wants to have a real legacy outside of the UK, he will need at least one more win against a top contender in his prime. The Welshman dismisses Dawson due to his lack of time at the top of the sport, but their recent results are actually very similar with Dawson also enjoying two wins over well-respected American oldies Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver. Not to mention his wide decision over Tomasz Adamek, who has since moved up in weight and bashed his way to the Cruiserweight title. If he does decide to do what’s best for the sport, then Calzaghe will set up a fight against Dawson in Cardiff where he’s almost certain to sell out the Millennium Stadium. Even though Dawson has a rematch with Tarver next up, another impressive win could build more buzz around a bout with Calzaghe, which just might be enough to get him back in the ring.

David Haye vs. Chris Arreola: Even though it appears to be too late, this fight would have greatly benefited both fighters in their quest for the heavyweight crown. If David Haye looks out of his league against Vitali Klitschko in their fight, as this observer suspects, then he may be wishing that he could have at least had a good “tune-up” fight against a full-sized heavyweight. The best thing about this fight though, is that it wouldn’t be a “tune-up” because although Haye is years ahead of Arreola in terms of visibility, the American may in fact be just as prepared for a title shot as the former cruiserweight champ. Instead, Haye may have rushed into his title fight after one win against a smallish fringe heavyweight.

Kelly Pavlik vs. Arthur Abraham: This is really the only intriguing possibility at middleweight right now, but unfortunately both sides seem reluctant to risk themselves in what would be a very difficult fight to predict. Aside from the reluctance of both fighters, it’s hard to see how this could be a commercial success in a realistic location. It remains to be seen how much Pavlik’s drawing power was damaged outside of Ohio after his humiliating defeat against Hopkins in October, and it isn’t realistic to expect him to travel to Germany for the fight. This is one of the few cases in boxing where the fight can’t happen because both fighters would legitimately be underpaid.

New Year’s Resolution: No more half-empty casino shows should be allowed to take place. While the casinos may offer a quick buck or two that other arenas cannot, it is worth taking fighters to specific locations to try and build local fan bases as support. The last year saw a number of decent fights taking place in Vegas or Atlantic City and receiving tepid support at the ticket office. If some of them had been held in locales closer to large groups of fans then it would have made for a much better viewing experience both on TV and in the arena. There are positive signs that some changes are being made with Margarito and Shane Mosley deciding on the Staples Center in Los Angeles in an effort to target their respective local fan bases.

Article posted on 20.12.2008

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