Four Boxing Predictions For 2009

by James Slater - It's crystal ball time again. With 2009 almost upon us, this writer thought it would be fun to attempt a few predictions for the sport of boxing in the coming 12 months. A number of hugely intriguing fights have already been signed, or at the very least are all but signed, and as such there are plenty of results to look ahead to - Here I try and call the results before they actually happen..

Who knows, I might even get a few correct! Limiting the predictions to bouts that are widely expected to happen next year - as opposed to predicting the winner of fights we'd all like to see but may not actually happen, like, for example, Paul Williams-Antonio Margarito II or David Haye-Chris Arreola to name just two - the following are the outcomes I think we will see happen.

1: Antonio Margarito becomes the first man to stop Sugar Shane Mosley.

Fighting on January 24th in Los Angeles, welterweights Margarito and Mosley meet in the year's first big fight in America. Mosley, now aged 37, has wanted this fight for some time, and has even said he feels HE will be the one scoring the KO, as opposed to the huge-for-the-weight "Tijuana Tornado."

It is possible the great battle "Tony" engaged in with Miguel Cotto in July of 2007, when becoming the WBA 147-pound champion, may have taken something out of the 30-year-old. If this is the case, then maybe, just maybe, "Sugar" will be able to roll back the years and pull off one last superb win. If, however, Margarito remains as formidable, as full of desire and as rock-chinned as he was post-Cotto, Mosley is in big trouble in January.

Margarito will be in no mood to lose now, not after finally reaching the elite level he is at now. Mosley, on the other hand, though he too is a fierce competitor, would be seen as a former great going out on his shield in an honourable fashion after making things competitive for the man now being called the world's best welterweight. Mosley will win his share of rounds and make things interesting for the fight's first half - before the younger and bigger man's strength and sheer relentlessness brings forth his demise. Look for Margarito to make the referee come to Mosley's assistance in the 10th or 11th round.

2: Kelly Pavlik bounces back and destroys Marco Antonio Rubio.

Returning to the ring for the first time since his shock points defeat at the hands of Bernard Hopkins, middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik will be looking to flatten mandatory contender Marco Antonio Rubio in quick and impressive, not to mention confidence-restoring, fashion. Rubio, a tough but vulnerable fighter, will be unable to prevent "The Ghost" from doing what he wants.

Rubio can bang himself, and if Pavlik has been permanently damaged psychologically from the Hopkins loss things could get interesting. No-one, not even Pavlik knows if this will be the case, though, and this is what makes February 21st's fight an intriguing and somewhat tough one to pick.

Going by gut instinct alone, this writer feels Pavlik, a level-headed kind of guy, WILL be able to concentrate on the job in hand and put his October 18th nightmare behind him. Pavlik will always have his fearsome punching power, and Rubio is no defensive master. Also, with the bout taking place in front of his Youngstown fans, Pavlik will not fail to find the determination he needs to give them a lift. It all adds up as bad news for the Mexican challenger. Look for Pavlik to have his fans screaming that he is back, as he knocks Rubio flat inside 3 rounds.

3: Michael Jennings gives Miguel Cotto a tough night's work.

Notice I never said Jennings will beat Cotto. The largely unknown Brit won't get that far, but he will prove many people wrong by being very competitive and winning his share of rounds against the returning Puerto Rican star.

As with Margarito, who won the battle in July, we simply don't know if Cotto suffered any ill effects from the gruelling war. Cotto certainly took a lot of punishment in the later rounds last summer, and in being forced to take a knee and be stopped, Cotto's psyche may have taken more of a battering than did his body. Also, Cotto may well be either expecting a relatively soft touch in his comeback fight or he may enter the ring in Feb looking past the man in front of him.

Jennings is a fresh and lively 31-year-old who will be hungry and hugely determined to cause the upset next year. A fast and hardworking welterweight who prides himself on his incredible fitness, Jennings is certainly capable of out-boxing Cotto. Not a hard puncher, Jennings will need to keep on his toes for the full 12 rounds if he's to avoid being taken out. This will prove to be the underdog's undoing, as Cotto will eventually get to him and unload his artillery. The fight will be set at a fast pace and Jennings will make a name for himself by taking most of the fight's opening six rounds - before Cotto's guns get to him around the 8th or 9th.

4: Vitali Klitschko and David Haye fight a brutal and short war.

Set to meet in June, most likely in the UK, WBC heavyweight king Klitschko and loudmouthed and confident challenger Haye will give us a fight that will re-ignite some excitement into the division.

Many people have already written Haye off, claiming he has made one mistake by rushing into a world title fight so quickly, and another by going for the elder of the two Klitschko brothers - the one known for having a very hard chin. But there is no doubt in this writer's mind that the former cruiserweight champ's speed and agility will make things hot for the stiffer and slower betting favourite. And "The Hayemaker's" own power is as genuine as it is frightening. Will all this be enough for the quick-tongued Brit to pull it off?

Klitschko looked great against stationery target Sam Peter back in October, but he will face an opponent completely different next summer. Indeed, the win over Peter doesn't mean too much at all going into "Dr. Iron Fist's" next bout. Styles make fights, and Haye's style will make Klitschko fight a whole lot more than Peter's poor effort did. But, this will ultimately be bad news for Haye.

The peaking challenger will come out fast and catch Klitschko with some hard shots fired from confusing angles. The WBC champ will be hit, he will be hit flush, and he will be hit hard. However, unless his granite chin - the one that was able to take everything the fists of Lennox Lewis were able to test it with - has deserted him, Klitschko will hang on and soak up the blows. Then, as Haye's attack slows due to fatigue, the two men will take turns unloading bombs on one another. The action will be quite savage and the fans will be screaming their approval for around 3 or 4 rounds. After a memorable and thrilling war, Klitschko will catch a tiring Haye with a monster combination to the head in the 5th to end matters in devastating style.

Haye will give his all and will succeed in giving Klitschko some lumps, but in the end the bigger and stronger man with the better chin will emerge triumphant.

Article posted on 28.12.2008

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