2005: Looking Forward And Looking Back

27.07.05 - By Ben Gonzalez: It is now July and with more than half of the year behind us this is a good opportunity to reflect on some of the fights that have come and gone. This has been a year for upsets and it has been, for me at least, one of the more enjoyable years I have experienced as a boxing fan. There have been two high-profile wars, one fight that was so one-sided that you could say it barely qualified as a “fight”, and two champions have fallen. So lets start with what was chronologically the first fight of the five.

March 19th: Erik Morales (47-2) vs. Manny Pacquiao (39-2-2)

This fight was hyped as a war and did not disappoint, despite the fact that Morales smartly chose to box against the heavy-handed Pacquiao. Morales showed everyone that his talent has not waned in the least despite his high profile wars against Marco Antonio Barrera and kept his composure throughout the fight, even when Pacquiao was trying to draw him into a war. I thought Morales looked much better in this fight than he did in his previous outing against Barrera, which had only occurred a few months earlier. It was a dominating performance from Morales and Pacquiao may want to consider moving back down in weight and working on developing a wider range of skills so that he can have a ‘B’ plan when his punching power isn’t working. Morales remains a great all-around fighter and Pacquiao is still a little one-sided but it looks likely that there will be a rematch sometime in the near future. I don’t see the outcome of a rematch being much different but I would love to see it nonetheless. I think Morales’s boxing ability, great chin, longer reach, and vast experience against top competition may be too much for Pacquiao even in a rematch.

May 5th: Deigo Corrales (39-2) vs. Jose Luis Castillo (52-6-1)

This fight looks like the shoe-in for Fight of the Year and round 10 should be Round of the Year. This fight was a war from the opening bell and in round 10 Castillo dropped Corrales, who beat the count and spit out his mouthpiece, gaining himself a few extra seconds to recover. Castillo would drop Corrales again shortly thereafter and Corrales would spit out his mouthpiece again, again buying himself some extra time. Things changed drastically after the second knockdown though. Castillo went looking for the knockout, left himself open, and Corrales caught him. Castillo was hurt and got pinned on the ropes, where Corrales peppered him with shots that were snapping his head around. When Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight Castillo looked out on his feet. This fight was the very definition of a “war” and was a credit to the sport. Both men proved themselves to be true warriors and took a lot of damage and it is rather surprising that they have chosen October for the rematch since both fighters could probably use a little more time to recover.

May 14th: Ronald Wright (48-3) vs. Felix Trinidad (42-1)

This was hyped quite a bit after the beating Trinidad laid on Mayorga and following Wright’s two wins over Shane Mosley but didn’t really live up to it. Wright jabbed the living hell out of Trinidad for 12 rounds and only lost one round on two of the judges’ scorecards. Even that round was debatable. Trinidad looked really one-dimensional and Wright looked impressive and proved why he deserves to be ranked amongst the top fighters pound-for-pound. Wright did not really land anything heavy on Trinidad and never looked close to getting a ko but I was glued to my seat because I really didn’t believe that Trinidad could be dominated that fully. Trinidad’s father and trainer retired shortly after the fight, leading to Trinidad himself retiring once again, after only fighting twice in his “comeback”. He will hopefully stay retired this time but in boxing you can’t really write off fighters making a comeback until they are in their late 50’s. Conversely, Wright deserves some big paydays before he retires but there may not be all that many fighters jumping at the idea of fighting a dangerous, awkward southpaw who doesn’t pull in the big money.

June 4th: Ricky Hatton (38-0) vs. Kostya Tszyu (31-1)

As far as significance goes this match was probably one of the biggest matches of 2005 so far. The setting was a bit unreal since Tszyu agreed to fight Hatton on his own turf at Manchester’s MEN Arena. The fight was sold-out and the arena was largely pro-Hatton and to make things even more unreal the match was held at 2 a.m. so that it could be broadcast primetime in the US. Not too many people thought Hatton had much of a chance in this fight but Hatton was there to show people differently. The match was dirty and both fighters fouled quite a bit but Hatton dominated Tszyu, at least in my estimation, particularly going into the later rounds. I never expected that Tszyu would choose not to answer the bell for the final round though. Tszyu was gracious in defeat and the fight, despite being a bit dirty, demonstrated the good side of boxing. Both men gave their all but Hatton was younger and hungrier. After the fight there were complaints that the ref let Hatton get away with too much and even suggestions that a different referee would have resulted in a different outcome. I think this is unlikely but only future tests against top competition will show the true character of Hatton. Tszyu should probably retire at this point since in recent interviews he does not seem all that hungry and seems happier to stay at home with his family. This fight was one for the ages though.

July 16th: Bernard Hopkins (46-2-1) vs. Jermain Taylor (23-0)

Based on who you were rooting for it is pretty easy to score this fight either way. Personally, and despite being a Hopkins fan, I thought Taylor won this fight by doing enough in the first 7 or so rounds. I should qualify this statement though because while I thought Taylor won the fight I also thought he was helped immensely by Hopkins lack of activity. It is possible that his inactivity was out of respect for Taylor’s skills and power but based on Hopkins last few performances it is obvious that he always starts slow. Taylor just started fast enough to put the early rounds in the bank and Hopkins could not get the ko or catch-up. There was a rematch clause and hopefully the next fight will be more explosive or at the very least less of a chess match for the first half of the fight. Either way, Hopkins’s winning streak is at an end and his belts are all gone and Taylor stands atop the middleweight division. Can Hopkins bring more to the rematch?

Honorable Mention

The Tyson debacle deserves a mention I guess although Tyson fights barely qualify as boxing matches anymore. He remains one of the few fighters that can make the evening news but it looks like McBride may have been the nail in the coffin of Tyson’s career. Hopefully. The media is obsessed with Mike so no matter what he does (there are rumors of a porno) we will be sure to her about it.

The Jorge Arce-Hussein Hussein fight on the undercard of Morales-Pacquiao also deserves mention since it as one of the more exciting fights of the year, although in a weight class that is often overlooked. Arce is a character (he came out sucking on a lollipop, A LOLLIPOP!!) and can hopefully draw some exposure to the flyweight division. Or at least gain some exposure for Arce himself. A rematch against Hussein Hussein is scheduled for October 8th in the year but Arce will have to get by Angel Priolo first on July 30th.

I know that I have omitted a lot of other good fights but these are the fights that I think have defined 2005 so far. It has been a great year to be a boxing fan and we still have 4 months to go!!!

I am willing to bet that few would argue that 2005 has been a dull year for boxing. From January to July we have seen champions dethroned, some thrilling wars, and just a little controversy. With the year a little more than half way over I thought I would take this opportunity to look ahead to some of the exciting fights that are set to happen in the next few months and which will hopefully end 2005 on a high note.

August 6th: Jeff Lacy (19-0) vs. Robin Reid (38-4-1)

To be honest, it seems to me that the super middleweight division is even thinner than the middleweight division currently is. Lacy is one of the biggest names in the division right now and is a great puncher (he doesn’t go by “Left Hook” Lacy just to have something tough to put after his first name) and could be looking to secure a match with Joe Calzaghe, one of the other big names in the division, sometime in the future. Reid lost a split decision to Calzaghe but has a pretty solid resume. Should be a good fight but I won’t lie and say the anticipation is keeping me up at night.

August 13th: Hasim Rahman (40-5-1) vs. Monte Barrett (31-3)

With the heavyweight division a complete mess at this point in time this is probably one of the best matches we can expect to come out of it. Rahman has fought some good opposition in his 11 years as a professional, his knockout of Lennox Lewis probably being his greatest, or at least his most notable, victory. Unfortunately for Rahman he was knocked out by Lewis in the rematch and hasn’t held a title since then. Rahman has been on a winning streak lately and looks to cement his chance at Vitali Klitschko later this year but Monte Barrett has been the upset kid of late. He came very close to beating Joe Mesi, and then went on to beat prospects Dominick Guinn and Owen Beck. Could be a close fight, although both fighters have been ko’d in the past so it would not be surprising if it did not go the distance.

October 1st- Antonio Tarver (23-3) vs. Roy Jones, Jr (49-3)

This fight is not signed yet but looks more and more likely based on the rumors flying around various boxing websites. It will make a good bit of money for both Tarver and Jones and neither really have rich prospects awaiting them elsewhere. Jones is coming off two straight ko losses and I think it may have been a good idea for him to have a tune-up before this match, especially since he has been out so long. Regardless, unless Jones can bring something different to the table this time around I really can’t see him beating Tarver, who is a pretty solid all-around fighter. I thought Tarver won the first match with Jones and I thought he won the first match with Johnson but in both fights he had periods of inactivity that hurt him in the scoring. He may have learned his lesson at this point based on his performance in the rematch with Johnson. Jones hasn’t looked good since his fight against Ruiz but he could always surprise us. I am hoping that he will but I think it is very unlikely.

October 8th-: D iego Corrales (40-2) vs. Jose Luis Castillo (52-7-1)

Having already fought what will probably be the Fight of the Year Corrales and Castillo are doing it AGAIN. If you missed the first fight you missed one of the best fights I have seen in recent years. Anyone who has seen it is looking forward to this fight with baited breath. The first fight was a close one, although Corrales managed to come through (with the help of his mouthpieces) to get the knockout. Round 10 of the Corrales-Castillo fight reminded me of round 9 of the first Benn-Eubank fight with both fighters being severely hurt in the round and on the verge of knockout at different points in the round. Eubank managed the stoppage in his fight with Benn and Corrales got the stoppage against Castillo. The downside of such a war is that both fighters are likely to be smarter in the rematch and in Corrales’s case, to box more. This could mean that the fight won’t live up to the high expectations set by the first. Even if it does not this will be one of the better fights of the latter half of the year.

December 3rd: Jermain Taylor (24-0) vs. Bernard Hopkins (46-3-1)

This fight is not sealed yet, but it looks likely to happen. No matter how you scored the first fight it was a close one and I think both fighters have even more to prove in the rematch. For Taylor, he wants to look dominant and to live up to the moniker of “Heir Apparent” which I did not think he did in the first match. He did enough to win in my estimation, but was also assisted by the inactivity of Hopkins. In the rematch Hopkins has a lot to prove. He wants to go out on top, he wants to show that he is the top middleweight, and he probably wants to shut DiBella up. I don’t think the first loss tarnishes Hopkins legacy in any way, any more so than Jones’s losses tarnished what he did before. It just made Hopkins look human and beatable. This fight has been somewhat controversial, with Hopkins going so far as to appeal the scoring of the 12th round, which one judge gave to Taylor and would have made the fight a draw if it went to Hopkins. I thought Taylor won but I didn’t think Hopkins looked old or unable to win, he just didn’t do enough. I am excited for the rematch and I think both Taylor and Hopkins will go out on a limb to make sure the next fight is not a close one.

Honorable Mention

I don’t want to sell the other fights in the latter part of this year short. There is also Barrera-Peden and Judah-Mitchell to look forward to, not to mention Pacquiao and Morales getting back into action, although unfortunately not against each other. Hatton and Mayweather will probably fight before the end of the year as well, although like Pacquiao and Morales it will probably not be against one another. We should feel lucky that a year that has been so exciting so far still has quite a bit to offer more than halfway through. It is a good time to be a fan.


Article posted on 27.07.2005

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