Boxing 2006 Fight Preview: Part III—Light Middleweight-Strawweight Divisions

04.11.05 - By Gabriel DeCrease - Here is the last part of my matchmaking wish-list...

Floyd Mayweather v. Zab Judah: Zab could give Mayweather his sternest test to date. And fighting at 147 may prove less comfortable for the Pretty Boy than expected. He has, after all, moved up 12 fighting-pounds in only a few years. Taking Mayweather out of his division and putting him in a situation where he does not have a significant speed advantage could play this one right into the harder hitting Judah’s hands, or gloves that is. If there’s a fight where Mayweather has a reasonable chance of losing it’s this one. But is Floyd arrogant and money-grubbing enough to go after a risky payday against a longtime friend? Probably.

Roman Karmazin v. Ricardo Mayorga: El Matador may not be looking for such a risky fight before his big-money date with Oscar De La Hoya, but this unification rumble would give the decidedly old-school Karmazin a chance to return to the Hell from which he came with a maniac like Mayorga, and a chance to pick up another belt at the same time. This fight could provide the kind of back-and-forth blood-soaked thrills that the public hasn’t seen since Jorge Arce v. Hussein Hussein I..

Antonio Margarito v. Luis Collazo: Margarito has become a mythic character in the game who—like Winky Wright—has nothing handed to him. He has to fight doubly hard for the accolades and the paydays that are given like party favors to the Oscar De La Hoya’s and Floyd Mayweather’s of the world. Margarito is simply not going to get a crack at Zab Judah in the immediate future. Bearing that reality in mind, and simultaneously considering that the rugged Margarito is not in the market for an easy fight, there is only one option at 147-pounds, southpaw prospect Luis Collazo. Collazo is an energetic and slick young fighter, who can box and bang. He is somewhat untested, but looked a true champion in his first title defense against veteran Miguel Angel Gonzalez. If Collazo takes the considerable step up in class to wage war against Margarito, he may go the way of Kermit Cintron, but considering that Collazo is now streaking after tasting defeat by way of questionable TKO stoppage, Luis may prove a surprising test for Margarito. This fight has lots of potential as it involves two guys that are straight out of the rough-cut old school, and comes at a pivotal moment in both of their careers.

Diego Corrales v. Jose Luis Castillo III: This one has to happen. With all the controversy surrounding the rematch, the public outcry for a third tussle could shatter bulletproof glass. Castillo won the return, but how much of an advantage did his suspicious and disgraceful weight advantage give him? For his part, Corrales looked a little threadbare the second time around. Was he suffering from the unprecedented size disadvantage? Or is he finally showing the wear of the first war with Castillo, and the many others he had before it? A third fight will answer all these questions and more. That is, as long as everyone tips the scales without knocking them over.

Ricky Hatton v. Miguel Cotto: Cotto continues to amble through the 140-pound division and it seems as if it is time to go after the best, and presently The Hitman is just that. Cotto is perhaps the hardest puncher in the division, but his slightly-suspect chin could prove fatal in a clash with the steel-jawed and persistent Hatton. Cotto’s large fanbase will finally have their justification if their man beats Ricky, and they will have to stop calling Miguel a pound-for-pound contender if he gets stumped by the Manchester brawler. In either case, it’s about time to settle the questions about Cotto once and for all, and this fight promises to be a busy, brutal path to illuminate the murky debate.

Marco Antonio Barrera v. Erik Morales IV: No matter what happens to either guy in the time in between, Barrera and Morales will always bring a world-class effort to the table when squaring off against one another. Anyone who truly loves boxing could watch these guys fight each other twenty times and never get sick of it. El Terrible and the Baby Faced Assassin are the Robinson and La Motta of their time. This rivalry has created three legendary fights already, and makes sincere promises of more to come. The hope is that they’ll keep the action at or around 130-pounds. Morales proved he can’t hack it at 135, and even if Barrera dominates Chavez, the best grudge matches between these two rivals will come below the lightweight limit.

Manny Pacquiao v. Marco Antonio Barrera II: Barrera is white-hot and if he can work effectively with the extra weight he will be carrying into his first campaign at lightweight against Jesus Chavez, then he ought to seek a rematch with Pacquiao. The thrashing he took from Manny was partly a result of personal strife outside the ring, and Barrera was clearly not in top-condition for the fight, which is perhaps the only really ugly mark on his otherwise ultra-impressive record. He should ride this recent flash of brilliance into a return with Pacquiao at 126 or 130.

Manny Pacquiao v. Jorge Barrios: Barrios first proved his salt in what turned out to be, very literally, a knock-down-drag-out war with Acelino Freitas at the apparent height of the champion’s considerable powers. Barrios lost but hung and traded with Freitas all the way, flooring him solidly. That fight must have given El Hiena a new level of motivation and self-confidence. Since that bitter defeat Barrios has rolled through five opponents without breaking a sweat, including highly-touted young champion Mike Anchondo. Barrios even gave several pounds away to Anchondo who failed to make weight, and laid Mighty Mike to waste in four rounds. Barrios is a pressure fighter who forces action all over the ring and loves to mix it up, he is an opponent that would make Pac-Man’s kind of fight. This one could end up being a classic bloodbath, and it also presents Manny with the chance to snap up a title belt that he could subsequently use to bait Morales, Barrera, and Marquez into superfights.

In Jin Chi v. Humberto Soto: La Zorrita defied the expectations of every boxing expert, pundit, and fan on Earth when he walked through the supposedly lethal arsenal of Rocky Juarez like it was nothing. Oh yeah, and along the way Soto expertly scored from all angles on his way to a close, but convincing, decision victory. Soto was a late substitute for injured Korean champion In Jin Chi, and since he took up Chi’s task of vanquishing the highly-regarded Juarez, he rightfully deserves a crack at the crafty veteran. Chi has been unquestionably tough throughout his career, and is very much the same type of fighter as Soto. A showdown between these two would be a purist’s delight, a great young-lion-versus-old-lion battle.

Juan Manuel Marquez v. Humberto Soto: If In Jin Chi’s career-threatening Achilles tendon injury proves career-ending then Soto ought to seek a big fight with the much-avoided Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez is one of the most technically proficient and efficient boxers in the business, but Soto’s style would force more furious action than Marquez likes and would likely lead to an exciting struggle to control the pace of the fight. Soto might seem to be genuinely outclassed going into this one, but history has taught us never to underestimate the determination and toughness of a man who rose like a phoenix from the ashes of poverty to score a colossal upset. Soto has no intention of going to the back of the line again, as he did after his loss to Kevin Kelly, and Marquez has not faced a resolute, driven opponent since his draw with Manny Pacquiao. In the mean time, let’s hope Soto pours it on against Jorge Solis in their December rematch.

Oscar Larios v. Mahyar Monshipour: After asserting his divisional presence in his title win over Nedal Hussein, Larios laid the leather on Wayne McCullough in a pair of tough fights that proved he is one of the top guys at 122-pounds. Clearly, a unification match is the next logical step for Chololo. Mahyar Monshipour, or Little Tyson as he is affectionately called by his fans, has impressively and decisively stopped all six of his opponents in world championship fights. He is the man to beat in the division, and his open style of non-stop power-punching would create a very exciting fight if paired with Oscar’s awkward style of technical boxing.

Rafael Marquez v. Jhonny Gonzalez: Gonzalez came out of relative obscurity to pound out a supremely impressive and shocking win over battle-tested veteran and world titlist Ratanachai Sor Vorapin in October. Gonzalez showed a champion’s poise in a fight where he controlled the action, held the tempo at his discretion, and allowed action only when he was in a position to score. Marquez has proven himself time and again as a tough-as-nails boxer-puncher who can draw almost anyone into a war of attrition. This matchup could be another hard-fought scrap for the record books.

Fernando Montiel v. Martin Castillo: These two have been wreaking havoc over the last few years at 115, and with each passing fight it becomes clear that they are, or at least should be, on a collision course. Both are proud warriors with the style, panache, and guts to make a high-output classic if they meet in the ring.

Jorge Arce v. Brian Viloria: This fight is the one that needs to be made out of the 108 and 112-pound divisions. Viloria is on his way up anyhow, and he needs to get in the ring with the oversized Arce before El Tavieso formally outgrows the flyweight class. Both men have juice in both hands that far exceeds the normal fistic power of the lower weight-classes. With this fight they could make a pulse-pounding, brutal statement that the little guys can go to bloody war just the same as the heavies.

Ivan Calderon v. Yutaka Niida: The often neglected strawweight division does not have any real celebrity fighters to throw into the ring together, but they do have two men who are arguably neck-and-neck in the race to be number one at 105. Niida has looked as sharp as a razor in his last few fights and Calderon keeps laying his competition to waste in convincing fashion. If El Nino De Hierro can get by the tough, but recently-struggling veteran Daniel Reyes, he should go immediately after Niida.

Article posted on 04.11.2005

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