The fight between Manny Pacquiao, shown here in training, and Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 is one of many things to celebrate the final few months of the year. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank
It begins Nov. 6. It ends Dec. 18. It lasts 43 days. No, it’s not the countdown to Mike Tyson’s next remotely interesting Tweet. It’s not the annual Dallas Cowboys collapse (we got that out of the way early this year). And it’s not the span of time James Toney spends eating Thanksgiving dinner.
Rather, those 43 days represent the greatest seven-week stretch I can remember in my 13-plus years as a boxing writer.
After a mostly disappointing 2010, and a positively dreadful month of October, fight fans deserve this. They deserve major fight cards every weekend for almost two months, including multiple major cards on several Saturdays.
We all deserve these 43 days, and we ought to appreciate them because we know all too well how rare a stretch like this is. So here’s an appreciation in the form of 43 reasons to look forward to these 43 fantastic days and nights of fights:
1. Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams is happening again. This is the most meaningful fight in the sport other than Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather or Wladimir Klitschko vs. Vitali Klitschko, and it’s a far better action fight than either of those.
2. Three words: Manny Effing Pacquiao. Whether you’re happy about his choice of opponent or not, the mere fact that he’s putting on the gloves is a reason for giddiness.
3. Derek Chisora, a guy nobody outside of the Chisora family had heard of a month ago, is challenging for the heavyweight championship of the world. On the two percent chance that he wins, it will be the coolest sports story of 2010. (It would be even cooler if Chisora wasn’t a thieving, assaulting biter, but hey, you can’t have everything.)
4. History has shown that when you put Juan Manuel Marquez in with an aggressive opponent, you get a Fight of the Year contender.
5. Michael Katsidis is an aggressive opponent.
6. Katsidis doesn’t look for a way out. He doesn’t make excuses. He just fights his ass off, no matter what adversity he’s facing inside or outside of the ring.
7. Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Rafael Marquez will feature so many violent knockdowns, you can expect Roger Goodell to fine and suspend them both (while trying to extend the length of fights to 18 rounds, of course).
8. There’s a slight possibility that David Haye will get knocked out by Audley Harrison. And that means he’ll never collect the payday associated with getting knocked out by a Klitschko.
9. There’s a stronger possibility that Harrison will get knocked out. And when he gets knocked out, he does so spectacularly.
10. Showtime hasn’t given up on the Super Six.
11. Mike Jones will get a chance to show about a million pay-per-view purchasing homes what he can do. And if that turns out not to be much, at least we won’t have to hear about how underappreciated he is anymore.
12. The Fighter opens on Dec. 10. It looks like it could be the best boxing movie in decades. But if it happens to suck, we can all go home and watch our old video tapes of Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti, Emanuel Augustus, Reggie Green, Antonio Diaz, Shea Neary and Louis Veader.
13. Bernard Hopkins could make history against Jean Pascal by becoming the oldest fighter ever to win a major title.
14. Jean Pascal could make Bernard Hopkins history, which probably would spare us a few future fights we’ll regret having watched by the time they’re over.
15. Alfonso Gomez is no stranger to defeating higher profile, more heavily hyped opponents.
16. Humberto Soto vs. Urbano Antillon is one of those great little undercard fights that nobody is talking about.
17. When Vinny Maddalone takes a pounding from Tomasz Adamek, you can pretend he’s one of the meatheads on Jersey Shore and get extra enjoyment out of watching him stagger all around the ring.
18. Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham seem to genuinely dislike each other.
19. Froch and Abraham are also both coming off of their first losses.
20. When Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafael Marquez and Glen Johnson are gone, you’re going to miss them — but they aren’t gone yet.
21. Unlike Andre Dirrell, Sakio Bika is going to force Andre Ward to fight.
22. John Ruiz is still retired.
23. If you believe Antonio Margarito is due for a karmic beat down, you’ll be happy to know he’s in with an opponent plenty capable of acting as a conduit for karma.
24. And if Margarito happens to beat Manny Pacquiao, you’ll at least be happy for trainer Robert Garcia.
25. Either we’re going to be done with Zab Judah after Nov. 6 or we’ll have him back in our lives as a legitimate contender. Frankly, there’s upside to either scenario.
26. In just his seventh pro fight, Guillermo Rigondeaux is stepping in with the last guy to beat Celestino Caballero.
27. All four of the RING champions from 135 pounds on up are defending their titles.
28. Naturally, there will be mismatches during these 43 days. But if there have to be guys entering fights almost guaranteed to lose, at least you know Freddy Hernandez and Jason Litzau won’t leave any bullets in the chamber.
29. Presumably, somebody in the Showtime bantamweight tournament is favored to win. I’ll let you know if I figure out who the hell it is.
30. Amir Khan, he of the extraordinary skills and ordinary chin, is getting in the ring with possibly the hardest one-shot hitter in the junior welterweight division.
31. As matchups of aging heavyweights on the road to nowhere go, Jean-Marc Mormeck vs. Hasim Rahman actually has the potential to be damned good.
32. If Evander Holyfield vs. Sherman Williams can get postponed once, it can get postponed again.
33. A crowd of 70,000 or so in Cowboys Stadium should go a little ways toward shutting up the “boxing is dead” faction of the mainstream media, at least for a few minutes.
34. A sellout crowd of 16,000 or so in the Pepsi Coliseum for Pascal-Hopkins will sound like 70,000.
35. B.J. Flores is fighting a live body. And the fact that he’s in the ring guarantees we won’t have to hear him provide any color analysis that night.
36. There are no metal bars separating the boxing world from James Kirkland anymore.
37. Juan Manuel Lopez’s right hook is as potent as his left cross, and vice versa.
38. Victor Ortiz is on Marcos Maidana’s undercard. Too often in boxing, it doesn’t work out that way, but this time, justice is prevailing.
39. Giving hope to people the world over who are mediocre at their jobs but are well connected and/or work in a corrupt system, Ray Austin will compete in his fourth alphabet title eliminator in the last five years. Perhaps this time around, the loser of the eliminator will actually get eliminated.
40. Seriously, who the hell is the favorite between Vic Darchinyan, Abner Mares, Joseph Agbeko and Yonnhy Perez?
41. In the cracks between all the mega-fights, we have ShoBox, Fight Night Club, one of those “Prizefighter” tournaments in England, an ESPN2 show, at least one Spanish-language broadcast every weekend and two more episodes of 24/7.
42. And for everything else, there’s YouTube.
43. I’ll be ringside for Martinez-Williams II. Presumably, Pierre Benoist won’t.
• Yes, I’m aware that my colleague Bill Dettloff did a similar “66 reasons to love boxing” column a few months back. I had forgotten about it when I conceived this column, then remembered it shortly thereafter, and probably on a subconscious level I stole the idea from him. But isn’t robbery the most sincere form of flattery (or something like that)? And if Bill invented it, I perfected it by getting paid the same to do 43/66ths as much work.
• Far and away the best scene in the second episode of 24/7 Pacquiao-Margarito was the Abbott & Costello routine featuring Pacquiao, Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza. “Are you going to Las Vegas on Friday?” “What?” “You going to Vegas?” “When?” “Friday.” “What’s Friday?” “So you’re not going?” “Who, me? Where?” “Vegas.” “I don’t know.” “I don’t know’s on third.” “Exactly.”
• I love the fact that Margarito’s endorsement deal with Affliction hangs in the balance based on the outcome of the Pacquiao fight. Since fighters almost never agree to fight over a portion of the purse, this is about as intriguing an alternative as we’ll get.
• Thank you, David Lemieux.
• Two episodes ago on Ring Theory, Dettloff was up by six points in the Quick Picks competition; now, with four episodes to go, his lead has been narrowed to three points. Any listeners wondering why they’ve heard Bill clearing his throat a lot during the show recently, now you know: It’s hard to breathe with both hands around your neck.
Eric Raskin can be reached at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can read his articles each month in THE RING magazine and follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin.