Klitschko-Haye: The pending Wladimir Klitschko-Tomasz Adamek fight isn’t a bad consolation prize. The Pole probably is too small to win but he has the grit and experience to give the giant RING champ some trouble. Only two heavyweight matchups would truly seize the attention of the boxing world, though: David Haye vs. a Klitschko. And we were close, or so it seemed. Wladimir Klitschko and Haye seemed to be near a deal to fight on July 2 when negotiations broke down. We don’t need to get into the complicated reasons the principals were unable to reach an agreement. The bottom line is this: A fight that would’ve given a moribund division – and the sport itself – an enormous boost and generated a fortune for both fighters isn’t happening. Sometimes it seems as if elite fighters work hard NOT to make the biggest fights. I don’t get it.
Marquez-Morales: Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales apparently are near a deal to fight on April 9. I understand the matchup from an economic perspective. The name recognition of the principals and the fact the Mexican rivals have never fought probably will generate a healthy pay-per-view profit. On the other hand, I suspect that knowledgeable fans recognize the fact that this is a mismatch. Marquez remains near the top of his game at 37, as he proved against Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis last year. Morales was considered finished after losing four consecutive fights, the last against David Diaz, and then “retiring” in 2007. He has beaten three journeymen since retuning last year. Is that supposed to prepare him for Marquez? This could be a train wreck.
Andre Berto: The welterweight titleholder was scheduled to face Shane Mosley but had to pull out because of the earthquake in Haiti, the homeland of his parents. He was reportedly a candidate to face Manny Pacquiao was passed over. He desperately wants a big fight but might have to settle for either the winner of the Mike Jones-Jesus Soto-Karass fight or a second fight with Luis Colazzo, which are good matchups but hardly the high-profile events Berto wants. The good news is that Berto’s next fight should be fun to watch whichever direction he turns. The Jones-Soto-Karass rematch will be closely watched because of Jones’ controversial victory in their first meeting, which means the winner will have gained some credibility. And the first Berto-Colazzo fight was a war. The second probably would be the same, although Colazzo hasn’t fought since June of 2009.
Michael Katsidis: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be the star of the show when he fights on March 5 in Anaheim, Calif., probably against Matthew Hatton. A Robert Guerrero-Michael Katsidis fight on the undercard, which promoter Richard Schaefer said is a possibility, could overshadow the main event, though. Guerrero, at the top of his game, is poised to become a major player at 135 pounds. Katsidis, coming off a courageous effort in a setback against Marquez, remains hungry and is always fun to watch. It would be an excellent opportunity for both fighters, Guerrero to notch his biggest victory and Katsidis to prove he can beat a top-tier opponent. The biggest winners might be the fans.
Hopkins-Pascal rematch: The WBC has ordered a rematch of the controversial Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal fight on Dec. 18, which ended in a majority draw. Pascal, the light heavyweight titleholder, could face Chad Dawson a second time instead of Hopkins but he would lose his WBC title as a result. The Hopkins-Pascal draw wasn’t an outrageous decision; the fight was fairly close. Most observers thought Hopkins did enough to win, though. He also probably gained more sympathy than a typical fighter would have because of his age, 45. The former four-time titleholder has earned the benefit of the doubt as a result of his remarkable 22-plus-year career. I hope Pascal chooses Hopkins over Dawson for that reason.
Khan-Peterson: Amir Khan survived a test against a big puncher in Marcos Maidana; the last thing he needs another trip to hell in his next fight. Enter Lamont Peterson, his likely opponent on April 16 in Manchester, England. Peterson demonstrated in his draw with Victor Ortiz that he is a skilled and resilient opponent, one who could give most fighters trouble. He’s not a big puncher, though, which plays into Khan’s hands. No one is going to outbox Khan, the only exceptions possibly being Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. You have to hurt him to beat him. And Peterson probably isn’t the guy to do that. I anticipate a one-sided decision for Khan if that fight is finalized, with the Briton then going on to face the winner of the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander fight in what would be a significant challenge.
Martinez-Dzinziruk: To be clear, Sergei Dzinziruk is deserving of a fight with THE RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on March 12 in Atlantic City, N.J. The Germany-based Ukrainian is a fine boxer with an excellent resume (37-0, 23 KOs). The problem is that he isn’t the type to engage his opponent; he jabs and moves in way that can make anyone look bad. Including Martinez. The Argentine probably will win but we shouldn’t expect another in a series of thrillers he has given us over the past few years. That makes me wonder why HBO agreed to the matchup when Martinez could’ve fought capable Andy Lee in what would’ve been a fun fight to watch. We can only hope Martinez faces a more-compelling opponent after Dzinziruk.
Miguel Cotto’s: The junior middleweight titleholder is defending his belt on March 12 against Ricardo Mayorga, who is 4-4 in last eight fights and has fought once in more than two years. The Nicaraguan is getting this fight because of his name, not because he deserves it in any way. Then, if Cotto wins, he’ll probably face Antonio Margarito in a rematch of their 2008 fight that Margarito won by knockout. The latter matchup has a good story line, particularly when suspicion over Margarito’s hand wraps is thrown into the mix. However, the Mexican also doesn’t deserve the opportunity to fight for a major title and earn another big payday. He was beaten mercilessly by Manny Pacquiao in November. Since when does that qualify you for such a big fight?