By Cliff Rold

We won’t be getting Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather. 

The Super Six evolved into the Super Eight. 

Cancellations. 

Postponements. 

Lawsuits.

Compared to recent years, compared to most years, 2010 is going down as one big disappointment. 

Right?

To borrow from college football analyst Lee Corso, not so fast my friends.  Sure, watching some big fights fall apart while others that looked promising were pushed to later on the calendar stunk.  It certainly hurt the sport in terms of mainstream attention. 

But, really, the hell with the mainstream.  It comes along every once in a while with rapt attention and it returns when warranted.  It’s been that way for a while and it is nothing, nothing at all, new.

A lot has to change to make a dent in the other direction.  While ‘lots’ is figured out, boxing remains where it has been for most of the last two decades: a niche catering largely to a devoted fan base who can respect a good scrap in any form.  

On that note, 2010 has been a year of rewards for the real boxing fan.

What’s that?  Is that the hiss of disagreement?  Do oneself a favor and ignore it.  Boxing, from a fan and, yes, pundit perspective has always had a healthy streak of fatalism.  Its death knell has been heard off and on for a century only for the next opening bell to sound.  No, things in the U.S. aren’t as healthy as they could be but boxing, in the ring, is still delivering.  For all the time spent bitching about big things gone wrong, singing the praises of the multitude of little things gone right might be productive.

It’s worth a try anyways.

That thought was made glaringly obvious once again last weekend.  With little in the way of anticipation, ShoBox delivered two raucous bouts with knockout finishes.  The winners, Tim Coleman and Archie Ray Marquez, are by no means superstars but they proved willing and violent on canvas.  One or both might one day win titles.  At the least, they earned more attention as they try.

They left nothing to be disappointed in. 

The cynic hiss rises again.  “So what if there was a good ShoBox show?  What does that have to do with 2010 not being a giant pool of suck?”

Thanks for asking.

2010 has been good for boxing fans because…

…for the first time in four years, the Fighter of the Year will not be Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather.  We know that because Mayweather won’t be fighting again and because Pacquiao beating Joshua Clottey and, potentially, Antonio Margarito, just won’t cut the mustard.  The attention from both the mainstream sports and boxing-centric press has been overwhelming for those two.  Even as they deserved it, boxing needs more names to show their wares.

This year, the race for Fighter of the Year is wide open.  If he defeat Paul Williams in their rematch next month, Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez will emerge the odds on favorite for the honors.  Martinez, in April, showed skill and guts in outdueling Kelly Pavlik for the crown and his first fight with Williams in 2009 was a Fight of the Year candidate.

If it doesn’t end up being Martinez, fans have seen what look like career years from Bantamweight Fernando Montiel, Jr. Flyweight Giovanni Segura and, if he gets by Rafael Marquez next month, Featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez.  No matter what, the various boxing websites and print publications will end 2010 singing the praises of someone new as a reminder of the depth of talents this sport still provides.

2010 has been good for boxing fans because…

…it has delivered in the ring.  Martinez-Pavlik is but one example.  For all the scheduling snafus, the Super Six provided two entertaining battles in the form of Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler and Andre Dirrell-Arthur Abraham.  Even Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley had some early moments of drama.  That’s all in the higher echelon.

Below the fold, the boxing fan has found great drama this year in places only they would look.  Segura’s career year is a result of a Fight of the Year candidate knockout of masterful boxer Ivan Calderon, and on the road no less.  Shortly after, a Jr. Lightweight battle where Ricky Burns came off the floor to upset Roman Martinez for a WBO belt pushed the Fight of the Year race even harder. 

At Bantamweight, the standard has been good fights all year, including Abner Mares-Yohnny Perez and Montiel-Hozumi Hasegawa.  ESPN2 was particularly strong in terms of programming for much of the year as well.  Flyweight saw Pongsaklek Wonjongkam possibly lock up a future Hall of Fame nod by regaining his crown in the twilight of his years.  These were moments and fights that could only be special to the real boxing fan, the reminder that no matter who is not watching those who are get to be in on sports best kept secret.

2010 has been good for boxing fans because…

…more fans got to participate in person all over the world.  Look at some of the crowds this year.  Pacquiao-Clottey did mad seats at Cowboys Stadium, Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman brought the sweet science back to Yankee Stadium, Canadian fans continued to pack them in for Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute, and the Heavyweight division has become one stadium show after another in Europe.  If one lives in New Jersey, the Tomasz Adamek show continues to be worth every penny.

Boxing could do more in this regard but it can’t be ignored that it is doing more than was the case a decade ago.  No matter how high the definition of one’s television screen, the chance to drink beer and scream one’s lungs out is greatest in a crowd of thousands.  The people prove they still want boxing by showing up when it’s there.

2010 has been good for boxing fans, finally, because…

…it’s not over yet.  Barring any more unforeseen implosions, Martinez-Williams II, Lopez-Marquez, Pascal-Bernard Hopkins, the end of the Super Six qualifying rounds, Pacquiao-Margarito with probably even more butts in the seats at Cowboys Stadium, Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis, the beginning of a Showtime Bantamweight tournament, and Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana in the talent rich and compelling Jr. Welterweight class; it’s all still coming. 

If even half of those fights leave fans satisfied, along with whatever surprises remain in fights not mentioned, then 2010 will leave boxing fans exactly where they should be.

Asking for more.        

Weekly Ledger

But wait, there’s more…

 

ShoBox Report: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=31445  

Oscar League: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=31474

Picks of the Week: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=31497  

Cliff’s Notes… Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez on the same Hall of Fame ballot is fitting.  Tyson’s last main event should definitely have Chavez in chief support…For those interested in knowing more about the whole ballot, the Boxing Writer’s Association nominees page is updated with contributions from this scribe, historian Lee Groves, and the great Jack Obermayer.  Check it out at: http://www.bwaa.org/ibhof.html

Carl Froch-Arthur Abraham lives up to the smack both dudes talk and it might be worth having to wait…So let’s get this right.  Boise State was jumped in the college football ratings by Oregon.  This despite two wins over teams that were ranked when Boise played them to Oregon’s one and a 29-game regular season winning streak going back three seasons that includes two wins over Oregon.  Boise suffers in strength of schedule arguments for sure.  That’s something that will be more true later but is not yet.  For evidence, see how much higher Boise’s strength of schedule is through the season so far over Oregon.  College football is a lot of great things, but a merit system it ain’t.  

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com