Adam Smith reviews the worldwide scene as a sensational season of boxing on Sky Sports ends.
Last Updated: 02/08/10 8:07am
So our lively domestic season finished with another blend of skills and courage, when Stuart Hall overcame Martin Power in 10 tenacious rounds. Yes, it is of course only at a certain level, but I am continually amazed about the extraordinary will to win that has been coming out in British title fights.
From September, our domestic boxers will be back firing on all cylinders - and we hope that there will be plenty to look forward to on the world scene.
We haven't covered anywhere near all of the fights overseas this season, so I will recall a sprinkling of highlights - and stories that have stood out.
As regular readers know, I am a huge admirer of Floyd Mayweather, and it was a privilege to cover his fights live in America - against Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley.
Even though Mayweather had a sizeable advantage over Marquez, it was as close to a boxing master class as you will see; especially given the fact that the Mexican's a three weight world champion and modern great himself! It was a brilliant, measured and emphatic display.
Mayweather then ticked the final box for me against Mosley. His chin was severely tested in the second round, and he coped with the storm admirably; ironically it was Sugar Shane who was blowing by the end of the session. Mayweather mixed up his vast array of skills, with his fighting heart - standing in the pocket in a more aggressive way than we usually see. He was, once again, outstanding.
The MGM Grand was literally rocking for Mayweather - Mosley. I have never seen as many celebrities; from the boxing, movie, music and television world; at ringside before. It was a real who's who list of stars.
If Floyd Mayweather appeals to the 'A-list', Manny Pacquiao is certainly the people's champion. The flash Filipino ripped through Miguel Cotto in sizzling style in front of legions of fans. Then over 50,000 turned out to see Pacquiao outclass Joshua Clottey on that super stage in Dallas.
It looks like Pacquiao will tackle the shamed but hardened Antonio Margarito on November 13th, and whether or not you believe that the Mexican should even still be fighting, it is a mouthwatering match. Controversy of course also fuels the fire in boxing.
Meanwhile Cotto bounced back in style. We were wondering how he would recover after that terrible beating by Pacquiao, and also having suffered the loss of his father, but the Puerto Rican proved his inner strength by taking Yuri Foreman's unbeaten record and world title at the Yankee stadium. New trainer Emanuel Steward played a major role.
The Super 6 super-middleweight tournament has been intriguing - and we still wait to see who will end up being crowned king. Andre Ward looks a real revelation and leads the way from Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Andre Dirrell and Allan Green. It was a highly sensible decision for Jermain Taylor to opt out.
Just below, in the middleweight division, Sergio Martinez has had a break through year. Julio Cesar Chavez jr also had his biggest night beating John Duddy, and remains on track. American TV giants HBO have expressed their lack of interest in the 'heavyweights' - unless David Haye tackles either of the Klitschkos.
Neither brother has exactly set the world alight this year. The charming Swiss capital of Berne was wonderful to see at Christmas time, but then we had to sit through that rather pathetic challenge by Kevin Johnson. Vitali was really unable to shine.
Late stoppages of Chris Arreloa and Albert Sosnowski were decent, but it's all a bit steady, rather than dynamic. Wladimir finally got to Eddie Chambers with a dramatic late, late knockout. How he - and we - needed that!
With old boys David Tua and Kevin McBride going nowhere, we need a lift from some direction. I doubt Shannon Briggs is going to provide that, despite the fact that the New Yorker has strung a few low key one round knockout wins together.
There were some other strange stories this season. I didn't really want to see another meeting between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez (they should have left it as a tremendous trilogy); the Bernard Hopkins - Roy Jones battle of the ancient fighters was truly awful; the conclusion of the Paul Williams - Kermit Cintron clash farcical, and the 29 second Danny Green-Paul Briggs match was shameful.
The ongoing drug debates continue to sadly simmer too.
Big paydays on the horizon
On a brighter note, the light-welterweights are on fire. Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander remain unbeaten, Marcos Maidana is a huge danger, and Victor Ortiz is firmly back in the pot. Add the re-vitalised Zab Judah - and Amir Khan could have some big paydays coming up over the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, Juan Manuel Lopez has won all 28 and meets Rafael Marquez in the Autumn. There's talk of talented Celestino Caballero next. With Cuban sizzler Yuriorkis Gamboa, and long reigning Chris John also in the mix, we should have some featherweight fireworks next year.
We'll learn more about two of the world's leading super-bantamweights in a few weeks. Canada's Steve Molitor defends his IBF title here against Jason Booth, whilst Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka hosts Leicester binman Rendall Munroe in a WBC clash. Flamboyant Australian - Armenian Vic Darchinyan, Filipino Nonito Donaire and undefeated Puerto Rican Ivan Calderon continue to set the standards in the lower weights.Quick mention too about the amiable and charitable Andre Berto. The undefeated WBC Welterweight king gave huge time and effort up to helping the victims of the Haiti earthquake, and proved there's much more to a boxer's status than merely his work inside the ring.
Unfortunately, we had the tragic tale of Edwin Valero, the two weight world champion who had 27 wins - all by knockout. Yet, he couldn't control his demons out of the ring. His young life and that of his family's ended in unimaginable horror.
I forgot to mention the tragic loss of Darren Sutherland and Ernie Smith on the domestic front last week; and also the fabulous commentator Harry Carpenter who was respected all over the world. May they rest in peace.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, we bring the curtain down before the Summer recess, with some marvellous match-ups. Golden Boy's mega bill from Las Vegas features enthralling clashes. Jorge Linares meets Rocky Juarez; Robert Guerrero tackles Joel Casamayor, and Hammersmith's exciting George Groves makes his American debut against Mexico's Alfredo Contreras.
Main support is the fascinating WBO Middleweight title fight between two unbeaten hopes - in Brooklyn's Daniel Jacobs and Russian Dmitry Pirog.
I can't wait for the main attraction - the re-match of that thriller from February 2009, between the wonderful Juan Manuel Marquez and the aggressive, teak-tough Juan Diaz. Last time, the Texan took the fight right to the Mexican! Yet Marquez used expert defence and counter-attacks to defuse Diaz, and stopped him via a brutal combination and a supreme uppercut in the 9th. So repeat or revenge?
With the World Lightweight titles at stake, and styles that will blend beautifully, another excellent clash should be on the cards. Skills, heart, and power are all on the line. Will we see another mental and physical battle to rival their first?
I, for one hope so and I believe Marquez's extra guile and ring brain will come through again. He may be nearly 37, and he may have come off that deflating result against Mayweather, but that Mexican blood will be boiling. Marquez: by late stoppage again.
Amir Khan's at ringside and will be awaiting the winner possibly for a December showdown.
The dream fight
The fight that every single boxing fan, writer and fighters themselves want to see, is of course the sensational showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Unfortunately, it is still very much a pipe dream - until the two pound for pound kings sign on the dotted line.
Quite why potentially the biggest money-making fight of all time is no nearer happening remains a mystery, and maybe the real question is who doesn't really want the fight? If Manny has agreed in principle to the drug tests, then most people will point the finger at Floyd.
There is of course more to this, with Bob Arum's fractured relationship with Mayweather, and Floyd's uncle Roger due in court in August on serious assault charges. I'm hearing that both parties might want the fight in May 2011. I sincerely hope so. The first weekend in May is usually the annual date for a serious Vegas fight, and they don't get any bigger than this. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed that there is the right outcome to this fascinating but ongoing saga, and that we get what we all want at some stage next season.
Saturday nights to remember
Our exciting move to Saturday nights will allow us to become more of a marquee sport again; we have top domestic dust-ups planned, and a host of world title fights coming your way from early September.
The return of our weekly magazine show Ringside will help support these shows. Every Thursday we'll be bringing you exclusive features, news, debates, and getting you up close and personal with the fascinating characters in our most engaging sport. We'll also be working side by side with the Sky website - which will give readers and viewers much more say!
So, have a great month in August - the Sky team's off for a well-earned break! I promise we'll come back refreshed, rested and rejuvenated!
I have been with Sky Sports for 16 years, and in just four weeks time, we'll be entering one of the most exciting new eras I can remember. We'll be working tirelessly to give boxing fans what they deserve: high quality action, and the very best coverage out there.
See you in September - and happy holidays!