In a perfect world, Friday Night Fights would not go into hibernation for the last four months of the year, HBO and Showtime would have competitive matchups on alternating weekends, Golden Boy would give us something more than ritual sacrifices on Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo, and Top Rank would put a compelling undercard bout on a Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view card. Budget constraints and politics have shaped a different reality – a reality in which boxing fans are left to sweat through another barren wasteland of the months of July and August. As we wait patiently for September’s beefed up schedule to roll around, we can only sit and drudge up some dream fights we’d like to see in 2012.
Marcos Maidana vs. Brandon Rios – Jr. Welterweight
Marcos “Chino” Maidana (30-2, 27 KOs) won’t ever be confused for a master technician in the ring. His plodding, wild-swinging style leaves him vulnerable to punishment as he stalks his opponents, sometimes impatiently, in search of a knockout victory. Maidana rose to prominence after victimizing “Vicious” Victor Ortiz in 2009, forcing him to quit after six brutal rounds. A losing fight-of-the-year effort to Amir Khan last December was followed up with another exciting war – a majority decision victory over future hall of famer Erik Morales in April.
Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs) is a huge lightweight and likely won’t campaign in the division much longer. Like Maidana, Rios relies on his strength and grit to break down his opponents, rather than pure mastery of the sweet science. Rios knocked out a tough Urbano Antillon in July, and broke down Miguel Acosta to win one of the three versions of the WBA lightweight title in March.
After a long period in which we’ve been forced to gain adequate sustenance from Friday Night Fights and choppy streams of foreign fights, an left at the altar by canceled cards, “a bit of the old ultra violence”, as Anthony Burgess would say, is in order.
Bernard Hopkins vs. Andre Ward – Light Heavyweight (Probably at a catch-weight)
46-year old Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) no longer possesses the stamina to wage all out war for twelve long rounds. Luckily the measured and methodical Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (23-0, 13 KOs) isn’t the type of fighter to draw him in to a war. Hopkins is quite possibly the smartest fighter in the sport today. His intellectual grasp of the sport has allowed him to outbox and embarrass fighters much younger and athletic. While some criticize Hopkins’ style, I enjoy watching the old master at work.
Ward has been called a younger version of Bernard Hopkins. His use of a sneaky lead right hand followed up by a healthy dose close quarters combat is much maligned, but has carried the young champion to an undefeated record thus far. Ward has the speed and athleticism to outbox most super middleweights on the planet, but he has opted to lower his head and fight in his opponent’s chest when needed.
This potential fight would pit Hopkins against another young fighter who has shown the ring IQ to adapt mid-fight, and we’ll get to see how Ward deals with someone who wrote the book from which he appears to have learned. I’ll be in the minority in asking for this fight, and that’s fine with me. I balance the blood lust that forces me to wish for a Maidana-Rios war with an appreciation for two under-appreciated tacticians.
Hernan Marquez vs. Giovani Segura – Flyweight
Hernan “Tyson” Marquez (31-2, 24 KOs) retooled after back-to-back losses to Richie Mepranum and Nonito Donaire in 2010, and captured the WBA flyweight title in a thrilling 11-round TKO victory over Luis Concepcion in April. Marquez, a southpaw, is young, strong, and willing to stand and trade, as we saw in his victory over Concepcion.
Segura (28-1-1, 24 KOs) conquered the jr. flyweight division, winning the WBA title in 2009 before battering Ivan Calderon in 2010, winning the WBO and Ring Magazine titles along the way. Segura proved his win over Calderon was no fluke when he knocked Calderon out with a body shot in their April rematch. Segura has moved up to the flyweight division, and is scheduled to challenge for an Interim WBO strap against Julio Cesar Miranda in October.
A possible matchup between Marquez and Segura would likely gain limited mainstream attention, but it should be on every hardcore boxing fan’s wish list for 2011.
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