With no big fight to look back on, I'm looking ahead to several fights either recently announced or in the works, most of which come courtesy of ESPN's Dan Rafael and the holiday edition of his notebook:
Zab Judah vs. Matthew Hatton - July 18 (on Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez PPV undercard) - Though Zab (or whoever masquerades as Zab) Twittered not that long ago that he'd be facing Randall Bailey, he's ended up instead with Matthew Hatton, younger brother of Ricky Hatton.
Though no one will confuse Matt with his older sibling, he's fought more times in the U.S. than the Hitman had at a similar career point and has acquitted himself fairly well. He doesn't have a ton of power (just 14 KOs in 37 career wins), and one suspects he'll come up short in the hand speed department against Judah too.
The question with Zab, as always, is which version of him we'll get. If he's in good shape and his head is screwed on straight, he should win. Those are no guarantees, so this is a semi-intriguing undercard scrap.
Timothy Bradley vs. Joan Guzman - August or September - Bradley puts his 140-pound WBO belt on the line against Guzman, who's fought mostly at 130 pounds but has had trouble making weight even at 135 (as Nate Campbell can attest) and has been talking about continuing to move up.
Though Bradley keeps finding ways to win, this may be a tough defense as Guzman has a lot of skills. I'll even go out on a slight limb and say he may prove to have more power as he moves up a la JMM, as both guys now seem like they just killed themselves a little too long trying to make lower weights.
An interesting sidenote is that Rafael mentions that Bradley didn't want to face Devon Alexander, which is unfortunate as that had the makings of a good fight. The WBC title is now vacant as a result, and Alexander will take on Junior Witter for that one on July 11 as part of the Vic Darchinyan-Joseph Agbeko undercard.
Chad Dawson vs. Glen Johnson II - Fall - For the record, I scored the first fight between these two gentlemen one point closer than the official cards. But I still thought Dawson won, and I don't agree with Johnson or some fans I heard from who felt like he was robbed.
Close fight? Absolutely. Miscarriage of justice? Uh, no.
That being said, it's ironic that Dawson and his team weren't interested in a rematch until his two unexciting victories over Antonio Tarver suddenly made this into his most lucrative option. Boxing is funny that way sometimes.
There are easier ways to earn a living than going 12 rounds with Johnson, that's for sure.
Tomasz Adamek vs. Bernard Hopkins - Early 2010? - B-Hop continues to amaze, and Adamek is limited though definitely powerful and tough as nails. So perhaps this is right in Bernard's wheelhouse.
It's worth noting, though, that Hopkins will be 45 by the time this fight rolls around if it really is headed for the first part of 2010, and he'll have been off for over a year at that point (Adamek will fight someone this July 10). Not even the Executioner can fight off Father Time forever.
Ultimately, this quote from Rafael sums up the reason for this fight perfectly:
"Adamek and Hopkins seem to need each other at this point to produce their biggest payday."
Switching gears to someone who is definitely fighting this coming Saturday, I wanted to recommend Eric Raskin's recent examination of Andre Berto on The Ring Blog. His main theme is that there are people who feel Berto is overrated and others who think he is underrated, and Raskin decides he leans toward the latter camp.
Andre certainly has become a polarizing figure among boxing fans, and his critics seem to have gathered renewed strength after he went life-and-death with Luis Collazo in January - as if that was something that should shame him somehow.
Berto tells Raskin that he is anxious to get back to knocking people out. And it is nice to hear boxers express a desire to entertain as well as win.
But I find myself agreeing most with the author when he asks exactly what Berto's detractors are expecting. Yes he hasn't fought tons of tough opponents, but he's young and has been a pro for less than five years.
His defense has holes, though as Manny Pacquiao has shown, those can be patched up even later in one's career. He might not be ready for the Shane Mosleys and the Miguel Cottos of the world right this second, but it's not hard to see him at that level by, say, 2011.
As a frame of reference, BoxRec.com has Berto ranked fourth among welterweights, behind Mosley, Antonio Margarito and Cotto but ahead of the likes of Joshua Clottey, Sebastian Lujuan, Alfonso Gomez, Isaac Hlatshwayo and Judah. With the exception of maybe Clottey, that seems about right to me.
Posted by The Franchise