By: Sergio L. Martinez
Oh, 2012: Let me start by offering my sincerest gratitude for another solid year of the sweet science. The amount of fan-friendly fights this past year was as good as any 12-month span in recent memory. We had a little bit of everything: incredible slugfests, grueling meat grinder fights, high-speed chess matches and jaw-dropping knockouts. This past year also revealed several young guns with great potential to transcend (if their promoters can get over themselves and make the big fights for the sake of the sport).
To continue the precedent set forth by 2012, here are the fights that need – nay, must – happen in the next year.
Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez – Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. II
Martinez-Chavez, Jr. lived up to the billing and was exciting from start to finish. Martinez controlled the majority of the fight but Chavez still made it interesting and almost pulled off the miracle in the final stanza. The fact that the young Chavez was not fully prepared, as he lacked maturity and dedication, makes a part two even more appealing as one must believe that he will not make the same mistake again. Can Chavez be great? A win in the return bout would be a step in that direction and the passing of the torch would be complete. The problem is Martinez shows no signs of wanting to pass anything, so Chavez would have to take it this time around.
Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios – Lucas Martin Matthysse
Little has to be said about this matchup: anyone with half a brain knows that the moniker of “Fight of the Year” may not be enough, as this pairing has more of an “Instant Classic” feel to it. Both of these guys are straightforward, power-punching lunatics that relish in inflicting pain on their rivals. With neither willing to take a step back and both having stones in their gloves and nut sacks, this fight would end in an incredible knockout after some of the most shocking rounds in history. Bring it on.
Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios – Adrien “The Problem” Broner
Broner just officially moved up to 135-pounds and there is no way in hell that Rios can make under 140, but still this contest will make for an incredible matchup of two of boxing’s young guns. With Rios’s punching power versus Broner’s natural talents and incredible ability, this fight would be the quintessential boxer-versus-puncher affair with one main difference: Broner can really bang too. However, no one can guarantee that this would be the case at junior welterweight except that Broner has shown power at 130 and 135 pounds. Broner just seems to be one of those rare athletes and this makes it is safe to assume that he would have some serious pop at the weight class. The key question in this fight is: Can Rios break through and cleanly crack Broner on the chin before his own lights are shutout by the Cincinnati phenomenon? That unknown alone makes this fight a must for the New Year.
Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire – Abner Mares
Pitting two fighters that are pound-for-pound recognized can only equate to one thing: One hell of a fight. Both fighters are in their prime and fighting at their optimum ability. In Mares, the young and strong Mexican champion is fearless and one rough and tumble son of a gun. He employs a frenetic style which mixes skilled boxing, roughhouse tactics and good old fashion brawling. Mares has a great chin and throws punches from all angles. His defense is good as he moves well, but he gets hit because of his aggressive approach.
In Donaire’s case, the Filipino Flash is a generational type of a guy: speed, power, footwork, boxing skills, natural talent and a great chin. To beat Donaire, Mares would have to fight a perfect fight, which is not completely out of the question: everyone knows he will come with that mentality. To beat Mares, Donaire needs to be himself and execute despite the amazing pressure that he would face at the hands of the young and brazen lion.
Carl “The Cobra” Froch – Adonis “Superman” Stevenson
With “S.O.G.” Andre Ward having beaten everyone of any relevance in the division, including Froch, there is still the need for excitement for the Super Middles and the British Lad delivers plenty of that in spades. Froch cannot help himself as punching power, testicular fortitude and an iron chin is what he has and who he is. In Stevenson’s case, what he lacks in experience he makes up for with punching power, grit and determination. “Superman” is reckless and always looks to decapitate his adversaries with every punch. He is limited and has a leaky defense which makes this 168 pounds matchup made in heaven. The chances of this fight going the distant are slim to none, but it would be explosive for as long as it lasts.
Gennady Golovkin – Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin
Just recently, both Golovkin and Quillin stormed onto the world stage with big wins in action-packed fights televised to the masses. Each fighter showed great competency, good power, solid boxing skills and great potential to transcend and become superstars in the sport. Each man was matched tough: Quillin locked horns with the undefeated Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Golovkin went to war against the once-beaten Grzegorz Proska. Both men overcame the toughest tests of their careers when Golovkin stopped Proska in five spectacular rounds, and Quillin went life and death with N’Dam N’Jikam over 12 incredible rounds.
Both guys can flat-out fight. Golovkin has plenty of more amateur experience, but Quillin has an old-school mindset and seems to truly believe that he is the best fighter in the world. Both are undefeated and appear to be entering their physical primes. This fight would be of Fight of the Year caliber, without question, and a must-see in 2013.
Keith “One Time” Thurman – James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland
The kind of raw talent and natural ability “One Time” possess is a rare combination. Only time will tell if Thurman can ever live up to his promise, but he does seem to possess generational type attributes. As for Kirkland, he can be best described as a beast, plain and simple. The man is a seek-and-destroy machine that, when properly motivated, can takeout fighters with either fist and is fun to watch (who looks good against Molina, anyway?). This would be a great fight as it pits two young guys at the cusp of stardom. Because of their fighting styles, this fight will be hard-hitting action from the first bell with a knockout as the probable end. Who wouldn’t love to see this fight?
In many cases, these fights are pipe dreams, with the two main promoters (Top Rank and Golden Boy) more interested in screwing each other over – and the fight fans – in the process. No one can deny the spirit and passion that would erupt from such ferocious exhibitions on the off chance the red tape peels back.
Still, the New Year is about hopes, dreams and possibilities, and in the end, that is all boxing has.
Happy New Years to everyone, and thanks for reading.