In 2010, we didn’t get many of the fights we were hoping for, and it took until the last quarter of the year for genuine Fight of the Year candidates to emerge.
Hopefully in 2011, we won’t have to wait nearly as long.
There are many fights that aren’t being discussed much that would make for great scraps in the ring and with which great implications would hinge on the results.
With that in mind, here are five fights that could be reasonably and realistically made that would benefit the sport as a whole in 2011.
#1. David Haye-Tomasz Adamek
Now that the proposed fight between Ring heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye has again hit a snag, the next best fight that can be made in the division is between the last two Ring cruiserweight champs. Tomasz Adamek and Haye would be a crowd-pleasing fight between two fast heavyweights and it’s a fight HBO would jump to get.
The winner would be the unquestioned best fighter over 200 pounds not named Klitschko. Whether the bout would be held in Newark, N.J. or London, England the fight would be host to a rowdy and raucous crowd to boot. Sign me up for this clash.
#2. Jean Pascal-Tavoris Cloud
We are likely headed for a rematch between Jean Pascal and Chad Dawson, Bernard Hopkins supporters be damned. I don’t think Hopkins was robbed; it was a close fight that could have gone either way. I would, however, favor B-Hop in a rematch and I don’t think Pascal is exactly jumping at the opportunity.
Tavoris Cloud, coming off a big 2010 which included a victory over the ageless Glen Johnson, would be an excellent opponent for the Ring light heavyweight champ. Win or lose against Dawson, Pascal is going to be in another big fight. Cloud’s power and aggression would bring an exciting element to stave off an opponent who likes to jump in with quick bursts. Put this fight somewhere in Quebec and let the fists fly.
#3. Andre Berto-Joshua Clottey
The boxing world is waiting, still, for Andre Berto to take a step-up in class and actually fight a welterweight contender. Why not Joshua Clottey? Yes, Clottey was putrid against Manny Pacquaio last March, refusing to throw punches. He has also been in a slew of good fights against legit contenders – Miguel Cotto, Zab Judah and Antonio Margarito, to name a few. All three fights were compelling. And while he came out 1-2 in those fights, he was beating Margarito until he suffered a hand injury and many observers — this one among them — gave the nod to Clottey against Cotto.
Berto, under the guidance of power broker Al Haymon, has been content to feast on blown up junior welterweight and mostly undeserving challengers. A fight against a strong, experienced welterweight like Clottey would tell us a lot about him. I would even favor Clottey in this one.
#4. Lucian Bute-Andre Dirrell
Lucian Bute, who recently signed a deal with Showtime, is primed to fight the winner of the Super Six tourney. On March 19, Bute is schedule to fight lightly-regarded Brian Magee. And with the Super Six final not taking place until the fall, Bute will presumable take another fight this year, before facing the Super Six winner.
Andre Dirrell, who pulled out of the super middleweight tournament with reported neurological problems, seems to be the right opponent. I don’t foresee Dirrell being on the shelf much longer, so a fall fight with Bute would be perfect timing. It’s about the best fight that can be made outside of the Super Six right now and even the loser, should he have a good showing, would be right in the mix at the conclusion of the tournament.
# 5. Michael Katsidis-Jorge Linares
Michael Katsidis, coming off a tough fight against lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, will certainly be back on HBO in his next fight. Jorge Linares has been climbing the ranks since his first-round KO loss to Juan Carlos Salgado. HBO was interested in pushing him before and now that he has bounced back, it would make sense to get him back on the network.
Katsidis is never in a bad fight and it’s a fight Linares can win. Could be one of the best fights of the year.