by Frances Martel


Union City, NJ- Coming off of a transitional year for many fighters that had cashed in and tuned out in 2007, 2008 proved a year for breakthrough cult talents. Some were obscure because had no avenue through which to meet champions until this year. Others are from cultures where boxing simply is not yet through all this, Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs), Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs), and Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs), respectively, came through to give us some of the most memorable fights of our generation.


Excluding, of course, the shameful activity of the heavyweight division and Tito Trinidad (42-3, 35 KOs), who is working his way up there apparently, 2008 was the kind of year that it has become trendy to claim will “save” the sport of boxing. Sure, not everything was butterflies and unicorns for our sport, thanks to the likes formerly respectable champions like Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs), who put his monetary interests before his career’s legitimacy in allowing the impossible to occur and setting off the celebratory yelping of several nations’ worth of Pac fans. One man’s buffoonery cannot destroy a year’s worth of great fights and great fighters, however. Andre Berto (23-0, 19 KOs) finally got a world title, and Ricardo Torres (32-2, 28 KOs) and Kendall Holt (25-2, 13 KOs) gave us the most exhilarating fight of the year: all 61 seconds of it, replete with knockouts, questionable refereeing, and a shower of beer and miscellaneous waste from the crowd when the fight was called. Yet for a year’s worth of drama and mastery of boxing, we turn to our new Big Three.


It’s not whether you win or not—Winky Wright’s (51-4-1, 25 KOs) exasperating yet successful ring malaise has proven that much. It is precisely how a fighter commands a ring, the familiarity and confidence with which a fighter asserts his skill, not just power or his speed, but quite simply his skill. In this strict definition of success within our sport it is quite evident that Joe Calzaghe has far outstripped all his colleagues this year with his victories against Roy Jones, Jr. (52-5, 38 KOs) and, more importantly, Bernard Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KOs). After months of taunting and accusations of cowardice from the Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) clan, Calzaghe took it all in stride. Employing the wisdom that comes with holding a world title for more than a decade, he challenged the biggest comparable threat in his division in Hopkins, who later ran lazy circles around Pavlik. It takes a character of astronomical flair and talent to make a fight with Bernard Hopkins both interesting and favorable to oneself, both of which Calzaghe did easily. After Hopkins, he consumed Jones like an after-dinner mint. Few fights as lopsided as his recent encounter with Jones are so entertaining, but watching Calzaghe spin around the ring and flaunt his talent in such a cocky and elegant way never seems to get old. Calzaghe himself, however, seems to feel his mouth water at the prospect of retirement, so it suits us best to look at the successes this year has brought our sport that will remain valuable into 2009.

Read full article at the true authority in Boxing, Pedro Fernandez’s Ringtalk.com.

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