2010 was a mixed year for British Boxing. There was the epic 12-round battle at the Mandala Bay Resort between WBA light-welterweight champion Amir Khan and heavy punching Marcos Maidana, where the ‘pride of Bolton’ answered critics of his ‘glass chin’ by taking the best of what the Argentinian had to offer and remained in control to see it out on points. On the other hand, 20,000 boxing fans at the Manchester Evening News Arena along with the many others watching at home felt cheated out of their money, when Harrison did his best impression of a rabbit caught in headlights as WBO Heavyweight Champion David Haye walked all over him.
It says a lot about the way the sport is governed, with various commissions and their various titles, that such a one-sided fight can command a main event for a version of the World Heavyweight Championship. It must be said after 2 years during which Haye rose to the forefront of the domestic scene, he lost a whole heap of credit for a joke of a fight. Haye absolutely must fight one, if not both of the Klitschko brothers in 2011 before he hangs up his gloves, if he wants to be remembered in the same breath as former undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis.
All of which looks more and more unlikely, as rookie Brit Dereck Chisora is set to take on Wladimir Klitschko (the more likely opponent for Haye) for the WBA and IBF titles, which in all respect to Chisora is as one sided as Harrison vs. Haye. My gut feeling is that Haye and Wladimir will eventually lock horns at the end of this year, lets hope that materialises. Long gone are the days of Lewis, Tyson and Holyfield, a stellar cast in what was the show piece weight division in boxing.
If any weight-class has stolen that mantle it is the welterweight division over the last decade or so. The fight the world wants to see is seven weight world champion Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao take on five weight world champion American Floyd Mayweather Jr. The winner of that fight can be this generations Muhammed Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson, but it seems even less likely to happen than the Haye vs Klitschko bout. This only paves the way for Amir Khan to follow his impressive win with potential unification fights and a move up in weight to maybe challenge Mayweather Jr. himself.
Coached by the great Freddie Roach who masterminded Pacquiao’s rise to pound for pound immortality, Khan has a fight lined up with Northern Ireland’s Paul McCloskey. Although he will surely have one eye on what could be the fight of the year between the unbeaten pair Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley, the other two title holders in the light-welterweight division. Khan will hope to fight the winner of that fight later this year and unify the division in doing so.
With Haye and Khan taking all the limelight with their Sky Box Office contracts, it’s Carl Froch who might make the biggest impact this year. 2010 was certainly a rollercoaster for Froch losing and then retaining his WBC Super-Middleweight title. Often labelled the fighter’s fighter, Froch has battled at the very top level around the world but that Sky contract which is the difference between being known by boxing fans and being known by the rest of the world, still eludes him. He is set to defend his title against seasoned Jamaican Glen Johnson in May. If he gets through that fight still as champion, it will be criminal for him not to get that contract which has unfairly held him back.
The fourth of the current British world champions is Scot Ricky Burns. The WBO super-feather weight champion is only the 13th Scotsman to hold a world title, although the title he holds now has been held by the likes of Mayweather Jr. and Oscar de la Hoya, hopefully a sign of things to come as far as Burns is concerned. Burns is a technically sound fighter, without having the killer punch in his arsenal. It will come down to fight planning and how his corner can guide him through 12 championship rounds against world-class opposition. He more than any of the other fighters has nothing to lose, he has achieved more than anyone would have previously given him any hope for.
In the chasing pack are the like of Olympic Gold medallist James DeGale, a world title will probably elude him this year but he should definitely be a contender for a super-middleweight world title shot by the end of it. Although the super-middleweight division is condensed with talented boxers, Brian Maghee has a shot at the IBF title and George Groves is also in contention. Any combination of fights between those three will light up boxing for the good.
A few years back Ricky Hatton was the only thing to shout about in terms of British Boxing, at the end of this year we could have up to an unprecedented seven world title holders.
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