Sunday, May 22, 2005

June Predictions

By JE Grant

June 4 --: Kostya Tszyu (31-1, 25 KOs) vs. Ricky Hatton (38-0, 28 KOs) world junior welterweight title

One must be cautious when evaluating a great fighter based on his last bout which came after a long-layoff – something many discovered painfully watching Felix Trinidad go down in flames against Winky Wright. Like Trinidad, Tszyu came back from a long layoff and stunned the boxing world with a thorough beating of a very good Sharmba Mitchell. Many did not see the limits of Mayorga’s ability because they wanted to see the greatness of Trinidad once again. It is possible that the same thing is happening here with Tszyu. The central difference however, is that Mitchell is likely a better fighter than Trinidad’s opponent in his initial comeback fight, Ricardo Mayorga. It is also the case that Tszyu has proven his ability to adapt and mix boxing with punching against tremendous opposition (Zab Judah among them). I’m betting Tszyu still has enough resourcefulness in the tank to stop a very determined and able contender in Ricky Hatton. Hatton has faced limited competition in defense of his obscure WBU title but has demonstrated a ruggedness that is likely the real thing. Expect him to give his best effort and see many applaud his valiant effort. Expect Tszyu to show his full repertoire of boxing skill and sharp punching. Tszyu by KO in 8.

June 11 --: Mike Tyson (50-5, 44 KOs) vs. Kevin McBride (32-4-1, 27 KOs) heavyweights

Some care went into the opponent selection for Mike Tysons's return to active fighting. Kevin McBride is big, ultra-slow and is willing to run into Iron Mike’s still-powerful punches. One thing that was instrumental to Tyson’s success early in his career was his management’s recognition that the more often he fights the more focused and sharp he gets. Much of Mike’s game is his mental state. Fighting often will boost his confidence and allow him to advance in the rankings – just in time to take another beating against one of the young stallions currently at the top of the heavyweight charts. But, at least fighting often will get him into another big fight. McBride will likely be the first in a string of low-level opponents for Tyson. Should Iron Mike prevail, as expected, he will energize the considerable crowd he can still bring to the arena. Tyson by KO in 2.

June 11 --: Miguel Cotto (23-0, 19 KOs) vs. Muhammad Abdullaev (15-1, 12 KOs) WBO junior welterweight title

Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, despite holding a fringe title, still has to be seen as a prospect. He is getting close to being ready for the a real championship fight with the likes of the true champion, Kostya Tszyu, or the winner of the upcoming Arturo Gatti-Floyd Mayweather WBC bout. There is the element of history between Cotto and Abdullaev that makes its viewing worthwhile. Abdullaev, an Uzbekistani living in Germany, defeated Cotto in the first round of the Sydney 2000 Olympics on a clear decision. Of course in the current computerized state of amateur boxing (that is merely counting landed blows) the Olympic sport is something very different than professional boxing. Cotto has come a great distance since the Olympic games. He’s fought better opponents under more stressful conditions – and he’s undefeated. Abdullaev has taken a different route professionally with more modest success. Little-known Emmanuel Clottey has also stopped him. Not the kind of record that inspires tremendous confidence. Cotto will add this to his kit bag and move on to the top talent in the division. Cotto by KO in 10.

June 18 -- Glen Johnson (42-9-2, 28 KOs) vs. Antonio Tarver (22-3, 18 KOs) world light-heavyweight title

Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver each ditched their respective title belts to fight each other last December. It seems the WBA, WBC, and IBF had other names in mind for each of them as their respective “number 1” contenders. Of course the rest of the world recognized then and now that the best two light-heavyweights were in the ring in a bout recognized only by the prestigious Ring Magazine as a title fight (no, I am not going to mention some of the other, lesser-known alphabets that did recognize it as a championship). They are still the best two light-heavyweights but each has something to prove. Johnson gave the solid, workmanlike effort he has become known for – only this time he was on the right side of a close decision. Another win puts him firmly at the top of the division in time for him to capture some substantial paydays in the twilight of his career. Tarver, claiming now that he wasn’t at his best, must win lest he become a footnote in the history of the division. Tarver has proven adaptability and focus in beating both Eric Harding and Roy Jones in rematches. I think he’ll do it again. Tarver by KO in 10.

June 25 --: Arturo Gatti (39-6, 30 KOs) vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (33-0, 22 KOs) WBC junior welterweight title

The specter of two more high-quality fighters in the talent-rich junior welterweight division meeting should make every boxing fan’s must-see list. Arturo Gatti is an old soldier of the sport having engaged in epic contests against a wide variety of the class of today’s boxing scene. Floyd Mayweather, though fairly new to the division, currently sits near the top of everyone’s pound-for-pound top ten list. And he should. He knows and exhibits every trick in the old-school book. He can punch when necessary and box better than anyone in the game – time after time. He has also proven that he can shut out the antics of his private life and execute flawlessly. The one glitch that may work against him against Gatti, however, is that in the 140-pound class he may – may – be at the outer edge of his power. Gatti is willing to take a world-class beating and continue to forge ahead. He has also demonstrated rediscovered skills under the tutelage of boxing sage Buddy McGirt. Although Mayweather will be favored, I see an upset. Gatti will push Mayweather to the edge – and edge him out. Gatti by decision.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Alex - Knocked Out said...

Good thorough predictions. I have the same ones (not exact rounds, just wins/losses) expect for Mayweather/Gatti. I like Gatti too but Mayweather is on top of his game still and a much better boxer. There's always a chance of an upset but I doubt it. I look forward to your July predictions.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Mac said...

Hey JE. Glad you got Gatti in this one too! I am a little biased because Gatti is a Canadian boy, but I think that Mayweather has too many personal issues right now and may be looking past Gatti a little. I also hope that you are right and my man Tyson can pull this one off and get back on the right track.

7:44 PM  
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