Friday March 13th, 2009

Pacquiao's stunningly swift and brutal win over Ricky Hatton clearly established him as the best fighter in four weight classes: super featherweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight. Perhaps the only question Pacquiao has left to answer, and one trainer Freddie Roach acknowledged after the Hatton fight, is how the Pac-Man can handle the top counter-puncher. He may get the chance as early as next year in a showdown with the winner of Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez.

He's back, so he's in. Mayweather's return has the boxing world abuzz, but it's not enough to earn him the top spot he vacated when he retired. Not with Pacquiao demolishing every opponent put in front of him. The questions about Floyd's fight with Marquez are obvious. But here's a less obvious one: How will Mayweather's body respond to dropping to the 143-pound catch-weight for the first time in four years?

Marquez's power seems to increase with his weight. He ended his first two fights at lightweight with spectacular knockouts and has clearly established himself as the world's dominant 135-pounder. But will it continue to grow at 143 pounds against Mayweather?

The 37-year-old Mosley looked 10 years younger when he dismantled Antonio Margarito in January. Forget titleholder Andre Berto; the world wants to see a rematch between Mosley and Miguel Cotto to determine the true welterweight champion. Failing that, Pacquiao is interested as long as Mosley drops to 143 pounds.

Hopkins has said he will retire in June if he can't find a big fight and there aren't a whole lot out there. After low-balling Tomasz Adamek ($500,000 for a popular and recognized champion?), Hopkins has his sights set on super middleweight champ Carl Froch.

Memo to HBO and Showtime: one of you needs to step up and make Pavlik-Arthur Abraham happen. Because the prospect of watching Pavlik chase Sergio Mora around the ring makes me cringe. If that means enticing Abraham to come Stateside this summer for a look-at-me fight with a fringe contender, so be it. Make it happen. The world needs to see a fight between the two most explosive middleweights in boxing.

Dawson is 6-foot-3, 175 pounds with a frame that looks like it is carved out of granite. So why can't he knock out anyone? You could make the argument that the slick Antonio Tarver is a tough KO (and you would be right), but watching Dawson stall when he seemed to have Tarver reeling in the final four rounds of their light heavyweight title fight on May 9 makes me wonder if Dawson will ever achieve superstar status.

Cotto rebounded nicely from last summer's savage beating at the hands of Antonio Margarito with an equally savage victory over Michael Jennings. Word is that Cotto will fight granite-chinned fellow titleholder Joshua Clottey in June in New York. That's a good fight for Cotto, who will probably have to box for 12 rounds to defeat Clottey.

Williams is a victim of his own success. The more he beats the second-tier fighters, the less the first-tier guys want to fight him. The welterweights won¹t touch him and the junior welterweight division doesn¹t have anyone who could hope to challenge him. That leaves the middleweights. If Pavlik can¹t secure a fight with Abraham, then a showdown with the volume-punching Williams would be a good match.

First, Darchinyan beats (and shuts up) Cristian Mijares. Then he goes out and dismantles Jorge Arce after telling everyone he was going to do just that. My kind of fighter. Rumor has it that Darchinyan is looking to move up to bantamweight to fight either Anselmo Moreno or Joseph Agbeko.

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