I thought about these two categories as I looked over my DVR. There were a couple of my favorite fighters missing from my “Hits and Misses” article. So, I began to think about where all the fighters have gone this year? I also started to think about some of the problems with matchmaking these days. Are fighters afraid to face other fighters so that they can possibly preserve a winning record?
For example, should Timothy Bradley take a risk, with his place at the top of the light welterweight division and fight against those fighters who may actually defeat him? In other words, perhaps the boxers and promoters of today have a serious case of playing “duck, duck, LOSE.” So, just for a start, I have two categories I’d like to consider: 1) Fighters Missing in Action and 2) Fighters on the Verge of a Breakthrough.
Fighters Missing in Action
Paul “Punisher” Williams, 40-2, 27 KO’s
The once highly avoided fighter due to his tall southpaw talent, Williams suffered a KO at the hands of Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez and hasn’t quite recovered. In July 2011, Williams took on Erislandy Lara in a WBC Light Middleweight title eliminator. Williams emerged as the winner in a 12 round MD. However, his prior bout against Martinez had him KO’d in the 2nd round. Williams is scheduled to fight again in February. Should he stay in the light middleweight division, he’s got Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto to contend against. Williams is currently ranked #4 among light middleweights.
Kelly “Ghost” Pavlik, 37-2, 32 KO’s
Pavlik remains my favorite boxer in the shadows. Sadly, news of him remains private as he may be dealing with his own personal issues. But you have to love a fighter that showed so much heart. However, the longer he remains outside of the ring, the more likely he doesn’t necessarily belong in the ring competing with fighters who are more focused. Pavlik’s last performance in May resulted in a 10 round MD. Much like Williams, he must decide his boxing path but must first conquer any personal drama. Pavlik is currently ranked #8 among super middleweights.
Chris “Nightmare” Arreola, 34-2, 29 KO’s
The once highly touted heavyweight, or at least I thought so, fought five times this year. It’s kind of sad to think that the last big fight he had was against Tomas Adamek last year where lost in a 12 round MD. Now, in his five bouts, he earned 2 TKO’s, 2 KO’s, and 1 UD. But whom did he fight? I don’t know either. The only fight I recalled was the loss against Adamaek. But really, the only heavyweight opponents that matter are either Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko.
Should he remain in the open heavyweight division and when I mean open I mean that the Klitschko’s may or may not soon vacate their titles out of sheer boredom or lack of competition, Arreola needs to step it up. Maybe he and Haye can match up in hopes of revamping two “what-if” careers as both fighters have a mutual fact in common – the brothers Klitschko imposed their wills on both Arreola and Haye. Neither Arreola nor Haye have been the same since.
Andre “Matrix” Dirrell, 19-1, 13 KO’s
I can fully understand how the one time participant of the Super Six Middleweight tournament might be a little tentative about rushing a return to the ring. “Neurological problems” are not to be taken lightly. I think if Dirrell had remained in the tournament, the big “what if” in the bout against Andre Ward is really just a “what if.” It would have been a highly competitive bout. After nearly a year since his bout against Arthur Abraham, Dirrell will match up against Daryl Cunningham on December 30th this year. I hope Dirrell’s return to the ring will not be wrought with any lingering psychological or even physical doubts.
Fighters On the Verge of a Breakthrough
Gary Russell, JR., 19-0, 11 KO’s
Russell has shown up on my KO of the year spot. Russell has incredible hand speed and power with good composure. Russell needs a few more fights under his belt at super featherweight and he may be the fastest rising fighter of the division. Russell needs some polish and must be matched up against a fighter that will competitively push him for 12 rounds to a decision. Knockouts are true wins and if he can win a majority of his fights by a knockout, it could mean a longer career. However, Russell should find a matchup that could make him work more on other aspects of his boxing arsenal.
Andy Lee, 27-1, 19 KO’s
In his last bout against Vera, Lee showed a lot of depth and growth in his boxing ability. A tall southpaw fighter, Lee has super middleweight matchup potential against Sergio Martinez. But, Martinez also has that uncanny athletic ability that can unhinge a fighter such as Lee and make him tentative in his own ability. Lee needs to develop a fighter’s sense of confidence and do what he can do to overmatch his opponent. Again, his lead hand cultivation from jab to hook is wonderful. Imagine, two southpaws such as Lee and Martinez fight against one another? It would be a great match possibility.
Julio Cesar Chavez, JR, 44-0-1, 31 KO’s
Let’s just step away from the father legacy for now. Chavez, JR., is not the classical Mexican fighter. He’s tall, lanky, and a middleweight. Chavez, JR., is currently under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. He’s got the genes, no question. But whether or not he’s got the champion fighter genes, it’s something else. I included Chavez, JR., because he’s got that glimmer that I see when fighters just might be emerging above their talent and starting to embrace their own ability as well.
In his last bout, Chavez, JR defeated Peter Manfredo in the 5th round of a 12 round bout in defense of his WBC Middleweight title. Gulp. Chavez, JR., is also in a highly competitive division. I hope he doesn’t experience a case of ducking by any means. Surprise, Chavez, JR., is ranked #4 with Lee ranked #5.
So, as indicated by my Part I, there’s a Part II to my article. Tune in, RSR Readers, it seems there’s quite a lot to discuss in boxing!