2007 A Pugilistic Year to Remember

  • Written by James "Smitty" Smith

It was a record breaking year statistically in boxing. Largest live gate ever with Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar Dela Hoya here in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. That fight also produced the biggest pay per view buy ever with over two and half million buys. Floyd and Ricky Hatton sold out within minutes of the tickets going on sale and twenty thousand some Brits came across the pond to watch their mate take on boxing’s pound for pound best.  Most watched from some type of big screen TV not from the raucous sold out MGM Grand. 

Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler battled before over fifty thousand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.  The once Mega of Boxing Madison Square Garden reclaimed some of its storied pugilistic fire with Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto selling the joint out with his wins over Zab Judah and Shane Mosley.  Even the crusty, old and tired Boardwalk in Atlantic City rocked with the Middleweight Championship fight between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor. Most of the fans were from Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. 

What really made for all these record-setting lofty attendance and financial statistics are the names and match-ups I listed.  Above all what made this such a fantastic year in boxing were the fights that we witnessed.  The best fighting the best, forget about the useless belts.  Best is better than any belt. 

We had three mega matchups involving six unbeaten fighters mentioned above.   Pavlik vs Taylor for the middleweight crown both went in unbeaten.  Only one,  Pavlik, came out unbeaten.  Calzaghe vs Kessler, for the Super Middleweight Title, both went in unbeaten.  Only  one, Calzahge, came out unblemished.  Finally, we had Mayweather vs Hatton for the Welterweight Championship, both went in unbeaten.  Only Floyd came out still with an 0 on his record.  We also had unbeaten Miguel Cotto, putting his spotless record on the line against former champion Zab Judah, and the once great  and still very good Sugar Shane. Cotto prevailed in both. 

2007 had four future Hall of Famers going at it with Bernard Hopkins beating Winky Wright and Manny Pacquiao once again beating, and perhaps retiring, legendary Marco Antonio Barrera. 

We had a pair of epic battles between Super Bantamweights Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, each getting a stoppage win over the other.  Can you imagine what the rubber match will be like? 

There were many other very good fights and stories like the emergence of another potential Pilipino star in Nonito Donaire who burst on to the scene knocking off and out former unbeaten Vic Darchinyan. Another potential superstar is once beaten Cruiser Weight Champ David Haye from England who stopped Jean Marc Mormeck for the title.  The U.K. certainly has been making its fistic presence known with Calzaghe, Hatton, and now Haye, and they have some other very good fighters as well, like junior welterweight Junior Witter.  
We seem to have a pretty dominant 135 pound Lightweight King in unbeaten Juan Diaz now 33-0 who had a couple of big wins in 2007 stopping former champion Acelino Freitas and Julio Diaz.  One of my favorite boxers, 108 pound champion Ivan Calderon, had three wins in 2007 and pushed his record to 30 wins and no losses.  Of those 30 victories only six have been stoppages.  Calderon, who stands only five feet tall,  is probably the best pure boxer out there and has been for quite some time now.  Enjoy him while you can as he is now 32 years old, which is definitely the twilight for a little guy.  Hopefully he will get some TV exposure before his career is done. 

I could go on and on with good stuff in boxing in 2007, but I now will mention the bad.  That’s simple, the heavyweights, or lack thereof any great one, or even worse, the lack of any great up and coming one.  If there is one, he must be playing ice hockey in the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, or Belarus.  He certainly is not in any boxing gym I know of in Detroit, New York or Philly.  Maybe he is on a high school football field or playing youth basketball at a gym or playing little league baseball on some field of dreams.

That’s the problem none of our real possible future greats are going to a boxing gym to try and become the next U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist and perhaps the next heavyweight champion ala Ali, Frazier, Foreman because our amateur boxing program is dead or in some type of coma.  I hope that someone someday soon does something to revive it.  Maybe Oscar, Bernard, or Floyd can step in and help it along with some sponsorship from some energy drink or something to make amateur boxing here in America be what it once was.  Remember most all of the greatest fighters ever ( Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Henry Armstrong, Muhammad Ali) came from this country.  The next Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano is out there somewhere, isn’t he?  Please let’s restore amateur boxing and find him.  I plan on dedicating some TV time on IN THIS CORNER and try to do this.  Please help. 

Lets close this big year out with a few big time ITC (In This Corner) Awards for Pugilistic Excellence for 2007.

Fighter of the Year
1)  Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather- mega wins over Oscar and Ricky
2)  Joe Calzaghe-huge win over Kessler, Calzaghe has not lost a fight in 17 years
3)  Kelly Pavlik- big KO win over Edison Miranda even bigger KO win over Taylor for Middleweight Championship of the World
4)  Miguel Cotto-still unbeaten with nice stoppage win over Judah then even better decision win over Mosley.  You could make a case for Cotto as fighter of the year. 

Fight of the Year
1)    Kelly Pavlik 7th round KO over Jermain Taylor-Two unbeatens going at it for one of boxing’s most important and historic crowns.  Pavlik got off canvas to get it done.
2)    & 3)  Israel Vazquez vs Rafael Marquez 1 & 2- Marquez stops Vazquez in round 7 in March, and Vazquez returns the favor with a 6th stoppage of Marquez in August.
3)    Joe Calzaghe vs Mikkel Kessler- Best two 168 pounders in the world, both unbeaten fighting before over 50 thousand at a very high level with not your everyday Joe prevailing. 

Upset of the Year

There really was not a monumental upset in the sport, so I will say my upset of the year is that we did not have any real scandal in boxing.  A few bad decisions, a few positive drug tests, and a few serious injuries, but all in all no big bad news is good news in the sport of boxing, and that, with this sport, is an upset of a good nature.

Wish List for 2008.

First off, safety, meaning no serious injuries or at least as few as possible to all the fighters that participate in this the very toughest of all real sports.(sorry UFC your not in the same area code as boxing in terms of sport)

My other wish, more of the same. More of what we had in 2007.  The best fighting the best at all weight divisions.  Forget about belts, once again best is better than a belt.  So how about Mayweather vs Cotto sometime in the New Year. Come on Floyd, you know your not going too far away.  Not with all that $$$$$.  What’s your nickname my buddy?

I want to thank all the networks listed below who carried our show IN THIS CORNER and each and every boxing fan and sports fan, and even casual observer who helped support IN THIS CORNER, and this web site inthiscornertv.com. 
It’s been a fun and exciting year and we look forward to an even better 2008. 
Happy New Year from IN THIS CORNER
James E. Smith aka Smitty

Thanks to our family of networks:

Sportsnet NY
Comcast Sportsnet West
Sportstime Ohio
Comcast Local Michigan
Altitude Sports and Entertainment
The America One Network
Comcast Sportsnet Southeast
Comcast Sportsnet Chicago


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