Friday, April 11, 2008

Past to the Future?

With less than 24 hours to go before boxing's version of April Madness begins, one question remains: Will Saturday be a night of repeats or a renewal of stars?

In Atlantic City, NJ, rising Puerto Rican star, Miguel Cotto, faces former Contender contestant Alfonso Gomez. Given Cotto's recent showings against the likes of Zab Judah and Shane Mosley, he should go right through Gomez. But as former Contender KO victim Brian Vera showed Andy Lee when he stopped him, why a sport like boxing will always be around: It's too unpredictable.

And look out for the undercard, where former rising boxing prospect Kermit Cintron get a chance at redemption when he faces the man to give him his first defeat, Antonio Margarito. Cintron, who already faced the same dilemma his fellow Kronk stablemate is going through, will need to show that he has mentally recovered from the thorough beat down he received from Margarito the night he suffered a stoppage after 5 rounds. Very few fighters from this era have accomplished this feat.

In Tampa, FL, former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver faces IBF titlist Clinton Woods and Glen Johnson faces WBC titlist Glen Johnson. According to The Ring Magazine their No. 2-5 ranking will be in need of reshuffling. And though each fighter faces a serious detour if a loss is recorded, the pressure falls mainly on the rookie of the bunch, Dawson.

Tarver is the leader of the bunch when it comes to name recognition and purses earned. Tarver rose past the boxing stratosphere and into mainstream consciousness when he KO'd the hardly punched Jones. He also went on to star in Sylvester Stallone's critically acclaimed Rocky Balboa, part of Stallone's endless series. His fall was reminiscent of Jones's when he lost a lopsided decision over underdog and former middleweight king Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins.

Johnson gained similar acclaim as well as The Ring's 2004 Fighter of the Year award after ko'ing Jones and beating Tarver by decision. But instead of movie roles or big purses, "The Road Warrior" lost, as usual, close, controversial decisions that could have easily gone his way.

Woods has had his moments in the sun. He was burned in his first exposure when he faced then light heavyweight king Roy Jones, Jr. He rebounded well enough to fight a trilogy with Johnson, winning the IBF title in the process and is now in position to get some serious face time if he defeats Tarver.

Now the litmus test remains for "Bad Chad" who bears a resemblance to Harlem rapper Cam'ron. Dawson has all the tools to make his mark in boxing except,maybe, for the most crucial one: a rock solid chin. So far, Dawson has tasted the canvas in fights where he has stepped up in competition. This makes him a fighter of interest because fans can't be sure if he will survive an overhand right (like the one Johnson used to KO Jones) or a left hook (like the one Tarver used to KO Jones--sorry Jones, nothing personal) from a seasoned fighter with power in each hand.

Saturday night will either introduce us to boxing's future stars or usher in stars fom the past to the forefront, again.

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