Boxing's fall finish starts on Saturday, when Joe Calzaghe takes on Mikkel Kessler in perhaps the most significant super middleweight fight in more than a decade.
Calzaghe, who is 43-0 with 32 knockouts, will defend his WBO title against Kessler, who is 39-0 with 29 knockouts, in front of an expected crowd of at least 50,000 in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday, with Kessler's WBA and WBC belts up for grabs.
Fans sounded off on that fight, as well as offering opinions on numerous other of the fall's top bouts. I'll take on questions about Calzaghe-Kessler, as well as the Nov. 10 WBA welterweight title fight between Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley and the upcoming rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor, in this edition of the weekly mailbag.
This is the first of my boxing-only mailbags, which will run every Tuesday here at Yahoo! Sports. If you're looking for my MMA mailbag, it runs today as well and you can reach it by going to our new MMA page.
My answers are in italics below the questions.
I don't think Joe Calzaghe is going to be able to impose his will on Mikkel Kessler the way he did on Jeff Lacy. Kessler may not be as well known as Lacy, but he's a far more complete fighter.
Calzaghe has the advantage fighting at home, and I'm afraid if it goes to a decision that Kessler won't get a fair shake.
But I say he won't have to worry about that and that he'll knock him out in the late rounds.
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I was talking with Oscar De La Hoya the other day, and he was raving about Kessler. He said Kessler was as good an all-around fighter as he's seen. One of the reasons so many people are interested in this fight is because it's so hard to know how to pick. Either guy can win.
JOE C. WALES
Kessler has only fought guys who can't fight back. Calzaghe has fast hands and power. This is another easy fight for Calzaghe, who in my opinion is the best fighter in the world. How many guys in your poll are legitimate boxing experts?
I don't think there's much question that Calzaghe has the faster hands of the two. And if Kessler thinks he can't punch, he ought to talk to Lacy first. Calzaghe hits plenty hard. But sorry, Tyus. You're not going to force me to give up my pick just yet. You'll have to wait for the weekend for my pick, when I include it in my breakdown package. I'll give you a hint, though: I'm going with the European fighter.
WARD VS. MIRANDA?
What do you think of the potential Andre Ward vs. Edison Miranda match? A lot of people seem to think it will be a Miranda blowout. I think Andre is a natural super middleweight. He was struggling to make middleweight, just like Miguel Cotto did at junior welterweight.
Edison Miranda is a vastly overrated fighter. He has very good power, but little defense and no technique. But to beat him, one has to have the power to keep him back and not allow him to swarm. At this stage, I'm not sure Ward is there yet. In six months, nine months, perhaps. In 18 months, for sure. But I think Ward isn't fully developed yet as a pro and would have trouble with Miranda if the fight were to be made any time soon.
There is a very common saying in Puerto Rico, and I believe I've heard it somewhere in the U.S., as well: "Dogs who bark, don't bite." Well, Miguel Cotto doesn't bark. He makes you believe he's a harmless, warm-hearted, easy-going Golden Retriever. Then, you tap his head and he turns into the relentless pitbull that he is inside the ring, and tears your body into pieces. It's reverse psychology.
Elvin X. Lopez
Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Both Cotto and Shane Mosley do their talking in the only place that matters. I'm not sure how much psychology there is in it, but Cotto is one of the guys who could get away with talking, because he backs it up in the ring.
Why has the heavyweight division dissolved so much? What upcoming fights should I look for in the heavyweight class? Who are some underrated heavyweight fighters I should check out? I saw the Vitali Klitschko-Lennox Lewis fight a few days ago on video for the first time. Now that was a pretty good fight.
This is perhaps the most common question I receive. The heavyweights are a mess. There are no truly great heavyweights. The closest of this bunch is Wladimir Klitschko, but he has more than a few flaws. Alexander Povetkin, who stopped Chris Byrd the other day, is a guy who has the possibility to be a significant player in the division. There aren't a lot, though. There are a lot of reasons to be excited by the future of boxing. The heavyweight division isn't one of them, though.
Juan Manuel Marquez made a poor business decision when he turned down a rematch with Manny Pacquiao in 2004. Marquez could have corrected it earlier, but instead Marco Antonio Barrera got the opportunity to fight Pacquiao again, got the big bucks and retired. Marquez has been ducking Pacquiao for different flimsy reasons and he will do it again. I just know what his line will be, "I'm the champion, I've got more to lose, so I should get the bigger bucks." When will Marquez realize that it's Pacquiao who is much more popular, in demand and will bring in the big bucks, not him? Remember the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight? Foreman was the champion but both had the same purse? Is Marquez just plain dumb? Or his head is too big? Or is he just plain scared of what Pacquiao can do to him?
Noel V. Meneses
If I had to bet, I'd bet Marquez would jump on a rematch with Pacquiao now. You're right, though, Noel. He was way off the mark passing up $750,000 for the rematch with Pacquiao. HBO offered $1.5 million total for the fight, half going to Pacquiao and half to Marquez. Marquez, through trainer-manager Nacho Beristain, demanded more than $1.5 million for himself. He totally overplayed his hand. Here's hoping that he, and, perhaps more importantly, Mr. Beristain, has learned his lesson.
GREAT WHITE HOPE
The only reason for the Pavlik/Taylor rematch being worth watching for many, if not the majority, of people, is the skin color of the combatants. I know it might seem crass to you or others to hear this and we would all like to think that we live in a perfect color blind utopia, but get real! Kelly Pavlik is the real deal and I'm so glad the middleweight division has a real champ. Maybe this will help boxing continue to revive itself. Even so, make no mistake that Pavlik is a "Great White Hope," a Caucasian Messiah of sorts to the average white boxing fan. He will be more prominent than any middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler provided he keeps winning.
Unfortunately, Isaiah, the world is full of bigots and racists. But the reason this fight is happening is not race. Did you see the first fight? It was a spectacular battle. I've watched it three times since I've returned from Atlantic City, where I saw the fight live. And while I agree that some whites will see Pavlik as a "Great White Hope" and root for him simply because of his skin color, I think he's going to become very popular because of the style he uses. He's like a middleweight version of Arturo Gatti or Diego Corrales.
CAN PETER UNIFY?
In the heavyweight division, do you think Sam Peter has the potential to unify the titles? He has good potential. If not him, then which heavyweight do you think could do it?
I doubt it. Peter has great power, but he's as flawed as any of the other heavyweights. I'd bet on Klitschko if I were to say that one of the active heavyweights is going to unify, but I wouldn't put up more than, say, a $2 bill on that happening.
DUDDY THE MAN
John Duddy was slated to fight Pavlik in early 2008, but since Jermain Taylor has invoked his right to a rematch with Pavlik, where does that leave Duddy? I was really looking forward to seeing Duddy fight Pavlik. I have been a fan of his for about a year now and feel he possibly could have taken Pavlik the distance and upset him. I am a fan of Pavlik's as well, but I'm looking out for Duddy. Who does he fight now?
Duddy will fight Dec. 8 in Belfast, Northern Ireland against the ever-dangerous TBA. Duddy is a good kid and a great ticket seller. He's enormously popular in his native Ireland and among the Irish community in New York. He's entertaining for his level, which is several notches lower than Pavlik. It wouldn't have been a competitive fight. Pavlik would have blown him out.
NO CATCH WEIGHT
A rematch for Jermain Taylor at a heavier weight (Ed. note: The bout will not be for the middleweight title and will instead be fought at a catch weight of 166 pounds) isn't a smart move. It's not at middleweight for one. A heavier Pavlik is a more dangerous puncher. Rematch clause or not, the fight should be at middleweight.
Honestly, I don't think the catch weight makes a difference for either guy. It's going to be a back-and-forth type of fight again.
Great article on Cotto. Do you think he will win? Shane Mosley uses angles and will be hard for a right-hander to hit to the body, except to counter a right. Mosley is quick as heck. Are you picking Cotto?
I haven't made my mind up yet. I was leaning toward Cotto, but Cotto gets hit a lot and Mosley is the hardest puncher he's faced. I'm starting to maybe reconsider my pick. Thankfully, I don't have to make it yet.
When are these idiot Floyd Mayweather Jr. haters out there going to realize that Ricky Hatton is nothing more than a glorified Arturo Gatti? He is slow and he likes to brawl. Mayweather is going to trash this guy maybe even worse than he did Gatti because he is even better now. Please let these idiots know this.
Idiots, consider yourselves warned. Seriously, I think Hatton is way better than Gatti, but I still think Mayweather trounces him.
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- Joe Calzaghe
- Miguel Cotto
- Kelly Pavlik
- Shane Mosley
- Manny Pacquiao
- Jermain Taylor