COMMENTARY | As the end comes to an incredible year for boxing, the sport is not quite done giving back to the fans.
Although all nine bouts of note in December take place on just two dates, the action will be plentiful for fight fans ready for a killer 2014.
Here's a look at December's "must see" fights:
Paulie Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KOs) vs. Zab Judah (42-8, 29 KOs)
Both fighters, as veteran two-division world champs, have been recycled several times through the 140 and 147 lb. divisions, but have maintained just enough competitive integrity to be given yet another high profile bout. This welterweight clash between Brooklyn natives at Brooklyn's Barclays Center will be for one more shot at a world title and the right to consider himself among the division's elite for just a little bit longer.
Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) vs. Shawn Porter (22-0-1, 14 KOs)
26-year-old IBF welterweight champ, Alexander, has underachieved for much of his career, delivering many tepid, flat performances well below his physical potential. Against Porter, another 26-year-old who has yet to live up to his potential, Alexander looks to deliver a showcase performance for a play at bigger bouts in 2014.
Erislandy Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) vs. Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KOs)
An important junior middleweight clash that may turn out to be a high-level boxing chess match, Lara-Trout will likely be light on action, but heavy on skill. The winner moves on to a title shot the following year and proper recognition as one of the division elite.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) vs. Joseph Agbeko (29-4, 22 KOs)
Rigondeaux's masterpiece against Nonito Donaire earlier in the year set the bar high for the Cuban Olympic hero. Agbeko is tough, versatile, and a former world champion looking to reignite a career stalled by tough losses and business disputes with former promoter Don King.
James Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs) vs. Glen Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs)
Back after twenty-one months of inactivity full of chaos, business conflicts, and odd behavior, Kirkland returns to the ring against tough, undefeated prospect, Tapia in a sink or swim bout. When 100% focused, Kirkland is a force of nature and one of the sport's most dominant offensive fighters. The problem is that Kirkland tends to be his own worst enemy and will be facing stiff competition for someone coming back from such a long layoff. The winner of Kirkland-Tapia will use the victory as a springboard to bigger and better things next year.
Darren Barker (26-1, 16 KOs) vs. Felix Sturm (38-3-2, 17 KOs)
The UK's Barker, the new IBF middleweight champ, will be making his first defense in a near no-win situation by fighting former world titlist Felix Sturm in Sturm's German home base. If he should somehow emerge victorious, Barker may be lured back to the United States for a unification bout against WBA champ, Gennady Golovkin or WBO titlist, Peter Quillin.
Television: No U.S. Television
Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) vs. Marcos Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs)
Broner may be a future superstar, but that claim will be put to the test against the heavy-handed Argentine battler, Maidana. Questions regarding Broner's chin and resolve will be answered in this one as Maidana will push hard, desperately in need of a main stage victory at this point of his career. Broner should be looking to entertain after a tepid and disappointing decision victory over Paulie Malignaggi to capture the WBA welterweight title in June.
Keith Thurman (21-0, 19 KOs) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (28-8-3, 18 KOs)
Thurman, the heavy-handed 25-year-old prospect continues to fight for his reputation as he takes on the tough, upset-minded Mexican battler, Karass in what promises to be an entertaining brawl. Karass is coming off a brutal TKO upset of Andre Berto in July and looking to continue his career momentum with another high-profile upset.
Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KOs) vs. Cesar Seda (25-1, 17 KOs)
The 25-year-old Mexican, Santa Cruz, has become one of the sport's young stars and most entertaining fighters and he'll be defending his WBC junior featherweight title against talented Puerto Rican, Seda. With no Puerto Rican fighters holding world titles at the moment, Seda will be looking to end the year on a positive note for La Isla Del Encanto.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
- Sports & Recreation
- James Kirkland
- Paulie Malignaggi
- Devon Alexander