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A Look at Some Fighters to Watch in 2014

By Bill Tibbs


With 2013 all wrapped up, we look at the year ahead and a few of the fighters who might be fun to keep an eye on.
 
WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson -Won all four in 2013. Picked up WBC title, drilling defending champ Chad Dawson in one round. Spanked Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew in title defences. Fight fans are clamoring to see fireworks-filled Stevenson vs. Sergey Kovalev. Undefeated Russian bomber is the fight for “Superman.”
 
IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins - Interest factor here as the former “Executioner,” now “Alien,” approaches age 50. A careful, economic style but the ageless Philly phenom usually wins, is beating guys half his age and is a living legend still doing it 25 years after turning pro. “B-Hop” and Adonis Stevenson at a catchweight perhaps?

WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward - He’s healthy and he’s back. Schooled tough, previously undefeated Edwin Rodriguez in only fight of 2013. Holds wins over Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Chad Dawson. The “Son of God” is looking for a big fight in the New Year. Maybe he takes on Lucian Bute vs. Jean Pascal winner?
 
WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin - Won all four of his fights in 2013, defending his WBA and IBO titles. Finished off the year schooling feared puncher Curtis Stevens. Has a title defence in February, then let’s see “GGG” vs. Felix Sturm or lineal World Champion Sergio Martinez (although if Sergio wants to wait to possibly cash in on the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes, he’ll avoid dangerous Golovkin).
 
WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez - Hopefully healed up and ready to return, now possibly in June against Miguel Cotto. Holds wins over Martin Murray, Matthew Macklin, Paul Williams, Darren Barker, Kelly Pavlik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Cotto is a safe fight with a big name (although he looked rejuvenated in his last outing, Cotto seems to be in highest paid, elite-level, gatekeeper role now). Perhaps building toward Sergio vs. Floyd Mayweather at a catchweight down the line?
 
WBA/WBA junior middleweight champion/WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather - Options are endless for the biggest draw in boxing and the biggest earner in sports. Who does he fight? Anyone he wants! More Manny Pacquiao chatter as of late but promotional commitments may derail that one. “Money” and Golden Boy Promotions will want to run the show and Pacquiao’s promoter Top Rank Promotions may not want to play by only the former’s rules. It’s getting harder and harder to find a fighter who can compete with the 45-0 (26) pound-for-pound champion. If you are fighting him, go after him; throw Hail Mary bombs and hope you hit paydirt. If you give him a round or two to figure you out, you’re done. Although Shane Mosley caught him as flush on the button as you could hope and Mayweather weathered that storm, so he even appears to have George Chuvalo’s whiskers when necessary.
 
Adrien Broner - Former WBA welterweight champion “The Problem” had a big one recently in tough guy Marcos Maidana, who thumped him, dropped him twice and relieved him of his welterweight title. Shawn Porter, Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao were all fun possibilities but I assume their handlers will be giving Marcos a buzz. Broner’s return bout will generate a lot of interest to see how he responds to his first loss. He’ll be matched very carefully in rebuild. Not unlike his chin, the Broner brand took a couple of huge hits in 2013.
 
IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter - Surprised everyone but himself with strong, one-sided win over Devon Alexander. Looked confident and determined in title win. “Showtime” and Marcos Maidana would be a fun one to open 2014.
 
WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley - The guy just keeps winning. Holds wins over Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Manny Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez. Maybe Bradley punches the Mayweather golden ticket in 2014?
 
WBC/WBA junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia -Like the aforementioned Timothy Bradley, the tough-as-nails Philly champ continues to beat everyone put in front of him. Now at 27-0 (16) with wins over Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Erik Morales, Garcia is being talked about for Mayweather. Lots of options for big fights with Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Alvarado, Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao and Paulie Malignaggi, all cooking in and around his kitchen.
 
WBO junior lightweight championMiguel Garcia -Undefeated and very talented. The 33-0 (28) Oxnard, CA. champion is very good at all aspects of the game. He also has one of the best trainers in the sport, his brother and former world champion Robert training him. It is going to take a great fighter to beat Mikey as he clocks into work on January 25 in NYC on HBO against tough Juan Carlos Burgos. This kid just may be boxing’s next superstar...polite, humble, well-spoken and very good.
 
WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido - Hard to not cheer for this overachieving, old-school tough guy. Couldn’t be in a bad fight if he tried. The WBO featherweight champ is all action, all night. First test of the year is Vasyl Lomachenko who won the WBO international featherweight title in pro debut. Outstanding amateur looking to take fast track to major world title but iron-tough Salido will look to derail plans.Vasyl better bring it and then some because Salido will get in his grill from the get-go. If amateur star thinks Salido is a “gimme,” he might get a surprise.
 
Also, keep an eye on...
 
Andy Ruiz - Undefeated heavyweight contender. A Mexican heavyweight champion would do boffo biz among Latino fight fans. This guy is a sleeper and is quietly going about dismantling whomever they put him in with. Don’t let the easy going smile fool you; Ruiz is all business in the ring. Don’t be surprised to hear about him beating a heavyweight contender this year.
 
Jose Benavidez - Remember him? Hot prospect that was in shutdown mode for a while so his hand could heal. If Benavidez stays healthy, he’s a player. Great skill set, long and lanky for his weight (147), good defense and he can crack.
 
Jessie Magdaleno - Undefeated, Las Vegas banger, 17-0 (13), who is all-action. This super bantam is must-see TV.
 
This is article is dedicated to the memory of Franky Leal, Ken Norton, Tommy Morrison, Michael Walker, Emile Griffith, Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala, Javier Jauregui, Carl Williams, Johnny Bos, Omar Henry, Earl Morton, Marion Thomas, Richard Christmas and Bobby Smead, who sadly left us in 2013.
 
Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.
 
 
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