About the Post

Author Information

Robert Cartagena is a boxing correspondent for SFBay.ca. He graduated from SF State in 2011 with a B.A. in journalism and spent more than a year contributing monthly articles to The Hudsucker, an online magazine with a blog twist. He has a passion for sports journalism -- particularly boxing -- as well as film reviews. He also enjoys blogging and aspires to be a professional actor one day.

Robert’s 2013 Boxing Wish List

I was four years old when I witnessed my very first boxing match, which was the WBA and IBF heavyweight title bout between defending champion Evander Holyfield and challenger Bert Cooper on November 23, 1991. I remember that bout simply for the warrior mentality Holyfield displayed that night, retaining his titles via seventh-round technical knockout. Throughout the years, I have come to respect Holyfield as one of my all-time favorite fighters – as well as one of the all-time greats – for being such a warrior and champion as well as a true sportsman.

Fast forward almost 22 years later and I am still following boxing like the enthusiast I am. If you know me very well, then you know that boxing is my favorite sport. In fact, it encouraged me to study journalism in hopes of becoming a boxing writer for ESPN or Yahoo! Sports in the near future.

While 2012 was a memorable year for boxing, it appears it will be in for quite an eventful 2013, especially with its busy schedule within the next few months. In honor of the new year, I have compiled a list of the four dream bouts I would love to see before the end of the year.

I haven’t produced many “Top 10” or “Best of” lists, but this was simply something I wanted to do because of how excited I got whenever I thought about each bout. Plus, I thought it would be fitting to kick off my new year writing about the sport I love.

For your reading pleasure, I proudly present my boxing wish list for 2013!

Danny Garcia (right) tags Amir Khan flush with a right hand during their July 14 world title bout Image Credit: Chris Hutty, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Danny Garcia (right) tags Amir Khan flush with a right hand during their July 14 world title bout Image Credit: Chris Hutty, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios

Within the span of almost seven months, Philadelphia native Danny Garcia transitioned from undefeated prospect to junior welterweight kingpin in 2012, defeating Mexican ring legend Erik Morales twice (once via crushing fourth-round knockout) and shockingly knocking out Amir Khan in the fourth round to solidify his elite status.

Garcia (25-0, 16 KO) has also beaten former world champions Nate Campbell (10-round unanimous decision) and Kendall Holt (12-round split decision). But the fact remains that he has yet to face any serious adversity from a dangerous opponent.

Enter Brandon Rios.

At 26 years old, Rios (31-0-1, 23 KO) provides the best – and most dangerous – test for Garcia with his relentless fighting style. Neither fighter is the slickest boxer in the 140 lb. division, which would ultimately favor the heavier Rios should he force Garcia into a dogfight.

The exchanges may favor Garcia, however, if he catches Rios flush with his trademark counter left hook, the same punch that spelled the end for Morales and Khan. Keep into consideration that Rios was floored by a left hook in the first round of his January 2006 bout with Joel Ortega – which Rios went on to win via fifth-round KO.

Garcia is scheduled to defend his WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine world titles against Zab Judah on April 27. While beating Judah will add another former titleholder’s name to his résumé, taming a raging bull like Rios will leave no doubt that Garcia is the real deal.

Rios made quite a splash in his junior welterweight debut against Mike Alvarado this past October in what many considered the fight of the year. He’s now hungry for his slice of 140 lb. gold – and Garcia is on his radar!

Andre Ward vs. Jean Pascal

Andre Ward further enhanced his elite status with his 10th-round destruction of Chad Dawson in September (Image Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu).

Oakland’s own Andre Ward has pretty much beaten the best in the super middleweight division – with the exception of Lucian Bute. In his last outing, Ward turned in his most impressive performance so far, destroying light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in 10 rounds this past September.

The logical move for Ward, the reigning WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine champion, is to move up to light heavyweight and continue to dominate the competition. A rematch against Dawson at his natural weight of 175 lbs. is a significant challenge (especially if he duplicates his previous feat). But the true challenge for Ward (26-0, 14 KO) is against the only other man who has beaten Dawson: Jean Pascal.

While Ward has bested his last 26 opponents, Pascal (27-2-1, 16 KO) is not to be underestimated. He’s a dangerous opponent whose fighting style could cause trouble for the Bay Area native. He has also faced his fair share of elite talent, including Dawson, Carl Froch and Bernard Hopkins.

Pascal is scheduled to face Dawson in a rematch for the WBC and Ring Magazine light heavyweight titles on May 25. Should Pascal beat Dawson again, that should be enough incentive for Pascal – let alone, Ward – to pursue such a megafight.

Ward has recently had difficulty finding new challenges. He was originally scheduled to defend his titles against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik on Jan. 26, but shoulder surgery following an injury suffered during a November sparring session ultimately cancelled the bout.

Aside from Bute, Gennady Golovkin and possibly universally recognized middleweight champion Sergio Martínez, there are not many challenges left for Ward at 168 lbs. He could pursue rematches with Froch and Mikkel Kessler (whom Ward defeated to capture the WBC and WBA titles, respectively), but he does not want to limit his choices to previous foes.

A bout with Pascal is the best choice, because while Pascal has much to gain from it, Ward would benefit from another huge victory. Defeating an elite light heavyweight like Pascal will not only further cement his status as one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best, but also establish him as a major player at 175 – and even help carve out a hall-of-fame legacy.

Nonito Donaire vs. Abner Mares

Nonito Donaire (left) earned fighter of the year honors with an impressive 2012 campaign, including a third-round knockout of Jorge Arce (Image Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip).

This bout is simply one of the best that can be made in boxing.

Filipino star Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KO) had quite a 2012 campaign, winning all four of his bouts in emphatic fashion to not only claim two major 122 lb. titles, but also solidify his elite status as junior featherweight kingpin. Such a rarity for a fighter of Donaire’s caliber earned him well deserved fighter of the year honors from various sports outlets, including ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports and the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13 KO), meanwhile, has quickly become one of boxing’s hottest young stars, defeating elite names such as Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko (twice) en route to winning the IBF bantamweight title.

Mares also had an impressive junior featherweight debut this past April, dominating Eric Morel to win the vacant WBC title. He capped off his year with the biggest fight of his career so far, snapping Anselmo Moreno’s 10-year undefeated winning streak in November.

Mares continues to impress with each victory, establishing himself as not only the best junior featherweight not named Donaire, but also a potential P4P candidate. Donaire, on the other hand, is simply one of the sport’s best. He may not be as explosive as fellow countryman Manny Pacquiao, but the San Leandro product is a superb boxer-puncher who can effectively counterpunch as well.

Fans have been clamoring for this bout for quite some time. The only roadblock preventing it from happening is the publicized feud between Donaire’s promoter Top Rank Boxing and Mares’ promoter Golden Boy Promotions.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer recently sent Top Rank a formal offer of $3 million in order to make the fight. According to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, if a deal is finalized, then Donaire, Top Rank and Donaire’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, will make a deal on how to split the $3 million between them.

Whether or not he fights Mares this year, a jump up to featherweight is inevitable for Donaire – but he would send quite a statement to many featherweights if he emphatically beats down Mares.

Amir Khan (right) lands a right hand on Carlos Molina en route to a 10th-round stoppage on Dec. 15 (Image Credit: Jeff Gross, Getty Images).

Amir Khan vs. Victor Ortiz

Amir Khan was in control of his bout with Garcia this past July when Garcia sent him crashing to the canvas with a flush counter left hook in the third round. Khan was badly hurt and failed to fully recuperate, allowing Garcia to finish the job with only 32 seconds remaining in the fourth round.

Victor Ortiz, meanwhile, was looking ahead towards a major super welterweight title showdown with undefeated Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the fall – but Josesito Lopez derailed those plans by breaking Ortiz’ jaw and forcing him to quit on his stool at the end of the ninth round this past June.

Both men are now at a crossroads in their careers following such devastating setbacks in 2012. A significant victory over the other, however, could ultimately help rejuvenate them.

Khan vs. Ortiz may not be the most significant bout of 2013 – let alone, the most anticipated. But the realization that their careers will ultimately end if they suffer one more loss would be enough incentive for them to leave it all on the line, and could ultimately result in a compelling fight to the finish.

Khan (27-3, 19 KO) recently rebounded from the Garcia loss with a dominant 10th-round stoppage of Carlos Molina in December. Whereas Molina was a lesser-known fighter, Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KO) is a household name who still has significant star power.

Ortiz is also one of the strongest welterweights in the sport and like Brandon Rios, he won’t hesitate to turn a boxing match into a dogfight. Two of Khan’s professional losses have come by KO, the result of blistering punches to the chin. Ortiz is not a one-punch puncher, but he has enough force in his punches to bring any opponent – let alone, Khan – to their knees.

Khan, meanwhile, has dominated his fair share of opponents – and even sent some to the canvas – with his blinding speed and power. His first-round knockdown of Marcos Maidana in December 2010 comes to mind. Khan put the physically strong Maidana on his belly with a blistering left-right combination to the body that looked like it would send Maidana home early.

Khan recently expressed his intent to secure a rematch with Garcia later this year, but the possibility of Garcia vs. Ortiz is not out of the question as well.

No matter who emerges victorious in this bout, it has barnburner written all over it – and this is one dream match I’ll definitely tune into should it become reality!

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