posted on Dec, 30 2004 @ 06:47 AM
After a pretty dismal boxing year comes a belated cause to be optimistic about 2005. Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales' super-featherweight title
battle in Las Vegas restored every sports lover's faith in the noble art. And the close decision won by the former has only served to heighten the
anticipation of a potential blockbusting fourth meeting between the pair.
Domestically, 2005 is already shaping up into a year which could finally propel boxing back onto the sports pages - or else consign it to the cutting
room floor for good. Ricky Hatton is reportedly closing in on his dream crack at light-welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, with a provisional date set
for Manchester in March.
Howard Eastman, having waited patiently for too many years, appears to have landed a shot at world middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins in
Philadelphia in February. Scott Harrison has thrown down the gauntlet to Barrera and there is a real chance the Glasgow featherweight could soon be
heading across the Atlantic to take on the best in the world.
The prospect of such mouth-watering match-ups involving our best fighters comes at a price, of course. That price is an inevitable cynicism which now
greets such hopeful pronouncements, with boxing's recent history littered with so many might-have-beens.
Unfortunately, any more pull-outs over financial wrangles or promotional small print, however genuine, will not wash. It is up to the various
fighters, promoters and television executives to seize this almost unprecedented opportunity to fling boxing back among the headlines.
The fighters by following Williams' example and taking risks which could make the difference between small-town recognition and worldwide fame. The
promoters by similarly speculating to accumulate, instead of wringing out the last remains of interest in protected fighters padding out unbeaten
And the television companies for taking a harder line on mismatches for bogus titles, and exercising a little more quality control. It is no surprise
that a sport with such an alarming propensity for shooting itself in the foot has been limping deeper towards the shadows. It may never get such a
good chance again to bound back into public prominence, and make national heroes of men who deserve it more than most.