|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 21, 2016|
As the 2016 fight year gets going, it appears that at least five Philadelphia boxers are poised to get a crack at world titles before the year is over. Two of them already have title dates marked on the calendar, while three others seem to be on the brink.
Gacia gave up his 140-pound belts last year and gradually moved up to the 147-pound weight class. In the Spring, Garcia edged fellow junior welter champ Lamont Peterson in an over-the-weight non-title fight (W12 - Majority). Then Danny closed out his year with a 9th round stoppage of former champion Paulie Malignaggi in August, in a 143-pound catch weight bout.
Finally comfortable with being a full-fledged welterweight, Garcia signed for a 12 round fight with Guerrero at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (Saturday night (1/23) on FOX). Originally no title was mentioned in the build up, but about two weeks prior to fight night, the fight was suddenly sanctioned for Mayweather's vacant WBC crown.
So Garcia, already on the list of Philly champions, gets his chance to win a title in a second weight class. If he beats Guerrero on Saturday he'll become just the fourth Philly fighter to win a belt in a second weight class. The others are Benny Bass, Meldrick Taylor and Bernard Hopkins.
A 5-1 favorite, Garcia should win his second title and launch a potentially exciting 2016. There are many top-level fights for Garcia at 147 (Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Errol Spence, not to mention Tim Bradley, Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao, should he decide to fight on.
However, Hank is a skilled boxer with a great deal of confidence, and should not be counted out of any fight. Further, this is the chance that Hank has been seeking for a very long time. So he should be in rare form. He's been on the brink of a title shot many times before only to get knocked off course by an untimely defeat.
Lundy, coming off a TKO over journeyman Carlos Velasquez in his last showing, dropped two consecutive fights on HBO in his previous two starts. Lundy came off the floor to lose a close 10-rounder against Thomas Dulorme 13 months ago, and then lost a technical decision to Mauricio Herrera after a head butt halted their July scheduled 12-rounder after just five rounds. Both bouts were controversial and could easily have gone Hank's way.
Lundy will have to have a perfect night against Crawford to become champion. He's got the skills to out box the champion, but will have to be wary of Crawford's punching power all the way until the final bell.
That fight will probably come in March or April, perhaps against Krzysztof Glowacki, 25-0, 16 KOs, in a fight for the polish fighter's new WBO 200-pound title. Glowacki impressed last August when he came off the canvas to stop long-reigning champion Marco Huck in a thrilling bout at Newark's Prudential Center.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but it is a good bet that Cunningham will go for title number three, if not this Spring, ten before the close of 2016.
His reputation and the expectations that have followed him since his 2005 pro debut have cast a long shadow over his career. Many believed he would self-destruct long before any title fight came along. However, Hunter has ridden out many ups and downs and now has apparently reached the moment he's been waiting for.
Hunter has split from many promoters and managers through the years, burning just about every bridge he's crossed over his ten years in the pro ring. Most recently, Hunter fell out of the nest of Golden Boy, the promotional company most of us felt would finally help him to the top. However, Hunter has a knack for souring on just about everything and everyone he's encountered. Golden Boy was no exception.
Luckily, Hunter forged a new relationship with GH3 Promotions and recently the IBF ordered a title bout between Outlaw and Lee Selby, 22-1, 8 KOs, of Wales. Selby won the IBF strap last year and has defended it once.
Rumor has it that Hunter will be his next challenger. Given the opportunity, Hunter should be able to bring the title back to the US and firm up his own legend, which has been feeling a little loose of late.
If that fight actually happens, it probably will be in the first half of 2016.
Coming off his stellar rise in 2013 and 2014, most would have guessed (wrongly) that 2015 would bring Williams a title shot. As good as it was, perhaps even his best year yet, 2015 proved to be full of frustration and delay. Williams was avoided all year, and even after his 93-second annihilation of Luciano Cuello, 35-3, 17 KOs, on national TV, still remained on hold.
Early this year, there was some talk of a 154-pound tournament that would include Williams as one of its participants. However, nothing is set in stone. But Williams can not be denied much longer.
Williams is one of the most talented boxers from Philadelphia and is advised by boxing power broker Al Haymon. Those two factors usually add up to opportunity. We will see if that recipe works for J-Rock in 2016. My money says that it will.
Heavyweight Amir Mansour, 22-1-1, 16 KOs, fights undefeated Dominic Breazeale on the Garcia-Guerrero undercard Saturday. A win could put the neglected Mansour on course for bigger and better things in 2016. A loss will give the skeptics a great reason to avoid him some more.
Heavyweight Joey Dawejko, 16-4-2, 9 KOs, has been on a nice roll over the past two years. He went 8-1, 6 KOs in 2014 and 2015, losing only to Mansour last May. Dawejko appeared on the brink of very big things after his nationally televised first round KO of Natu Visinia, but his career has gone quiet ever since (August). That could mean there are some behind-the-scenes contract negotiation going on.
Heavyweight Eddie Chambers, 42-4, 23 KOs, allegedly signed with Al Haymon last year, but we haven't heard a peep from the talented boxer since then. Chances are his next fight will be against a contender, with Chambers sent in as fodder. However, we all know that Chambers has the skills to pull an upset no matter who he faces. If he can pull a shocker, he may bounce into a significant fight before the end of the year.
It makes sense that Bryant Jennings, 19-2, 10 KOs, figures to use 2016 as a rebuilding year after suffering two high-profile losses in 2015. But heavyweight Jennings is not far from being right back in the mix.
Heavyweight Travis Kauffman, 30-2, 22 KOs, had his coming out party in December against Chris Arreola on national TV. Most felt he should have gotten the 12-round decision given to Arreola. However, his showing was strong enough to earn him another chance at a major name. If he can keep winning, he could get a real shot next year.
Camden, NJ junior lightweight Jason Sosa, 18-1-4, 14 KOs, surprised everyone with his gutsy draw against Nicholas Walters in December. Although the draw was hotly disputed, Sosa's performance was good enough to prove he belongs on the big stage. There are so many good fighters at 130 that Sosa is almost assured another high profile fight, maybe even in his next start.
Super middleweight Jesse Hart, 19-0, 16 KOs, keeps winning and flirted with bigger game in 2015. He has many good qualities - size, strength, personality - but still remains untested on the big stage. 2016 will be his year for exactly that. Hart should get a fight with a major player during the year and if he wins, will be one step away from a title fight.
Junior lightweight Tevin Farmer, 20-4-1, 5 KOs, made a huge impression in his last fight, an 8th round TKO of seasoned Daulis Prescott on national TV. The big win capped a three-year, 13-bout winning streak that made him a fighter to watch. However, since that August victory over Prescott, Farmer's career has gone quiet in the same way that his stablemate Joey Dawejkos has. The fact that they have the same manager may have something to do with this. Perhaps he's working on a 'two-for' for Farmer and Dawejko. In any case, Farmer is ready to prove that he's a contender. He'll get his chance in 2016.
So let's get ready for a big 2016 with many Philly fighters making plenty of noise on the national scene.