Forget Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. If, or when, that fight ever happens, every fan of boxing, casual and hardcore, will pony up upwards of $100 to buy the pay-per-view of the century. After all the back and forth jostling, the spectacle leading up to the fight will probably be better than the fight itself. Mayweather will use his defensive skills to try and outbox Pacquiao while Pacquiao tries to penetrate Mayweather's defense, a task no other man has been able to accomplish. In the end, one man will stand tall and be declared the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport after a fight long overdue. Either way, the chances of the fight actually living up to its billing are slim to none. Whether fight fans like it or not, only four men have the power to make that fight happen: Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Al Haymon, and Bob Arum. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is full of it. With Bob Arum already stating he will not look to make the fight happen in 2012, fans are once again left disappointed. But have no fear fight fans! There are still great fights to be made in 2012 that are worth every penny. Below are the top 10 fights boxing fans need to see in 2012.
- Andre Ward vs. Lucian Bute (super middleweight)
Without question, the two best super middleweights in the world need to get in the ring. The winner will achieve instant fame and notoriety, along with a spot on the top five pound-for-pound list.
- Abner Mares vs. Nonito Donaire (super bantamweight)
Mares makes his super bantamweight debut on April 21st, and barring any setbacks, these two fighters instantly become two of the four best fighters in the division. A match-up would not only be entertaining, but would likely be a Fight of the Year candidate worthy of a pay-per-view slot. One thing needs to happen first, however. Golden Boy (Mares' promoter) and Top Rank (Donaire's promoter) need to start playing nice.
- Sergio Martinez vs. Floyd Mayweather (jr. middleweight/middleweight)
Rumor has it that Mayweather will return in late 2012 after being released from an 87-day prison stint. Martinez is signed to fight the winner of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Andy Lee bout. That date is set for September 15th, but with the recent news that Antonio Margarito is set to fight again on September 15th, most feel Top Rank and the WBC will allow a Chavez Jr. vs. Margarito fight to happen, once again denying Martinez the opportunity to face Chavez Jr. (Of course this is all contingent on Chavez Jr. beating Lee, which is no guarantee). Martinez would gladly stick it to Chavez Jr. if he is able to secure a fight with Mayweather and his biggest payday to date. Mayweather has flirted with the idea of a big challenge at middleweight and nobody presents a bigger challenge than Martinez. If the rumors are true, and Mayweather does return to the ring in late 2012, I fully expect Martinez to be his opponent. I just expect the fight to occur at jr. middleweight, which is no trouble for "Maravilla" to make.
- Saul Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara (jr. middleweight)
Alvarez is expected to get past Shane Mosley on May 5th, considering Mosley hasn't shown up in his last three fights. Canelo has stated his desire to return to the ring in September and it's time for him to step up and face a legitimate threat if he wants to be considered for a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather down the line. Lara would present that challenge. Lara doesn't possess great power at jr. middleweight, but his speed will certainly pose problems for Alvarez. He is a credible threat at 154 pounds and the perfect opponent to legitimize Canelo.
- Manny Pacquiao vs. Zab Judah (jr. welterweight)
Call me crazy, but if this fight takes place at 140 pounds (which is no problem for Pacquiao considering he has to overeat to make 147 pounds), Judah has a chance to upset Pacquiao. Manny is beginning to show signs of fading while Zab hasn't looked better than he did in his demolition of Vernon Paris. If Judah comes into a fight with Pacquiao with the same training and mindset he had against Paris, I might be putting my money down on "Super" Judah.
- Brandon Rios vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (jr. welterweight)
Think Marquez vs. Juan Diaz. That's what this fight will be. Best of all, if all goes according to plan Saturday night, we will likely see this fight take place on July 14th at Cowboys Stadium.
- Marcos Maidana vs. Lucas Matthysse (jr. welterweight)
The battle of Argentina's two best fighters not named Sergio Martinez. The fight has been discussed in the past and should be made soon because both guys would make seven figures fighting in their native homeland. If this fight is announced, forget about looking any further for Fight of the Year (possibly of the decade). I would submit my vote before the fight takes place. That's how confident I am it would live up to the billing. I would rather be ringside for this fight than for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.
- Seth Mitchell vs. Deontay Wilder (heavyweight)
While I am still confident that American heavyweight Chris Arreola is going to beat Wladimir Klitschko (if Arreola comes to the fight in shape), Mitchell and Wilder are America's only hopes in the foreseeable future for a legitimate heavyweight champion. Both guys are still not ready for the Klitschko brothers, but then again, who really is? The winner of this fight would instantly put themselves in the mix for a heavyweight title shot.
- Timothy Bradley vs. Amir Khan (jr. welterweight)
It didn't happen before because Bradley wanted to sign with Top Rank. Khan then overlooked Lamont Peterson in a tough loss. Both guys, however, are still the most talented jr. welterweights in the world. If Khan wins his rematch with Peterson, and Bradley loses to Pacquiao, I would love to see these two get in the ring to settle the score at 140 pounds.
- Kelly Pavlik vs. Andre Dirrell (super middleweight)
Both guys are on the comeback trail for very different reasons. Pavlik's is psychological. Dirrell's is neurological. Both, however, are talented enough to be among the best in the super middleweight division. With Dirrell's new free agent status, and Pavlik's new trainer in Robert Garcia, the winner of this fight could get the winner of Andre Ward vs. Lucian Bute.
Agree or disagree? Think you have a fight that should be on this list? Send your thoughts and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
, "Like" The Boxing Observer on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @BoxingObserver.