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Kyle Raymond - 12/28/2004

With the final fight of 2004 coming to a close, one wonders who will lead the sport in 2005. In 2004 we saw fighters like Miguel Cotto, Jermain Taylor, and Rocky Juarez elevate themselves to contender status. We also saw fighters like Diego Corrales, Glen Johnson, and Winky Wright really make a name for themselves. It was a great year of boxing as always, but now it is time to move on and take a look ahead to 2005

The start of the new year seems to be looking promising, as Floyd Mayweather will start things off against the dangerous Henry Bruseles and a week later Arturo Gatti will take on Jesse James Leija. Most people though, look at Spinks-Judah 2 as the first real big fight of the new year though, as their first fight was close and a good fight. Spinks is looking to make a statement and make himself a name a rough sport. Floyd Mayweather is looking to do the same thing, as he is looking for superstardom, which is hard to come by in boxing. Arturo Gatti is a superstar due to his blood and guts attitude, which can get him in trouble at times, but he is a fan favorite. Jesse James Leija has resurrected his career and Henry Bruseles is looking to make a name for himself as well. The first three fights of 2005 look to be really good ones, and will set the pace for 2005

Now, as we all know boxing always has emerging fighters who come out of nowhere to take the boxing world by storm. Last year it was Glen Johnson, Winky Wright, and Diego Corrales. This year has a lot of potential for some fighters, but I feel Kingsley Ikeke and Cory Spinks will be two boxers who really could emerge as top fighters by the end of the year. I know there are a lot of other boxers out there who could easily claim this spot, but I picked these two based on what fights they could get and their skill level. Spinks is a very classy boxer who will definitely get a couple big fights, with Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya moving down in weight. Also, Kostya Tszyu could be moving up which sets up another big fight and Spinks already has the rematch set with Zab Judah. If The Next Generation plays his cards right he can win these big fights and really set himself up as a top pound for pound fighter. Kingsley Ikeke is sort of an unknown commodities as of right now, but that could all change. Ikeke has been avoided in the past, but now things will be different. I expect him to get some fights this year, simply because they will need to sort some things out in the middleweight division. He may not get the huge prize, in a title fight, but by the end of the year boxing fans will know who Kingsley Ikeke is.

It is always interesting to predict who will be champion in each division by the end of the year. Most of the time everybody is wrong in these types of things, but sometimes you get some right so lets go. We will start in the light flyweight division where there are quite a few talented fighters. I'll take Nelson Dieppa to be champion outright by the end of the year. Jorge Arce has had problems making weight and he could move up and Victor Burgos would get beat by Dieppa in my opinion. Dieppa is fresh and has good skills to give anybody problems in this weight division. He has also gotten exposure, as he was on the undercard of Tyson-Williams and won a decisive fight against Ulises Solis. It's a good division, but Dieppa will come out on top.

The flyweight division also has some talent and even a couple emerging talents. Brian Viloria and newly crowned Vic Darchinyan have come up in 2004. I donít think Viloria will get his title in 2005, but he is awful close. I expect Vic Darchinyan to be champion by the end of 2005, as he dethroned Irene Pacheco. Vic is a breath of fresh air, as he is also fresh at 22-0 and seems ready to make his run.

The 115 pound division is a very deep division. Ivan Hernandez and Martin Castillo have emerged as champions and Mark Johnson and Eric Morel have seemed to fall. Ivan Hernandez is an aggressive fighter, but Martin Castillo is a very good fighter. I'm going to have to go with Castillo to be the outright champ by the end of 2005

Bantamweight seems to have only one ruler, and that is Rafael Marquez. He has dominated the division ever since his destruction of Tim Austin in 2003. Cruz Carbajal seems a little too rugged to take on Marquez and he has taken out every other contender. However, I think Marquez will move up in weight to look for bigger fights. This will open up the door for many fighters, but a prospect by the name of Silence Mabuza stands out to me. I think after Marquez moves up he will make his move and take over the bantamweight division. He has a very good chance of being champ after 2005 is over.

The featherweights are a very deep bunch, with any one of them being able to take over. In Jin Chi and Rocky Juarez are two top contenders, but I doubt their chances to make it all the way to the top. It will either come down to Marquez or Pacquiao. I feel Marquez will take this fight and the title when they meet in February. Marquez should hold it through 2005 unless he gets a big money fight at 130, which will not happen because they donít call him the avoided one for nothing

The junior lightweights aren't as interesting as 2004, as most of its combatants have moved up in weight. A couple featherweights have moved up though which makes this division compelling. I expect Morales to move up in weight which will open up the door once again for Nate Campbell to shine. Nate Campbell will be 130 pound champion before the end of the year and has the tools to beat anybody in the division.

Since many junior lightweights have moved up to lightweight this is one of the deepest divisions in boxing. There is Diego Corrales, Acelino Freitas, Jose Luis Castillo, Juan Diaz, Julio Diaz, Juan Lazcano, and many other contenders. It's hard to predict which of these or others could come out on top in 2005. I personally feel Corrales and Castillo could move up in weight, which will leave the door open for other fighters. Acelino Freitas has the skills to take over this division, and with the door wide open I think he will take it. Freitas is supposed to have a fight with Julio Diaz, and if he wins that, he may try to unify. Freitas will be champ by the end of 2005.

Tommorow: Junior Welterweight-Heavyweight.

Kyle Raymond

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