If I had a name or phrase for 2011, it would be something like the year of the comeback or the season of the rebirth. Yeah, it sounds corny, but several fighters who had once been household names in boxing are trying to claw their way back into the limelight.
Kendall Holt, Kelly Pavlik, Zab Judah and Erik Morales are all on the comeback trail.
Judah (41-6), with wins over Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Lucas Matthysse and Kaizer Mabuza over the last 10 months, is a little bit ahead of the others in his quest. In fact, after capturing the 140-pound IBF title with a 7th-round KO of Mabuza, Judah is back in the mix for a big pay day.
Judah, 33, could have to wait for a shot at the likes of Tim Bradley or Amir Khan, though. The two were supposed to be fighting on July 23, but problems between Bradley and his promoter Gary Shaw have put a dent in those negotiations.
How about tilt with Pacquiao for Judah or possibly another shot at Floyd Mayweather? It's not as far fetched as it sounds. Pacquiao won't sit around waiting for Mayweather and will fight just about anyone, while Mayweather is almost certain to take a tune-up bout before taking on the Filipino congressman.
Judah has drawn good crowds to the Prudential Center recently and has a solid promoter in Main Events.
Holt, 29, had an easy time with Julio Diaz on Friday, scoring a third-round knockout on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. With losses to Mabuza and Bradley in the last two years, Holt (26-4) may have to get in line for another big fight, too. But he has youth on his side.
Morales (51-7) has been on the comeback trail for over a year after a three-year hiatus. The former featherweight and bantamweight champ won three straight until losing a major decision to Marcos Maidana. Morales, 34, looked spry and energetic in that bout.
Pavlik, 29, may have the easiest road to stardom. It was a little over three years ago when Pavlik (37-2) was on fire after handing Edison Miranda his first loss and following that up with two straight wins over Jermain Taylor.
The Youngstown, Ohio native was on the cusp of greatness until several personal problems halted his rise. Lopsided losses to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez were very telling of his issues.
But Pavlik looked smooth in a recent win over Alfonso Lopez. Pay no attention to the judge’s scoring, though. Two judges scored it 98-92 and 99-91. But a third scored it 95-95. Go figure.
Pavlik’s decision to stay at super middleweight is the best move he could’ve made, especially with the likes of Andre Ward and Lucian Bute becoming household names. Pavlik could end up seeing one of those two sometime in 2012.