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Top 10 Fights Boxing Fans Need to See in 2012: Pacquiao, Bika, Barker and More

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Ahead of the first fights of the New Year, BoxingFancast runs through its wish list of fights for 2012 and the chances of each big bout coming to fruition. (Part 1 of 2).

10) Tyson Fury Vs David Price

For better or worse, Tyson Fury is fast becoming the general public’s blue eyed boy of boxing after a three fight showing on Channel 5 that has really improved the profile of the Manchester born heavyweight.

With promoter Mick Hennessy openly talking about a tilt at a world title in the next 18 months, the onus on Fury is to improve his physical conditioning and display evidence that his chin could stand up to jabs of the classier men in the division.

A fight against former Olympic bronze medalist, David Price, could be just the ticket for Fury to tick both those boxes. Price is fitter than his flamboyant rival and has shown no little power in cruising through 11 professional assignments to date. A win over old Fury foe, John McDermott should be a formality before the big domestic clash is delivered in May or June.

Likelihood rating: 8/10

9) George Groves Vs Sakio Bika

How do you solve a problem like George Groves? Since providing one of the shocks of 2011 in defeating James DeGale, Groves sat on his hands a little, allowing his former amateur rival a first shot at a European title before “Saint” George returned to the ring to dispatch Paul Smith inside two rounds at Wembley Arena in November.

Make no bones about it, the unblemished record of the two time ABA champion is something that DeGale would happily swap his European title for, however, he needs to kick on in 2012 to establish himself amongst the next wave of world class super middleweights on the horizon.

To that end, you could select any number of second tier operators in this divison for Groves to engage this year. Super Six whipping boy, Allan Green, might be a safe option else a meeting with former IBO champion Sakio Bika, may be an interesting assignment.

At 23, however, there is no rush for Groves. He will want to avoid facing a DeGale rematch this year, and despite pressure from new promoter Frank Warren, I would back him being able to delay a return fight until 2013.

Likelihood rating: 5/10

8 ) Manny Pacquiao Vs Juan Manuel Marquez

In any other year, this fight would be an absolute certainty. Juan Manuel Marquez has entered the ring on three previous occasions with the eight weight world champion only to feel let down by poor judging on each occasion. His complaints have a varying level of merit depending on the fight, however his November 2o11 meeting with the Filipino certainly had the feeling of an incredibly poor decision.

Pacquiao has taken a lot on in the last two years, both in and out of the ring, and for my money 2012 could be the final full year of his career. With political obligations pulling him one way and the constant battle to secure a meeting with Floyd Mayweather Jr dragging him in another, it may not be to much of  stretch to suggest that Marquez could be the one to lose out.

The only saving grace for the Mexican could be Mayweather’s upcoming 90 day prison term that looks set to scupper hopes of a 5 May date for Pacquiao.

Likelihood rating: 5/10

7) Martin Murray Vs Darren Barker

With toppling Felix Sturm at home proving impossible for both Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin during 2010, there may well be clamour early in the New Year for a domestic middleweight elimination mega fight.  Murray, who remains undefeated after his draw with Sturm in December, and Darren Barker, a man defeated for the first time by Sergio Martinez in October, will be looking to regain confidence ahead of further world title attempts ahead.

Murray may be more likely to secure rematch with the slippery Sturm, however with Macklin looking at a St Patrick’s Day showdown with Martinez, both men may look to wait for the outcome of that before making their next move.

Likelihood rating; 4/10

6) James DeGale Vs Andre Dirrell 

Andre Dirrell formed part of the George Groves training camp in the run up to his meeting with DeGale last spring and as the American looks to reboot his own career after nearly two years out of the ring, who better to face than the current European champion?

DeGale has made no secret of his desire to make 2012 the year of his first world title and in a highly compact super-middleweight division, the former Olympic gold medalist must start the year with a bang and a big name target if his prophecy surrounding world glory is to come true.

For the American, however, a fight of this nature may come too soon into his comeback- defeat may leave the former Super Six contender with few options.

Likelihood rating: 5/10

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