The hottest boxing action in any given calendar year usually peters out before December rolls around. Big cards almost always take place in November - and that will happen again this year thanks to Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III - and sometimes the first weekend of December, but that's usually as far as it goes.
Not in 2011. Now that Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko will square off again on December 3 and the Super Six Final between Andre Ward and Carl Froch has been rescheduled for December 17, there's a decent chance that the sport is saving its best for last.
We're still not pushing things into Christmas or New Year's, but the final month is still looking extremely exciting for boxing fans. Here's a look at what's in store:
December 3 - Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II, Mike Jones vs. Sebastian Lujan, plus Brandon Rios, Pawel Wolak and Mike Lee all in action (HBO PPV); Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko II, Anselmo Moreno vs. Vic Darchinyan (Showtime)
The recent return of Floyd Mayweather and the completion of the Pacquiao-JMM trilogy might be bigger deals, but in terms of action, compelling storylines and stars in the making, this is shaping up to be the highlight of the year in boxing. Cotto and Margarito put on a thriller the first time they faced off, and with the unique circumstances surrounding their rematch, it would be a disappointment if they didn't lay it all on the line again.
The PPV undercard isn't too shabby either. Rios is approaching the point where he is a must-see performer, and Jones and Wolak have each been in entertaining fights over the past few years.
Like Cotto, Agbeko has every reason to be fired up for his rematch, feeling like he was robbed during his first fight with Mares thanks to repeated low blows that went unpunished. I still like Mares the second time around, but the prior controversy could be just the spice that makes this extra special. Having Darchinyan on the card too is just icing on the cake.
Now if only I can figure out a way to hook two TVs up side by side...
December 10 - Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson (HBO)
Once Pacquiao and Mayweather decide to hang up the gloves, Khan has as good a chance as anyone to take the torch from them as the top draw in the sport. He's talented and charismatic and will only turn 25 two days before his upcoming fight.
Peterson may not be the most compelling opponent for Khan, but he's not exactly a slouch either. Since getting badly outclassed by Timothy Bradley two years ago, he's had two knockout victories plus a hard-fought draw with Victor Ortiz.
If Khan manages to stop Peterson (who's never been knocked out), that will simply add to his top 10 pound-for-pound credentials.
December 17 - Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch - Super Six World Boxing Classic Final (Showtime)
After all the bumps in the road for the Super Six, we can't be comfortable the final is actually going to take place until both men are in the ring. Yet the tournament was still a worthwhile experiment in the eyes of this writer, and the winner should enjoy a higher profile than he would have achieved on his own.
The actual match-up between Ward and Froch probably won't be as compelling as some of the other December bouts, but there's always a chance that Froch's recent harsh words over the fight's postponement will liven things up. If it turns into a slugfest, this will go down as a very pleasant surprise, and even if it's a tactical affair, I can think of much worse ways to close out the year.
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