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Haye, Froch and Khan: Will they find success in 2010?

Amir Khan Carl Froch David HayeBy William Mackay: 2009 was an exciting year for British boxing with David Haye capturing the WBA heavyweight title with a win over 7-foot Nikolay Valuev, WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch defeating American Andre Dirrell in the Super Six tournament, and Amir Khan winning the WBA light welterweight title with a 12 round decision over Andriy Kotelnik. These were all good wins for the British fighters, and it helped bring British boxing back to the forefront. But with this success, we must look forward to 2010 to see if these fighters will be able to continue with their recent success.

Below, I give my predictions of how 2010 will be for each of these fighters.

David Haye – in November 2008, Haye captured the WBA heavyweight crown with a 12 round majority decision win over Nikolay Valuev. Haye, a small heavyweight at only 6’3 217, used a combination of throwing pot shots and using movement to get the win. Later, Haye revealed that he had injured his hand early in the fight which caused him to be much more economical with his punches than he wanted to be.

Excuses aside, Haye will have to fight much better than that in 2010, if he wants to hold onto the title. Haye has a fight coming up against 37 – soon to be 38 on January 4th – in the early part of 2010. Haye will have to be busier against Ruiz than he was in his fight with Valuev or else there’s a good chance that he’ll lose. Haye doesn’t have the greatest of boxing skills, so he’s going to have to hope he can get Ruiz out of there at some point in the fight. If not, then Haye will have lot of problems and take punishment from Ruiz.

I think Haye can win this fight, but he’ll have to be much more aggressive than he looked in his fights with Monte Barrett and Valuev. Ruiz can’t be stopped by being hit with occasional pot shots. It will take a concerted effort on Haye’s part if he wants to beat him or take him out. The danger here is that Ruiz has good power and arguably better stamina than Haye. If he can last until the later rounds, Ruiz will have a better than average chance of beating Haye. However, if Haye does get by Ruiz, he says he wants to fight one of the Klitschko brothers later in the year. That will be interesting to see.

It will likely be Vitali Klitschko whom he meets up with, and I don’t like Haye’s chances at all in that fight. In fact, I think Haye will be completely blown out by Vitali in the fight and stopped early on. I think Haye can last awhile if he chooses to run all night long, but it won’t make him look good running, so I’m hoping he chooses to stand his ground and go out and swinging in the first or 2nd rounds.

That’s about all I can see the fight lasting. Vitali is just too big, too sturdy of chin and too tough for a small heavyweight like Haye to beat in my view. Haye would have a much better chance against Wladimir Klitschko, who has better offensive skills than his brother Vitali, but a much weaker chin. For Haye to get to Wladimir, he will have to beat Vitali first, and I don’t see that happening in this lifetime.

Carl Froch – 2009 was a good year for the 32-year-old Froch (26-0, 20 KO’s). He defeated Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell to retain his World Boxing Council super middleweight title. However, Froch looked anything but impressive in either of the fights, and by many accounts, he lost the fight with Dirrell in October. Froch snatched a victory over Taylor with a come from behind 12th round knockout in April, a fight in which Froch was knocked down and outclassed in the first half of the fight. He needed a knockout to win in the 12th, and did a great job of getting it.

However, Froch looked poor against Dirrell. Say what you want about Dirrell’s spoiling tactics, there’s little question that Froch looked slow, awkward and had problems connecting with his shots. He somehow was able to get squeak out a narrow 12 round split decision fighting in front of his home crowd in Nottingham, England, but it wasn’t the kind of performance that gave one the impression that Froch will be holding onto his title for long. Indeed, I would favor Dirrell if they were to fight again as long as the fight took place outside of Nottingham. Froch has a fight coming up on April 17th against former WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler in Denmark. Kessler is coming off an 11 round technical decision loss to Andre Ward in November, a fight where Kessler was dominated from start to finish.

There are some boxing writers who feel that Kessler has aged in the past year and lost some of his skills to the point where he could be ripe to be beaten by Froch. While I do think Kessler has degraded somewhat, I think his loss to Ward had nothing to do with that. I think Kessler would never have beaten a talented fighter like Ward no matter what part of his career the fight took place.

I see Kessler as being about 95% of what he was when he faced Joe Calzaghe two years ago in 2007. That was considered to be the prime for Kessler. I think there’s a huge gulf in talent between Kessler and Froch, and even if Kessler has lost 5% or slightly more with the natural aging process, I think he has more than enough to totally dominate Froch in April.

Kessler is too fast and too skilled to be taken out by a slugger like Froch. So I see Froch losing that fight, losing his title and then having to face Arthur Abraham later in the year. I see Froch losing that fight too. Froch will likely make the mistake of trying to go right at the power punching Abraham and wind up getting knocked down or possibly knocked out.

Amir Khan – Of the top three British fighters, I see Khan as being the first to be derailed in 2010. Khan has a mandatory defense coming up against the knockout artist Marcos Maidana in 2010, and unless Khan is able to somehow sidestep that fight for now so that he can take on the light hitting Paulie Malignaggi, I see Khan being destroyed by Maidana. Khan had a great 2009, beating ring legend Marco Antonio Barrera, defeating WBA light welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik, and destroying a badly over-matched Dmitry Salita. In each case, however, these fighters had little power to speak of to challenge Khan’s weak chin. That won’t be the case when/if Khan steps in the ring with Maidana. Khan will be facing a puncher with even greater power than Colombian Breidis Prescott, who destroyed Khan in a 1st round knockout in 2008.

I think Khan can do well as long as he’s kept away from big punchers like Maidana and Prescott. Khan has better skills than the vast majority of light welterweights in the division, except for a few like Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander and Kendall Holt. However, Khan’s weakness is his chin, and if he’s put in with a big puncher where he will have to fight for his life, I just don’t like his chances.

As such, if Khan’s management can keep him out of the ring with Maidana and other power punchers, I think Khan will have great success in 2010. However, for that to happen, Khan will likely have to vacate his WBA light welterweight title, because he’ll have to fight Maidana sooner or later in the year or else risk getting stripped of his title.

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