A Look at 2006: Who Will Win, Who Will Lose and Who will Remain Champ
By Tom Dickey (December 17, 2005)
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With the new year quickly approaching it's time to look into the crystal ball and see what will become of many in the Boxing world in 2006. It's time to foresee what will happen for some of the sport's biggest stars. It's time to also predict who will become a new world champ, who will relinquish their title, and who will hold on to their title. Here's a sneak peek:

*WHO WILL LOSE HIS TITLE IN 2006

1- Ricardo Mayorga, current WBC junior middleweight champ-
Mayorga has an upcoming date with Oscar de la Hoya, which could spell doom for his world title. Even if he got past Oscar, he's in a loaded division, where he has yet to look good.

2- Chris John, current WBA Featherweight champion-
John is in a loaded division with many young up and coming stars, hungry for their first world title. He's going to have to hold off fighters like Joan Guzman, Rocky Juarez, and Robert Guerrero. This will be a tough year for John to keep his title.

3-Jesus Chavez, current IBF lightweight champ-
There's no telling what effect Chavez's last fight with Levander Johnson will have on him. But to pile more on, he's got guys like Acelino Freitas, Jose Luis Castillo, Joel Casamayor, and Julio Diaz gunning for him. There's also been talk that Marco Antonio Barrera might move up to fight him. It's going to be tough for Chavez to still have his strap come 2007.

4- Clinton Woods, current IBF light heavyweight champion-
Woods has two tough guys breathing down his neck. Ranked numbers 1 and 2 in the IBF division are Glen Johnson and Julio Gonzalez. If Woods takes his mandatory and has to fight either of these two, he could be beltless by 2007.

5- Daniel Ponce De Leon, current WBO junior featherweight champ-
Though Ponce's style is exciting and entertaining to watch, it will probably eventually land him in trouble. He has tough fighters like Steve Luevano, Oscar Larios, and Celestino Caballero on his heels, and Caballero already owns a convincing win over Ponce De Leon.

6- Luis Perez, current IBF super flyweight champ-
If Perez chooses to try and unify with Martin Castillo, he'll be in trouble. If he defends against Fernando Montiel or Jose Navarro he could also have problems keeping his belt.

*WHO WILL BECOME A NEW WORLD CHAMP IN 2006

1- James Toney-
With Vitali Klitschko gone, the heavyweight division could be Toney's for the taking. Had he not tested positive for steroids this past year, Toney would have John Ruiz's belt. But, if "Lights Out" can get any of the current four champs to fight him, then he will have a belt by 2007.

2- Zahir Raheem-
Raheem shocked the world in 2005, when he upset Erik Morales in Los Angeles. He showed everybody that he was a solid fighter who stills has a future. The future for Raheem in 2007 will be a world title strap.

3- Robert Guerrero-
I know he's coming off his first loss, but the Ghost has scary talent and will still be a factor in the featherweight division. Look for Guerrero to challenge for a title by the end of 2006.

4- Joan Guzman-
Guzman is the #1 contender for the WBO featherweight strap, which is currently held by Scott Harrison. Look for him to have some sort of gold by the end of the year.

5- Rey Bautista-
Little Boom Boom is the #1 contender for the WBO Bantamweight strap. Bautista's skills and popularity should land him a title fight by the end of the year.

6- Kassim Ouma-
Ouma suffered a shocking defeat to Roman Karmazin earlier this year, but is determined to rebound. It shouldn't take long, since Ouma is ranked by every alphabet organization in the junior middleweight division.

*WHO WILL REMAIN A CHAMPION BY 2007

1- Floyd Mayweather Jr.-
The only question with Floyd is which title will he have. He's planning on campaigning at welterweight, so Zab Judah may be on his list next. Floyd seems to be happier now that he's out of his contract with Top Rank. Look for him to still be a world champ come 2007.

2- Juan Diaz-
The toughest foes in Diaz's division will be fighting each other. Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo will be fighting each other, and the remainder will probably be going after Jesus Chavez. So, Diaz will have a hard time getting truly tough foes. Look for the "Baby Bull" to still be champ come 2007.

3- Martin Castillo-
An argument could be made for Castillo being one of the best pound for pound fighters around. But, fighting at junior Bantamweight, he doesn't get the attention he deserves. Castillo could get a very tough taste if Fernando Montiel challenges him, but otherwise Castillo should be able to retain his gold through 2006.

4- Jermain Taylor-
With Bernard Hopkins likely retiring, and Lou DiBella stating he has little interest in fighting Winky Wright after Wright's fight with Sam Soliman, Taylor should be gold in retaining his gold.

5- Rafael Marquez-
The Bantamweight champion has shown little signs of slowing down or relinquishing his title. 2006 should be no different.

6- Jeff Lacy-
Though he has a tough fight coming up with Joe Calzaghe, Lacy will be favored and if he prevails, has little left to fight in the 168 pound division.

7- Brian Viloria-
A surprise pick here, but here's the reason why I choose Viloria. Viloria is the WBC 108 pound champion, but is more natural and has fought more at 112. At 108, Viloria will be too strong and too big, as was the case when he won the title over Eric Ortiz. If Viloria stays at 108 to defend his title, look for him to be too strong for his competition.

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