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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 08:49 GMT
Boxing buzz
By Alex Trickett and Ben Dirs

Ricky Hatton
Hatton was Britain's biggest success story in 2005

Boxing is in fairly safe hands at home and abroad and it's no thanks to a desperate heavyweight division.

Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan are the biggest names on the British scene and should soar to even greater things in 2006.

IBF and WBA light welterweight champion Hatton is widely tipped to take on and beat the popular Arturo Gatti in May.

And beyond that looms the prospect of fascinating but risky unification fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr (WBC) and Miguel Cotto (WBO).

Khan, meanwhile, is still in his professional infancy.

Next year will be too early for major title shots, but he will continue to tour the country, dazzling the public and sharpening his skills for a British or Commonwealth tilt in 2007.

It is make or break time for Welsh superstar Joe Calzaghe.

For so long berated by his critics for failing to land meaningful contests, the WBO super middleweight champ faces talented American Jeff Lacy in a genuine 50-50 dust-up on 4 March.

Victory for Calzaghe will pave the way to more big paydays as he steps up in weight, while defeat will seriously undermine his carefully-preserved reputation.

Enzo Maccarinelli
Maccarinelli is a big Welsh hope

Other domestic highlights in 2006 will include Enzo Maccarinelli v Johnny Nelson, which could be a changing of the guard at cruiserweight.

Danny Williams should finally keep his heavyweight date with Matt Skelton, with a world title crack in the offing for the victor.

And fight fans north of the border are drooling at the prospect of Scott Harrison stepping up to super featherweight to fight Alex Arthur in what would be the biggest all-Scottish clash since Ken Buchanan v Jim Watt.

Throw in title aspirants Junior Witter, Carl Froch, Michael Jennings, David Haye and Nicky Cook, as well IBF light heavyweight holder Clinton Woods and the stage is set for a busy year.

And that's without the next instalment of the Audley Harrison soap opera - if there is one.

On the world stage, Mayweather's moves will be watched closely and not just by team Ricky Hatton.

The American, believed by many to be the best pound-for-pound boxer around, is also testing out his fourth division - welterweight supremo Zab Judah beware.

The featherweight divisions remain a minefield with Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez all lurking.

But there has been a changing of the guard at middleweight.

Bernard Hopkins' conqueror Jermain Taylor may end up fighting Winky Wright in a potential classic.

Which just leaves the ongoing heavyweight crisis.

With promoter Don King pressing for control of all four major divisions and seven-foot WBA champion Nikolay Valuev adding novelty value, there are hopes that a mega tournament will uncover a true champion.

That would be a breath of fresh air, but quality is still lacking.

Perhaps the Commonwealth Games will turn up a top-weight star of the future.

That takes place in Melbourne in March, providing the defining event in the year's amateur calendar.


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