Here’s my top 10 boxers
November 25, 2008
“Yahoo! Sports” recently invited me to join its ratings committee and asked me to submit my choices for boxing’s Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters.
While it was easy to name the top four without much debate, I found as I got deeper in the list it became about as easy as naming the Top 10 all-time beautiful women ” there was no way to do everyone justice and be 100-percent certain.
The Ring magazine has a good Top 10 as does Yahoo!, and since the list is mythical and subjective, picking the top fighters is pretty much about having fun while trying to do an earnest job.
Here are my selections, some short explanations and also a few fighters who were left off my list.
1) Manny Pacquiao: Let’s see, title belts from at least one of the four recognized sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) at 112 pounds, 122, 130 and 135. And since the sanctioning bodies are far from being the be all-end all, let’s throw in the Pac-Man’s dominance at 126, where none of the four ” for whatever reason ” recognized him as champion.
Pacquiao, 47-3-2 with 35 knockouts, recently destroyed David Diaz for the WBC lightweight diadem and will move up yet another two weight divisions to fight Oscar De La Hoya at 147 pounds on December 6. Add a laundry list of name victims “need I say more?
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2) Joe Calzaghe: “The Prince of Wales” defended his super middleweight crown a division record-tying 21 times and moved up to light heavyweight, where he beat Bernard Hopkins (who defended his middleweight belt a division record 20 times) and Roy Jones Jr. (a beltholder at 160, 168, 175 and heavyweight).
The 36-year-old Calzaghe is also 46-0 (32). Any questions?
3) Juan Manuel Marquez: A former titlist at 126 and 130 pounds, Marquez owns a draw with and dropped a split decision to Pacquiao, defeated Marco Antonio Barrera and stopped linear lightweight champion Joel Casamayor in 11 rounds. While the clueless sanctioning bodies haven’t rewarded him with a belt at 135 pounds, Marquez, 49-4-1 (36), is The Ring magazine’s champion at that weight.
The understated Marquez proudly carries on the tradition of great Mexican fighters, including Julio Cesar Chavez, Barrera, Erik Morales and Salvador Sanchez, to name but a few.
4) Israel Vazquez: Junior featherweight champion Vazquez, 43-4 (31), owns victories in two out of three meetings with Rafael Marquez. Each was a fight of the year contender or winner, including this year, when Vazquez scored a 12-round split-decision victory over his arch-rival.
Vazquez doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he weighs 122 pounds, but he can do about anything as well or better than his larger peers. It’s too bad Vazquez and Marquez recently turned down $1 million apiece to meet each other for a fourth time, but they deserve a break from each other…for now.
5) Paul Williams: This choice may come as a surprise to some, but don’t forget that WBO titlist Williams, 35-1 (26), owns a victory over red-hot welterweight champion Antonio Margarito. Yes, “The Punisher” looked bad in losing to Carlos Quintana earlier this year, but the 6-foor-1, 147-pounder showed what he was really about by destroying Quintana in one round in the rematch.
Williams is scheduled to face Verno Phillips for the WBO interim 154-pound belt on November 29. Williams, with his height and 82-inch reach, can be a force at 147, 154 and 160 pounds.
6) Antonio Margarito: “The Tijuana Tornado” can arguably be ranked a couple notches higher on the list. Margarito stopped formerly unbeaten sensation Miguel Cotto and may face “Sugar” Shane Mosley in January. All Margarito, 37-5 (27), has to do to move up on my list is to give Williams a rematch and beat him, then there’d be no debate.
7) Nonito Donaire: IBF flyweight champ Donaire, 19-1 (12), is a mini-Floyd Mayeather Jr. He stopped current 115-pound terror Vic Darchinyan, who had previously looked unbeatable, at 112 pounds. I’m not going to hold Donaire’s weight or recent inactivity against him (he can’t fight promoters, after all). The fleet Filipino remains one of the most talented fighters in the game and should dominate at 112 and 115 pounds for years to come.
8) Rafael Marquez: For the heavy-punching Marquez, 37-5 (33), to move back up the rankings, he needs to beat Vazquez in their fourth meeting. Marquez was dominant at 118 pounds and blends great boxing skills with his prodigious power.
9) Miguel Cotto: There is no shame in losing to Margarito and all Cotto, 32-1 (26), has to do to reclaim his status atop the welterweight division is exact revenge on Margarito. Yes, that is easier said than done, but until someone else beats him, the multi-talented Cotto still belongs in the P-4-P discussion.
10) Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson: Many will claim ” with great reason ” that Hopkins is ranked too low. Ditto for Dawson. Well, a match between “Bad” Chad and “The Executioner,” would possibly eliminate one of them from the discussion.
Hopkins, 49-5-1 (32), thoroughly dismantled formerly unbeaten middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and IBF beltholder Dawson, 27-0 (17) with 1 no-contest, had his coming-out party with a dominating win against Antonio Tarver.
I didn’t rate “B-Hop” higher because I think Calzaghe beat him handily and Pavlik was two weight divisions out of his element (not to mention Hopkins’ two defeats to Jermain Taylor, who isn’t exactly looking dominant).
Tarver is beginning to look his age, so Dawson doesn’t get as many points as some believe he should. He still has to show me he belongs. A win over Hopkins would go a long way in elevating his status. Ditto for Hopkins if he can defeat the young up-and-comer.
Others I left out who arguably belong on the list: Junior welterweight king Ricky Hatton, 45-1 (32), who just stopped Paulie Malinaggi on Saturday and whose only loss is to Mayweather; WBA super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler, whose only loss is to Calzaghe; undefeated IBF middleweight title-holder Arthur Abraham; undefeated light flyweight champion Ivan Calderon; undefeated WBA featherweight titlist Chris John; and former cruiserweight champion David Haye, who is now a heavyweight contender.
It’s an inexact science rating the pound-for-pound best in the Sweet Science, but it’s an entertaining and worthwhile endeavor nonetheless.