DoghouseBoxing's Best of the Sport, Pound-For-Pound
By Alex Pierpaoli, (April 26, 2005)  
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It’s been too long since we’ve put these guys in order. Pretty much the usual suspects are here but one thing that becomes very clear looking at this list is that a series of important fights could reduce the top ten to twelve fighters to a handful of the very best fighters in the world. For example, Wright-Hopkins, Tszyu-Mayweather, Corrales-Morales, Barrera-Pacquiao 2, Barrera-Marquez or Marquez-Pacquiao 2 would reduce the top ten to a furious five composed of seriously proven bad-asses. Perhaps at least one of those fights will take place before 2005 is out and if so you know there can be some more shifting and readjusting in this list. But until then, here they are…

Bernard Hopkins (160)—he is still the baddest of the bad. B-Hop decisioned Howard Eastman with precision and no, it wasn’t as thrilling as Barrera versus Morales, Pacquiao versus Marquez or Diego Corrales versus anyone, but it was another emotionless and just about error-free title defense for the Executioner. Does anyone seriously give Jermain Taylor a chance? This writer sees Jermain Taylor about as likely to defeat Hopkins as Tyrell Biggs was to take Mike Tyson’s title when they met in October of ‘87. And like Biggs was, Taylor’s in for quite a beating. It’s a matter of way too much way too soon.

Floyd Mayweather (130/135)—let’s be honest he’s not all that likeable. He’s arrogant and extraordinarily inclined towards braggadocio, but he’s also a damn good fighter. Next month he’ll prove it again when he boxes circles around Arturo Gatti. After that a fight with Kostya Tszyu is a must. The boxing world needs it; the 140 pound division needs it. And even Floyd will need it after he beats the very popular Gatti.

Kostya Tszyu (140)—he hasn’t lost since 1997 and even though he hasn’t been all that active, when he fights he leaves no doubt about his position of dominance at 140 pounds. His annihilation of Sharmba Mitchell was remarkable and in less than two weeks Frankie Warren feeds his cash cow—I mean Cash Bull—Ricky Hatton to Tszyu on Showtime PPV. Kostya crushed Mitchell, dropping him four times in 3 rounds, and I think maybe Hatton lasts about twice that long before the Thunder from Down Under rolls right over little Ricky.

Erik Morales (122/126/130)—El Terrible is just about as good as it gets. He can out-think or out-gut anyone, unless it’s someone named Marco Antonio Barrera. Morales is probably the surest bet in the game. A win over Barrera’s conqueror, Manny Pacquiao is really the main thing that puts El terrible over Marco Antonio on this list. The two Mexican champions have been linked arm-in-arm in the top ten pound-for-pound list before and they deserve to be so linked once again. In order to really settle things at 130 Morales and Barrera will have to meet again, and who doesn’t want to see that?

Winky Wright (154/160))—what can we say about the Wink? He’s finally being recognized for his abilities after two dominant wins over Mosley and then this month’s utter dismantling of Felix Trinidad leaves no doubt that the second best man at 160 and the only man with a shot at unseating the current P4P king is Ronald Winky Wright.

Marco Antonio Barrera (122/126/130)—he beat the hell out of Morales in their rubber match and even though he faded in the last few rounds he came on like a shock-trooper in the early-going of that bout and then he recently crushed Mzonke Fana. I know, so what? But Fana was a mandatory so it counts, I guess. Keep in mind that as incredible as El Terrible is; if you want to see surprise on a man’s face all you need to do is watch rounds 1-4 of Barrera-Morales 3 and you’ll have no doubt El Terrible expected there was a lot less left of the Baby-Faced Assassin on that night. Sure enough Barrera faded late and Morales surged, despite a busted up face, but he couldn’t quite undo the early damage done by Barrera. Since he couldn’t finish strong against Morales, is there enough of the Baby-Faced Assassin left to beat the Pacman in a rematch?

Manny Pacquiao (112/122/126)—he’s got unfinished business with both Morales and Marquez but he was brilliant in both fights. He’s explosive and energetic and his love for the sport and a good scrap is downright infectious. He needs to win another big one to recapture the public adoration he had after crumpling Barrera.

Diego Corrales (130/135)—it was about as dramatic and as sudden as it gets but there was nothing controversial about the way Chico Corrales, at the exhortation of corner man Joe Goosen, went out and stopped Jose Luis Castillo in an instant comeback classic. This effort versus Castillo was the latest in his 130/135 pound trifecta that started with the revenge decision over Casamayor, the huge NO MAS win over Freitas and then the trench warfare spectacular versus Castillo. And who couldn’t be humbled by Corrales’ pride, glowing on his battered and swollen face after asking so much of himself in combat with such a fine athlete as Castillo. Corrales like the Pac Man is certainly one of the fan favorites of this list. He is a modern day gladiator in the purest sense.

Juan Manuel Marquez (126)—recently dismantled the crafty and difficult Victor Polo. Marquez all but controlled Pacquiao in their brilliant battle. But I had Pacquiao edging past him by two points mostly on account of landing the heavier punches—that’s what pro-boxing is all about, who’s doing more damage. And though Marquez was in charge he was still taking enough leather for me to lean in the Filipino’s favor. I’d love to see a rematch. Or a Marquez-Barrera fight. There’s Larios too. But I’m not listing other good potential match-ups for Marquez because the division is so rich this column will go on forever.

Zab Judah (140/147)—he always seemed like an extremely talented but not very disciplined athlete. After taking out Cory Spinks and blasting through his recent mandatory, Cosme Rivera, a newly focused Judah is shopping for a star-opponent to erase any lingering doubts left by the loss to Kostya Tszyu

Jose Luis Castillo (135)—have to tell you if It had been me as the ref Chico would not have gotten a chance to wash that mouthpiece a second time because I would have stopped it after knockdown number two—giving Castillo the win. It didn’t turn out that way, that’s boxing. But Castillo has nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s no controversy in my opinion. Castillo’s eyes had rolled back just before Tony Weeks halted that fight and just a single hook more from Corrales when Castillo was so defenseless and just propped up there like a wooden broom could have been utterly catastrophic. Castillo is a force of nature and he’ll be back. There must be a rematch of this one—if not there is talk Castillo may try his luck versus Tszyu.

Rafael Marquez (118)—like his brother, he is consistent and killer precise in disarming his opponents. But unlike his brother, Rafael seems always capable of scoring the highlight film kayo victory and he’s stopped 7 of his last 8 opponents inside the 12-round distance. He’s small and it seems the small guys never quite get the respect they deserve but Rafael Marquez never disappoints. This Saturday night should be no exception when he faces Ricardo Vargas at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Glencoffe Johnson (175)—last years’ fighter of the year and perhaps the best feel-good story of the list--where the old angler who took his lumps perseveres and makes a star of himself despite the odds and the naysayers—that story. It’s Hollywood stuff and Johnson’s post fight words with Larry Merchant still resonate: “I’m not the best. I’m just a guy who’s willing to fight the best.” As Stan Lee would say, nuff said.

Antonio Tarver (175)—something tells me the Magic Man will be back in the top ten very soon. He’s murder in rematches, and even though I think Tarver and Johnson will always make for a difficult fight style wise, I think the biggest problem for Tarver was that he plain and simple underestimated Glencoffe Johnson in their first fight. Tarver has mad fundamental skills and is one of the best textbook style fighters in this list in a mold similar to Winky Wright, Bernard Hopkins and James Toney. Not bad company.

And rounding out the top sixteen is a tie at 15:

Antonio Margarito (147) and Kassim Ouma (154)—
both of these guys are just starting to assert themselves in their respective weight classes. Margarito walked right through Cintron in April and in January Ouma easily dispatched the dangerous Kofi Jantuah. Both wins were exceptional for these young men and fight fans should keep their eye on both these two. By the end of the year hopefully at least one of them will have a chance to prove himself against superstar level talent.

Also noteworthy, and perhaps just a win or two from raising lots of eyebrows are: Martin Castillo, Joel Casamayor, Sugar Shane Mosley, Oscar DeLaHoya, Felix Sturm, James Toney, Cory Spinks, Vernon Forrest and Joe Calzaghe.

Noteworthy P4P All Action Star: Forget Gatti, if you want blood and guts with your courageous, skilled and well-armed volume-punchers then look no further than Jorge Arce. Perhaps one of the most thrilling bouts of the year—behind Corrales-Castillo of course—was Arce-Hussein. It was all action and all drama with Arce rallying to stop Hussein before the grisly wounds in his nose and face caused the ringside physicians to stop the fight. If you’ve seen the wide grin of Arce under the brim of a cowboy hat being held aloft by his handlers in victory then you have seen one of the highlight reel moments of the year. Arce is perhaps the most thrilling fighter of this whole damn bunch—maybe he’s not boxing’s matinee idol but he’s definitely Chiller Theater.

One huge but extremely unlikely win away from being top five material: Ricky Hatton, Arturo Gatti, Jermain Taylor

And don’t sleep on: Mohamed Abdullaev, Hussein Hussein, Vivian Harris, Jean Marc Mormeck and Ivan Calderon.

Ok, I guess it’s not really a top ten, or a dozen for that matter. Or even a top fifteen, really.
It’s more like a list of 30 plus fighters I can’t really decide on.
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