Who Needs Heavies? DoghouseBoxing's Autumn’s Current P4P
By Alex Pierpaoli, (Nov 11, 2005)
When the fighters over two hundred pounds aren’t very exciting it’s natural to look elsewhere for the fistic furies that make fans crave heavyweight punchers and destroyers in the first place. Today, boxing fans need only tighten the waistband on their imaginary heroes because there are plenty of stars and superstars in the sport that weigh-in far below the unlimited class. Below are twenty of today’s best, and combined they more than satiate whatever dreams fight fans may conjure; there are punchers and brawlers and technicians…oh my!
1. Floyd Mayweather-even though his fight with Sharmba Mitchell is likely to prove nothing, Mayweather is the best fighter in the world and quite probably one of the most unpopular as well. Mayweather has become boxing’s Terrell Owens; a dastardly diva who casts dispersions on sweet purse deals for less than sweet opponents. He side-steps legitimate and more deserving contenders only to tease fans and then not deliver on more exciting match-ups. That’s today’s Pretty Boy Floyd, and it seems a far cry from the Mayweather of January 2001 through December of 2002, a span in which he faced Corrales, Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Chavez and Jose Luis Castillo twice in succession. Lately, it’s the way Pretty Boy wins that has gotten him the number one spot, rather than who he’s beaten. Pretty Boy debuts at 147 versus Mitchell on the nineteenth and if he looks like he did against Gatti and swears to meet Margarito or Judah next then we have something.
2. Marco Antonio Barrera-he’s looked downright invincible this year with knockout wins over Mzonke Fana and Robbie Peden. Barrera faces Jesus Chavez in his next bout and a decisive victory there could easily set him atop this list. There are still whispers about the kayo loss to Pacquiao but a fight with the winner of January’s Morales-Pacquiao rematch would answer much about who is the best fighter of the Barrera-Morales-Pacquiao trio.
3. Winky Wright-The Wink faces mandatory challenger Sam Soliman on December tenth to round out the year when the Wink finally got his props. Yes, he still has to settle for a world class but not a superstar opponent, but that is nothing new for Winky. His career has been filled with mandatories and guys no one else would fight. Hopefully the rematch between Hopkins and Taylor will leave Winky with a dance partner for a big fight in the spring of 2006. He certainly deserves it.
4. Jose Luis Castillo-The dastardly lightweight-cum-junior-middleweight might have had an unfair and dishonorable advantage over Diego Corrales but still, what an amazing left hook! There’s no doubt that this year has proved that two of the toughest S.O.B.’s on earth are Diego Corrales and this bad ass Mexican warrior. No one fights inside like Castillo and for now at least Diego Corrales has to agree. If only for now…
Tied at 5. Bernard Hopkins & Jermain Taylor-These two are hopefully only linked until late night on December third when they’ve met in a rematch. Whoever wins, let’s hope it’s decisive and we can settle things at 160. If Hopkins mops the floor with Taylor he’s right back to the top spot on this list and if Taylor whacks out the Executioner it’s only fair that he’d end up at number three, at least. Taylor simply doesn’t have the body of work that Hopkins has, not yet at least, so there’s no way he should hop to number one P4P should he defeat Hopkins. Hopkins-Taylor 1 only proved to this writer that Jermain Taylor was a helluva lot better than I thought and that Bernard Hopkins should have spoken to The Marvelous One about what can happen when facing former Olympian underdogs in Las Vegas.
7. Erik Morales- There’s nothing like a fearless slickster to make a Mexican superstar look like a chump. When Zahir Raheem met Erik Morales at 135 pounds in September, the result was reminiscent of Pernell Whitaker’s domination of Mexican Legend, Julio Cesar Chavez in 1993. For Whitaker, there would be no justice that night and he wasn’t granted the satisfaction of a unanimous decision win over a legend, but for Zahir Raheem, things were much sweeter. His domination of Morales ranked right along with Winky Wright’s beat down of Felix Trinidad in terms of one of the year’s best performances. Although Raheem’s win wasn’t as physical a beating, psychologically he thrashed El Terrible and left the Tijuana star frustrated, bewildered and whiffing punches all night. In January, El Terrible has a chance to regain some ground on the pound-for-pound list when he meets Manny Pacquiao in a rematch, but seeing a slick boxer take Morales apart so convincingly took a lot of the terror out of El Terrible.
8. Manny Pacquiao-The Pac-Man looked much improved versus Hector Velazquez despite getting off to a slugging, brawling start. The Filipino was able to focus and close the gap on Soto and more importantly, he used both hands and more of a fighter’s true arsenal of punches to get the job done. Two thousand six gets underway for Pacquiao with a rematch versus Erik Morales and after their September Double-header Showcase it’s the Pacman who is riding the wave of momentum into the ring. We’ll have to see if that and his new found variety of punches will help him reverse the outcome of his first encounter with Morales.
9. Juan Manuel Marquez- Where his younger brother is bold and banging, Marquez is patient and precise. Either way the Mexican Brothers Marquez are a sibling duo of destruction that simply do not get the respect they deserve. That lack of respect and recognition might be part of why Marquez faces featherweight Chris John in Indonesia rather than facing a Barrera, Morales, or Pacquiao in Vegas, LA or Mexico City. Eventually, Marquez will get a rematch with Pac-Man
10. Rafael Marquez- After Saturday’s four round blood-letting of previously undefeated challenger Silence Mabuza, Rafael has notched his sixth defense of his IBF bantamweight title, four of them by kayo. He broke Mabuza down last Saturday night and he did it standing right in front of the undefeated challenger with a display of accurate power punching and aggression. This bantamweight is one hundred eighteen pounds of pure fighter and if he weighed one hundred pounds heavier boxing would have an undisputed King, no question.
11. Diego Corrales- Nothing pains me more than dropping Chico from the top ten but when the competition is this good and you get knocked out cold there’s a price to pay. What makes things worse is that I can’t help thinking there should be an asterisk next to Corrales’ name because of the whole weight issue. But of course a case could also be made that there were doubts about Corrales’ win before because of the mouthpiece and the stoppage. Whatever. Rubber match, please. But if it’s not at 135 Chico’s going to have problems.
12. Ricky Hatton-OK, he probably beats Carlos Maussa because he’s got more skills than him and let’s face it, Hatton’s a punching machine. But if Maussa is allowed to grapple as much as Hatton was allowed to roughhouse Tszyu then the Columbian may be able to take Little Ricky out of his game. I know, it’s unlikely, but who would have thought Maussa could have exposed Vivian Harris like he did? Maussa has SPOILER written all over him. Hatton and Maussa meet on what will be the post-Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. and it looks like it’ll be Direct TV only coverage which is just ridiculous. Why is there so much Paris Hilton, home makeovers and Law and Order on TV and so little boxing?
The rest of my P4P crew would be, in no particular order: Jeff Lacy, Antonio Tarver, Kostya Tszyu, Ivan Calderon, Jorge Arce, Jean Marc Mormeck, Zahir Raheem, and Oscar Larios.
And of course, please remember that the knockout loss or significant drubbing of any fighter from the upper two thirds of this list, even if said drubbing occurs over the course of a win, could cause the whole damned list to shift again…
But that’s why we keep doing this, right?
Visit Alex Pierpaoli’s sites: PierpaoliBoxing.com & KOFantasyBoxing.com
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