|Another Stupid (Top 12, This Time!) Pound-For-Pound Boxing List
By Coyote Duran (Feb 29, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
First off, I’d like to apologize for the absence from the keys. I just recently got married to a fellow DHB writer (don’t gasp she’s female) and have just been settling back down into a state of normalcy.
Now that I’m back on the writing horse (I’ll name it ‘Scout’ it was good enough for Tonto…), I thought I’d win your hearts with one of your favorite things to read.
Yeah, I know. It’s another pound-for-pound list. But wait! It’s new and improved! It’s got 12 fighters instead of 10... Wait, what? Whaddya mean Steve Kim from Maxboxing does a list with a dozen?!
Fine. Well…whatever, then. (Coyote smiling to hide the pain of frustration, secretly knowing his efforts are very likely for naught.) It’s cool... it’s cool, man. Hey, just read on and just remember, Howlers: It’s just a stupid list. It’s merely one man’s opinion (as per usual) and if you’re down with it or you would like to diplomatically agree, then hit me up. If you hate it and think I’m a tool, blame Gabriel Montoya (I secretly stole his list out of honeymoon-related exhaustion/laziness). Just don’t tell him why you’re egging his car when you find it parked in SoCal.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr., 39-0 (25), The Ring World Welterweight Champion
What gets and keeps welter champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. here at number one is
not his willingness to put his neck on the line against the best welterweights in the world but the fact that his choices in fights have been wise, taking on either the best at one time (Oscar De La Hoya) or the current best in a weight class other than his own (Ricky Hatton). Combine that with the fact that Mayweather is simply damn good at doing it and if ‘Money’ Mayweather’s accomplishments in 2007 alone don’t cut the mustard, then his history building up to 2007 certainly do. He’s the best; what can ya do? By facing De La Hoya again in September doesn’t prove that but Mayweather has done better overall than many on this list. As for taking on The Big Show at Wrestlemania?...Well, that does nothing for one's standing in the best of boxing's best... outside of lining the pockets with 20 mil.
2. Manny Pacquiao, 45-3-2 (35), junior lightweight contender
There was a time I looked at ‘Pac-Man’ as the tops and had good reason for it. In the past five years, Pacquiao was willing to face anyone at junior featherweight and featherweight while earning a title (122) and a world championship (126) along the way. Pacquiao doesn’t exactly know how to relax so he finds precarious moments in even the most unheralded challengers. In 2007, Jorge Solis comes to mind but Pacquiao found his way out (KO 8), opening up the gate to the long-awaited rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera. In a less than groovy showing (UD 12), Pac showed up to work and pulled a full day of it; convincing ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ to retire and approaching the inevitable in the process: unfinished business with titlist Juan Manuel Marquez who shared a draw with Pacquiao in 2004. Should Pac beat Marquez this coming Saturday, I’m switchin’ him with Floyd Mayweather. How could I not?! A far more serious distinction for Pacquiao would be the vacant The Ring World Junior Lightweight Championship. Since the magazine’s revival of the championship policy in 2002, there hasn’t been a possessor of the strap. Here’s hoping for a winner in this one; no matter who it is.
3. Joe Calzaghe, 44-0 (32), The Ring World Super Middleweight Champion
If there ever was a guy (besides Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez) who did a little thing or two for his weight class, it would be World Super Middleweight Champion Joe Calzaghe who’s spent the last decade-plus schooling 168-pounders from Chris Eubank to Mikkel Kessler. Sure, last year’s defense against Peter Manfredo Jr. was lame…give a man a chance; for Christ’s sakes…but in delivering a definitive fistic performance to the former WBA/WBC titlist (and damn nice guy) Kessler, there shouldn’t be a question about Calzaghe’s heart and willingness to engage those at 168. He started showing it while beating former IBF titleholder Jeff Lacy and keeps showing it when the opposition gets hotter. Expect ‘The Italian Dragon’ to rise on many lists should he beat World Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard Hopkins on April 19. If so, Calzaghe will be eligible to simultaneously hold both his World Super Middle strap and the World Light Heavy strap. Now that’s a top five lock, if you ask me…and I know you didn’t!
4. Juan Manuel Marquez, 48-3-1 (35), WBC junior lightweight titleholder
Like I’ve gotta remind you who JMM is. If you read the last entry, Marquez is the man Manny Pacquiao has to beat to be considered the man to beat at 130 pounds. There’s no one left for the other in this weight class, kids. It all comes down to this. Their last fight may have been in the featherweight division but neither man is shot or past his prime. Sure, this fight could’ve happened sooner but both men have evolved at an equal rate, in my opinion. Marquez took a fight against Marco Antonio Barrera (which should’ve been much sooner, really) before Pacquiao could get to him a second time and then took twice-Barrera-defeated Rocky Juarez to the limit. Not bad for doing his part in his division. It’s only natural that Marquez faces Pacquiao on Saturday for the real 130-pound world laurels and if Marquez beats Pac, watch out, Floyd. Juan Manuel Marquez might just have himself a top spot of his own to nab. Don’t laugh, Howlers. It could happen and not just on my lists, either.
5. Israel Vazquez, 42-4 (31), The Ring World Junior Featherweight Champion
As much as I'd like to, I can't place 'El Magnifico' higher on my list due to my top four participants but there's no one more deserving of my number five spot. Vazquez' dance card has been filled with the same partner for a year, but what a dance it's been, huh? And if you've got an expert opinion on who wins the rubbermatch, I'd certainly love to hear it because with the tenacity Vazquez and Saturday's opponent Rafael Marquez share along with how their last two meetings ended (Marquez TKO 7, Vazquez TKO 6), you've gotta be a prophet to know deep in your heart who wins. My gut says Vazquez but to be the best at 122, both fighters will throw it all down for the very last time. And to be world champ and chomp at the bit to face your greatest nemesis to prove it while the rest of your division looks on in awe; just craving the winner, then you're the stuff pound-for-pound lists were made of. Didja catch that, 'Money'?
6. Bernard Hopkins, 48-4 (32), The Ring World Light Heavyweight Champion
Hopkins fights relatively sporadically these days but at his age, his achievements are astounding. Sure, he only fought once in ’07 and it wasn’t necessarily against a deserving light heavyweight contender or titlist but in defeating former Undisputed Junior Middleweight Champion Winky Wright, Hopkins showed he still wants to take on of the best fighters in the world at any given time. ‘The Executioner’ still isn’t fighting IBF and WBO bosses Clinton Woods or Zsolt Erdei, respectively, but in World Super Middleweight Champion Joe Calzaghe, he’s facing a genuine world champion and fellow pound-for-pounder in April. If we grade Hopkins comparatively to my number one in Floyd Mayweather, who has no idea how to defend his world championship against the very best at 147, then there’s certainly no excuse for ‘Ex’ to be here either.
7. Miguel Cotto, 31-0 (25), WBA welterweight titleholder
At least someone who has a belt is taking on welterweights these days. 2007 was filled with challenges for Puerto Rico's new favorite son; Oktay Urkal being the first. A still-dangerous Zab Judah tested Cotto in June and fell. Subsequently, former pound-for-pound king Shane Mosley took Cotto to the limit and opened up a dialogue among fans about whether or not the WBA titlist could roll with the likes of world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., IBF titlist Kermit Cintron or then-WBO titleholder Paul Williams. Cotto has done what he can, thus far, in the welters without the benefit of fighting the other beltholders so the question remains open for furious debate. Is Cotto the best of the welters? I think so but until he faces and possibly defeats Mayweather, we just won't know. And let's not go nuts about him taking on Alfonso Gomez in April. Yes, it's bound to be action-packed but it won't bolster a P4P standing. And let's not mention Cotto-Mayorga, if that comes off. For now, with how Cotto has done since beating Carlos Quintana in 2006 combined with his welterweight accolades and staying undefeated, seven on this list sounds pretty good, right?
8. Ricky Hatton, 43-1 (31), The Ring World Junior Welterweight Champion
If any lesson was to be learned by the real Junior Welterweight Champion, it simply was that one really is safest at home; that home being the 140-pound class. After barely beating Luis Collazo for the WBA welterweight strap in 2006 (and clearly not having any business wandering around 147), 'The Hitman' would return in 2007 to defend his championship against Juan Urango (UD 12), a definite contender, and Jose Luis Castillo (KO 4), a questionable contender. Beating Castillo was more significant to Hatton than to the fans and somehow...someway indicated to the Mancunian that he was ready for Floyd Mayweather; ostensibly due to Castillo giving Mayweather the test of tests FIVE YEARS PRIOR. I know. Silly, huh? Unfortunately, Hatton didn't learn from facing Collazo, a tricky-yet-lesser polished fighter than Mayweather and took his chances. Kudos for challenging the best, man. Hatton, as we all know, lost (TKO 10) but certainly doesn't get yanked from my list. He's still the recognized champ at 140 and probably a speck wiser. If only he would face WBC titlist Junior Witter like EVERYONE wants him to. A win can hike him up a spot of so but, odds are, he'll face IBF beltholder Paul Malignaggi first.
9. Rafael Marquez, 37-4 (33), junior featherweight contender
See number five. ;) If Marquez wins on Saturday, expect a switch with possibly higher results down the line if Marquez cleans out the rest of 122, post-Vazquez, or moves to 126 to clean house. Marquez is special in the way Vazquez is special: He's not afraid of fate.
10. Juan Diaz, 33-0 (17), WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight titlist
Joel Casamayor may be the recognized World Lightweight Champion but Houston's Juan Diaz is the BEST lightweight in the world and is one belt away from being the undisputed alphabet titleholder. Peculiarly enough, Diaz’ progress into 2008 since winning the WBA belt, combined with Casamayor’s reign as champion, is why he’s in this list; and not the Cuban expatriate. ‘The Baby Bull’ is anything but a baby these days; fighting like a man to contradict his nickname. In 2007, that man made Acelino Freitas up and quit (TKO 8) for the WBO belt and eliminated another Diaz in Julio (TKO 9) for the IBF belt almost six months later. Diaz is fearless in his approach to dominating the 135-pound division and is bound to face undefeated contender Michael Katsidis someday or whoever holds the World Championship sooner. My guess is that by August, Diaz will be the real, recognized Lightweight Champion of the World and, very possibly, a top five pound-for-pounder. But he has to get past long-suffering contender Nate Campbell first. If successful, there’s not much left of a lightweight world to be his oyster.
11. Kelly Pavlik, 33-0 (29), The Ring World Middleweight Champion
This entry might just get me the most negative e-mails ever for a pound-for-pound list but I’ll take my chances. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other pound-for-pound lists won’t have Pavlik on them and it doesn’t mean that lists that don’t have ‘The Ghost’ are less intelligent. Remember: It’s all opinion and anything that encourages discussion rules. Pavlik gets on my list for not just having a busy year from 2007 to the present, but for those who helped make that window busy for him. Now you don’t have to consider Jose Luis Zertuche (KO 8) a player in the middleweight division but each subsequent fighter in Edison Miranda (TKO 7) and Jermain Taylor (TKO 7, UD 12) couldn’t be denied their relevance no matter how hard one tries to cover their ears and yell, “LA-LA-LA-LA!” If for nothing else, think about Taylor beating Bernard Hopkins twice and making his way into various lists. Now, think about Pavlik beating Taylor twice; stopping ‘Bad Intentions’ at middle and decisioning him at super middle when Taylor thought he changed his game for the better. What we’re left with is a former world champion who hasn’t a reasonable home for the time being and a solid world champion at 160 pounds who, in my book, at least deserves to be listed with the eleven other best fighters in the world.
12. Wladimir Klitschko, 50-3 (44), IBF/WBO heavyweight titlist
Don’t scream. I know you wanna but hear me out. Wladimir Klitschko wants to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World and badly. If it wasn’t for catering to mis-mandatories like Ray Austin (TKO 2), the trip to where the crown rests would be shorter. Rematching and exacting revenge on Lamon Brewster (TKO 6) would’ve been a nice touch had ‘Relentless’ not been so touched by Sergei Liakhovich in his last fight. What makes ‘Dr. Steelhammer’ an entrant at number 12 is that want to be the real champion and that first real step was facing and beating Sultan Ibragimov (UD 12) to lock up the WBO title for a second time; adding the strap to his IBF strap. Klitschko knows he’s not the recognized champion and he’s more than abundantly admitted as much. Beating Ibragimov was the true start and in doing so, showed the prowess of beating the best (for all that’s worth in the heavyweight division today) in his weight class. I don’t think 12th best is unreasonable for the good doctor.
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