It’s been a while since the last Pound for Pound listing. These past two months saw a number of the top prizefighters in the world engage in interesting if not provocative fights that shook up the previous listing.
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao remains at the top of the list and Israel Vasquez remains at number two after beating a fellow Pound for Pound fighter. Three new additions to the list occurred including Antonio Margarito, Chad Dawson and Paul Williams.
Ever since Pacquiao hit America I was able to successfully predict every fight he was in. The wins over Marco Antonio Barrera, the loss to Erik Morales, the two wins over Morales and the draw and win over Juan Manuel Marquez I predicted correctly. But the win over Oscar De La Hoya was a shocker to me. Pacman has proven to be able to fight almost anyone. I think I’d take him over either Klitschko brother by points. I’m not kidding.
A few other shockers occurred this year including the easy win by Fernando Montiel over Martin Castillo in the junior bantamweight division last February; Vernon Forrest’s win over Sergio Mora after losing the first fight; Vic Darchinyan’s easy handling of former Pound for Pound fighter Cristian Mijares; and Ricky Hatton breezing through Paul Malignaggi. All these fights had bearing on the Pound for Pound list.
Here’s the last list for 2008:
1.) Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) – The lightning fast Pacquiao wasn’t supposed to be able to beat Oscar De La Hoya. When it first was announced many skeptics, including myself, scoffed at the match up. It was a shocking victory for Pacquiao and puts him amongst the all-time greats in boxing history. He remains at the number one spot. Heck, even if he had lost he would have remained at the top simply for taking the risk.
2.) Israel Vazquez (43-4, 31 KOs) – The fighter known as “el Magnifico” had only one fight in 2008 but it was a doozy. Vazquez, 30, beat fellow Pound for Pound fighter Rafael Marquez last March and that is a feat in itself.
3.) Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs) – The Welshman battered Roy Jones Jr. senseless last November. Too bad this fight didn’t happen five years ago when both were in their prime. Still, it was a great victory for Super Joe Calzaghe. He also had a close win over Bernard Hopkins in April and is contemplating retirement. What a great year he had. If not for Pacquiao, people would be talking a lot more about Calzaghe.
4.) Bernard Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KOs) – Just when people begin doubting the Philadelphia warrior he roars back with a big win. This time it came at the expense of slugger Kelly Pavlik who was given a classic boxing lesson. Hopkins is 43 years old! What kind of man is this? Hopkins is turning 44 in January. Could Chad Dawson be in his future?
5.) Juan Manuel Marquez (49-4-1, 36 KOs) – After losing an extremely close decision to Pacquiao last March, the Mexico City fighter shocked the world with a knockout over Cuba’s Joel Casamayor who had never been stopped. At 35, Marquez still remains among the top boxers today. Funny note: when it was announced that Pacman was going to fight De La Hoya, Vernon Forrest jokingly asked for a fight with Marquez. After Pacman’s victory I think Forrest should reconsider.
6.) Winky Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) – The southpaw Floridian just may be the most dangerous boxer on the planet. If not, why won’t anybody fight this guy? A fight against Kelly Pavlik was nipped in the bud. Wright will fight just about anybody, even a Klitschko and I’m not joking. He came close to fighting Paul Williams but HBO decided against it. That would be an interesting match.
7.) Rafael Marquez (37-5, 33 KOs) – There’s no shame in losing a close decision to fellow Pound for Pound fighter Israel Vazquez. That’s why the younger brother of Juan Manuel Marquez remains on this list. He’s a great boxer-puncher who is finally getting recognition. Hopefully, he still has something left after three brutal affairs with Vazquez.
8.) Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) – Poised to face Sugar Shane Mosley on Jan. 24 in Los Angeles, the Tijuana-based prizefighter slugged his way onto this list with a decisive victory over Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto last summer. Now Margarito is the toast of Mexico. Should he beat Mosley, a rematch with Paul Williams seems a natural match up. Or maybe a fight with Pacman?
9.) Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) – Despite losing his last fight to boxing wizard Hopkins, Pavlik remains one of the top prizefighters in the world. He’s a ferocious slugger who refuses to quit. It’s a dangerous combination for any opponent to face. Next is Marco Antonio Rubio in February.
10.) Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) – It’s been an eye-opening year for Williams who seems to be able to fight anywhere from welterweight to super middleweight. Three successive knockout victories have contenders trembling at the mention of his name. He’s hitting his stride now. Hopefully the tall welterweight gets a rematch with Antonio Margarito. It’s a natural.
11.) Chad Dawson (27-0, 17 KOs) – His dominating victory over Antonio Tarver turned heads in the boxing world. It wasn’t supposed to be that easy. Now the two are tentatively scheduled to meet again in March. With his long arms and great hand-speed Dawson could move up quickly on this list in 2009. He’s the youngest fighter on this list at 26. He’s three months younger than Pavlik.
12.) Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) – The British mugger looked bad against Juan Lazcano back in June, but looked great against good boxer Paulie Malignaggi. Which is the real Hatton? If he keeps Floyd Mayweather as his trainer he could pose a threat to Pacquiao if they fight on May 2, 2009 in Las Vegas. But he’s in for an uphill battle against the speedy Pacquiao.
Honorable mention: Nonito Donaire, Nate Campbell, Vic Darchinyan, Juan Diaz, Robert Guerrero and Miguel Cotto.