Sitting at ringside like a newly anointed king was Mexico’s Antonio Margarito as two other welterweights battled for the title he relinquished.
His win 10 days ago is proof that world titles aren’t always the most important prize in professional boxing. Instead, Margarito has suddenly exploded on the boxing scene as the most feared boxer on the planet and the rightful heir to meet Oscar “The Golden Boy” De La Hoya.
One more thing: he is the newest member of this Pound for Pound list.
Margarito’s devastating win over Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto has prompted the Mexican from Tijuana to take a firm place in the list as one of the top 12 fighters in the world. Cotto remains on the list but will drop down.
The newest lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao remains at the top of the list and has a scheduled defense against Mexico’s Humberto Soto on Nov. 15. But Pacquiao’s promoter Top Rank is trying to angle a fight with De La Hoya for big bucks, though most experts consider it a serious mismatch.
In the junior welterweight division Great Britain’s Ricky Hatton will meet IBF titleholder Paul Malignaggi in Las Vegas for a unification bout on Nov. 22 at the MGM Grand.
Another interesting bout that could take place involves two members on this list, Kelly Pavlik facing Bernard Hopkins in October.
Remember the days when the list seldom changed?
Not any more.
Here is the new list of the best fighters pound for pound:
1) Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) – After clobbering David Diaz to take the WBC lightweight title suddenly his fans think he’s unbeatable. A match against Oscar De La Hoya is in negotiations. That would be disastrous for the Filipino superstar. He’s just too small for De La Hoya. It could end Pacman’s career it's that dangerous. De La Hoya gains nothing from this fight.
2) Israel Vazquez (43-4, 31 KOs) – Putting Mexico City’s Israel Vazquez at number two has incited some criticism. The main gripe is: whom has he fought? Well, two wins over another pound for pound fighter like Rafael Marquez and two wins over Oscar Larios are proof enough. Larios went the distance with Pacquiao but seven months earlier lasted only three rounds against Vazquez. Need more proof?
3) Kelly Pavlik (34-0, 30 KOs) –The middleweight champion will be facing Bernard Hopkins in October at a higher weight. It’s an interesting matchup that pits Pavlik’s astounding two-fisted power against Hopkins' masterful boxing prowess. It’s also a 26-year-old against a 43-year-old.
4) Joe Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KOs) – The new light heavyweight champion was supposed to fight Roy Jones Jr. this summer in Wales but suffered an injury while training. That fight has been postponed to November. Calzaghe says he may fight one more time after Jones.
5) Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) – For years boxing experts bashed Margarito’s defense and said he was a crude brawler who could never beat an excellent boxer. Well the Mexican from Tijuana finally had his day and beat an excellent boxer in Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto. The most worthy fighter left in his division is Oscar De La Hoya, then Paul Williams.
6) Bernard Hopkins (48-5-1, 32 KOs) – For a short while it looked like nobody would fight the old man. But in stepped middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik and now it seems Hopkins has a true challenge and a good one. Will Hopkins have enough bag of tricks to offset Pavlik’s crunching power? It should be a good fight this October 18.
7) Juan Manuel Marquez (48-4-1, 35 KOs) –The two-division world champion is moving up again to fight for Cuba’s Joel Casamayor’s lightweight title on September 13 in Las Vegas. Casamayor is coming off a bruising battle that saw him go down twice, but he still won. Marquez is eager to prove his boxing prowess against the great Cuban fighter.
8) Rafael Marquez (37-5, 33 KOs) – The younger Marquez brother is anxious to get back in the ring after suffering back-to-back losses to Israel Vazquez. His next fight will be crucial. How much is left of the Mexico City boxer’s fighting spirit?
9) Winky Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) – Poor Winky hasn’t fought in over a year. A proposed match with Kelly Pavlik didn’t go well with the champion’s promoters. Other names have been tossed around but nobody seems willing to get in the ring with Wright.
10) Ricky Hatton (44-1, 31 KOs) – The Hitman is set to fight Brooklyn’s speedy Paul Malignaggi. It’s not going to be easy. They’re set to meet in a unification match in Las Vegas on Nov. 22 at the MGM Grand. Malignaggi is extremely hard to hit and he can take a punch.
11) Cristian Mijares (35-3-2, 14 KOs) – The boxer out of Durango, Mexico is set to defend his WBA and WBC junior bantamweight titles against Thailand’s Chatchai Sasakul on Aug. 30, in Monterrey, Mexico. He’s not a big puncher but has an excellent boxing style and is a masterful strategist.
12) Miguel Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs) – You have to give Puerto Rico’s Cotto a lot of credit for not hesitating to accept Antonio Margarito’s challenge. Cotto gave all he had against a bigger and stronger opponent. One loss doesn’t mean the end for the skillful Cotto.
Honorable mention: Joan Guzman, Nate Campbell, Nonito Donaire, Oscar De La Hoya and Joshua Clottey.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Julio Gonzalez (41-5) vs. Tavoris Cloud (18-0).