Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have been in the news lately, mostly regarding a possible mega showdown.
It doesn’t appear the top fighters pound for pound will meet in the ring this year but we can tabulate this year’s current and best prizefighters pound for pound. A number of changes have taken place down near the bottom of the Top 12 list.
Toward the end of the year Giovani Segura was beaten soundly by Brian Viloria and Amir Khan was beaten controversially by Lamont Peterson. The new addition to the list is a heavyweight.
Here is the list:
1.) Floyd Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) – The Las Vegas prizefighter known as “Money” may not engage in the ring very often but, in those moments he jumps in, the arenas fill up and it becomes a real prizefight. As a pay-per-view attraction Mayweather, 34, attracts more than 1 million buys and as an actual boxer he’s a defensive wizard. When it comes to winning a fight he knows the moment to fire rapid combinations and how to set up opponents. The knockout win against a very strong Victor Ortiz and the dominating win over a fellow boxing wizard Juan Manuel Marquez two years ago prove he’s number one.
2.) Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) – Pacman had extreme difficulty against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez and Mayweather had a rather easy time. That’s the difference between Pacquiao and Mayweather and it’s the reason they won’t be fighting each other very soon. Not that Pacman would try to avoid Money, it’s mostly his promoter that doesn’t want to risk his marketability with a possible loss. It makes more sense for Pacman to fight Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios or even Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for sure wins. But the world wants the Filipino superstar to fight Mayweather and that’s a long shot for 2012.
3.) Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) – The “Executioner” just turned 47 years old and most consider him the light heavyweight champion of the world. Though his last fight ended bizarrely as a technical knockout loss against Chad Dawson, it was overturned and ruled a No Contest. That still leaves some questions for Hopkins and what he plans to do next. During the last press conference he mentioned several times the end is near. Just who will he fight remains the big question. Boxing has been his whole life and his technical prowess in the ring will be talked about long after he retires.
4.) Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs) – Just when most experts were saying “Dinamita” was going to get smoked he surprised them all and actually gathered their backing after losing controversially against Manny Pacquiao. The Mexico City boxing wizard proved perplexing in his last fight and though he moved up in weight he showed he could carry it well and not lose quickness. At most Marquez is a lightweight or junior welterweight, but the pure intelligence he shows in the ring allows him to compete against bigger and stronger guys. He’s a marvel.
5.) Timothy Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) – Now that “Desert Storm” has left his contract problems behind he can tend to his business as one of the most under-rated prizefighters in the world today. If there is anyone who can challenge Mayweather or Pacquiao it’s Bradley. He’s strong enough to move up to junior middleweight and fast enough to hit and not get hit in return. Most opponents look at his knockout numbers and scoff before exchanging punches. But once they feel what he can do they shrink away. Bradley can do it all. Now who will be the one to step up against the junior welterweight champion?
6.) Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) – The southpaw middleweight has it all: speed, cunning, power and intelligence. What he doesn’t possess is a large following. Outside of boxing and some female fans who’ve seen his photos, Martinez flies under the radar of popularity mostly because of his recent opponents. Sure, the European middleweights are ranked, but Darren Barker, Serhiy Dzinziruk and Matthew Macklin are not going to gain a fighter many fans in the United States. He’d be better off fighting former champion Sergio Mora or moving up in weight and tackling Lucian Bute. If Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. doesn’t want to tangle there are others.
7.) Robert Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) – Guerrero, 28, is the best choice to make a competitive fight Floyd Mayweather. Sure, you could put Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in there but he doesn’t have the technical know-how of Guerrero. Not at the moment. The best fight that the fans deserve is Guerrero versus Mayweather. The Gilroy prizefighter has all of the tools including youth and a southpaw stance. He’s captured world titles as a featherweight, junior lightweight and was interim lightweight champion.
8.) Nonito Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) – Very few prizefighters have the entire package like “The Filipino Flash.” Donaire, 29, can show dazzling speed, super ring intelligence and awkward but effective boxing skills. What sets him apart from anyone on this list is his crackling knockout power. When Donaire cracks somebody clean they’re not getting up without assistance. Next for the former flyweight, junior bantamweight and bantamweight world champion is a test at junior featherweight. Don’t be surprised if he blows past his next opponent and meets new WBA titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux.
9.) Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) – The super middleweight world champion has all of the boxing tools necessary for a long run as an elite fighter, especially in the intelligence department. That’s where he separates himself from the others. Once upon a time Ward, 27, was strictly an at-arms-length kind of boxer who ran around the ring and seldom punched and never fought inside. Those days are long gone. Now Ward can fight inside even more effectively than from the outside. He’s a beast at 168-pounds.
10.) Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs) – “Dr. Steelhammer” will never fight his older brother Vitali Klitschko so we’ll never know the true heavyweight world champion. This aside, Wladimir has the technical prowess and is younger so if any Klitschko deserves to be on this list it’s him. Because he seldom fights in the U.S. the heavyweight division has been ruined for the past several years as a gate attraction. That should end this year when rumors persist that Klitschko, 35, will be meeting Southern California’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola.
11.) Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) – Though “King Khan” was deemed the loser by decision last December it was atrocious scoring and refereeing that gave the fight to Lamont Peterson. Khan drops a bit on this list because he could have ended the fight earlier but just didn’t finish the job. With his amazing speed and surprising power Khan can rebound very quickly. A match against Mayweather seems like a good course of action for this year if Guerrero or Alvarez doesn’t materialize.
12.) Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs) – The tall left-handed Williams has only two losses yet the boxing world has deemed him over and done. With his height and reach the prizefighter known as “the Punisher” still deserves an opportunity to show what he can do on the big stage. Fighting other southpaws has proven to be a major weakness in his game, but let’s see what happens against a right-hander. Williams next match comes against Nobuhiro Ishida from Japan. That’s the guy who knocked out James Kirkland in Las Vegas. Good test.
Vitali Klitschko, Lucian Bute, Abner Mares, Chad Dawson, Miguel Cotto, Brandon Rios, Chad Dawson.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Ruslan Provodnikov (20-1) vs. David Torres (21-2-2).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?