It’s a new year and there are some new names on this list. Of course not everyone will agree but this is how I see it:
1. Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) – Pacquiao’s only 32, but the Filipino super fighter is running out of opponents. Sugar Shane Mosley looks to be next in line. After Shane the Pacman will have to look elsewhere. There are not many options unless he fights an Andre Berto, Timothy Bradley or Sergio Martinez. But those guys are too dangerous for too little money. That’s where Floyd Mayweather needs to step in. The Las Vegas welterweight brings the most money to the table, but he’s also the only one capable of possibly dethroning the king.
2. Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) – At 33, Mayweather still has enough juice in those reflexes to beat any of the other welterweights or junior middleweights in the world. His problem is the Nevada court system. Can he beat the charges that continue to mount up against him? Until Mayweather is cleared in court don’t expect him to fight Pacman. It would be a great fight but legal entanglements could wash that fight aside. Will he still have enough after that to contend with Pacman?
3. Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) – Soon to be 46 years old on January 15, the ageing but masterful fighting Hopkins will once again jump in the ring against a young stud full of promise. Hopkins drew with Jean Pascal on Dec. 18 in the Canadian fighter’s hometown of Quebec. Now it looks like the money is right and Hopkins and Pascal will do it again. Hopkins is truly one of the all time greats of boxing. He proves it over and over again. A lot of people don’t realize how good he is.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs) – His rallying from a knockdown against boxing’s exciting Michael Katsidis was exhilarating. Both boxers gave a clinic on how to fight with technique and excitement. The fans went crazy over the battle that Marquez won by his superior skills. But Katsidis made him work for it. Now Marquez is set to meet with former Mexican hero Erik Morales in April. It’s a bout that should have happened 10 years ago. But Mexican fans will love it.
5. Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) – Maravilla’s one-punch knockout of Paul Williams puts him in “The Punishers” former spot on these rankings. At 35, Martinez does not have a lot of time to prove his worth. The big win over Williams provides him one big shot at big money and fame. Picking the right opponent is very important for Martinez who has few options. Still, he has plenty of speed and guile left to make money and create havoc in the middleweight and super middleweight division.
6. Timothy Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) – The Palm Springs resident at 27 has beaten a number of former undefeated fighters and world champions. Now he faces young stud Devon Alexander who lobbied long for this fight. Sometimes its not good to get what you wish. Bradley has the style to pierce the Alexander defense that resembles Lamont Peterson. But that’s based on paper analysis. They’re fighting in the ring on Jan. 29 in Michigan. It should be good.
7. Andre Ward (22-0, 13 KOs) – Ward, 26, is blessed with super speed and agility that enabled him to stay undefeated. Two years ago he became a well-skilled technician in the ring to accompany that athletic ability. Now he’s a very dangerous fighter and should win the Super Six Super Middleweight Classic. Ward is one of three Northern California boxers that are on this list.
8. Robert Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) – Lefthanders with speed and power like 27-year-old Guerrero are feared for many reasons. First, as a southpaw he already has an advantage. When you add speed and power to that you have a very formidable prizefighter. Guerrero also has gained new boxing skills every year since becoming a professional and it shows as he moves up various weight divisions. He’s the second Northern Californian on this list.
9. Nonito Donaire (24-1, 16 KOs) – Sometimes Nonito Donaire is just too good for his own good. What boxer out there wants to compete against someone like the Filipino Flash? His performance against the Ukrainian Vladimir Sidorenko was nearly picture perfect. Can anyone beat Donaire? Next up is another pound for pound fighter Fernando Montiel. That will be a great fight. Donaire is the third Northern Californian on this list. It used to be that Southern California bred all of the state’s boxing talent. No More. The north has arrived.
10. Paul Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) – Williams, 29, may have lost in devastating fashion but it doesn’t mean his career is over. The tall gangly volume puncher has a lot left and a lot of opponents. The loss may have opened up more doors for Williams who was avoided like old cheese. Somebody out there must want to fight Williams. Anyone care to be first?
11. Fernando Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KOs) – The 31-year-old Mexican speedster from Los Mochis, Mexico disappears then reappears like Houdini. Several times he’s been counted out but then returns with a big win. Like Nonito Donaire he’s an electrifying fighter who can end a fight with startling finality. His win over Hozumi Hasegawa exemplified that with an exclamation point.
12. Amir Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) – After one heck of a fight with Marcos Maidana and surviving an onslaught that few others could, Khan showed that he’s more than just speed and talk. He’s got heart too. There were numerous opportunities for Khan to give up but he absorbed Maidana’s best shots and in the end was ruled the winner. He’s also on the pound for pound list.
Abner Mares – He reminds me of Marco Antonio Barrera circa 1999. He has all of the tools.
Rafael Marquez – His loss to Juanma due to a bad arm proved he has something left.
Giovanni Segura – Beating Ivan Calderon was a big moment in his career.
Wladimir Klitschko – He avoided James Toney for 10 years. What kind of champion is that? Now it’s too late. There was a lot of money on the table back in 2004 but he spurned it.
Miguel Cotto – Losing to Pacman is no shame. Can he get another big win?
Lucian Bute – The Romanian-Canadian is a solid fighter who needs a marquee fight.
Yuri Gamboa – Too bad Gamboa hasn’t fought Caballero. Otherwise he would be high up on the list.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?