Over the past several years, the sport of boxing and its fans have become obsessed with the pound for pound rankings. In the not too distant past, it was rare that one even heard the term mentioned.
In the decade of the 1980s, when boxing had superstars such as Roberto Duran, Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Wilfred Benitez, Aaron Pryor, Larry Holmes and many other excellent fighters – the notion of just who was the best fighter in the world – was never discussed.
Pick up an old boxing magazine from the 80s and there is no mention in there of a pound for pound best boxer and there are no rankings that sort out such a thing.
But the world has changed. In 2010, most everyone has an opinion about who ranks where and lists and rankings are closely watched.
(1.) Manny Pacquiao – Without question he deserves the top spot. His competition has been very strong and with victories over names such as Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Juan Manuel Marquez there is a clear divide between Pacquiao and his next closest rival. Next: March 13 vs. Joshua Clottey.
(2.) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. – With his next bout scheduled for May 1 versus Shane Mosley, Mayweather could make a huge statement with a win. Mosley will be the most significant threat that Floyd has faced in many years. A win, especially if it is very convincing, just may be enough to vault him to the top position. Next: May 1 vs. Shane Mosley.
(3.) Arthur Abraham – Undefeated at 31-0 (25) KO, he is in his prime at age 30 and is the leader of the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic. He held the IBF middleweight title for 4 1/2 years and 10 successful defenses. His most recent knockout win over Jermain Taylor was complete and thorough. Abraham is a strong puncher who possesses solid boxing skills. Next: March 27 vs. Andre Dirrell.
(4.) Bernard Hopkins – At 45-years-old, Hopkins is a freak of nature. Although he has fought infrequently over the past couple of years he has still maintained his excellent boxing skills. While he is not exciting to watch – he is effective – and that’s really the bottom line. Next: April 3 vs. Roy Jones, Jr.
(5.) Shane Mosley – At 38-years-old he is coming off a huge Jan. 2009 win over Antonio Margarito. The win was enough to rejuvenate his career and keep him highly ranked on the pound-for-pound lists. He is the decided underdog in the bout against Mayweather – but nobody figured he would beat Margarito either. Next: May 1 vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
(6.) Chris John – I rate the WBA featherweight titlist from Indonesia higher than most anybody else for several reasons. In a prizefighting career that has spanned 12 years, the 30-year-old is undefeated at 43-0-2 (22)KO. He is one of the rare fighters that has spent his entire fistic life in the same weight division, which demonstrates his dedication and discipline. He holds a signature win over Juan Manuel Marquez from 2006. John picked up the interim WBA 126-pound title in July 2003 – nearly 7 years ago – and has defended the belt 11 times. He has also avenged the two draws on his record with wins. Next: TBA.
(7.) Wladimir Klitschko – With a record of 53-3 (47)KO, the IBF/WBO heavyweight champ has put up solid numbers in career that began 14 years ago. While he has suffered a few shock losses, he has managed to come back stronger after each one of them. Over the years he has made 12 title defenses of his various belts after having won his first title from Chris Byrd nearly a decade ago. He is unbeaten since 2004 and his two reigns as a belt holder have lasted over 6 years. Next: March 20 vs. Eddie Chambers.
(8.) Paul Williams – Coming off a very tough win over Sergio Martinez this past December, Williams is at a career crossroads. He needs to make a decision as to whether he is going to fight at 147, 154 or 160 and make a serious attempt to get in the ring with names such as Mayweather, Mosley, Pacquiao and Cotto. Next: May 8, TBA.
(9.) Chad Dawson – Needs to fight someone his own age as has only fought Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson (both 40-ish) in the past couple of years. One of the most promising fighters in the world under age 30. Holds signature wins over Tarver, Johnson and Tomasz Adamek. Undefeated at 29-0 (17)KO, the southpaw has supreme boxing skills and has already won two light heavyweight belts. Reminds me of a young Larry Holmes. Next: June 19, TBA, likely Jean Pascal.
(10.) Timothy Bradley – Just scored the biggest win of his career in December with a convincing decision win over the previously unbeaten Lamont Peterson. The 26-year-old won the WBC title in England over Junior Witter in 2008 and has followed up with impressive wins over solid names such as Edner Cherry and Kendall Holt. Has already won the WBC and WBO 140-pound titles. Appeared to be on his way to a win over Nate Campbell before the bout was declared a no-contest. Next: June 5, TBA.
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