Top 10 list of boxing contenders

Aug 25, 2009 5:04 PM
Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz |

Pound-for-pound, they are the best

I don’t have any magic formula for changing lead into gold, or one for producing an elixir to extend life expectancy. Don’t need them. What I need, and what I fortunately possess, is the tried-and-true formula boxing writers need when there are no fights worthy of attention.

There’s always the pound-for-pound lists, a device that may have originally been to honor Sugar Ray Robinson, but which has evolved into sweet charity for fight writers.

One rule: if you haven’t been fighting you ain’t gonna be listed. That leaves out, among others (like Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, who have not engaged in any meaningful action since their debilitating and exhilarating trilogy), the previous Numero Uno, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Pretty Boy Money returns Sept. 19 against my current No. 2, Juan Manuel Marquez, against whom he is a legit 4-1 or so favorite. A victory could move him past the present No. 1, Manny Pacquiao.

Marquez has given Pacquiao two hellacious fights, a draw and a split decision victory by the Filipino, although I have colleagues who think Juan Manuel won both encounters. These gentle souls, whose names I shall not slur here, have de facto disqualified themselves from being expert enough to have their own pound-for-pound lists. Pacquiao won both fights and has continued to improve under the training of Freddie Roach.

Nevertheless, I will have to entertain thoughts of demoting the Pac Man if Mayweather dominates Marquez. It is no sure thing, though either Mayweather’s domination or any logic that says he deserves No. 1 if he does better against the smaller Mexican than Pacquiao did. Styles, and sizes, make fights. It is conceivable that even a quick knockout of Marquez will not return Mayweather to his lofty status. Unlike Pacquiao, Mayweather has a distinct size and strength advantage over Marquez.

Pacquiao, even if bumped from No. 1, could reclaim the title later this fall by dominating the bigger Miguel Cotto and he is a 5-2 or so favorite to do so against the Puerto Rican many "experts" thought Mayweather ducked at both 140 and 147 pounds.

That’s another reason, even if Mayweather routs Marquez, to keep Pacquiao atop my list. I give points for degree of difficulty. If you lined up all of Mayweather’s ducks, you might conclude that he is the king of a shrinking pond. Also, if Mayweather does do better against Marquez, remember that Pacquiao did better against Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton.

Yes, this is an argument for a later day, but there can be no argument that at the moment, Pacquiao is atop any sane observer’s list. And if he is No. 1, then Marquez might be No. 1A, or at least No. 2. Now we can begin more pertinent arguments.

At No. 3, I have Paul Williams who could be welterweight, junior middleweight and, I believe, middleweight champion all at the same time. His complete dominance of a still worthy Winky Wright proved that the freakishly tall left-hander with the incredible work rate, fast hands and worthy chin, is a very lively choice to be a future No. 1. I thought Williams (whose only loss, on a lethargic effort, to Carlos Quintana was avenged by first-round knockout) would easily outbox Kelly Pavlik before the middleweight champ came up with a suspicious hand infection to postpone their Oct. 3 date.

I have a couple of old-timers, Bernard Hopkins and Sugar Shane Mosley, next on my list, an indication that these are not exactly vintage times. I have Cotto next, though I suspect he may never be the same after the beating he took from the now defrocked Antonio Margarito, aka Margacheato. But Ivan Caldereon, a marvelous boxer from Puerto Rico, may also be slipping due to age, though I still keep him No. 7.

Another little guy, Nonito Donaire, ranked No. 2 among all Filipinos, is No. 8 among all boxers. Chad Dawson, who has a dangerous assignment in a rematch with ageless Glen Johnson, is No. 9 and no, I cannot put Pavlik in at No. 10. I round out my ratings by moving up Tim Bradley, who was spectacular against Nate Campbell before their bout was incorrectly stopped as a TKO instead of a "no contest" because of a head butt.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Michael Katz