The younger Klitschko brother appears unbeatable at this point. He spent the last two years trying to get David Haye to fight him and, when Haye finally stepped into the ring, Klitschko got his revenge. Wladimir completely dismantled and embarrassed Haye before sending him home as a defeated, humiliated contender.
Looking forward, Klitschko's utter dominance the past few years has one serious downside: there are no real opponents left for him to face in the heavyweight division. Klitschko will continue finding prop up contenders to fight but, without any real challengers, he has no way to pursue or build up another major fight.
Klitschko may have the most impressive record in boxing. At forty years old, he has only two career losses. One came against Chris Byrd when he injured his shoulder inadvertently while ahead on all cards and the other came at the hands of Hall of Famer Lennox Louis. In between, he has beaten every other fighter in his path including Samuel Peter, Shannon Briggs, and others.
However, Klitschko is now on the wrong side of forty. He has slowed down recently and has a tough fight ahead of him against Tomas Adamek.Klitscko is the better fighter but will age finally get the better of him?
David Haye [25-2]
Once a knockout machine and the top heavyweight contender in the world, Haye's career rise came to screeching halt when he was crushed by WladimirKlitscko in their recent title bout. Plagued for years by charges of ducking a fight with the Klitschkos and taking on lesser opponents, Haye paid for it when he entered the ring against his nemesis and received a serious beating. It is unclear whether he can fully recover but, given the embarrassing lack of depth in the heavyweight division, he remains the third best boxer in the division.
Tomas Adamek [44-1]
The Polish native has only one loss on his career resume, which sounds like an impressive feat until you look at the names on his victory log. Kevin McBride was the last would be contender to lose at Adamek's hands. Now, he will have to prove his mettle in a real fight against VitaliKlitschko and let's just say he is a major underdog.
Alexander Povetkin [22-0]
The 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist remains undefeated as a professional. He recently won a tough fight against a faded but still skilled RuslanChagaev. Normally, this would propel him to a megafight but, since the only megafight option in the heavyweight division is to get knocked out by WladimirKlitschko, Povetkin's team may wait for a better option.
Bernard Hopkins [52-5-2-1]
Age is just a number' to Bernard Hopkins. The Executioner' may be old at 46 but age has taken away little of his excellence and ability. Hopkins' last two fights were a tight draw against rising star Jean Pascal in 2010 and a 2011 rematch where the ageless star schooled his opponent. Hopkins has no plans to retire and continues to put his belt on the line in search of lucrative fights. His next one, against former titlist Chad Dawson, should cement his hold on the division if he wins, and could open the door for more lucrative fights. It may be unlikely but middleweight stars Sergio Martinez, Paul Williams, Andre Berto, and Carl Froch could all move up in weight to fight him. Every one of them wants a slice of Hopkins and his incredible, still unfinished legacy.
Chad Dawson [30-1-1]
Since 2009, Dawson's career has entered something of a tailspin. His convincing 2010 loss to Jean Pascal dethroned him as king of the light heavyweight division. His next fight was a victory over Adrian Draconu that was less than inspired.
With that said, Dawson remains one of the world's best light heavyweight boxers and his arsenal of weapons is unmatched in the division. He has earned wins over Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, and Tomas Adamek and is a savvy veteran.He will get a chance to regain his royal perch with a victory over the current king of the weight class, Bernard Hopkins, in October.If he wins, who knows what might happen?
Tavoris Cloud [23-0]
Cloud is one of the young bright spots of the heavier weight classes. At 23-0, he stands to earn a big fight after defeating mandatory challenger Yusaf Mack. If his team can make a fight with Jean Pascal and he can win it, a megafight with Bernard Hopkins could be on the way by mid-2012.
The Hungarian sensation has become one of the world's best young boxers.He is undefeated at 33-0 and, even though many of those wins were against poor competition, he has proven himself ready for the big time. He crushed former middleweight titleholder Byron Mitchell in his last fight and, looking forward, could make his mark against a big name foe very soon.
Jean Pascal [26-2-1]
Pascal is a known quantity at this point. With two losses on his record and a draw' to Bernard Hopkins that should have been a third, Pascal is not one of the world's best boxers. However, he is a class above most contenders and, as a titlist, is still one of the division's best. His future still looks bright but, with losses to Hopkins and Froch to his name, he will need to add technique and stamina if he wants to raise his game to another level.
Sergio Martinez [47-2-2]
Hush, hush but Martinez may be the best fighter in all of boxing! The Argentine knocked out Paul The Punisher Williams, who most believed was a match for Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, in the second round of their 2011 bout. He can also boast of recent victories over both Kelly Pavlik and SergiyDzinziruk. However, his next fight, with undefeated British super prospect Darren Barker is fairly underwhelming. Hopefully, either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather will man up and decide to benefit. Now that would be a fight to see!
Andre Ward [24-0]
Ward is America's best young boxer. Undefeated at 24-0, the middleweight owns victories over former titlists Arthur Abraham and Mikkel Kessler. He also has the youth and star power to become a major draw at the middleweight, super middleweight, and perhaps even welterweight classes if he continues to win. His next fight is against accomplished Englishman Carl Froch and a win in that bout would make him a top contender for a championship fight with Victor Ortiz, Sergio Martinez, or Amir Kahn.
Paul Williams [40-2]
Sadly for Williams, we are a long way from 2009. Then Paul The Punisher Williams was 38-1 and a recent victor over fellow welterweight titlist Sergio Martinez. Pundits the world over were saying that he deserved a fight with either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. Some even went so far to say that both Hall of Famers' resumes were incomplete without defeating him. However, after that he was floored by Martinez in the second round of their rematch and then narrowly defeated Cuban sensation Erislandy Lara in a match many believe he actually lost. Even now, he has not yet fully regained his form or confidence.
With that said, Williams has not earned forty wins and a nickname like The Punisher for nothing. He is a two time former WBO welterweight titlist who owns victories over former champions Winky Wright, Sergio Martinez, and Carlos Quintana. His only two losses came to Martinez and Quintana; foes he has also earned wins against. Moreover, he is still the tallest and most athletic welterweight in boxing and remains in his prime at thirty years old. Each day that passes since his horrendous knockout last year will bring him closer to full health. At this point, he should find himself a fight against another top welterweight and use the win to earn a megafight.
Lucian Bute [29-0]
First, the positives: Bute is an undefeated 29-0. None of his opponents thus far have challenged him and, as king of the middleweight division, his dominance has earned him the nickname Mister KO. On the flip side, Bute's dominance has come against less than mediocre opposition. None of his victories have come against true contenders or title holders. At thirty one years old and twenty nine fights into his title winning career, that is a startling statistic.
Bute has a chance to change that reputation for beating up on lesser opponents with a fight against Glen Johnson in November. Johnson is well past his prime at 42 but he is a tough fighter who will show Bute what it is like to fight a former champion. If Mister KO' can win the Johnson bout and use it to get a megafight with another top middle or welterweight (perhaps Victor Ortiz or Sergio Martinez) he will reap the rewards.
Carl Froch [28-1]
Englishman Carl Froch is the most accomplished Western European boxer in the world. At 28-1, he has defeated almost every opponent in his path and proved himself one of the toughest and most versatile fighters in boxing. Unlike his undefeated Romanian rival, Lucian Bute, Froch's victories have come against the best competition his weight class has to offer: Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Dirrell, and Jean Pascal. His loss to Mikkel Kessler last year was very tight and he bounced back to form with victories over Abraham and Johnson. Looking forward, his match with undefeated potential superstar Andre Ward could make or break the next few years of Froch's career.
Manny Pacquiao [53-3-2]
Is Pacquiao the best in boxing? It's hard to say: Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather look like equals on paper. Choosing between one and the other on a pound for pound list is like splitting hairs. In fact, The Fighting Congressman has been boxing's pound for pound king since 2008 but, before that, Mayweather owned the title. Pacquiao gets the nod here because he is more active than his American rival and has looked unbeatable in his past five fights.
Looking forward, Pacquiao has a November fight lined up with old foe Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez earned a draw and a narrow loss in their previous two bouts but those were at lightweight. Marquez proved in his loss to Mayweather that he is not the same fighter at welterweight and Pacquiao should earn the victory. Looming after that is his future showdown with Mayweather. The two boxer's mutual enmity is well documented but their legacies are co-dependent: if they never fight then no one will be able to judge either the best of the era. Look for that fight sometime in 2012.
Floyd Mayweather [41-0]
Floyd Money Mayweather is the best fighter in boxing. He is undefeated at 41-0 and, as Mayweather himself likes to say, no one yet has the textbook on how to beat him. Several all-time greats have failed including Oscar de la Hoya, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Jose Castillo. His next opponent is the rising Victor Ortiz. Ortiz is a tough fighter and a tricky southpaw but his resume does not suggest he has the chomps to take Money down. Over all of it looms a potential future showdown with superstar Manny Pacquiao. The two stars must face one another: their legacies depend on it.
Victor Ortiz [29-2-2]
Of all boxing's stars, Ortiz was the toughest to rank. Due to his tough April win over future superstar Andre Berto, Ortiz is now viewed as one of the world's elite welterweights. He will enter the ring on September 17th with a chance to beat undefeated Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather and cement himself as one of boxing's best. Yet, two years ago, Ortiz lost to slugging Argentine Marcos Maidana and was viewed as one of boxing's better fights but hardly one of its elite talents. So much has changed and, even as Ortiz has redefined himself and his fighting style, boxing has worked to redefine his place in the sport. The upcoming fight with Mayweather will crystallize that: if he wins Ortiz will be matched against superstar Manny Pacquiao and his place in the sport will be secure. If he loses, he will go back to being another also ran. The question is: can he handle the pressure?
Miguel Cotto [36-2]
Cotto is one of boxing's most intriguing athletes. He has two losses to his name but one came to Antonio Margarito when he was stuffing his gloves with plaster of paris. Cotto has a chance to avenge that loss in December and, if he drills a diminished Margarito, he will show boxing fans his true mettle.
His other loss came to Manny Pacquiao last year. Cotto acquitted himself fairly well against the Fighting Congressman' but the loss was very convincing. Nonetheless, he followed the defeat with victories over Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga and should be in line for a big payday and a fight with the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Victor Ortiz, or Sergio Martinez if he can defeat his nemesis Margarito.
Andre Berto [28-1]
Once boxing's future superstar, Berto lost some of his luster after he lost a unanimous decision to Victor Ortiz last year. However, Ortiz is an incredible talent who earned himself a fight with undefeated future Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather so Berto's strong showing against him demonstrates his own abilities. Since then, Berto has rebounded with a recent victory over DejanZavec to earn the IBO welterweight world title. He should be in line for another big fight with a top contender soon and that fight could decide whether he becomes a future star champion or just another high profile contender.
Amir Kahn [26-1]
The successor to Genghis and the Mongols, Khan is boxing's next superstar! The powers that be have coalesced to make him into a phenomenon and Kahn has helped make their dreams a reality with seven impressive victories over the last three years.After his stunning knockout to Breideis Prescott, Khan regrouped and won eight consecutive fights over the likes of Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera, Andreas Kotelnik, Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana, and Zab Judah. Looking forward, Khan will fight either Floyd Mayweather or NonitoDonaire in 2012.
Timothy Bradley [28-0]
Bradley is one of the toughest boxers to rank. On the one hand, he is undefeated and has showed his mettle at several different weight classes. Bradley's resume was thin until recently but his convincing victory over Devon Alexander, the world's second best junior welterweight, solidified his status as the best in his division.
However, Bradley is more elusive than powerful and lacks the weapons to be a truly dominant performer. He relies on guile, movement, and placement to wear down opponents and force them into mistakes. Most of his victories have been over less talented or inexperienced fighters-including Alexander-who allowed Bradley to goad them into errors. It remains to be seen if Bradley is capable of winning a match with one of the larger, power punchers in the division. His decision to turn down Amir Kahn's unprecedented 50/50 offer to split the profits of a 2011 fight suggests that he may doubt his own ability to fight the very best. However, given his work against Alexander, he has to be considered one of the world's best pound for pound until someone defeats him.
He may not be a major box office draw, but Dzinziruk is one of the most talented boxers in the world. He is versatile and can compete in several weight classes. Most recently, he was drilled by Sergio Martinez in five rounds and lost his undefeated mark but Martinez is the third best boxer on the planet. Is it really fair to dock him too much for that?
Marcos Maidana [30-2]
Maidana is one of the toughest fighters in the welterweight division. He goes hard in every bout and is a match for nearly anyone. Most recently, he want toe to toe with future superstar Amir Kahn and nearly knocked him out. That was Kahn's toughest test to date and, even in defeat, Maidana proved his worth. His hard punches and skill should make him a titlist or serious contender for several years.
Devon Alexander [22-1]
Alexander's loss to Timothy Bradley last year brought his fast track rise to stardom to a screeching halt. No-longer viewed as the top prospect in the light welterweight class, he will have to pick up the pieces. With that said, he remains a premier talent and, if Alexander can secure a win against a top opponent soon, he will be right back in the thick of things.
Donaire is the rising star of the light weight classes. Donaire's rise to prominence began with his shocking 2007 upset of then undefeated star Vic Darchinyan. He then rose up boxing's lower weight classes and while defeating former titlists Rafael Conception, Manuel Vargas, Hernan Marquez, and WladimirSidorenko. His success earned him a bout with Fernando Monteil for the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles. Donaire's shocking victory made him boxing's newest phenomenon.
Looking forward, Donaire is now in the middle of a contractual dispute between the Golden Boy and Top Rank promotion agencies. However, he is set to fight undefeated titlist Omar Narvaez on October 22nd, which should be a tough fight but one he is likely to win. Narvaez is a gritty boxer and an undefeated veteran but he is 37 years old and his once blinding speed and elusiveness are diminished. Donaire, undefeated since his second professional fight, should make short work of the Argentine and then move up to featherweight where he will challenge stars Chris John, YurokisGamboa, and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Juan Manuel Marquez [53-5-1]
Marquez is the last true Mexican warrior at the pinnacle of boxing. Erik Morales remains active but, despite his best efforts, he is clearly in decline. As such, Marquez is now the heir to the legacy of Julio Cesar Chavez, Marcos Antonio Barrera, and Morales himself. Even at thirty eight years old, he continues to live up to that legacy and will get a chance to raise himself to a whole new level in his upcoming fight with Manny Pacquiao.
Marquez's record contains only five career defeats.Two of those came in his previous fights with Pacquiao and many believe Marquez actually won one or drew both. By contrast, his fight against Floyd Mayweather was a one-sided loss but Marquez was fighting at true welterweight. In reality, the Mexican warrior is a junior welterweight or lightweight and may well be the best in the world at those levels.Pound for pound, he is certainly one of the world's toughest, most talented boxers.
Chris John [45-0-1]
Indonesian boxer Chris John may be the best featherweight boxer in history. He is undefeated over a decade long professional career. John's most recent draw came against Rocky Juarez in 2009 in Las Vegas but he avenged that with a thorough victory in their rematch. John will likely retire undefeated since, with NonitoDonaire's departure to greener pastures, there are no boxers of his caliber in the weight class.
However, the featherweight division is very weak and has been one of the poorest in boxing for years. John's last world class win was over Juan Manuel Marquez in 2006. So, while his record and career are extremely impressive, it is difficult to rank him as one of the world's elite boxers.
To be honest, I may have Gamboa ranked a bit low here. He is undefeated at 28-0 and recently destroyed lightweight titlist Jorge Solis. His opponent was a larger, stronger fighter who dropped down in weight but Gamboa was too fast and skilled. He still does not have the pedigree to rank above John or Marquez but another big win would make him one of boxing's biggest young stars.
Brandon Rios [28-0-1]
Another emerging star in the lightweight division, Rios is one of the toughest brawlers in the sport. His last fight was all action and he destroyed UrbanoAntillon by the third round. If he gets the HBO feature fight that is being talked about, it could propel him into the spotlight.Since his style is crowd pleasing, that would be a good thing for Rios and for boxing.
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