Bad Left Hook Best of the Decade: Junior Middleweight

Winky Wright and Shane Mosley battled twice for junior middleweight supremacy. via www.hbo.com

Now that 2009 is getting close to wrapping up, it means this decade is almost over.  Before the end of the year, I hope to get through all the weight classes, presenting to you some choices for the best fighter in a given weight class in the decade.  I'm not going in any particular order here, but we'll get through all 17 weight classes. 

When voting, please only consider the time that the fighter was in the specified weight class during this decade.  Also, I'm not going to count obvious ballot stuffing when I tally these up at the end of the year.

For much of the 2000's, jumior middleweight has been a transient division.  Many of the top fighters in the weight class were either just passing through or were top welterweights who moved up for a while.  Still, while there were no clear standouts in the division, there were a number of guys who did distinguish themselves.  A lot of guys on this poll, simply because there are a lot of guys who have pretty similar levels of merit (although not necessarily the guy who probably did the most at the weight). 

Oscar de la Hoya - De la Hoya spent most of his time in the decade at 154, which was well above his best weight, but where he was still able to compete at a world class level.  Golden Boy went 5-2 in the weight class for the decade, all against former and future titlists, including wins over Fernando Vargas, Javier Castellejo, Ricardo Mayorga, Yory Boy Campas and Steve Forbes, with his losses coming to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley.

Sergiy Dzinziruk - Dzinziruk has spent his entire career at the weight, going 30-0 in the decade, although quite a few of those were wins that came early on the learning curve.  He won his title against Daniel Santos in 2005, and has made five successful defenses since then, against Joel Julio, Sebastian Lujan, Lukas Konecny, Carlos Nascimento and Alisultan Nadirbegov, plus an earlier victory over Mamadou Thiam.  Not exactly murderer's row, but not horrible given former promoter Universum's propensity to overprotect its fighters.    Hopefully now that he's free from Universum, he'll start making better fights.

Roman Karmazin - "Made in Hell" might have a good case for being the most ducked fighter in the decade.  As a solid technical fighter with a big punch but no name whatsoever, facing him was a very risky proposition, considering that there was almost no financial reward for doing so.  Karmazin went 8-3 in the weight class, including wins over Kassim Ouma, Alejandro "Terra" Garcia, Keith Holmes and David Walker.  His losses were a decision to Javier Castellejo that was widely reported to be a robbery, an extremely highly contested split decision loss to Cory Spinks and a TKO loss to Alex Bunema. 

Shane Mosley - Mosley is clearly a better fighter at 147, and has done most of his recent damage there, but he still accomplished quite a bit at 154.  Mosley went 4-2 at the weight, with both of his losses coming to Winky Wright, and wins coming over Oscar de la Hoya, Ricardo Mayorga and Fernando Vargas (twice).

Kassim Ouma - Kassim's dreams have been shattered recently with some losses that seem to have come relatively early in his career, but he still did quite a bit of damage at 154.  Ouma went 15-4-1 in the weight class in the decade, but three of those losses came at what is likely the tail end of his career.  Key victories include Verno Phillips (twice), Carlos Bojorquez, Alex Bunema, Kofi Janutah, Marco Antonio Rubio and Sechew Powell.  The only loss during the prime of his career came to Karmazin, although he also suffered recent losses to Saul Roman, Cornelius Bundrage and Gabriel Rosado.

Daniel Santos - Santos' resume may not be as flashy as some of the guys on the list, but he did spend almost the full decade at 154 and managed to rack up some decent wins.  In going 7-1, he holds wins over Antonio Margarito, Yory Boy Campas, Fulgencio Zuniga, Jose Antonio Rivera and Joachim Alcine.  His lone loss came on the road in a close (but uncontroversial) decision loss to Sergiy Dzinziruk.

Cory Spinks - While it seems like Spinks has been a junior middleweight forever, he's actually only been at the weight for five fights, going 4-1 in the decade, with wins over Karmazin and Deandre Latimore, as well as a loss that most scored as a win against Verno Phillips.

Felix Trinidad - This one's almost purely on here on a head to head basis.  Trinidad only had three fights at the weight, beating a prime Fernando Vargas, Mamadou Thiam and David Reid.  He was a beast at 147 and good but not great at 160, and he was likely somewhere in the middle at 154, but didn't stay there long enough to really prove it.

Winky Wright - Winky went 9-0 in the 2000's at super welterweight, probably his best division.  This included six title defenses, including becoming unified and lineal champion by beating Shane Mosley.  Besides beating Mosley twice, he also held two wins over Bronco McKart and wins over Angel Hernandez, Robert Frazier and Keith Mullings.

Others for possible consideration: Ricardo Mayorga (keeping in mind his wins over Forrest were at 147 and over Vargas was at 164), Vernon Forrest (best wins all at 147, wins at 154 over Mora, a robbery win over Quartey and Baldomir), Harry Simon (win over Winky Wright was in 1998), Verno Phillips, Travis Simms, Paul Williams (only fight of note at 154 was against Phillips).   If I left your favorite guy off the poll, I apologize - I can only put so many on there, and a few of them up there are already pretty darn borderline.

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