Another Sunday, another update. You know the drill.
Light Heavyweight: Jean Pascal stays at No. 3 and Adrian Diaconu stays at No. 6. I had Pascal higher than basically anyone already, and I kind of hope people are getting on that bandwagon with me at this point. He was always seen as mentally immature in the ring, and he probably still is, but I think his pure athleticism helps make up for a lot of that, and now we know for damn sure that he's tough, too. He hurt his shoulder against Omar Pittman in early 2008, and fought through that. He got no surgery, then went through a war late in '08 with Carl Froch that showed folks that maybe this guy was for real. After two decent wins over Silvio Branco and Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas (I got that on memory, then Googled to double-check -- score!) and two damn good wins over Diaconu this year, I think we can surely say he's the real deal now, can't we? After re-injuring the shoulder against Diaconu and gutting it out, he's probably going to need to really get it fixed this time. But he's got a date waiting with Chad Dawson when he gets back. I think it's a terrible matchup for Pascal, but now that he's done surprising everyone else, maybe he can start surprising his long-time believers, too.
Welterweight: Shake-up near the back end, as Jan Zaveck's destruction of Isaac Hlatshwayo changes the game a bit. For whatever it's worth, I've never been a Hlatshwayo guy. When people mentioned him fighting guys like Mosley or Clottey or Cotto or Berto, all I could remember was Kendall Holt kicking the living crap out of "The Angel" back in 2006. In a way, I'm sort of glad he lost, because I just didn't see him as all that good, but with a belt, a nice record on paper and yes, some good wins, people brought him into conversations where I just felt he did not belong.
With Hlatshwayo out, Zaveck moves in at No. 8. I don't think he's any more deserving of being in the top of the class discussions either, but his win over Hlatshwayo wasn't fluky, it was devastating. And let's not forget Isaac got to that fight on the strength of a hotly debated draw and a debated split decision win against Delvin Rodriguez, a fighter I like, but not one I rank particularly high (like a better Alfonso Gomez).
There is a clear first tier and a clear second tier in this division. I've got Rafal Jackiewicz in at No. 9 now, as Jackiewicz closely beat Rodriguez recently and has a split decision victory over Zaveck (in Poland, mind you) on his recent record. No. 10 is Selcuk Aydin, the guy with the arms that make Hatton's look like Paul Williams'. Out are Hlatshwayo (8) and Zab Judah (10). Some might argue that Judah could spank Zaveck, Jackiewicz or Aydin, and I can see it. Sure he can. But instead he fights tomato cans that haven't fought in three years and ducks Matthew Hatton, so whatever.
Junior Welterweight: I have taken Manny Pacquiao out as the No. 1 guy. Obviously he's never going to fight at 140 again. So we have a bunch of movement here, as I sort of re-examined things a bit.
Timothy Bradley moves into the No. 1 spot, where he belongs. Ricky Hatton inches up to No. 2, because of his resume and the fact that like him or not, the only two times he's lost were to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., both regarded at the time of the fights as No. 1 P4P. Marcos Maidana goes up to No. 3 -- if Maidana fought Hatton, I think there's no way Ricky survives his power, but I also am not certain Maidana beats Paulie Malignaggi, so head-to-head isn't the key here.
Kendall Holt leapfrogs Nate Campbell to move to No. 4. This came about because when you look at Tim Bradley's great 2009, the only guy that tested him was Holt. Holt has given Bradley the best fight of his career so far, decking him twice and losing a narrow decision. Kendall and Nate are due to fight sometime in the first quarter of 2010, so they'll settle that 4-5 thing anyway.
Amir Khan scoots up a spot to No. 6, and Paulie Malignaggi re-enters the rankings at No. 7. Devon Alexander, Juan Urango and Lamont Peterson round out the top 10. I know Lamont lost wide to Bradley, but Tim Bradley is the No. 1 guy in the class now, and I still think Lamont beats the likes of Paul McCloskey and Andriy Kotelnik.
Lightweight: Juan Diaz falls from No. 3 to No. 5. That might not seem like much of a drop, but what am I supposed to do? Rank him behind Michael Katsidis, who he dominated last year? A return to 135 is likely given the loss to Malignaggi, and I honestly am not sure why The Ring and other folks are ranking him as a 140-pound fighter. Both of those fights were catchweights for a reason. As for Diaz-Malignaggi, it's a great style clash, but given that I thought Paulie won both fights, I think I'll go ahead and say that Diaz just doesn't match up the right way with Paulie, or at least a sharp Paulie. He's not near the puncher someone would have to be to hurt Paulie (who is damn tough, despite his personality giving detractors the idea he's not) and Paulie's speed, height and reach clearly gave Diaz trouble in both fights. But Juan's still a good fighter and still a top contender at 135.
Antonio DeMarco enters at No. 8. This was more oversight than anything, really. DeMarco will face Edwin Valero on February 6.
Junior Bantamweight: Tomas Rojas (9) is out. Jorge Arce is in at No. 10. I know Arce isn't what he used to be, but the division is really soft.