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.
Middleweight has less choices than most weight classes, but that's primarily because the few available options are relatively cut and dry. There was a true champion for the weight class through the entire decade, and that championship changed hands twice. In addition, there was one more guy who ran up an undefeated record, but never faced any of the other big three.
Arthur Abraham - Abraham ran up a record of 19-0 at the weight, including 10 defenses of his IBF title. His key wins include Edison Miranda, Khoren Gevor, Raul Marquez, Kingsley Ikeke and Howard Eastman. While there had often been discussions of a unification between King Arthur and Kelly Pavlik, they never came to fruition, and he moved up to 168 before being seriously tested.
Bernard Hopkins - The Executioner was 34 years old when the decade started, yet he's managed to stay active and near the top of his game. While the latter half of the decade was spent at light heavyweight, Bernard dominated the early part of the decade, unifying all four titles in the weight class and scoring ten title defenses. The best wins came over Oscar de la Hoya, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy, Howard Eastmen, Carl Daniels, Keith Holmes and Antwun Echols. Both losses came to Jermain Taylor in closely contested bouts.
Kelly Pavlik - Pavlik has gone 16-0 at the weight, including his current reign as middleweight world champion. The Ghost's best wins are over Jermain Taylor, Edison Miranda, Marco Antonio Rubio, Jose Luis Zertuche, Fulgencio Zuniga, Bronco McKart and Grady Brewer. This includes three defenses of his middleweight title, although all three of those fights were against less than premiere opposition.
Jermain Taylor "Bad Intentions" went 21-1-1 in the decade at the weight. Key wins include two victories over Bernard Hopkins (both somewhat controversial, once at a time when Hopkins was ranked the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world), Cory Spinks, Kassim Ouma, William Joppy, Raul Marquez, Alex Bunema and Grady Brewer. The draw came against Winky Wright, at a time when he was ranked top pound for pound in the world, although that too was somewhat controversial. The lone loss came to Kelly Pavlik. Including his time at super middleweight, Taylor has gone through an incredible stretch where 14 of his last 15 fights (including his upcoming fight with Andre Ward) will have been against former, sitting or future titlists.
Others possibly worth mentioning: Paul WIlliams, Winky Wright, Felix Sturm, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy