Seems like we just did this a couple weeks ago, right? That's 'cause we did. Not a lot has happened in that time overall, but Vic Darchinyan won again in very impressive fashion, and the No. 2 man, Joe Calzaghe, has retired from the sport. So there are some re-shufflings afoot.
1. Manny Pacquiao (1)
The Pac-man stays in the top spot, of course, and now there's not even that undefeated great fighter next in line. The gap is wide... sort of.
Next: May 2 v. Ricky Hatton
2. Juan Manuel Marquez (3)
How bad would you like to see Pacquiao-Marquez III at this point? Conventional wisdom says the younger, stronger Pacquiao eventually really gets the best of Juan Manuel, but Marquez has twice pushed Pacquiao to the limit and then some. There are still fans that will tell you Juan won both fights. (I'm not one -- I thought he won the second but that it was highly debatable, and I thought the draw in the first fight was the correct decision.) If those two were to fight again after wins over Hatton and Diaz (no easy task in either case), you're talking about the consensus top two fighters in the sport, pound-for-pound.
Next: Feb. 28 v. Juan Diaz
3. Bernard Hopkins (4)
With Calzaghe retired and Roy Jones a publicly advertised shell of his former self, Hopkins only has a few possible options. One would be a climb up to cruiserweight, where anyone in the division would likely love to take a crack at the old man because even though Hop has never really been a draw, he's still a bigger star than anyone the division has to offer. Matching him with Ring Magazine champ Tomasz Adamek could make for a good fight, and should he win, the 44-year old Hopkins would have yet another feather in his lock Hall of Fame career.
4. Shane Mosley (5)
For a guy that just won a huge fight that most expected him to lose, Sugar Shane is stuck playing the waiting game. Feelers were sent out to Mayweather and there's been basically no response. He could rematch Miguel Cotto if Margarito is unavailable. He could fight Andre Berto, a fellow titlist. He could wait and see if Manny Pacquiao would want to fight him at 147 pounds should Pacquiao beat Hatton. There are a lot of options, but none that are screaming out right now.
5. Paul Williams (6)
Welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight, whatever. Paul Williams fights at the weight that'll have him. If Williams is able to beat Winky Wright in convincing fashion on April 11, he'll have a case to jump Mosley, even though Wink has been out of the ring for almost two years and is getting on in years. One thing that Williams and his promoters do have to accept is that there are a lot of guys that will pass on the chance to fight him because he can be a stylistic nightmare, but then you have to throw in the fact that Williams has never built a fanbase. How this guy didn't fight in the south more and build up a local legion of fans is beyond me. I know the money is generally elsewhere, but Fernando Guerrero is turning Salisbury, Maryland, into a boxing town, for the love of Pete. People love guys from their area that they can identify with. Paul never did any of that.
Next: Apr. 11 v. Winky Wright
6. Antonio Margarito (7)
Tomorrow, tomorrow, it's only a day away...
Part of me worries that Margarito has enlisted such a high-priced lawyer, because it gives me the idea that he thinks he has something to worry about, and that he has the suspicion the CSAC is about to lay down a ruling he'll want to appeal.
7. Miguel Cotto (8)
Cotto hasn't fought since losing to Margarito last July and there's probably not a lot we'll learn from his upcoming bout. If Cotto struggles with Jennings at all, something is wrong, because 80% of Miguel Cotto should be able to pick Jennings apart.
Next: Feb. 21 v. Michael Jennings
8. Ivan Calderon (10)
Sometimes it's easy to forget that Calderon (32-0, 6 KO) is 34 years old. I get the feeling if he fights Ulises Solis, he'll lose. He might even lose to Edgar Sosa. In three of Calderon's last five fights, he's been pushed fairly hard. Ronald Barrera got a split decision against him in Colombia (Barrera's home country), and Hugo Cazares twice gave Calderon a battle. As great a technician as he is -- arguably the best pure boxer of this generation -- time catches up with everyone. Except for Bernard Hopkins.
9. Israel Vazquez (9)
Vazquez hopes to be cleared to fight in June. I get the horrible gut feeling we may never see Izzy in the ring again. My man crush on Vazquez as a fighter is indescribably huge. I have never enjoyed watching a single guy fight as much as I have Vazquez over the years. Just for argument's sake, if Vazquez had to retire due to his eye, is there anyone in history that would've had a final four fights as jaw-droppingly great as his three bouts with Rafael Marquez and the stirring comeback knockout of Jhonny Gonzalez?
10. Rafael Marquez (11)
The Marquez camp pipes up once every couple of months, mostly to say they aren't interested in a fight that's been mentioned. This has happened recently with both Celestino Caballero and Daniel Ponce de Leon. But other than that, there's been nary a peep from Rafael in 11 months. Both he and Vazquez earned their time off and then some. But the more time off both men take, the more you have to think that their trilogy may have ravaged them to such a degree that they'll never be the same again, and maybe not even close to it. They are both here because they've earned it, but if neither was here after his next fight, I wouldn't be surprised at all. And there'd be no shame in it for either man.
11. Vic Darchinyan (17)
I have never been a fan of Vic Darchinyan's, but I've always liked to watch him fight. Back when he was one of the sport's purest and most vicious brawlers, he was great fun. Now that he's had his ego checked a little by Nonito Donaire's left hook, Vic has resurfaced at the top of the sport with dominating victories over Dimitri Kirilov, Cristian Mijares (top 10 P4P for many at the time) and now Jorge Arce. Darchinyan has so impressed me since last August by adding a jab and a little bit of defense that I think he deserves genuine top 10 consideration from everyone right now. He has cleaned house at 115 pounds and has the guts to want to keep going up and up to fight the best guys he can. And to Vic's credit, HE wants a rematch with Donaire, even though he'll only get one if he leaves Gary Shaw, too.
12. Kelly Pavlik (12)
Our pal Tim Starks from The Queensbury Rules did an article the other day wondering why, exactly, Kelly Pavlik and trainer Jack Loew were so adamant about "forgetting about" the Hopkins loss. Like Tim, I get what they're saying, but that's one thing. They really seem like they have no interest in discussing it, period. There's a lot Kelly Pavlik can learn from that loss to Hopkins. Bernard battered him, and I don't care if his elbow was falling off and he had The Black Death. Pavlik looked terrible and like he didn't know what at all to do with a guy that took away his straight right hand. Still, Kelly's one of my favorite fighters, one of the real good guys in the sport, and I'm rooting for him to come back strong. I think there's a chance Rubio can knock him out, though. Rubio can punch, he can take a shot, and he's getting Pavlik at the best time possible.
Next: Feb. 21 v. Marco Antonio Rubio
13. Chad Dawson (13)
Bad Chad is Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s favorite fighter. He ain't mine, but he's got the type of talent that could someday make Floyd's declaration of Dawson being the best in the sport pound-for-pound not sound so butt crazy. Here's hoping that when he smokes Tarver again on the 14th of March, it's the last we'll hear of Tarver.
Next: Mar. 14 v. Antonio Tarver
14. Ricky Hatton (14)
Next: May 2 v. Manny Pacquiao
15. Nate Campbell (15)
Nate literally has a tall order next weekend against Ali Funeka, but one thing to keep in mind is this is the first time that Funeka won't be fighting in South Africa. He's not used to the travel, not used to being away from home, not used to the spotlight of American TV, not used to a lot of things. Nate has been here before. Even though Funeka has some real physical advantages, Campbell likely has a huge edge in the mental game for this fight. On another note, I know it took a punk move from Ricardo Mayorga for it to happen, but I take great joy in a guy as down to earth and cool as Nate Campbell main eventing on HBO after this long in the sport.
Next: Feb. 14 v. Ali Funeka
16. Arthur Abraham (16)
To be absolutely blunt about it, King Arthur's next fight is a crock of s**t. I don't wish to disrespect Philly's Lajuan Simon (21-0-2, 12 KO) but he's never beaten anyone and has no business in the ring with Abraham. I hope he enjoys his trip to Germany and is getting paid nicely, because Abraham is going to make mincemeat of him. If Abraham and his promoters are going to constantly take shots at Felix Sturm and his team for not wanting to fight, then maybe they should come up with better opponents than Simon, Elvin Ayala and a clearly overmatched Raul Marquez, though Marquez was a mandatory that earned his shot and a swell dude to boot. If either Pavlik or Abraham would land a fight with Sturm, I'd be thrilled, because I'm about 90% certain neither guy has any intention of fighting the other, so Sturm is the next-best option.
Next: Mar. 14 v. Lajuan Simon
17. Celestino Caballero (18)
Caballero is as tall as Antonio Margarito and has one inch less reach than him, and fights twenty-five pounds lighter. And Margarito is a big welterweight. At some point, Caballero will move up. How high could he go and still be good?
Next: Mar. 20 v. Jeffrey Mathebula
18. Chris John (19)
Lots of people are speculating that folks are trying to set up Marquez-John II with the February 28 HBO card. The big red flag in that happening, in my view, comes from the weight differential. Marquez is fighting at 135 and fighters rarely have any desire to go back down, usually with very good reason. John hasn't left 126. Though class-jumpings have happened before (Mosley never fought 140, for instance), they aren't frequent. I also don't figure John would have any interest in putting his "0" on the line against Marquez again because there's probably not enough money in it for him to do that. He has zero U.S. fanbase and I highly doubt Marquez will go back to Indonesia to fight him again. I realize I'm overlooking Rocky Juarez a little by just talking about that, and I hate to, but I don't think Juarez can beat him.
Next: Feb. 28 v. Rocky Juarez
19. Ulises Solis (-)
One of the most overlooked and underappreciated fighters in the sport today, in my view. Fighting at 108 pounds doesn't help, plus the last time he was on widely-seen American TV (I believe) was his 2007 stinker win over a disinterested Will Grigsby. He's lost just once, to Nelson Dieppa in 2004, one of the stragest scored fights you'll come across (120-108 shutouts for Dieppa on two cards, then Bill Alfred's 114-114 draw). Solis is set to outclass Brian Viloria on March 22 in Quezon City.
Next: Mar. 22 v. Brian Viloria
20. Wladimir Klitschko (20)
As good as I think Wladimir is, his next fight has to be special if he's going to stay here much longer. This creaming bums he's way better than thing speaks only to the fact that he's not fighting anyone worth a damn. That's not his fault, really, and it's not fair, but life isn't fair and neither are P4P lists.
Next: TBA, likely June v. David Haye
Drop-Outs: Joe Calzaghe (2) had a long stay on the pound-for-pound lists, even if he didn't reach yours until a few years back. Like Mayweather, it's no guarantee he stays retired, but also like Floyd, there just might not be a fight that intrigues him enough or makes him enough money to return to the ring.
Honorable Mentions: Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler, Cristian Mijares, Steven Luevano, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Hozumi Hasegawa, Nonito Donaire, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Fernando Montiel, Juan Diaz, David Haye