It's the Fourth of July! In these United States of America, that means stuff about flags and hot dogs and the like. It also means there isn't much going on in the boxing world, because this is a real holiday, not something like Columbus Day or Halloween.
So since this is a special day, here's a list. People love lists. Internet rule.
10. Robert Guerrero
Guerrero hasn't quite won the 300 titles in 534 weight classes that his PR reps claimed in the lead-up to the Mayweather fight (and still claim), but he's had a nice career, largely under the radar. He does have legitimate world titles (as it were) at 126 and 130, plus interim titles at 135 and 147, and he's been in a big-time pay-per-view main event, even though it was as The Opponent, and it seems like the fight didn't do very well in large part because Guerrero couldn't convince the public he was a threat. There are lots of things you could pick at with "The Ghost," but he is a good fighter, and like another guy coming up later, I feel that too often gets overlooked in favor of the criticism, which isn't invalid, but it's important, I think, to balance it out by remembering that this guy never comes in out of shape or as though he's overlooked an opponent, never rolls over and dies (he tried against Floyd until the bitter end), and has some notable achievements in the game.
9. Devon Alexander
A two-division titlist at 140 and 147, Alexander's only loss came in 2011 to Tim Bradley, and that's hardly the worst thing. Bradley's quite good. Alexander is an odd duck in that there are nights he looks terrific (wins over Marcos Maidana, Juan Urango, and Lee Purdy) and nights where he really, really looks overrated (Andriy Kotelnik, Randall Bailey). Hindsight enables us to realize that his debatable win over Lucas Matthysse was pretty goddamn impressive even if you think he lost -- he went the distance and stood his ground over a guy who has since gone on a crime spree at 140.
8. Austin Trout
Broner is ranked eighth pound-for-pound by RING magazine, but most of the guys at RING even think this is a bad ranking. You know, because they're like anyone else on earth. I truly don't think Broner has earned being ranked ahead of the six guys I have ahead of him. It's not that he's due to be demolished, really, but he has not proven to be great yet. Not even close. He's an exceptional talent and after his edge-out win over Paulie Malignaggi, there remains a lot he has to prove to be considered the fighter he talks himself up to be. But he's becoming a star attraction without a doubt, and one of the questions is if he's more concerned with that than with being a great fighter. It's also worth remembering this dude is still 23 years old. And he is this good already.
6. Danny Garcia
Garcia is not having a great couple of months since cameras caught him looking a little "shook" at ringside after watching Lucas Matthysse flatten Lamont Peterson in Atlantic City, and there has been too much negotiating and too little making of X's for most fight fans when it comes to the Garcia-Matthysse situation. This is a fight everybody wants to see, and is by far the most important fight that can be made at 140. Apart from that, it also figures to be a really good fight if and when it does happen. Garcia's got solid wins over faded veterans in Erik Morales, who was washed up but did enter their first fight with a world title, though the rematch really didn't need to happen; and Zab Judah, who was unusually full of piss and vinegar. His win over Amir Khan remains his best, though. Matthysse is another level, at least on paper.
Here's how I split the last two: Is Broner more talented than Garcia? Yes. Is he a better fighter? That has not been proven. Garcia has the better wins.
5. Mikey Garcia
Garcia is a studied technician, a well-schooled fighter whose demeanor and fight night approach stick out like a beautiful thumb in the island of misfit toys that is Robert Garcia's stable of wild men, screw-ups, lunatics, and reckless brawlers. Garcia doesn't waste a lot of motion in the ring -- everything he does has purpose. He could be an action star type of fighter, and he's going to have some really good fights along the way when someone can challenge him, I suspect, but right now he is looking fairly dominant. For as long as it lasted, he was much more impressive against Orlando Salido than Yuriorkis Gamboa had been a couple of years earlier.
4. Timothy Bradley
As you likely guessed, this is that other guy whose ability gets overlooked that I mentioned in the Guerrero section. Bradley does not deserve to be undefeated -- Manny Pacquiao was robbed, and I have seen the fight enough, scored it enough, sound on, sound off, color, black and white, HD, little itsy bitsy YouTube videos, whatever -- but he is a really, really good fighter. His reckless approach against Ruslan Provodnikov was an insane man's plea to the public to love him again (well, "again"), but even though that got him into trouble, he still won, and deserved to win. He's got a chance to really establish his standing as an elite fighter against Juan Manuel Marquez in October.
3. Bernard Hopkins
I haven't forgotten that Chad Dawson made him look feeble a year ago. It happens. Everyone on this list can be beaten by a lesser fighter who might have the exact wrong style for them. Still, Hopkins outclassed Tavoris Cloud this year, and while he's often miserable to watch ply his trade now (because his trade is every shortcut in the ring, after taking no shortcuts outside the ring for his neverending career), he's a defiant winner who has taken on an almost mythical sort of character. I do think either he should get new masks or get rid of the sock on his face, though.
2. Andre Ward
The more exposure I get to Ward's personality on HBO, the more hilarious I find him, in a good way. Ward is marketed as "humble" because he's religious and by all accounts a very nice person, but S.O.G. has a Mayweather-size ego. I'm not saying this is a bad thing -- Ward knows how good he is. Ego isn't always a negative. Ward has dominated a hot division over the last four years and firmly planted himself as the heir apparent to top P4P honors behind Floyd. Ward is smart; he talks trash (he did it on Froch all night against Kessler, calling the fight from ringside) but he doesn't do it in the normal ways. He hypes himself up, but he doesn't do it by shouting about how much money he has. Andre Ward is great. He's got layers, man.
1. Floyd Mayweather
There's a minority out there itching to knock Floyd from the top P4P perch even before he loses, and it's not that I don't get it -- you could argue that 36-year-old Mayweather is not currently as good as Andre Ward, a fighter in his prime who has been dominating good opponents for years now. You can make a legitimate case there. But I don't think the brilliant Mayweather has slipped enough for that to be the reality just yet. We all like a shake-up, but Floyd Mayweather remains the best boxer in the world.