You know it, you love it -- The Bad Left Hook Pound-for-Pound Top 20 is back for the New Year.
I'd like to thank Tim and Matt for their time and ballots.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Key: Ranking. Fighter Record, Weight Class First Place Votes (If Any), Total Points, Ranking in Last Top 20
1. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
39-0, 25 KO, Welterweight
5, 100, 1
MM: Another P4P cycle, another big win for Mayweather. Could he have fought tougher opposition than Hatton? Sure he could have--Cotto and Williams would both likely have given him more grief. But Hatton is a legitimate superstar in his own right, and even if he will never be elite at 147, he brought enough to the table to justify the fight. Not as impressive of a win as his victory over the bigger De La Hoya, but a strong, impressive (and most important) KO win from the indisputable number one P4P fighter in the biz.
SC: Like it could be anyone else. Hatton was overmatched, but that was Mayweather's opponent, and he was perfectly credible. Mayweather put it on him and did his job, as always.
KG: He's coming off an impressive (yet somehow unsurprising) performance against Ricky Hatton. He says he has already accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish in boxing, and I'm not one to argue. However, if he truly wants to go down as one of the best in history, there are fights that still need to be made--notably a fight with Miguel Cotto, who is a natural welterweight (unlike Hatton) and is currently in his prime (unlike De La Hoya). Regardless, if you don't have Mayweather at the top of your pound-for-pound list at this point, you're crazy.
TS: What's not to like? That win over Hatton was meaningful, and and Floyd looked better than he has in a long time.
2. Manny Pacquiao
45-3-2, 35 KO, Super Featherweight
SC: Manny drops to fourth for me because, to be totally honest, he hasn't looked great this year. He came in seemingly uninterested against Jorge Solis, but once he felt like it, he turned it on and leveled the inferior opponent. Against Barrera, he was matched with a guy that didn't want to fight him -- at the same time, Manny looked slower, didn't have the same power he's noted for, and while he won convincingly, it wasn't much to write home about. All that said, he's still Manny Pacquiao, one of the best and most appealing fighters in boxing. He better show up 100% for Marquez, though, or he'll go down hard.
TS: I'm tempted to drop him because he looked a little underwhelming vs. Barrera, but his past accomplishments and agreement to fight Marquez again wins him a hold on second place.
KG: Pacquiao comes in a distant second, and, honestly, if the JM Marquez fight had not been signed, he would've dropped on my list. At this point, I've seen enough of him beating up on Morales and Barrera, the two Mexican legends who are undoubtedly past their prime. I didn't think the first Barrera fight warranted a rematch to begin with. But the fact that he'll be fighting Marquez next time out proves that Pacquiao is still willing to take the biggest and most difficult fights out there. Unless Calzaghe-Hopkins happens, the winner of Pacquiao-Marquez will probably cement themselves into the #2 position on my list.
MM: With his less than stellar recent victories, Pacquiao finally slips down from his long held perch at number two, down a spot to number three. Perhaps he just underprepared for the spent Barrera, or perhaps this is a harbinger of declining skills. Either way, I'm not willing to lower Pac's standing much more just yet, and I still look forward to every fight he takes.
3 (t). Bernard Hopkins
48-4-1, 32 KO, Light Heavyweight
SC: Still a great fighter, even if he's a once-a-year guy now.
KG: At 42, The Executioner is still doing it. A sure first-ballot hall of famer, he will go down in history as one of the top middleweights of all time. He's the only man to ever knock out both De La Hoya and Trinidad, and his recent dominant performances over Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright show that he can still go with the best of them. Hopefully a fight with Joe Calzaghe will be made, as it is one of the biggest possible fights in the sport.
MM: Hopkins passes Taylor but Joe passes Hopkins, leaving him where he was at number four. I see Hopkins as semi-retired at this point. He needs to stay busy. He needs to make the Calzaghe fight happen, so we can see who's king between these tremendous talents. How the hell can a guy his age be the number four P4P in the world? It baffles the imagination. But I will never again doubt Hopkins. He is the fighter who best fits the description "living legend."
TS: Beating Wright and Tarver back to back, plus his well-earned former #1 P4P status, equals third place, at least until we see what happens against Calzaghe.
3 (t). Joe Calzaghe
44-0, 32 KO, Super Middleweight
SC: Shoots up to the two-spot in my book. Calzaghe finally made a firm believer out of me by turning back the No. 2 super middleweight in the world, and doing it in a convincing fashion. When a fight goes to a decision, you often get people that think the other guy won. But even Mikkel Kessler knew Calzaghe was the better fighter that night. Everyone did. After exposing Jeff Lacy, scoring a convincing (if at the time rather unimpressive) win over the latest 'Contender' champion, Sakio Bika, quickly shutting the door on Manfredo (as he should have), and now defeating Kessler, you can't doubt him anymore. If he fights Hopkins, I think he wins a decision. Years ago might have been a different story, but this isn't years ago.
KG: With his impressive unification victory over Mikkel Kessler, Calzaghe jumps to #4 on my list. At this point, he has taken on all comers and defended his super middleweight title over 20 times, while remaining undefeated. The problem, I think, is that his division has been somewhat weak throughout his reign, and he hasn't ventured to a higher weight class as of yet. Kessler was the best challenger 168 had to offer, and Calzaghe beat him soundly, so what's next? A fight with Hopkins would work, as would a fight with the Pavlik-Taylor winner. I could easily see Calzaghe retiring undefeated and still not getting as much credit as he would probably deserve. In a way, his situation reminds me of Ricardo "Finito" Lopez---who dominated the strawweight division for as long as he fought, but never really ventured outside of it. He retired undefeated, but is still somewhat overlooked when it comes to the bigger picture. In my opinion, never having fought in the US also hurts Calzaghe. If he'd won titles in more than one weight class, or if his division had been stronger over the past ten years, I would probably rank him above both Hopkins and Pacquiao.
TS: He's erased all doubts in my mind, and presumably in the mind of everyone, by toppling Kessler and Lacy. It's time for Hopkins and Calzaghe to stop yappin' and get it on already.
MM: Calzaghe makes the biggest leap in my list, rocketing from my seven spot last time around to number two this time. Pacquiao has more impressive recent victories under his belt, but he also has the (admittedly avenged) loss to Morales and the tie with Marquez. But who can deny that Joe's win over Kessler was more impressive than Pacquiao's performance against Barrera? Plus the Bika win looks a little a bit more impressive after Bika's big Contender war recently. Hopkins? Joe has been busier and more dominating in his wins. He is indisputably the best European boxer in the world and he narrowly makes the number two slot in my overall P4P.
5. Juan Manuel Marquez
48-3-1, 35 KO, Super Featherweight
SC: Something about his win over Rocky Juarez seemed a little mechanical to me, but I maintain that if the Marquez that fought Juarez faced the Pacquiao that fought Barrera, Marquez wins in a landslide. He was aggressive, accurate, and totally dominated a tough, game Juarez, who has not quite become the champion many expected him to be, but is a legit contender, either at 126 or 130. I think Juan's a hair below his brother in terms of skill, but that just makes them probably the most talented brother combo in the history of boxing. Marquez-Pacquiao II will be one of the biggest -- and probably one of the best -- fights of 2008.
KG: Back-to-back victories over Barrera and Juarez in a new weight class bode well for Dinamita, though I'm afraid he may have lost some of the pop he had at featherweight. The only reason he drops a spot on my list is because of Calzaghe's victory over Kessler. A win over Pacquiao would move him up higher, and I think he has a very good chance of accomplishing that. Aside from a horrendous first round the first time around, Marquez outboxed Pacquiao over 11 rounds to earn a (well-deserved) draw.
MM: He outclassed Rocky Juarez and now faces Pacquiao in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of 2008. Still, casual fans outside of Mexico still haven't heard of this guy for some reason. If he beats Pacquiao, that could change. Marquez is the best Mexican fighter in the world right now, and that's saying something.
TS: Off a career best win over Barrera and a dominant dismantling of legit contender Juarez, he'd be ranked higher if Calzaghe hadn't just beaten a prime Kessler.
6. Miguel Cotto
31-0, 25 KO, Welterweight
KG: What a year Cotto has had. Clearly put, he is now a superstar. His victories over Judah and Mosley were not only great for him, they were great for the sport of boxing, because both were terrific fights. Many thought Judah's stock actually went up with that loss, and I would still consider Mosley to be a legitimate threat at welterweight. But Cotto beat them both, and in dramatic fashion. I think it also says something about Cotto that two of his past opponents, whom he also beat soundly, have emerged as 140-pound champions in the last year (Malignaggi and Torres). At this point, the possibilities are endless. We have an undefeated champion in his prime with a very loyal fan-base. Mayweather doesn't seem to want any part of him for the time being. If a fight with De La Hoya cannot be made, I'd expect to see Cotto take on a mandatory in March/April, and then fight Margarito at the Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
MM: Cotto continues his steady climb up my P4P lists, ascending three spots from number nine in August. He fought a razor close and highly entertaining war with Shane Mosley and is the second best boxer in boxing's best division. Cotto is not only an elite fighter, but a legitimate superstar now. And his skills keep improving. We still haven't seen the best of Miguel Cotto.
TS: What a great year this guy had. He's a potential fighter of the year candidate after stopping Judah, but the Mosley win was a real eye opener.
SC: He's a great fighter, a down-to-business throwback that will go to war with anyone. How many times can we say Cotto has been in a disappointing fight, really? The mandatory against Oktay Urkal in March wasn't anything to get your knickers in a twist over, but the hammering win over Zab Judah and the war with Shane Mosley were both outstanding. He is one of the biggest stars in boxing, and he's earned it in every single way. I couldn't find a bad word to say about Miguel Cotto if I tried.
7. Israel Vazquez
42-4, 31 KO, Super Bantamweight
SC: Still my favorite fighter. I have him fifth. For a while, everyone talked up Manny Pacquiao fights as the must-see events. Forget Pacquiao -- Vazquez's last three fights have blown Manny's out of the water, two truly phenomenal, almost unbelievable battles with Marquez, and his heroic comeback KO over Jhonny Gonzalez. Though the Mexican fight fans said farewell to legends Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales this year, those fans are being left in good hands with Vazquez and the Marquez brothers. Once Vazquez-Marquez is all squared away in the rubber match, I have no idea where either guy goes. It's a career-defining rivalry that has surpassed my ridiculously high expectations. If they somehow went 12 rounds, neither guy would be in shape to fight for the next 18 months.
KG: Though my man-crush on Vazquez is not at Scott Christ proportions, I have to say that he has become THE must-watch fighter in the sport. If the third fight against Marquez is half as good as the first two, Gatti-Ward and Barrera-Morales won't be able to hold a candle to this one. Vazquez-Marquez 2 is my front-runner for fight of the year, with Vazquez-Marquez 1 coming in second or third.
MM: It's great when a fighter this entertaining is also this good. If he beats Marquez in the final fight of their trilogy, his stock will rise even further. Maybe we'll even get to see him move up and fight Pacquiao, if Pac-man beats the other Marquez brother.
TS: Until he beat Marquez, nobody much thought of Vasquez as a P4P type, foolishly; perhaps because he's lost a few, too. But wins over Larios, Gonzalez, etc. helped propel him here.
8. Rafael Marquez
37-4, 33 KO, Super Bantamweight
KG: Marquez falls a spot behind Vazquez as a result of their second fight. Ultimately, there's no shame in losing the way he did, putting it all out there. I can't wait for the third fight.
SC: Might be my second-favorite fighter at this point. I have him sixth. Take everything good I said about Vazquez and repeat it for his rival. Rafael Marquez is about as good as it gets, skills-wise, for a guy as exciting as he is to watch.
MM: Mosley, Barrera, and Hatton lost, so Marquez moves up three in my list. Another great boxer with potential to move up. None of us can wait for the end of his already classic trilogy with Vazquez.
TS: I'm probably the only person who has Marquez ranked higher than Vazquez, but my they're 1-1 against each other, I think Marquez has a better record of achievement and my eyes tell me Marquez is better than Vazquez.
9. Winky Wright
51-4-1, 25 KO, Middleweight?
KG: Winky fought once this year and lost a somewhat lopsided decision to Hopkins. I don't mean to take anything away from him, but other fighters have been impressing me more as of late, so he falls off my top-10 list (which he been slipping off for a while). I think his career has gone downhill ever since he won three fights in a row against Mosley (twice) and Trinidad. That was three years ago. Since then, he has beaten Sam Soliman (barely), tied with Taylor (whine as much as Winky whined, I had no problem with the decision), beaten an old Ike Quartey (fighting 13 pounds over his prime fighting weight) and lost to Hopkins (decisively). He supposedly has a March date on HBO, but no opponent as of yet. He keeps calling out Oscar de la Hoya, but Oscar is as much of a middleweight as Ike Quartey was and clearly has no intentions of taking the fight.
TS: Losing to Hopkins doesn't knock him out of the top 10. Wright was stepping far up in weight and losing to B-Hop in a competitive fight under those circumstances can't erase what he's done, and is an accomplishment in and of itself.
MM: Winky needs a chance to redeem himself but against who? Calzaghe would be fun, but can the chess master beat the hurricane? Either way, Winky needs to make another big fight happen. Pavlik maybe?
SC: Winky was a top fiver forever -- we're past that now. But he's still gotta be top ten until something more drastic happens than a closer-than-scored loss to an all-time great at a weight he was beyond ill-suited for.
10. Kelly Pavlik
32-0, 29 KO, Middleweight
SC: I love Kelly Pavlik as a fighter. He's humble, he's all business, and he punches like a runaway locomotive. Taylor-Pavlik has won several Fight of the Year awards, and their rematch probably won't look a whole lot different. If anything, I expect Taylor will come even harder this time, knowing he should've put Pavlik away early, and that he can hurt the current middleweight champion. But Taylor also now knows that Pavlik has the skills, the savvy, and the raw power to knock him into the following Tuesday.
KG: Much like Miguel Cotto, Kelly Pavlik had a coming out year with impressive KO victories over Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor. He goes from being unranked to a top-10 pound-for-pounder. He's undefeated, humble, and very exciting to watch. Both Miranda and Taylor thought they could go toe-to-toe with him, and boy, were they wrong.
MM: Pavlik has had a stellar year, and he emeges at fourteen in my P4P list with his impressive and tremendously entertaining win against Taylor. He is someone we are all looking forward to seeing more of.
TS: It's tempting to move Kelly into the top 10 because he's so dangerous, but his number of wins over fellow P4Ps totals exactly 1 -- over Taylor. Beating Miranda, Zertuche and a few other borderline contenders makes him worthy, and certainly puts him in strong contention for fighter of the year, but I still give Hatton a slight edge. But I expect Kelly to move up again soon, because he looks like he's gonna hurt a lot of people in his career.
11. Shane Mosley
44-5, 37 KO, Welterweight
KG: Mosley may have dropped a close decision to Miguel Cotto, but in doing so, he proved he's still a force to be reckoned with at welterweight. It was very impressive to see how fresh this supposedly old fighter seemed in the later rounds of that fight. All told, I don't think his stock dropped that much after the loss.
SC: Sugar Shane Mosley is a Hall of Famer, no doubt about it, and can still go a hard 12 rounds with a brutal body puncher that never stops working. Mosley actually backed Cotto down in the middle rounds of the fight, which is a tough task to be sure. He came at Cotto with all he had, and he lost a tight decision in a really good fight that got universal praise. I hope he keeps on fighting -- I'd still buy Mayweather-Mosley in a heartbeat, and I still think Shane is one of the only guys that can really challenge Mayweather.
MM: Everyone is saying Mosley is not the fighter he once was, and that may be true to an extent. But his aging is being exaggerated. Anyone who fights that well against Miguel Cotto is hardly spent. I scored the fight a draw, so Mosley only drops four spots on my list. I also give him props for being the classiest fighter in the sport today (though it doesn't affect my P4P listing). I'm keeping him in my P4P until we see if he is really retiring.
TS: I had Mosley and Cotto in a draw, so, again, he can't get knocked down too far. Pavlik and Diaz's years just happen to have Mosley eclipsed; I had Mosley at about No. 10 before the Cotto fight.
12. Juan Diaz
33-0, 17 KO, Lightweight
SC: After Popo Freitas, I considered that Freitas was old and hasn't been Popo Freitas in a long time. After Julio Diaz, I considered that Diaz was overrated in some respects thanks to a weak division. Then I really thought about it, and I said, "Hey. What the hell else can Juan Diaz do?" He is the clear top lightweight in the world, and could probably comfortably step up to 140 sometime soon. He is never going to be a big puncher, but anyone with the stamina to punch as much as "The Baby Bull" does is going to be tough to beat. Welcome to my top ten, Juan. I figure it's going to be a long stay.
TS: Ah, the lovable Diaz. Topping fellow Diaz Julio was a big deal, and so was beating Freitas. Diaz looks like he's gonna be tough to beat as long as he's fighting.
KG: Man, did this guy have himself a year. In addition to the WBA lightweight title he already held, he picked up the WBO title in beating Acelino Freitas in April, and then the IBF title from Julio Diaz in October. And he won both fights in impressive fashion, knocking Diaz out, and making Freitas quit in his corner.
MM: With his impressive TKO over Julio Diaz, Baby Bull emerges at seventeen in my new P4P.
13. Ivan Calderón
30-0, 6 KO, Junior Flyweight
KG: What's not to like? At 30-0, Calderon defended his 105-pound title a whopping 12 times before moving up to 108 and beating the recognized Ring champion, Hugo Cazares. He has since defended that belt against hard-hitting Juan Esquer. Often overlooked because of the divisions he's fought in or his lack of punching power, Calderon is the second slickest boxer in the sport, after Mayweather. He has often proved that speed can beat power. The kicker? Calderon isn't even a natural 108-pounder; standing 5 feet tall, he still comes into his fights at 106 or 107. But he wanted to make the biggest fights possible, and he's going after them. He's said to be looking to unify against Ulises Solis or Edgar Sosa, and I'm all for it. At #12, I may be ranking him a little higher than most people would, but if Calderon isn't in your top 20, you don't know boxing.
SC: I've also got him at 12. Look, he dominated his division, and now he's 2-0 after his step up to 108. The guy can flat-out box, and I don't care what his weight class is, or whether or not the general public will ever hear of him, or how nearly impossible it is for him to even get on TV. He fights good opponents and he beats them. You can't ask for more than that. I really want to see Calderón-Solis at some point, though Solis has a habit of dancing around fights.
MM: Ivan Calderón has had two solid wins since my last P4P. I am always cautious rating guys this light, because the competition is usually sketchy. But Calderón has moved up in weight and taken all of the challenges offered him and come out on top. He moves up four on my list.
TS: After knocking off top 108-pounder Hugo Cazares and another young gun at 108, Calderon has moved past his days of dominating the 105-pound division.
14. Oscar de la Hoya
38-5, 30 KO, Welterweight?
MM: Among his other accomplishments, Oscar is the only man to earn a split decision against Mayweather. His loss was no shame, but he needs to stay busy. A victory over Hatton would be something, but given their weight difference, it wouldn't be the most impressive thing in the world, and it sounds like the Hatton camp isn't going to have it anyway. Still, I don't see Oscar going out just yet. Who will win the next De La Hoya sweepstakes?
TS: No. Shame. In. Losing. To. Mayweather.
SC: As much as I firmly believe Oscar is still a top-notch fighter, it's tough to rank him. His fights are more events now than anything -- it doesn't so much matter whether he wins or loses, but who he fights and how he fares, regardless of result. The next fight will be another huge extravaganza. With Ricky Hatton out of the picture and a Mayweather rematch rather unnecessary (plus, what the hell does Floyd care?), it's tough to figure out who it'll be. Since Oscar wants to go out at 147, that would seem to take a rematch with Tito Trinidad out of the equation. Miguel Cotto? A hyped up should-win against Zab Judah? Tony Margarito? Oscar may need to expand his search up to 154 pounds or a catchweight slightly over and give serious consideration to Winky Wright.
KG: Oscar has lost 3 of his last 5 fights (though, in my opinion, he's lost 4 of his last 5 because I thought Felix Sturm beat him), so why the hell is he in my top 20? Well, for one thing, he gave Floyd Mayweather his toughest fight to date. Though he did not get the decision, I thought he fared pretty well and proved that he's still got some gas left in the tank. I don't really take too much away from him for his loss to Hopkins (and his performance against Sturm) because Oscar had absolutely nothing to look for at 160. I mean, we're talking about a guy who started his career at 130. In addition, there's the fact that Oscar has always been willing to make big fights in which he was the underdog (Mosley, Hopkins, Mayweather), and there's something to be said for that. I've never been a huge fan, but, say what you will, as long as he's fighting, it's good for the sport.
15. Ricky Hatton
43-1, 31 KO, Junior Welterweight
KG: Ah, The Hitman. Like I've said before, I thought Luis Collazo beat him. Then, he got knocked out by Mayweather (as I predicted on this site). The guy is not a welterweight, and I think he's doing the right thing on passing on the De La Hoya fight. Nonetheless, he's a damn good 140-pounder. Coming off this devastating loss, I think he needs to return with a big win over a name opponent, like Malignaggi or Junior Witter. I think both could be terrific fights.
SC: I want to see Hatton fight Junior Witter while both are still in their primes and while it would still do a huge gate in England. It could be sold to U.S. TV -- if you can market Calzaghe v. Kessler, you can market Hatton v. Witter. Hatton is a star in the States, especially now, and Witter is really no less known in the States than Kessler, who had a grand total of one televised fight (on Boxing After Dark, no less) in America. They're the two best 140 pounders in the world, and Witter has called Hatton out for years. Hell, market that -- this isn't rocket science. As good as I think Hatton-Malignaggi would be, Hatton-Witter is the fight at 140.
MM: Hatton takes a hit this round, overwhelmed as he was. It wasn't even really that close. Now, it looks like he is moving back to the weight class where he belongs, and I expect he'll start winning--and creeping back up my P4P.
TS: Like Wright to Hopkins, Hatton's loss to Mayweather in a step up in weight doesn't knock Hatton down far. It's remarkable that so many people in my top 20 have recently lost, but it's because everyone's fighting the best. I'm not going to punish them too much for losing in close fights against their fellow best fighters, and I still think Hatton's overall record and ability make him one of the top 10.
16. Jermain Taylor
27-1-1, 17 KO, Middleweight
SC: Rocketing down P4P lists, but one that doesn't list him among the top 20 is ridiculous. I've got him at 16, partially because of the loss, but more because of the emergence of several other fighters, the sustained excellence of others, and the fact that the loss to Pavlik was the best Taylor had looked in a year and a half. With Ozell Nelson as his head trainer now -- a move that has been criticized by more people than just ex-trainer Pat Burns -- we'll see what a re-tooled Taylor has to offer before his official jump to 168 pounds. I don't know what difference Ozell will really make. Taylor can still fight, very well, and it's more about connecting with the trainer. He's known Nelson forever. The chemistry just wasn't there with Manny Steward. Having seen Jermain at his best, I expect a Taylor re-birth, and would be very disappointed if the Pavlik loss really derailed him.
KG: Taylor almost had Pavlik out, and if not for Kelly's incredible comeback, he would've probably remained four or five spots higher. He's one spot above Winky despite their draw because I perceived Taylor's loss to Pavlik to be a superior performance than Winky's loss to Hopkins (whom Taylor beat). I'm still amazed at how both Taylor and Manny Steward overlooked Kelly Pavlik; hopefully the change in the corner will do him good.
TS: I'd drop him farther after getting KO'd by Pavlik if not for the fact that Jermain's previous wins were impressive. I don't know how much longer he'll stay in the top 20 after the rematch; we'll see. Brave move, though.
MM: I may catch some shit for ranking Taylor above Pavlik after their recent fight. But look at their records and ask yourself who has the most impressive wins overall. Plus, Taylor was very much in the Pavlik fight, even if it didn't turn out as hoped. Still, he takes a huge hit in my P4P, plummeting ten spots to thirteen.
17. Wladimir Klitschko
49-3, 44 KO, Heavyweight
KG: Klitschko continues to dominate the heavyweight division. He looked impressive in avenging his defeat to Lamon Brewster earlier this year, and is (FINALLY) slated to unify belts with Sultan Ibragimov in a few months. Though still plagued by a suspect chin (see Sam Peter fight), I think Klitschko has the goods to steamroll through the division and gather up all the belts. Though, then again, he could get knocked out in the first round by David Tua. That's the thing with the Klitschko brothers: you never know.
SC: Two easy wins in 2007, neither of which I can really blame on Wlad. Ray Austin was a mandatory -- as big of a joke as it was to have Ray Austin, of all people, as a goddamned mandatory to a world title, the other option for Wlad was forfeiting his belt, and he's said all along he wants to re-unify the titles. He dusted Austin without throwing a single right hand, and then he took care of business in a rematch with a clearly finished Lamon Brewster, though who else was he supposed to fight? The heavyweight division is still boxing's greatest disaster. It'll be a while before we see anything truly sorted out, but Klitschko-Ibragimov is a nice start. I don't entirely count Sultan out, either.
TS: It's not Klitschko's fault that the heavyweights suck. He beats everyone put in front of him, from former conquerors (Brewster) to undefeated contenders (Brock). He gets points for recovering from a rough period and fighting better and smarter and with more confidence, and for unifying with Ibragimov.
MM: No fights for Wlad since my last P4P. Because of action from other fighters, he drops a spot on my list. He REALLY needs to get started on his long purported belt unification mission.
18. Chris John
40-0-1, 21 KO, Featherweight
TS: His best win, over Marquez, was probably a gift, but the guy can fight and if he ever bothered to leave home, he probably would have had less dubious career wins.
KG: Aside from a few clips on You Tube, I've never seen Chris John fight. He came to my--and presumably everyone else's--attention when he defeated Juan Manuel Marquez by unanimous decision last year in Indonesia. He's 40-0-1, and has held the WBA featherweight belt since 2003. Nonetheless, he rarely fights outside of Indonesia, and has never fought in the US. The only big name he's faced is Marquez, and, pretty much solely based on that win, he's in my top 20. I don't think I'm alone in wanting to see him fight a big name, though his lack of marketability could be a factor.
SC: It'd be great if John would fight Robert Guerrero or Steven Luevano or even go up to 130 and take a crack at some of the big dogs there. What the hell are John and Joan Guzman doing that they couldn't get together for a fight? That said, I don't think we'll ever see him fight those guys, and if we do, it'll be in Indonesia, where he's Pacquiao-like as a celebrity. He's really good, but I've never been convinced he's great. I am part of the camp that believes Marquez beat John.
MM: No impressive wins this cycle for the still undefeated Indonesian featherweight champ. He needs to come to Vegas.
19. Joan Guzman
28-0, 17 KO, Super Featherweight
KG: Undefeated two-division champion who I've never seen look bad. Like JM Marquez, he seems to have lost some pop in his move to a higher weight class, but (again, like Marquez), he has boxing skills to fall back on. I'd love to see him fight the winner of Pacquiao/Marquez or Edwin Valero.
SC: He owned the ring against Soto, slugging early with him and then outboxing him down the stretch, and Soto is a good fighter with strong punching ability. Guzman was simply too slick for him. I've long thought that Guzman probably presented the toughest matchup at 130 for Pacquiao, but I doubt we'll see that fight, as Bob Arum doesn't want to risk Pacquiao against Guzman. There is no one in the division that Guzman couldn't give a tough fight, at the least. And if he does fight Edwin Valero, I think he takes him to school.
20. Paul Williams
33-0, 24 KO, Welterweight
MM: No fights for Williams since he beat Margarito and emerged in my P4P. He moves up one spot because of Kessler's loss.
Others Receiving Votes: David Haye 6, Arthur Abraham 5, Cory Spinks 4, Chad Dawson 2, Vernon Forrest 2, Junior Witter 1, Mikkel Kessler 1
Dropped Out: Joel Casamayor (13), Marco Antonio Barrera (14 - retired), Mikkel Kessler (17), Hugo Cazares (20-t)