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.
There are relatively few guys on this poll, but it's not because there are a lack of names worth mentioning; to the contrary, depending how deep I might decide to go into the second tier, there are probably about 20 names that might be worth mentioning. That said, that tier is all on about even par with each other, and there are but a few names that really stand out. Heck, outside of the guy who really stands out, the other guys who made it onto the poll mostly got there by virtue of not losing to the others on the poll.
Jhonny Gonzalez - Gonzalez racked up a record of 31-3 in the weight class, including three title defenses, although much of that record was racked up early in his career. Key victories include Mark Johnson, Fernando Montiel, Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, Irene Pacheco, Roger Gonzalez, William Gonzalez and Adonis Rivas. The lone loss at the weight during his prime came to Gerry Penalosa, getting knocked out in a fight where he was leading on the cards. The other two losses both came early in his career to Ricardo Vargas, one of those good fighters with a bad looking record.
Hozumi Hasegawa - Hasegawa has gone 24-2 in the weight class, with both losses coming in the first five fights of his career. This includes 10 victories in title fights, which have become successively more brutal over time. He has two wins over Veeraphol Sahaprom, plus victories over ranked but unheralded fighters such as Genaro Garcia, Simpiwe Vetyeka, Vusi Malinga and Nestor Rocha. He has another upcoming defense against unknown Alvaro Perez, after which he intends to move up in weight. The biggest black mark is that he has yet to leave Japan, although it would be nice to see him take a step up in competition as well.
Rafael Marquez - Marquez went 17-1 in the weight class during the decade, including a run of 8 defenses of his IBF bantamweight title. Key victories included two wins over each of Silence Mabuza, Mark Johnson and Mauricio Pastrana, plus victories over Tim Austin, Ricardo Vargas and Heriberto Ruiz. The lone loss came early in the decade against a very game Genaro Garcia. By the time he was done with his run at 118, he was ranked in the pound for pound top 10, and moved on to have a classic trilogy one weight class up with Israel Vasquez.
Anselmo Moreno - Relatively unknown Moreno has gone 13-0 in the weight class, but has as strong of a resume in the weight class (on paper) as any active fighter. Wins include two victories over Wladimir Sidorenko (both in Sidorenko's backyard), as well as wins over Mahyar Monshipour, Rolly Matsushita, Tomas Rojas, Ricardo Vargas and Cecilio Santos.
Gerry Penalosa - Penalosa has gone 7-0 in the weight class, including two title fight victories. The key wins were against Jhonny Gonzalez, Ratanachai Sor Vorapin and Tomas Rojas.
Shout outs: Fernando Montiel, Wladimir Sidorenko, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, Ricardo Cordoba, Joseph Agbeko, Yohnny Perez, Silence Mabuza, Veeraphol Sahaprom, Toshiaki Nishioka, Mark Johnson, Johnny Bredahl.