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Bad Left Hook Best of the Decade - Welterweight

Cotto took a close but clear victory over Sugar Shane Mosley in one of the highest profile welterweight fights of the decade.
Cotto took a close but clear victory over Sugar Shane Mosley in one of the highest profile welterweight fights of the decade.

Now that 2009 has wrapped up, we can take a look at the best of the decade that just was. This is the last of the individual weight classes, and we'll also do fighter, fight and knockout of the decade.

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 in a couple weeks.

Welterweight was quite possibly the strongest weight class throughout the decade, and thus it has been saved for last. Not only was the weight class strong, but the top fighters mostly fought each other, meaning that few were able to come out completely unscathed.

Carlos Baldomir - Baldomir went 8-2-2 in the weight class in the decade, including a stint when he was the lineal champion after surprisingly defeating Zab Judah. Although his record was pedestrian, he ran off an eight year long undefeated streak, although some of it was at 154 and some of it was in the 1990's. Key wins included Judah, Arturo Gatti, Miki Rodriguez, Alpaslan Aguzum (twice) and Hasan Al. The losses came to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a drubbing and Jackson Bonsu, and the draws came against Jose Luis Cruz and Hasan Al.

Miguel Cotto - Cotto went 7-2 at 147 during the decade, with each fight being a title bout and seven of the fights coming against current, past or future titlists. His key wins include Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Zab Judah, Carlos Quintana and Oktay Urkal. The losses came to Antonio Margarito (in a fight that is still shrouded by questions about whether Margarito cheated), and a much more clear loss to Manny Pacquiao.

Vernon Forrest - Forrest went 4-2 at the weight in the decade, but early on, he seemed like quite the person to overcome. Most famously, he holds back to back victories over Shane Mosley, and then subsequently lost twice in a row to Ricardo Mayorga. The other two wins came against Vince Phillips and Raul Frank.

Antonio Margarito - Margarito went 14-2 in the weight class in the decade. On paper, his record is as good as anyone's at this time - his best wins came over Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Kermit Cintron (twice), Sergio Martinez, Golden Johnson, Sebastian Lujan, Hercules Kyvelos, Antonio Diaz, Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis and Frankie Randall, and his only two losses came to Shane Mosley and Paul Williams, who are also on this list. That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there are questions as to the level at which Margarito cheated through the decade. Before his last fight (against Mosley), he was caught with illegal hand wraps that contained "elements of plaster." We'll never really know how often he used this type of wrap, or whether the wraps actually had any real effect. Still, his wins are shrouded by uncertainty. If he can come back, we may have a better idea of whether his wins were for real or if his power came from cheating as much as from his fists.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. - Mayweather has gone 5-0 in the weight class, with each of his victories being dominant, but none of his victories coming over the real cream of the crop in the weight class. His best wins came against lineal champion Carlos Baldomir, former lineal champion Zab Judah, light welterweight champ Ricky Hatton, #2 pound for pound fighter Juan Manuel Marquez and former titlist Sharmba Mitchell. As impressive as this sounds, there are huge holes that can be poked through this resume - Baldomir was clearly a more rudimentary fighter who hasn't done well since fighting Mayweather. Judah was coming off a loss and has lost twice since the Mayweather fight. Hatton was fighting at a weight where he'd already looked poor in the past. Marquez was a natural 130 pound fighter forced to blow up for the fight. Baldomir is the only natural welterweight that Mayweather has faced. Still, the dominant nature of his victories ensures that he has a spot here, and that he'll probably pick up quite a few votes.

Shane Mosley - Sugar Shane went 9-3 in the decade at the weight, although several of his more prominent fights came at 154 or were outside of the decade. Key victories include a controversial win over Oscar de la Hoya (the rematch was at 154), Antonio Margarito, Luis Collazo, Antonio Diaz, Jose Luis Cruz, David Estrada and Shannan Taylor. The losses came to Vernon Forrest (twice) and Miguel Cotto. Mosley also admitted to using EPO before the de la Hoya fight.

Manny Pacquiao - Pacman only went 2-0 in the weight class, but his place on this list comes on the strength of a single victory. Miguel Cotto had only lost once previously while facing the best competition out there, and that loss came under questionable circumstances in a fight Cotto would have won had it gone to the cards. Pacquiao left no doubt, battering and beating Cotto after four closer rounds. His other win came over a weight-drained Oscar de la Hoya, who hadn't been at a weight that low in nearly a decade. While it was a remarkable accomplishment at the time (Pacquaio was still a heavy underdog), it doesn't seem quite as impressive in retrospect, as Oscar clearly didn't look like he was all there for the fight. I will count votes for Pacquiao in the comments, although he is not in the poll. If you wish to vote for Pacquiao, put his name in the heading of your comment.

Cory Spinks - Spinks went 9-2 in the weight class, unified three of the belts and created a lineage in the weight class. His best wins came over Ricardo Mayorga, Zab Judah, Miki Gonzalez, Michele Piccirillo and Larry Marks. His losses came to two fighters he also beat, Judah and Piccirillo.

Paul Williams - Williams went 7-1 at the weight, with his notable wins coming over Antonio Margarito, Carlos Quintana and Sharmba Mitchell. The loss came to Carlos Quintana, which he avenged. While his actual record isn't that spectacular, he might have been a stylistic nightmare for almost anyone on the list, with an absurd 81 inch reach in a weight class where most guys have a reach in the high 60's or low 70's.

Others for consideration: Ricardo Mayorga, Zab Judah, Andre Berto, Joshua Clottey, Luis Collazo, Carlos Quintana

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