Now that 2009 has wrapped up, we can take a look at the best of the decade that just was. Here's the final poll, for fighter of the decade. I'm not going to count obvious ballot stuffing when I tally these up.
Ivan Calderon - Calderon went 33-0-1 in the decade, winning titles in two weight classes and going 17-0-1 in title fights. Bad Left Hook readers voted him the best fighter of two different weight classes this decade. Key wins include a pair of wins over Hugo Cazares, Nelson Dieppa, Juan Esquer, Isaac Bustos, Daiel Reyes, Roberto Leyva, Edgar Cardenas, Alex Sanchez, and Eduardo Ray Marquez. While he never ended up facing several of the other major names in his weight classes, he did go 10-0-1 against former, current and future titlists during the decade.
Joe Calzaghe - Calzaghe went 19-0 in the decade, all in title fights, winning the Ring Championship in two weight classes. Key victories include Bernard Hopkins, Mikkel Kessler, Jeff Lacy, Sakio Bika, Byron Mitchell, Charles Brewer, Richie Woodhall, and a very, very old version of Roy Jones Jr. For the first half of the decade, it appeared that he avoided challenges, but near the end, he went on to unify with Lacy and Kessler, taking all four super middleweight belts (although not at the same time due to sanctioning body politics), and then moved up to closely beat Hopkins at light heavyweight.
Miguel Cotto - Cotto went 34-2 during the decade, winning belts in two different weight classes and going 14-2 in title fights. While his record isn't spotless, he took all comers, facing fighters who were ranked in the Ring top 10 in 14 of his last 16 fights, and going 12-2 against past, future and current titlists. Key wins include Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Carlos Quintana, Ricardo Torres, Randall Bailey, DeMarcus Corley, Lovemore N'Dou and Muhammad Abdullaev. The losses came to Antonio Margarito in a fight shrouded by controversy, and to Manny Pacquiao, then the number 1 pound for pound fighter in the world.
Bernard Hopkins - Despite the 2000's being Hopkins' third decade in the professional ring, he managed to go 14-3, owning the Ring title in two different weight classes and becoming the undisputed middleweight champion. Key wins include Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik, Winky Wright, William Joppy, Keith Holmes and Carl Daniels. All three losses were close, with Jermain Taylor controversially beating Hopkins twice to claim the middleweight championship, and with Joe Calzaghe taking a close win over Hopkins at light heavyweight.
Juan Manuel Marquez - Marquez went 20-3-1 in the decade, claiming belts in three different weight classes and spending much of the decade near the top of the pound for pound lists. Key victories include Juan Diaz, Joel Casamayor, Marco Antonio Barrera, Rocky Juarez, Derrick Gainer, Robbie Peden, Orlando Salido and Manuel Medina. However, what has created much of his legacy were his bouts with Manny Pacquiao, where he officially went 0-1-1, but in which many thought he deserved the nod in one or both of the fights. In addition, he suffered a close loss at the hands of Chris John, as well as a blowout loss to Floyd Mayweather in a fight that was two weight classes higher than where Marquez had ever fought before.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. - Mayweather went 18-0 in the decade, owning a title in five different weight classes and being lineal champion in three. Key victories include Jose Luis Castillo (twice), Diego Corrales, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Zab Judah, Carlos Baldomir, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, DeMarcus Corley and Arturo Gatti. If there's a criticism of Mayweather, it's that he hasn't faced the top competition in recent weight classes, although he's helping to quell that criticism with a forthcoming fight against Shane Mosley.
Manny Pacquiao - Pacquiao went 23-1-2 in the decade, owning a title in six different weight classes and being lineal champion in three of them. Key victories include Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales (twice), Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), Lehlohnolo Ledabwa, Oscar de la Hoya, Oscar Larios and David Diaz. The loss came to Erik Morales (who he later beat twice) and the draws came against Marquez (who he later beat) and Agapito Sanchez. While he's been as great of a weight jumper as we've seen in recent times, the two primary criticisms of him are that he's never really cleared out a single weight class, and that many of his best wins came over fighters who were past prime.
Others deserving of a shout out for one reason or another: Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Roy Jones Jr., Chad Dawson, Vic Darchinyan, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Kostya Tszyu, Oscar de la Hoya, Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Wladimir Klitschko, Tomasz Adamek, David Haye, Jose Luis Castillo, Winky Wright, Fernando Montiel, Antonio Margarito, Jermain Taylor, Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez