Pound-For-Pound Top 20 Boxers Update, 10/10

Hardly anything happened in September or October to shake up the pound-for-pound rankings. Things that happen in November and December could shake them to their core.

TWELVE of the 20 people on the below list will be in action in the final two months of 2010, some more dangerously than others. Six of its honorable mentions will be in action, too. And you can make a case for the winner of the junior welterweight fight between Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana or the winner of the bantamweight rematch between Yonnhy Perez and Joseph Agbeko deserving inclusion.

For now, the two major changes for the past two months are thus:

I dropped Shane Mosley entirely. I had him too high at #5, based largely on the benefit of the doubt coming off his May loss to Floyd Mayweather, where I hadn’t assumed age played a deciding role. Somewhere around #10 was probably better, in retrospect. His September draw with junior middleweight Sergio Mora, no matter how much I think he deserved the win, showed rather dire signs that being 38 had caught up with him. Using the “what’s he done in the last year” guideline of compiling this particular list, Mosley’s now 0-1-1, and he looked terrible both times. I considered him for the #20 spot, but went a different direction. A quality win to start off 2011 gets him back on the list almost automatically.

I also dropped #16 Andre Dirrell. I’m assuming he’s truly injured and will be out of the ring for a while, as explained when he dropped out of the super middleweight tournament. His team talks about his career being in jeopardy. If he returns before March 2011, when he last fought in 2010… well, if he returns before March, he’s almost surely a fraud. But if he does, and against quality competition, he’ll return to the list.

As always, quality wins — with an emphasis on recent activity — is the primary criteria of this pound for pound list.

1. Manny Pacquiao, junior middleweight

If Pacquiao beats Antonio Margarito Nov. 13, he keeps the top spot. If he loses… I dunno where he goes on this list. Not too far down, I wouldn’t imagine.

2. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., welterweight

Mayweather presents quite a dilemma should Pacquiao lose to Margarito: His own career is in trouble due to legal issues, and who knows when and if he’ll get the urge to fight again. Probably next time he needs money. Unless he’s in jail. But maybe he won’t even be in the #2 slot by the time I update again, because…

3. Paul Williams, middleweight

Williams is slated for a rematch against Sergio Martinez Nov. 20. The winner has a strong argument for #2, or, if Pacquiao isn’t #1 anymore, #1.

4. Juan Manuel Marquez, lightweight

Some figure the Michael Katsidis fight Nov. 27 to be a difficult one for Marquez. Some don’t. Either way, it could affect his pound-for-pound stock a smidge (in a win) or a lot (in a loss).

5. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight

Klitschko moves up one spot with Mosley’s exit. If Dereck Chisora somehow beats the heavyweight champion Dec. 11, it would be as shocking a loss as any in recent years. That says as much about Chisora as it does Klitschko. Beating Chisora gets Klitschko nowhere. Losing drops him tremendously.

6. Sergio Martinez, middleweight

See what I wrote about Williams, above. I know some people think I have Martinez too low, but his wins are over Kelly Pavlik for the middleweight championship and… that’s about it. I know some believe he deserved the win over Williams, but he didn’t get it; he deserved the win over Kermit Cintron, but how much does that impress anyone?

7. Timothy Bradley, junior welterweight

He doesn’t fight again until January. That gives several people a chance to pass him until then.

8. Andre Ward, super middleweight

If Ward beats Sakio Bika Nov. 27, I’d boost him again. It would add a quality win over a deep division’s #6 man to what would look like quite a run over the last two years.

9. Miguel Cotto, junior middleweight

His next step is totally unclear. He’s recovering from a shoulder injury. As with Bradley, it gives people a chance to pass him.

10. Juan Manuel Lopez, featherweight

Lopez stands to go up a spot or two if he knocks off Rafael Marquez Nov. 6, largely because of Marquez’ own relatively recent pound-for-pound status. If Marquez beats him, though, maybe Marquez gets back into the top 10 his bad self.

11. Fernando Montiel, bantamweight

His leg injury keeps him out of action for the rest of 2010, but a bout with Nonito Donaire is the official plan for Feb. 19, no matter how much I doubt it will ever happen. I said it before and I’ll say it again: The winner of that bout is a surefire top 10 pound-for-pounder. As for Donaire, a win Dec. 4 over Wladimir Sidorenko puts him in position to return near the bottom of the top 20, since that would be the best opponent he’s faced in TWO YEARS, and even then Sidorenko’s not a top-10 bantam right now.

12. Celestino Caballero, junior lightweight

He’s still more a featherweight than junior lightweight, but his next bout, on Nov. 27 against Jason Litzau, is at 130 pounds. Here’s where the list gets very soft, by the way. Even if Caballero beats Litzau as expected, he still doesn’t have a real marquee win. I don’t count Daniel Ponce De Leon.

13. Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight

He stood to drop if he looked bad against Shannon Briggs in October, but instead he looked as good as ever. Still, he’s here more for longevity than anything. What’s his best win? Over Samuel Peter? His next bout is up in the air.

14. Tomasz Adamek, heavyweight

Adamek fights Dec. 9 against Vinny Maddalone, which is totally worthless to him for pound-for-pound purposes. This is why the list around this point is soft. It hardens up next.

15. Arthur Abraham, super middleweight

If you think beating Carl Froch Nov. 27 wouldn’t be huge for Abraham, consider that it would be, by far, the biggest win of his career. He could creep up on top-10 status with a victory. If Froch beats him, they basically trade places, because Froch has a seriously underrated resume and beating Abraham would be huge.

16. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, flyweight

Wonjongkam fought to a more-difficult-than-expected victory over Suriyan Por Chokchai in October. He’s another guy whose spot on the list is very soft. I fear his competition is going to chronically suck, and it’s too bad, because there are some decent fights at 112.

17. Vic Darchinyan, bantamweight

Darchinyan keeps inching up because of what others are doing, but that could all change Dec. 11 when he faces Abner Mares. Mares has pound-for-pound talent himself. If Darchinyan beats the younger man, it would be quite a feather in his cap, and good, probably, for a slight bump on this list.

18. Jean Pascal, light heavyweight

I know his Dec. 18 opponent, 45-year-old Bernard Hopkins, is old as it gets, but I’d still give Pascal credit for beating him. Hopkins is still on some pound-for-pound lists, a tribute more to his career than anything he’s done recently — you have to go back to late 2008 to find a quality win, or even a win where he looked good. If Hopkins wins, you have to think about him for the top 10 again.

19. Giovanni Segura, junior flyweight

Segura’s one of the new additions to the list. His championship-winning knockout of top-20 pound-for-pound Ivan Calderon was the major reason, but his resume of top-10 or borderline contender 108-pound scalps is fairly long: Cesar Canchila, Carlos Tamara, Francisco Arce, Juanito Rubillar, Sonny Boy Jaro.

20. Chad Dawson, light heavyweight

Maybe I demoted Dawson too much off his loss to Pascal, given that I’d had him in the top five. At any rate, it’s not like Froch coming off a loss, or Mosley coming off a draw, is a much more obvious candidate for #20.

Honorable mentions: Nonito Donaire; Carl Froch; Lucian Bute; Shane Mosley; Bernard Hopkins; Chris John; Ivan Calderon; Mikkel Kessler; Andre Dirrell; David Haye; Hozumi Hasegawa; Yuriorkis Gamboa; Devon Alexander

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.