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THE RING Top 100: 1-25

01
Jan

Timothy Bradley leaped from No. 63 last year to No. 23 this year after a splendid 2009. Photo / Craig Bennett-FightWireImages.com

For 14 years we’ve ranked the best 100 fighters in the world. The latest rankings appeared in the January 2010 issue of THE RING magazine. In this special feature at RingTV.com, we’re posting an updated version of those rankings that take into account anything that occurred between the last week of October and the third week of December.

The analysis has been broken into four parts. This is the final installment, with the fighters ranked 1-25.

In the main, the rankings are unchanged from those that appeared in the magazine. Most of those in the top half at the end of October are there again now, and likewise for the lower half. But there has been movement based on recent fights and, in a few cases, inactivity.

Read on for the most comprehensive ranking of the top 100 fighters in the world. By the time all the dust has settled, it will be time to do it again.

1. MANNY PACQUIAO
World Junior Welterweight Champion 50-3-2 (38)
Last Year’s Ranking: 1
Status Report: Pacquiao’s virtually flawless destruction of Miguel Cotto (KO 12) cemented his status as the best fighter in the world and extended his winning streak to 11 straight. It also rounded out a Hall of Fame year in which Pacquiao also beat Ricky Hatton (KO 2), scoring a knockout so resounding many have named it their Knockout of the Year. It’s hard to name any fighter who enjoyed a better year than Pacquiao did in 2009.
Future: If all this steroids nonsense gets straightened out, Pacquiao will meet Floyd Mayweather in one of the richest fights ever.

2. FLOYD MAYWEATHER
Welterweight 40-0-0 (25)
Last Year’s Ranking: Unranked
Status Report: If there was any suspicion that Mayweather would be rusty following his 21-month retirement, he eradicated it during his flawless win over Juan Manuel Marquez (W 12). It was all thereÔÇöthe speed, the defense, the reflexes, the confidence. “Money” never looked better, which is bad news for whatever higher-profile fighter he meets next, maybe including Manny Pacquiao.
Future: No matter how the steroid controversy resolves, as long as the fight goes on Mayweather has already landed the first blow.

3. SHANE MOSLEY
WBA Welterweight Titleholder 46-5-0 (39) with 1 no-contest
Last Year’s Ranking: 14
Status Report: Breathed new life into his careerÔÇöand jumped up 11 spots in this ranking compared to last yearÔÇöwith a surprising and brutal beat down of former pound-for-pound entrant Antonio Margarito (KO 9). At 37 years old looked as fast and powerful as ever and in fact probably looked too good for his own good. Repeated and public overtures to Mayweather and Pacquiao fell on deaf ears.
Future: Is scheduled to face Andre Berto January 30 in Las Vegas.

4. BERNARD HOPKINS
Light Heavyweight 50-5-1 (32) 1 no-contest
Last Year’s Ranking: 4
Status Report: In his first fight since his masterpiece against Kelly Pavlik, Hopkins outpointed Enrique Ornelas over 10 rounds in Philadelphia. That was supposed to be his tune-up for Roy Jones, but you know what happened there. At any rate, after a slow start Hopkins displayed his usual intelligence and mastery, hurting Ornelas down the stretch and winning by a large margin. He is giving Archie Moore competition as the best 44-year-old fighter ever.
Future: From the way he goes about negotiations, you’d think Hopkins is a 24-year-old kid with all the time in the world. A proposed fight with Roy Jones conqueror Danny Green fell apart over money, as did a fight with Tomas Adamek before that. Just pick a guy already, Bernard.

5. JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
World Lightweight Champion 50-5-1 (37)
Last Year’s Ranking: 2
Status Report: Pay little attention to Marquez’s stunningly one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather; Mayweather would have beaten 99.999% of humans on the planet 160 pounds and under that night. Instead, recall his masterful and inspired win over the 10-years younger Juan Diaz (KO 9) as proof that against mortals, he remains one of the best in the world. He’s not in his prime anymore, but a just past-it Marquez is better than anyone at lightweight.
Future: The rumor is Marquez will face Ricky Hatton in 2010.

6. NONITO DONAIRE
WBA Junior Bantamweight titleholder 22-1-0 (14)
Last Year’s Ranking: 21
Status Report: Donaire has been riding high since his July 2007 kayo of Vic Darchinyan, but fought just once on ’08. A change in promoters from Gary Shaw to Top Rank resulted in the busier schedule he’d hoped for and he took advantage, beating Moruti Mthalane (KO 6) and Raul Martinez (KO 4) in flyweight title defenses, and then taking an interim title at 115 against Rafael Concepcion (W 12). And listen: The kid’s just 26 years old.
Future: Scheduled to meet Gerson Guerrero in Las Vegas on February 13.

7. MIGUEL COTTO
Welterweight 34-1-0 (27)
Last Year’s Ranking: 9
Status Report: Cotto’s brave but losing stand against Pacquiao (KO by 12) probably won him more fans but couldn’t have done him any good in the long run. He took a great deal of punishment and no one would have protested if the fight had been stopped any time after about the eighth round. He also took heavy punishment against Joshua Clottey (W 12), with only Michael Jennings (KO 5) going easy. It’s hard to name anyone who has faced tougher competition over the last several years than has Cotto, which speaks volumes about where he is – and where he’s going.
Future: A long and deserved rest, an easy comeback fight, and then, if Bob Arum can swing it, a rematch with Antonio Margarito.

8. CELESTINO CABALLERO
IBF/WBA Junior Featherweight Titleholder 33-2-0 (23)
Last Year’s Ranking: 24
Status Report: Just when you thought Caballero couldn’t make yet another drastic jump in these rankingsÔÇölast year he leapt from 53 to 24ÔÇöthis year he breaks the top 10. Why? Simple. Three straight wins, one an absolute rout of heretofore undefeated and well regarded Steve Molitor (KO 4). The others, over Jeffrey Mathebula (W 12) and Francisco Leal (KO 8) underscore how powerful this beanpole is and why a lot of other 122-pounders want no part of him.
Future: We’d love to see him against Poonsawat Kratingaenggym or Juan Manuel Lopez.

9. CHAD DAWSON
IBF Lightweight Titleholder 29-0-0 (17)
Last Year’s Ranking: 25
Status Report: Shame on all of us for haranguing Dawson into meeting Glen Johnson a second time. Dawson schooled him in the rematch in November (W 12) and it wasn’t close, which nets Dawson a significant promotion in this analysis. Dawson isn’t the most exciting guy or the most charismatic, but since when is that germane to how well a guy fights? Pernell Whitaker was the same way. Dawson can fight. Period. Ask Antonio Tarver, who Dawson also beat (W 12) in a 2009 rematch.
Future: There’s been a lot of talk about Dawson meeting this or that super middleweight or cruiserweight. There’s one fight to make at 175: Dawson-Hopkins.

10. PAUL WILLIAMS
Paul Williams
Middleweight/Junior Middleweight 38-1-0 (27)
Last Year’s ranking: 12
Status Report: You can look at Williams’ life-and-death struggle with Sergio Martinez (W 12) as either a failure of technique or a victory of will. Did he get hit and hurt? Absolutely. He also bit down and gritted out a hard win against one of the better fighters between 160 and 170 pounds. It proved even more than did his other wins in 2009, over
Winky Wright (W 12) and Verno Phillips (KO 8). But those were good too.
Future: Williams is ranked at both 154 and 160 pounds, and with THE RING there is no prohibition against a fighter claiming world titles in multiple weight divisions. This guy could do it.

11. ISRAEL VAZQUEZ
Junior Featherweight 44-4-0 (32)
Last Year’s Ranking: 5
Status Report: Vazquez was out for 19 months with an eye injury following his colossal third battle with Rafael Marquez. In his eagerly awaited return he struggled and bled (so what else is new?) but showed his class with an exciting win over tough journeyman Angel Antonio Priolo (KO 9). We don’t know how much longer Vazquez can keep this stuff up, so catch him now while you still can.
Future: You have to ask? A fourth match against Marquez, a macabre as it is, is all but a sure thing.

12. RAFAEL MARQUEZ
Junior Featherweight 38-5-0 (34)
Last Year’s Ranking: 8
Status Report: Fought just once after heroic loss to Vazquez in their rubber match, beating Jose Francisco Mendoza (KO 3) in Mexico. If anyone deserved an easy fight it was Marquez, and Mendoza gave him one. To have fought the way he did in the third match with Vazquez and come up the loser is the height of injustice. Damn that shaky chin.
Future: As much as you want to see a fourth match with Vazquez, Marquez wants it more. And he’ll get it.

13. HOZUMI HASEGAWA
WBC Bantamweight Titleholder 28-2-0 (12)
Last Year’s Ranking: 23
Status Report: THE RING’s top-ranked bantamweight did nothing to diminish himself in the last year, making three title defenses. Neither Alvaro Perez (KO 4), Vusi Malinga (KO 1) nor Nestor Rocha (KO 1) presented any kind of challenge. That’s the good news. The bad is that all three fights took place in Japan, meaning we’ll only get to watch him on YouTube from Japan. And that’s a shame.
Future: There are plenty of good fights to be made at 118, but we can’t imagine too many guys that will be willing to face Hasegawa in Tokyo. That means more of the same.

14. ARTHUR ABRAHAM
Super Middleweight 31-0 (24)
Last Year’s Ranking: 18
Status Report: Abraham’s bludgeoning of Jermain Taylor in Berlin in the opening round of Showtime’s Super Six tourney was evidence of “King Arthur’s” innumerable strengths. It complemented his wins over Raul Marquez (KO 6), Lajuan Simon (W 12), and Mahir Oral (KO 10), and showed why many pick him to win the tournament outright.
Future: Next up is Andre Dirrell in March.

15. SERGIO MARTINEZ
Junior Middleweight 44-2-2 (24)
Last Year’s Ranking: 75
Status Report: Martinez came out of nowhereÔÇöwell, Spain actually, which is kind of like nowhere when it comes to boxingÔÇöto be a major player at 154. He was wonderful in a titillating battle with Paul Williams (L 12). Unfortunately, he wasn’t as active last year as many of us would have liked. His only other appearance came in a horrendously scored draw against Kermit Cintron (D 12) for one of those lamentable alphabet “interim” titles. He clearly deserved the decision.
Future: At 34 he hasn’t a lot of time to waste, but after nearly beating Williams, he might have trouble finding big name opponents.

16. KELLY PAVLIK
World Middleweight Champion 36-1-0 (32)
Last Year’s Ranking: 11
Status Report: Pavlik’s win over spirited but outgunned Miguel Espino (KO 5) in December was good for one thing: getting him back in the ring and in front of his fans and getting the hand infection behind him. It was better than his other win in 2009, an uninspired victory over a petrified Marco Antonio Rubio (KO 9). It was good to have the middleweight champ back in action. He has some lost time to make up.
Future: Let’s hope that showdown with Paul Williams is back on the itinerary.

17. IVAN CALDERON
World Junior Flyweight Champion 33-0-1 (6)
Last Year’s Ranking: 10
Status Report: Calderon’s slight descent in this analysis compared to last year is due primarily to the nature of his last two wins, both over Rodel Mayol (Tech. Win 7 both times). Both bouts were stopped because of a cut on Calderon’s forehead. Nevertheless, “Iron Boy” remains one of the purest boxers in the business and if you don’t believe us, consider how well you must box to remain undefeated as long as he has when you can’t break an egg.
Future: Nothing signed as we went top press, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a match against former titleholder Ulises Solis.

18. CHRIS JOHN
WBA Featherweight Titleholder 43-0-2 (22)
Last Year’s Ranking: 19
Status Report: John’s stock keeps rising, and not just because of his win over Hiroyuki Enoki (W 12). Remember, he left the safe confines of Indonesia and took on Rocky JuarezÔÇöin Houston of all places! The dubious outcome of that meeting (D 12) was righted for the most part with John’s win in the return (W 12) even if he almost got knocked out in the last 20 seconds. John isn’t the most skilled guy out there, but when you watch him you can see how nobody’s figured him out yet.
Future: The way the WBA keeps creating titles (John is the “super” champion, while Yuriorkis Gamboa recently won the “regular” title), John may meet himself in a title unification fight if he’s not careful.

19. WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
World Heavyweight Champion 53-3 (47)
Last Year’s Ranking: 46
Status Report: He finally did it. By grinding up Ruslan Chagaev (KO 9), rated second at the time, the younger Klitschko graduated from the “consensus best” heavyweight to the world champion. The win was crucial; the only other victory since last year’s analysis was a distasteful bludgeoning of a hapless Hasim Rahman (KO 7), which did nothing to enhance Klitschko’s reputation anywhere outside of Mannheim.
Future: Shoulder tendon surgery sidelined Little Brother for the remainder of 2009. He is expected to defend against Eddie Chambers in the spring of 2010.

20. FERNANDO MONTIEL
Bantamweight 39-2-2 (29)
Last Year’s Ranking: 16
Status Report: It was a mostly good year for “El Cochulito,” with a jump up to bantamweight and wins over Juan Alberto Rojas (W 10) and Diego Oscar Silva (KO 3). But his vulnerability, which is part of what makes him so exciting, almost did him in against Alejandro Valdez (Tech. Draw 3). He was lucky to escape without a knockout loss on his record.
Future: Is scheduled to face Ciso Morales on February 13 in Las Vegas.

21. VITALI KLITSCHKO
WBC Heavyweight Titleholder 39-2 (37)
Last Year’s Ranking: 47
Status Report: Even without his domination of pacifist Kevin Johnson in Switzerland (W 12), Big Brother had already turned in the Comeback of the Year. Almost four years out of the ring and he dominates Sam Peter (KO 8), Juan Carlos Gomez (KO 9), and Chris Arreola (KO 10). No tune-ups, no injuries, all stoppage wins, and hardly a moment of anxiety in 39 rounds. Call it the quality of the heavyweight division, call it the power of unorthodoxy, but call Big Brother a winner.
Future: Between Vitali and Wladimir, they’re cleaning out the division. What happens when they’re the only two left?

22. ANTONIO MARGARITO
Welterweight 37-6 (27)
Last Year’s Ranking: 6
Status Report: Margarito’s 17-point tumble is attributable in the main not to his shocking loss to Shane MosleyÔÇöthere’s no dishonor thereÔÇöor to his subsequent inactivity. They work against him, but not as much as the revelation that his wraps were loaded going into the Mosley fight, as well as the very reasonable possibility that they were similarly doctored in all of his big wins. Can he fight? Absolutely. We just aren’t sure anymore how well.
Future: Margarito will be eligible to reapply for a boxing license in California in February 2010. If he can put together a couple good wins he’s right back in business.

23. TIMOTHY BRADLEY
Junior Welterweight 25-0 (11) with 1 no-contest
Last Year’s Ranking: 63
Status Report: Bradley’s excellent win over Lamont Peterson on December 12 isn’t the only reason he makes a huge jump from last year. The promotion is also the result of an impressive victory over the dangerous and very capable Kendall Holt (W 12) and a cut-induced no-contest against Nate Campbell that looked every bit like a victory in the making. We get the sense that Bradley, a baby, really, at just 26 years old, will be on this list for a long time to come.
Future: There’s talk of Bradley against Amir Khan in 2010. Um, yeah. That works.

24. JOSHUA CLOTTEY
Welterweight 35-3 (20)
Last Year’s Ranking: 33
Status Report: It’s a damn shame that a fighter as good as Clottey is fought just once all of last year, that an exciting loss to Miguel Cotto (L 12). He made that one count, but as happened in his close loss to Antonio Margarito three years ago, Clottey decelerated down the stretch when he simply couldn’t afford to. He may be one of those guys who fights just hard enough to lose the big ones.
Future: Clottey appears to be frozen out of the very biggest fights at 147. But if a comebacking Margarito is looking for a meaningful dance partner, we know where he can find one.

25. MIKKEL KESSLER
WBA Super Middleweight Titleholder 42-2-0 (32)
Last Year’s Ranking: 20
Status Report: Up until his disaster against Andre Ward (L 12), Kessler looked to have recovered from the schooling he took against Joe Calzaghe, beating Danilo Haussler (KO 3) and Gusmyr Perdomo (KO 4) before heading into the super middleweight tournament against Ward in California. That he didn’t win a round demonstrates his complete and utter helplessness against a fighter with real speed.
Future: Carl Froch in April, who he’ll find much easier to hit than he did Ward.

Bill Dettloff can be reached at [email protected]

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