Sunday, February 24, 2002

Pound-for-pound boxing Top 10

By Mike Mudd
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Enquirer's Mike Mudd presents his latest top 10 boxers, pound-for-pound. Judging is based on talent, quality of opposition, fight frequency and ring generalship. Records are in parentheses.

Enquirer's John Erardi looks at "Ricardo Williams, budding superstar"
        1. Bernard Hopkins (41-2-1)

        Weight division: Middleweight

        Comment: At 37, Hopkins' resume just keeps getting better: His last four wins have come over A-level opponents who are a combined 149-10-3; has made an all-time middleweight record 15 world title defenses and proved his old-school, physical style can offset world-class power punchers (see Felix Trinidad.)

        Up next: Trying to hatch a blockbuster bout with Roy Jones Jr. Progress is stalled as the two publicly argue over who should get the larger piece of the money pie. Both make solid points: Jones beat Hopkins handily eight years ago; Hopkins has more quality wins in recent years. Stay tuned.

        2. Roy Jones Jr. (46-1)

        Weight division: Light heavyweight

        Comment: Three weeks ago, the sport's best athlete steamrolled some guy who called himself the Australian light heavyweight champion. Uh, yeah ... but he knocked him out by putting his hands behind his back, slipping two punches and then throwing a lightning right hand into the guy's temple. OK, that's cool. Consider this: Jones is now 20-1 in world title fights and has been ranked a top five pound-for-pound fighter by Ring Magazine for eight straight years. Impressive.

        Up next: If Hopkins doesn't work out, reports say Jones may look to face cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov, who is tough but slow. That is at least better than another Aussie.

        3. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (27-0)

        Weight division: Lightweight

        Comment: Only Jones Jr. can rival “Pretty Boy's” speed, agility and defense. In last bout, also showed he can stand toe to toe, brawl and take good shots. He dismantled one of Mexico's top fighters, Jesus Chavez, forcing Chavez to quit after pelting him with pinpoint upper cuts and body shots for nine rounds.

        Up next: Moving up to lightweight after tearing through junior lightweight. He's going straight to the top in his LW debut in May: Mexico's Jose Luis Castillo (44-4-1).

        4. Marco Antonio Barrera (54-3)

        Weight division: Featherweight

        Comment: The best fighter out of Mexico right now and another who seems to be getting better with age. Has looked sharp since doing everyone a favor by beating Prince Naseem Hamed last year.

        Up next: Highly anticipated rematch with countryman Erik Morales was postponed until June 22 because Barrera has a rib injury. These two hate each other (Morales won the first slugfest in 2000). Buy the pay-per-view telecast, whatever it costs.

        5. Lennox Lewis (39-2-1)

        Weight division: Heavyweight

        Comment: Punching power and a solid jab make him by far the best a very shallow heavyweight division has to offer right now.

        Up next: Mike Tyson? Who knows. But most likely, yes. Lewis needs this fight for his legacy. It will make zillions of dollars and be over within three to four rounds with Tyson on his back — or disqualified.

        6. Oscar De La Hoya (34-2)

        Weight division: Junior middleweight

        Comment: One day Oscar is talking about retiring. The next he's talking about making more music and winning Grammys. Then there's acting ... the bottom line is Oscar is still really good. And the fact he has hired Floyd Mayweather Sr. (a defensive specialist) as his trainer shows he's at least dedicated for two or three more big bouts.

        Up next: Must-see pay-per-view bout against fellow Californian Fernando Vargas in May. De La Hoya needs an impressive KO to win back the Mexican-American community.

        7. Kostya Tszyu (28-1-1)

        Weight division: Junior welterweight

        Comment: Stock rising as undisputed champion in boxing's deepest division (140), and the first to unify 140 since 1968. Blasted Zab Judah in two rounds. Punching power compared to that of a world-class fighter 20 pounds heavier.

        Up next: Good test in May against Ben Tackie, a high-action boxer-puncher who has string of solid victories.

        8. Vernon Forrest (34-0)

        Weight division: Welterweight

        Comment: Tall and rangy for 147 pounds, the guy looks and fights like former 1980s great Thomas Hearns. And he may be on his way to being just as good. Appeared on the mainstream sports radar after beating previous champion Shane Mosley in January.

        Up next: Likely rematch with Mosley. If he moves up in weight, could make for good matchups with anyone at 154 and 160 pounds.

        9. Erik Morales (41-0)

        Weight division: Featherweight

        Comment: Amazing he's still undefeated, considering he pretty much has given up on defense. But the nonstop offense and rock-solid chin make him one of the most appealing fighters to watch.

        Up next: Will try to prove June 22 controversial win over Barrera was justified.

        10. Shane Mosley (38-1)

        Weight division: Welterweight

        Comment: Loss to Forrest was not career-threatening. Mosley was previously No. 1 on a lot of pound-for-pound lists. Showed tremendous heart and recuperative powers in going distance with Forrest, who was brilliant.

        Up next: If rematch doesn't work out, probably will fight a tune-up bout this summer before pursuing another title in the fall or winter.

        Honorable mention: Tim Austin, Felix Trinidad, Fernando Vargas.


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