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The best by the pound

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published December 22, 2007


1. Floyd Mayweather

Record: 39-0, 25 knockouts

2007: Beat Oscar De La Hoya by unanimous decision, knocked out Ricky Hatton.

Why he's here: Mayweather has his critics, but they are disappearing fight after fight. He toyed with De La Hoya, retired and then shrewdly came out of retirement for Hatton. Granted, other tougher fighters called him out, too, but Mayweather knows an easy mark when he sees one. He dominated Hatton, and fought in the top two grossing fights of the year. Not to mention, he and uncle Roger are wonderfully entertaining on the 24/7 shows put on by HBO. The only thing Mayweather couldn't do in '07 was win Dancing With the Stars.

What's ahead: Mayweather looks absolutely unbeatable, and bored. Maybe Miguel Cotto gives him a good fight, but probably not.

2. Manny Pacquiao

Record: 45-3, 35 KO's

2007: Knocked out Jorge Solis, beat Marco Antonio Barrera by UD.

Why he's here: Pacquiao barely hangs on to his spot after the debacle that was Solis too many good fights out there for that and beating a Barrera who was clearly on his final legs. Nonetheless, he's still one of the more exciting fighters on the planet, with four KO's in his last six.

What's ahead: A rematch of his 2004 draw with Juan Manuel Marquez, when he knocked Marquez down three times in the first round.

3. Joe Calzaghe

Record: 44-0, 32 KO's

2007: Won by TKO over Peter Manfredo, beat Mikkel Kessler by UD.

Why he's here: We still don't think Calzaghe has a defining fight on his resume, but like the way the quick punching whirlwind smothered Manfredo and Kessler, and looked pretty impressive doing so.

What's ahead: Bernard Hopkins wants a piece. So does St. Petersburg's Winky Wright. We say he fights both guys to stamp his way into the Hall of Fame.

4. Juan Manuel Marquez

Record: 45-3, 35 KO's

2007: Beat Marco Antonio Barrera and Rocky Juarez by UD.

Why he's here: Marquez just tuned up in '07 for his rematch with Pacquaio, even softening up Barrera for him.

What's ahead: There's only one fight for him: the rematch with our No. 2. He got knocked down three times in the first round in their first meeting, and still managed a draw.

5. Israel Vazquez

Record: 42-4, 32 KO's

2007: Lost to Rafael Marquez after fight was stopped due to a bloody gash, but in the rematch won by TKO in Round six.

Why he's here: You know when people complain about boxing being boring? Well, it's because they aren't watching enough of Vazquez.

What's ahead: After two hellacious fights with Marquez failed to settle anything, the rubber match will. Now, just make sure you don't miss it.

6. Miguel Cotto

Record: 31-0, 25 KO's

2007: Beat Zab Judah by 11th round TKO, won UD over Shane Mosley.

Why he's here: The WBA welterweight champ is young, exciting, has a huge following and passed a huge test with his win over Mosley.

What's ahead: We're not sure he's ready for Mayweather just yet, but getting by either Kermit Cintron or Paul Williams would make him so. Chances are, Antonio Margarito looms as well.

7. Bernard Hopkins

Record: 48-4, 32 KO's.

2007: Beat Winky Wright by UD.

Why he's here: He's not all that exciting and is a better brawler than boxer, but he beat a top 3 pound-for-pound guy, and continues to befuddle opponents and Father Time.

What's ahead: Hopkins is chasing Calzaghe, but ego will be a tough obstacle to overcome. But Hopkins needs that fight, because other than a rematch with Wright (does anyone want to see that?) what else is out there?

8. Kelly Pavlik

Record: 32-0, 29 KO's

2007: Knocked out Jose Zertuche and won by TKO over Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor.

Why he's here: The guy is a fighter. That may end up getting him knocked out (Taylor had him almost done), but until then sign us up for his fights. He put a hurting on Miranda, a rising star at the time, and then worked over Taylor in impressive fashion and a potential Fight of the Year.

What's ahead: A rematch with Taylor on Feb. 16, then a title defense, then any number of big showdowns.

9. Winky Wright

Record: 51-4, 25 KO's

2007: Lost to Bernard Hopkins by UD.

Why he's here: You can chalk up the St. Petersburg star's disastrous 2007 to poor training, out of ring distractions and the ill-advised decision to move up to 170. We're not sure anyone's performance in 2007 took more of a shine off their career than Wright's.

What's ahead: Wright probably isn't willing to be paid like a guy with no belts and coming off a loss, so we're not hopeful, but he should try to get to Calzaghe before Hopkins does and then shoot for the middleweight title.

10. Rafael Marquez

Record: 37-4, 33 KO's

2007: Split two fights with Israel Vazquez, the second of which was one of the most exciting of 2007.

Why he's here: We're not ready to drop him off the list just yet, though Wladimir Klitschko is knocking on our door. Marquez's give-and-take style just ran into the wrong set of fists.

What's ahead: Marquez will need to rely on his boxing to get past the strong Vazquez in their upcoming third meeting.

It's unanimous - Floyd Mayweather is the best, most complete boxer on the planet. Filling in the rest of the Timese_SSRq Pound-for-Pound List wasn't so easy, being torn about whether to drop Manny Pacquiao, how far up to move Joe Calzaghe, and where exactly St. Petersburg's Winky Wright needed to fall.