Thursday, June 26, 2008

:boxing: Decade's Best...So Far (2007 Edition) :: Boxing's Pound-4-Pound (Top 10) ::: Introduction & #9 and #10

"Pound-4-Pound" lists have long been a staple of the sport of boxing. In a world that is surrounded by a number of great fighters in a number of different weight classes, it is only natural that cross-comparisons would arise among those at the top. As such, in another small bit of comparison, it would only be natural for an anime & boxing blog like HardDoor to have its own P4P list to go along with the "Decade's Best" list of Anime (Top 20) from the beginning of the year. Similar to that one, the only part of the boxer's record taken into consideration are those bouts taking place between from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2007, regardless of how stellar or legendary they and their record were before then. However, unlike that list, this particular one counts my personal discretion a little more heavily, with less an emphasis on critical opinion. Points such as activity, caliber of opposition, skills, bout results, championships, and inter-competition amongst those on the list (where applicable) will hold a greater weight, and thus, the need for such opinion becomes less needed. As a more complex set of criteria has to be taken into account and the boxer's themselves are the ones at the center of it all, it makes more sense that their body of work stands for itself rather than through critical opinion.

It took me far longer than I wanted to, since I had to take great care in thinking the list through. I opted to start it today since it would make a nice third anniversary gift for HardDoor. In creating the site's first P4P list, something I was initially against but reconsidered after thinking of it through the terms of the "Decade's Best" anime list, I was definitely shocked by some of the names that I came to a conclusion to and where they sat after everything was said and done. Nonetheless, I had to remain as unbiased as possible and be considerate and fair. Each entry will yield two spots on the list, until the best boxer of the decade--so far--is revealed.

All record information comes courtesy of Boxing Records Archive.

9. Roy Jones, Jr.

Overall Record (as of 2007): 51-4 (by KO: 38-2)
Decade Record (as of 2007): 11-3 (by KO: 5-2)
Notable Wins: Eric Harding (2000 – TKO10), Derrick Harmon (2001 – TKO11), John Ruiz (2003 – UD), Antonio Tarver (2004 – MD)
Notable Losses: Antonio Tarver (2004, 2005 – TKO2, UD), Glen Johnson (2004 – KO9)
Championships: Light Heavyweight (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO NABO, IBA, IBC, IBO, WBF, NBA), Heavyweight (WBA)

Roy Jones, Jr. possessed some of the best raw talent, both physically and mentally, ever seen in boxing: lightning-quick hand speeds, considerable power, slick agility, ring generalship, superb, and at times, freakish, conditioning and formidable boxing know-how. It’s evident in the number of titles that he long held at light heavyweight (ten!) and his victory over John Ruiz in claiming the WBA Heavyweight title. However, for much of the decade, he has either fought opposition that posed little threat to him or were tailor-made for showcasing his skills, or he avoided the dangerous potential foes (Antonio Tarver, Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe, etc.) as long as he could. This, too, was also evident in his choosing of Ruiz as his entry into boxing lore, someone much slower than he was, nor as skilled—another “tailor-made” opportunity. Apparently, questions about his caliber of opponents and his legacy must have started to bother him, as he finally fought Tarver in 2004. That campaign was only mildly successful, as he won a majority decision the first time, before dropped hard in the second bout and losing a unanimous decision in the third. Later in 2004, he got knocked out again (and stayed that way for a few minutes) in a fight against a very hungry Glen Johnson. Did fighting soft opposition for so long after 2000/2001 lessen his skill and abilities in the latter part of the decade?

10. Jermain Taylor

Overall Record (as of 2007): 27-1-1 (by KO: 17-1)
Decade Record (as of 2007): 27-1-1 (by KO: 17-1)
Notable Wins: Alex Bunema (2004 – TKO7), Raul Marquez (2004 – TKO9), William Joppy (2004 – UD), Bernard Hopkins (2005 (twice) – SD, UD), Cory Spinks (2007 – SD)
Notable Losses: Kelly Pavlik (2007 – TKO7)
Notable Draws: Ronald “Winky” Wright (2006 – On points)
Championships: Middleweight (WBA, WBC, WBC Continental Americas, IBF, WBO)

Prior to his star-making fight with middleweight king Bernard Hopkins, Taylor was one of the most talked about prospects in the sport. Power, pin-point accuracy, and a great tenacity guided him through the ranks without a defeat. 2005 saw him break the veteran’s record title defense streak in a tough, close fight to become the new undisputed champion in the division. After winning the rematch in the same year, he fought another sturdy veteran in Ronald “Winky” Wright in a match that exposed many of the kinks in his armor (though some may argue that this was already seen in the previous two). He managed to escape with a draw and later against Cory Spinks with a split decision, but he would fall to Kelly Pavlik in 2007. Derided often for looking too “green” and possessing a diminishing skill set, it was his best-fought match since first winning the middleweight belts. He very nearly knocked out the dangerous Pavlik in the second, but the latter hung on barely, re-gathered himself, and worked Taylor over before knocking him out in the seventh. Though fight decisions since the first Hopkins bout seemed to often go undeservedly in his favor (most probably due to his pressuring, all-offense style), he does get credit for taking on hard opposition that would naturally challenge him as a fighter (Hopkins, Wright, Spinks, Pavlik).

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