Thursday, July 17, 2008

:boxing: Decade's Best...So Far (2007 Edition) :: Boxing's Pound-4-Pound (Top 10) ::: Insight

This "Decade's Best" list for boxing followed in the footsteps of the anime list earlier, though both are, altogether, very different. Originally when I started this, I said that my personal discretion would have a heavier influence on than one the anime one. The end result showed something almost entirely opposite of what I had planned, either unintentionally or I just plain came to those conclusions similar to that of the scribes or critics. During the planning stages, Oscar De La Hoya was in the top running for No. 1, as I felt that his willingness to fight the best was admirable when compared to other P4P residents like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Roy Jones, Jr. (must be a "Junior" thing...) who I saw more as resting on their laurels rather than actually going out there and challenging someone worthy of their tremendous talents. Personally, anyone can look good against opponents that have no real chance of beating them, and while boxers will fight those types a few times in their careers, it becomes a problem when they constantly just fight those types and not ones who can legitimately challenge them. In my opinion, if you can beat them, your legend and credibility grow in my eyes. This, however, turned out to be a double-edged sword, as De La Hoya lost a number of those sorts of match-ups, despite being close in all of them, and Mayweather went up due to his undefeated record, victories over a few notable opponents, and his own win over the aforementioned fighter.

I didn't think that Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera would wind up ranking so high, but in comparison to everyone else (records, caliber of opponents, accomplishments) they deserved their spots--and unsurprisingly, the long-time rivals could go either above or below each other. Manny Pacquiao, as great as he is and as much as he has done, would have sat around the top spot, had he fought--and defeated--Juan Manuel Marquez before 2007 ended. I thought that Marquez won their first bout by a point in spite of the tumultuous first round, so it would only be fitting for Pacquiao to "prove himself" and take him on again. While I was certain that Shane Mosley and Ronald "Winky" Wright would crack at least the Top 10, I never really considered that Jones or Jermain Taylor would. After looking at their records and accomplishments, it actually seemed fitting that they would place on there, despite my criticisms of both. For example, I gave them credit for fighting top competition, as Jones finally began to man up and go after Antonio Tarver and took up a match against the always-game Glen Johnson, whereas Taylor fought Hopkins, Wright, Kassim Ouma, Cory Spinks, and Kelly Pavlik despite the difficulties their styles poised against his own. Ultimately, they don't rank as high due to those Tarver and Johnson being Jones' only real challenges (John Ruiz is hardly one) and Taylor's either dubious or controversial wins against everyone noted, with the exceptions of Pavlik (two losses) and Kassim Ouma (a clear win). Though talent and skills (in terms of technique and physicality) count, they cannot overcome the more weighty problems of their fighters’ records.

Perhaps surprising and perhaps not, no heavyweight made the list (Jones doesn't count). It is indicative of the staid state of the division, as even a few noteworthy outings by James Toney, the "Brothers Klitschko", and Sam Peter (even Ruiz, to a far less extent) have come nowhere close to the achievements or standards seen in the lower weights. Prolific champion Lennox Lewis was originally in consideration, but was ultimately left off as he barely fought since 2000 and retired a few years later after a "fortunate" stoppage of Vitali Klitschko due to a nasty cut at the corner of the latter's eyebrows and an earlier KO victory over a passé, burned-out Mike Tyson. With three years left, perhaps one of the other noted fighters has a chance to crack the Top Ten, but I would only think so if one of them manages to consolidate the belts and looked good doing so. It further highlights the shame that the heavyweight division gets more attention than the others do--far more than it ever deserves.

As this list was complied after 2007, many new developments have occurred with some of the noted individuals that will most certainly change the outlook of the 2008 edition. I expect a major reshuffling to take place when the time comes, but as for now, from 2000 to 2007, Bernard Hopkins, with his record title defenses, solid record, and exceptional prowess and skills, has done more than enough to secure his spot as the decade's best boxer, thus far.

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