It’s a new year and there are some new names on this list. Of course not everyone will agree but this is how I see it:
1. Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) – Pacquiao’s only 32, but the Filipino super fighter is running out of opponents. Sugar Shane Mosley looks to be next in line. After Shane the Pacman will have to look elsewhere. There are not many options unless he fights an Andre Berto, Timothy Bradley or Sergio Martinez. But those guys are too dangerous for too little money. That’s where Floyd Mayweather needs to step in. The Las Vegas welterweight brings the most money to the table, but he’s also the only one capable of possibly dethroning the king.
2. Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) – At 33, Mayweather still has enough juice in those reflexes to beat any of the other welterweights or junior middleweights in the world. His problem is the Nevada court system. Can he beat the charges that continue to mount up against him? Until Mayweather is cleared in court don’t expect him to fight Pacman. It would be a great fight but legal entanglements could wash that fight aside. Will he still have enough after that to contend with Pacman?
3. Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) – Soon to be 46 years old on January 15, the ageing but masterful fighting Hopkins will once again jump in the ring against a young stud full of promise. Hopkins drew with Jean Pascal on Dec. 18 in the Canadian fighter’s hometown of Quebec. Now it looks like the money is right and Hopkins and Pascal will do it again. Hopkins is truly one of the all time greats of boxing. He proves it over and over again. A lot of people don’t realize how good he is.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs) – His rallying from a knockdown against boxing’s exciting Michael Katsidis was exhilarating. Both boxers gave a clinic on how to fight with technique and excitement. The fans went crazy over the battle that Marquez won by his superior skills. But Katsidis made him work for it. Now Marquez is set to meet with former Mexican hero Erik Morales in April. It’s a bout that should have happened 10 years ago. But Mexican fans will love it.
5. Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) – Maravilla’s one-punch knockout of Paul Williams puts him in “The Punishers” former spot on these rankings. At 35, Martinez does not have a lot of time to prove his worth. The big win over Williams provides him one big shot at big money and fame. Picking the right opponent is very important for Martinez who has few options. Still, he has plenty of speed and guile left to make money and create havoc in the middleweight and super middleweight division.
6. Timothy Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) – The Palm Springs resident at 27 has beaten a number of former undefeated fighters and world champions. Now he faces young stud Devon Alexander who lobbied long for this fight. Sometimes its not good to get what you wish. Bradley has the style to pierce the Alexander defense that resembles Lamont Peterson. But that’s based on paper analysis. They’re fighting in the ring on Jan. 29 in Michigan. It should be good.
7. Andre Ward (22-0, 13 KOs) – Ward, 26, is blessed with super speed and agility that enabled him to stay undefeated. Two years ago he became a well-skilled technician in the ring to accompany that athletic ability. Now he’s a very dangerous fighter and should win the Super Six Super Middleweight Classic. Ward is one of three Northern California boxers that are on this list.
8. Robert Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) – Lefthanders with speed and power like 27-year-old Guerrero are feared for many reasons. First, as a southpaw he already has an advantage. When you add speed and power to that you have a very formidable prizefighter. Guerrero also has gained new boxing skills every year since becoming a professional and it shows as he moves up various weight divisions. He’s the second Northern Californian on this list.
9. Nonito Donaire (24-1, 16 KOs) – Sometimes Nonito Donaire is just too good for his own good. What boxer out there wants to compete against someone like the Filipino Flash? His performance against the Ukrainian Vladimir Sidorenko was nearly picture perfect. Can anyone beat Donaire? Next up is another pound for pound fighter Fernando Montiel. That will be a great fight. Donaire is the third Northern Californian on this list. It used to be that Southern California bred all of the state’s boxing talent. No More. The north has arrived.
10. Paul Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) – Williams, 29, may have lost in devastating fashion but it doesn’t mean his career is over. The tall gangly volume puncher has a lot left and a lot of opponents. The loss may have opened up more doors for Williams who was avoided like old cheese. Somebody out there must want to fight Williams. Anyone care to be first?
11. Fernando Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KOs) – The 31-year-old Mexican speedster from Los Mochis, Mexico disappears then reappears like Houdini. Several times he’s been counted out but then returns with a big win. Like Nonito Donaire he’s an electrifying fighter who can end a fight with startling finality. His win over Hozumi Hasegawa exemplified that with an exclamation point.
12. Amir Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) – After one heck of a fight with Marcos Maidana and surviving an onslaught that few others could, Khan showed that he’s more than just speed and talk. He’s got heart too. There were numerous opportunities for Khan to give up but he absorbed Maidana’s best shots and in the end was ruled the winner. He’s also on the pound for pound list.
Abner Mares – He reminds me of Marco Antonio Barrera circa 1999. He has all of the tools.
Rafael Marquez – His loss to Juanma due to a bad arm proved he has something left.
Giovanni Segura – Beating Ivan Calderon was a big moment in his career.
Wladimir Klitschko – He avoided James Toney for 10 years. What kind of champion is that? Now it’s too late. There was a lot of money on the table back in 2004 but he spurned it.
Miguel Cotto – Losing to Pacman is no shame. Can he get another big win?
Lucian Bute – The Romanian-Canadian is a solid fighter who needs a marquee fight.
Yuri Gamboa – Too bad Gamboa hasn’t fought Caballero. Otherwise he would be high up on the list.
2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura
The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.
Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.
The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.
The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.
Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.
Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.
A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.
Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score
This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.
The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.
The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.
De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.
The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.
2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland
On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.
The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.
However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.
At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?
Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.
But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.
Photo by naoki fukuda