One year ago, the top 10 pound-for-pound (P4P) fighters in the sport of boxing included Juan Manuel Lopez (No. 4) and Fernando Montiel (No. 10); however, both men have vanished completely as we start the new year. Lopez will try to avenge his April 2011 TKO loss to Orlando Salido in March, while Montiel will likely never recover P4P status after opening and closing 2011 with losses, including being spanked by No. 5 below last February.
The fighters below kick off 2012 as the best in the business according to the most credible (and free) websites that produce a P4P list. For those new to this column, each P4P list monitored is given equal weight in the average (there are currently 7 lists). The voters include sports writers and other boxing professionals, as well as the fans in some cases. According to them, therefore, here are your top 10 P4P fighters for January 2012:
- No. 10 – Bernard Hopkins. The best argument really is that Hopkins needs migrate to some all-time P4P list and be removed from this one. Miguel Cotto 2.0 comes immediately to mind. Hopkins has nothing scheduled from 2012 as of yet.
- No. 9 – Timothy Bradley. Okay, better than the argument above is to replace Timothy Bradley with Bernard Hopkins. Did the guy fight in 2011? If so, does anyone remember? There appears to be some slight buzz about him fighting number 4 below. If that happens, we’ll remember it.
- No. 8 – Some guy from Thailand. Scratch all prior arguments and bring back Hopkins and Bradley—get rid of this guy. The irony is that he will likely go into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, but the reality is that nobody in the English speaking world will ever care (not that it matters).
- No. 7 – Wladimir Klitschko. The guy slapped David Haye and owns three of the four recognized championship belts. Enough said. Next up is Jean Marc Mormeck in March.
- No. 6 – Andre Ward. Undefeated and dominated Carl Froch to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Ward isn’t a big puncher, which means he flies under the radar a bit, but he has mad talent and will not likely find a number in the loss column anytime soon.
- No. 5 – Nonito Donaire. One of the most exciting fighters in the sport today; however, he is simply not busy enough. At 29, he needs more fights, more exposure. That being said, Donaire will face Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. in February in an attempt to capture the vacant WBO super bantamweight title.
- No. 4 – Juan Manuel Marquez. Just when you think he’s done, the old man shows up again in brilliant form. Lethargic against number 2 below in 2009, Marquez went on a tear to earn the anticipated rubber match with number 1 below last November. Some fight observers believe that Marquez defeated him, again.
- No. 3 – Sergio Martinez. The problem with Martinez is everyone knows that he is one of the top fighters conducting business today, but who is he fighting? Darren Barker held his own against him in October and Martinez fights Matthew Macklin in March. Yeah, uhhh, can’t wait.
- No. 2 – Floyd Mayweather, Jr. There is so much debate out there as to whether Mayweather, Jr. is the number 1 P4P hombre today. While he has outclassed his last three opponents, the only argument that can be legitimately made against being number 1 is that he has only had one fight per year since 2009. There is too much talent between 154 and 140 to ignore all but the old guys and kids from Kansas. As a side note Mr. Money, most of us would pay to see a rematch with Victor Ortiz. Naturally, the foregoing is contingent upon him agreeing to a contract clause that forbids bromantic behavior and getting past Andre Berto next month.
- No. 1 – Manny Pacquiao. Not a great year for the great one. Yes, he destroyed Shane Mosley, but Buboy Fernandez would have as well. The Marquez fight though may well be some bad mojo coming back on Freddie Roach (maybe Oscar De La Hoya isn’t the only one who can no longer “pull the trigger,” eh?). The slightest of margins in P4P voting separate Pacquiao from Mayweather as the top fighter in the game. The time is right to make the fight already—get it done on May 5th.