The emergence of several quality young boxers has made the bottom half of the Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings as competitive as they have been since their 2007 inception.
The October Top 10 remained the same except for Juan Manuel Marquez changing places with Nonito Donaire.
The interesting battle, though, was for 10th, which Carl Froch has held since May. Froch, the IBF super middleweight champion, stopped Yusef Mack in the third round of a dominant performance on Nov. 17, doing his part to keep his ranking.
But lightweight Adrien Broner and super bantamweight Abner Mares are closing the gap fast. Each had extraordinarily impressive wins – Broner stopped Antonio DeMarco in the eighth to win the WBC lightweight title, while Mares decisioned Anselmo Moreno to retain his belt – and suddenly are worthy of serious consideration for the Top 10.
I've been voting for Froch in 10th, but changed my opinion in light of Mares' solid win over Moreno, a highly skilled and vastly underrated opponent. Froch lost his biggest fight, to No. 2 Andre Ward, in one-sided manner. Mares' won his going away, beating back a serious challenge.
Mares has also been on a great roll. In addition to Moreno, he's racked up quality wins over Joseph Agbeko (twice), Eric Morel and Vic Darchinyan.
Broner also made a statement with his win over DeMarco. He clearly is talented enough not only to make the Top 10, but to be one of its fixtures near the top. But the issue from Broner's standpoint is that DeMarco was the best opponent he's faced by far. He doesn't have the depth of quality opposition that either Froch or Mares have.
Though I went with Mares over Froch, the 28 who voted in the poll this month went for Froch by a solid margin. My own vote was, in order, for Floyd Mayweather Jr., Andre Ward, Manny Pacquiao, Sergio Martinez, Nonito Donaire, Juan Manuel Marquez, Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko, Timothy Bradley and Abner Mares.
With that, here are the latest Yahoo! Sports boxing top 10 rankings:
Points: 373 (22 of 28 first-place votes)
Record: 43-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBA super welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Miguel Cotto on May 5
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Still has yet to indicate plans for resumption of career
Points: 232 (1 of 28 first-place votes)
Record: 26-0 (14 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBC super middleweight champion
Last outing: TKO 10 Chad Dawson on Sept. 8
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Likely Jan. 26 vs. Kelly Pavlik
Analysis: Clearly the heir apparent to title of best boxer in the world
3. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 226 (5 of 28 first-place votes)
Record: 54-4-2 (38 KOs)
Last outing: L12 to No. 8 Timothy Bradley
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: Dec. 8 vs. No. 5 Juan Manuel Marquez
Analysis: Vows he will knock out Marquez, which he desperately needs
Record: 50-2-2 (28 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Sept. 15
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Likely against Martin Murray in 2013
Analysis: Still an amazing athlete at age 37
5. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 54-6-1 (39 KOs)
Last outing: W12 Sergey Fedchenko on April 14
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Dec. 8 vs. No. 3 Manny Pacquiao
Analysis: A convincing win over Pacquiao is his aim
Record: 30-1 (19 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO super bantamweight champion
Last outing: TKO9 over Toshiaki Nishioka on Oct. 13
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Dec. 15 vs. Jorge Arce
Analysis: One of sport's most complete fighters
Record: 59-3 (51 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Mariusz Wach on Nov. 10
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Looking unbeatable
Record: 29-0 (12 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over No. 3 Manny Pacquiao on June 9
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Strangely quiet
Record: 45-2 (41 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO 4 over Manuel Charr on Sept. 8
Previous ranking: 9
Analysis: Still dominant at age 41
Record: 30-2 (22 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: TKO5 Lucian Bute on May 26
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: TKO3 Yusef Mack on Nov. 17
Analysis: Continues to fight, and beat, highly ranked opponents
Others receiving votes: Miguel Cotto, 19; Abner Mares, 16; Adrian Broner, 12; Chris John, 4; Guillermo Rigondeaux, 3; Gennady Golovkin, 2; Roman Gonzalez, 2; Brian Viloria, 2.Voting panel: Raul Alzaga, Primera Hoya; Al Bernstein, Showtime; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Brian Campbell, ESPN.com; Scott Christ, Bad Left Hook.com; Steve Cofield, ESPN Radio 1100; Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com; Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com; T.K. Stewart, RingTV.com; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City.