As boxing prepares to move into 2011 with a number of big fights already on the books, it's a good time to tell the movers and the shakers in the industry what we expect from them.
I'm not going to give out holiday gifts or make New Year's resolutions for any of them, but let these men know what it will take to keep and/or earn our trust and our business.
Floyd Mayweather – Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers of recent times. Recently, though, he's doing more of his fighting outside of the ring than in it. So, Floyd, we want a clarification: Are you a boxer any longer? If you plan to fight, say so and don't let the fans who have made you rich twist in the wind. Quit acting like a pompous jerk when it comes to your money. Yeah, we know you're rich. We get that. But guess what? A lot of people are hurting and it would be nice if you showed some sensitivity toward that. I know you do a lot of charity work, but flaunting your wealth does nothing but make you look small. And finally, stay out of trouble, please. The Las Vegas police have enough to do.
Richard Schaefer – The Golden Boy CEO is actually a good guy, but he's clearly not a good loser. When one of his fighters loses, Schaefer rants and raves like he's a 2-year-old. Tone it down, Richard. It's very unbecoming. More importantly, extend an olive branch to other promoters, including Top Rank. Make an honest effort to make the best fights. Don't always look for the edge. Remember, a healthier industry benefits you in the long run.
Ross Greenburg and Kery Davis – The two men who are primarily responsible for the fights you see on HBO need to do a better job, frankly. We don't need to see fights like Berto against Freddy Hernandez any more. I love the start to 2011: Timothy Bradley against Devon Alexander and Fernando Montiel against Nonito Donaire. That should be the rule, not the exception. Open your doors to all promoters with the proviso you're interested only in great fights. Period.
Manny Pacquiao – The pound-for-pound best fighter in the world has to develop a mind of his own. He's fighting Shane Mosley on May 7 in a match hand-picked by promoter Bob Arum. Had Pacquiao spoken up instead of quietly going along with whatever Arum wants, we might be getting a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez now.
Alfredo Angulo – Angulo is an entertaining fighter, but he's delusional. He turned down $750,000 earlier this year to fight middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. I'm all for boxers making as much as they can, given the risks they take, but Angulo and a number of other fighters like them (I'm thinking of you, Timothy Bradley and Andre Berto) seem to have lost sight of the value of a dollar. They scoff at purses like $750,000 like it's minimum wage when they barely sell any tickets. Promoter Gary Shaw had to buy tickets himself at a July card in Palm Springs in order to get 1,800 tickets sold when both Angulo and Bradley were on the card. If you can't sell tickets, you're not worth $1 million (or $750,000, for that matter). We need to get back to the day when boxers are required to sell tickets as part of their contracts.
Ken Hershman – The general manager of Showtime Sports has done many good things in creating four- and six-man tournaments. I want to see more of them. But frankly, the six-man tournament doesn't work. Showtime's four-man bantamweight tournament, in which there were two fights on one night with the winners facing each other is perfect. But take it up a notch: Give fighters who win by knockout a $100,000 bonus in the first round and a $250,000 bonus in the finals. Put a little of the prize back into prize fighting.
David Haye – Fight one of the Klitschko brothers. Period. Or we don't take you or your WBA heavyweight title belt at all seriously. OK? OK. Bye.
Al Haymon – Haymon is the adviser to many star boxers, including Mayweather. Yet, he's neither a promoter nor a manager, so he's not regulated by any athletic commissions. He's also notoriously media shy. He's made a lot of money off the sport and owes it to the fans who have put that money into his pocket to explain a few of his decisions. He doesn't have to be Lou DiBella, for instance, but it would be nice to hear from him and his thinking more than, well, never.
Antonio Tarver – You have much promise as an announcer; you have zero promise as a heavyweight. Give up this goofy notion you can become a factor at heavyweight and stick to a career in which you can quickly become a star: Broadcasting.
Shane Mosley – There has been outrage on the Internet since Mosley agreed to terms to face Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday. Mosley is going to be nearly 40 by the time the fight takes place and public sentiment is decidedly against him getting the fight. But don't take the criticism personally; rather, train and fight your best and shut everyone up. That's always the best response, to do your talking with your performance.
With that, let's present the Top 10 in the December ratings:
1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 329 (32 of 33 first-place votes)
Record: 52-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBC super welterweight champion & WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: May 7 vs. Shane Mosley in Las Vegas
Analysis:Fans up in arm over choice of Mosley as opponent
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 282 (1 of 33 first-place votes)
Record: 41-0 (25 KOs)
Last outing: W12 over No. 10 Shane Mosley on May 1
Previous ranking: 2
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Legal woes put fight career in jeopardy.
3. Sergio Martinez
Record: 46-2-2 (25 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion
Last outing: KO2 Paul Williams on Nov. 20
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: March 12 against TBA
Analysis: Never has an elite boxer had such trouble finding an opponent
4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 52-5-1 (35 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: TKO9 over Michael Katsidis on Nov. 27
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: April 16 in Las Vegas vs. TBA
Analysis: Deserved shot to fight Pacquiao
5. Wladimir Klitschko
Record: 55-3 (49 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Samuel Peter on Sept. 11
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Injury forced cancelation of fight with Dereck Chisora
6. Andre Ward
Record: 23-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Sakio Bika on Nov. 27
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: Vs. Arthur Abraham, date TBA
Analysis:Now the clear favorite to win the Super Six.
7. Juan Manuel Lopez
Record: 30-0 (27 KOs)
Title: WBO featherweight champion
Last outing: TKO8 Rafael Marquez on Nov. 6
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Powerful puncher, entertaining style
8. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Record: 25-1 (17 KOs)
Title: Interim WBA super flyweight champion
Last outing: TKO4 over Volodymyr Sydorenko on Dec. 4
Previous ranking: 9
Up next:Vs. No. 10 Fernando Montiel on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas
Analysis: Dynamic puncher developing all-around game.
9. Timothy Bradley
Record: 26-0 (11 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Luis Carlos Abregu on July 17
Previous ranking: 8
Up next:Jan. 29 vs. Devon Alexander in Pontiac, Mich.
Analysis:Win over Alexander would make him prime candidate for Pacquiao fight.
10. Fernando Montiel
Record: 44-2 (34 KOs)
Title: WBC-WBO bantamweight champion
Last outing: KO2 Jovanny Soto on Dec. 10
Previous ranking: NR
Up next: Vs. No. 8 Nonito Donaire Jr. on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas
Analysis:Showdown with Donaire will establish world's best bantamweight.
Others receiving votes: Lucian Bute, 41; Bernard Hopkins, 35; Vitali Klitschko, 33; Paul Williams, 30; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 24; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 15; Miguel Cotto, 7; Israel Vazquez, 6; Devon Alexander, 5; Chris John, 5; Tomasz Adamek, 3; Anselmo Moreno, 1; Shane Mosley, 1.
Voting panel:Raul Alzaga, Primera Hora; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio, Las Vegas; Gareth A. Davies, London Telegraph; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Scott Fyfe, Sunday Post, Scotland; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Lee Groves, BoxingScene.com; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out; Keith Idec, Herald News, New Jersey; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Katz, Gaming Today, Las Vegas; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press; Franklin McNeil, ESPN; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Peter Owen Nelson, freelance; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Cliff Rold, Boxingscene.com; Michael Rosenthal, RingTV.com; Lem Satterfield, Fanhouse.com; T.K. Stewart, Boxingscene.com; Paul Upham, Seconds Out; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City.
- Shane Mosley
- Floyd Mayweather
- Nonito Donaire
- Manny Pacquiao
- Fernando Montiel