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Rankings: Eye of the beholder

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

After tabulating the ballots of the 38 analysts who participated in the voting for the Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings in September, I compared the Yahoo! Sports rankings to those done by The Ring magazine and ESPN.com.

The polls of each are compiled differently but produce remarkably similar results. Yahoo! Sports' September poll has seven fighters in its top 10 in common with Ring and has two in the same position.

The ESPN poll and the Yahoo! Sports poll are even more similar. The top five men in each poll are the same and ultimately include eight fighters in common, including seven in the same position. Ring and ESPN have seven fighters in common and two positions the same.

The Yahoo! Sports poll is done by a vote of 43 boxing writers from around the world. Voters are free to choose who they want, with the only restrictions being that a fighter who has not competed for more than 12 months is ineligible, as are fighters under suspension by any major regulatory body. In the September poll, 38 of the 43 members of the panel cast ballots.

Ring's rankings are determined by its four-man editorial board of Nigel Collins, Joe Santoliquito, William Detloff and Eric Raskin. It takes input from a large advisory panel, but that panel does not have equal say with the editorial board. ESPN's poll is determined solely by the opinion of its boxing writer, Dan Rafael.

The challenge in picking a pound-for-pound list is what criteria one uses. I have always viewed the poll as a manner of deciding who would win if all fighters weighed the same and they fought each other.

Others, though, have much different criteria. RingTV.com's Michael Rosenthal, who is a member of the Yahoo! Sports voting panel and is on the Ring Magazine advisory panel, strongly considers achievements and not potential when determining his top 10.

"The criteria I use in my pound-for-pound rankings include not just ability but also accomplishments," Rosenthal said. "For example, I believe Floyd Mayweather Jr. would beat Manny Pacquiao if they fought, but I rate Pacquiao higher in my pound-for-pound rankings because Pacquiao has proven himself against the best-possible opponents over and over again. Mayweather might be the most-gifted fighter but hasn't done enough to demonstrate it.

"Also, if it's difficult to decide between two fighters, their ability to entertain the fans becomes a factor. In other words, fighters who take risks score points with me. This is another area in which Pacquiao excels."

Yahoo! Sports, Ring and ESPN.com each have Manny Pacquiao first and Floyd Mayweather Jr. second in the current pound-for-pound rankings. Yahoo! and ESPN also agree on Nos. 3 through 5, tabbing Paul Williams, Juan Manuel Marquez and Sergio Martinez.

Ring rates Shane Mosley, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Fernando Montiel in its top 10, three fighters who don't make the Yahoo! Sports top 10. ESPN ranks Miguel Cotto and Bernard Hopkins in its top 10, and neither man makes the Yahoo! Sports poll.

The complete September Yahoo! Sports poll follows below:

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Pacquiao

1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 370 (28 of 38 first-place votes)
Record: 51-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Joshua Clottey on March 13
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Nov. 13 against Antonio Margarito
Analysis: Willingness to fight anyone scores points with voters.

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Mayweather

2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 350 (10 of 38 first-place votes)
Record: 41-0 (25 KOs)
Title: None
Last outing: W12 over No. 10 Shane Mosley on May 1
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Legal woes place cloud upon his boxing future.

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Williams

3. Paul Williams
Points: 260
Record: 39-1 (27 KOs)
Title: None
Last outing: TD4 over Kermit Cintron on May 8
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: Nov. 20 in Atlantic City vs. No. 5 Sergio Martinez
Analysis: Large wingspan and volume punching make him a difficult matchup.

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J.M. Marquez

4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Points: 233
Record: 51-5-1 (37 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Juan Diaz on July 31
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Nov. 27 in Las Vegas vs. Michael Katsidis
Analysis: Still one of the game's most complete fighters.

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Martinez

5. Sergio Martinez
Points: 171
Record: 45-2-2 (24 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Kelly Pavlik on April 17
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Nov. 20 in Atlantic City vs. No. 3 Paul Williams
Analysis: Superior conditioning allows him to fight at quick pace.

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W. Klitschko

6. Wladimir Klitschko
Points: 137
Record: 55-3 (49 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Samuel Peter on Sept. 11
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Most technically sound big man in the sport.

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Bradley

7. Timothy Bradley
Points: 112
Record: 26-0 (11 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Luis Carlos Abregu on July 17
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: Likely Jan. 29 vs. Devon Alexander
Analysis: A bout with Alexander would be a career-defining match for both men.

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Ward

8. Andre Ward
Points: 92
Record: 22-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Allan Green on June 19
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: Supposed to be Andre Dirrell
Analysis: Now the clear favorite to win the Super Six.

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Lopez

9. Juan Manuel Lopez
Points: 80
Record: 29-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBO featherweight champion
Last outing: TKO2 over Bernabe Concepcion on July 10
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: Rafael Marquez on Nov. 6 in Las Vegas
Analysis: One of the most explosive punchers in the game.

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Donaire

10. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Points: 56
Record: 24-1 (16 KOs)
Title: Interim WBA super flyweight champion
Last outing: TKO8 over Hernan Marquez on July 10
Previous ranking: NR
Up next: Likely vs. Volodymyr Sydorenko
Analysis: Dynamic puncher developing all-around game.

Others receiving votes: Lucian Bute, 33; Vitali Klitschko, 32; Fernando Montiel, 26; Bernard Hopkins, 23; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 18; Miguel Cotto, 13; Jean Pascal, 13; Shane Mosley, 12; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 12; Celestino Caballero, 9; Chad Dawson, 8; Marco Huck, 8; Israel Vazquez, 7; Ivan Calderon, 3; Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, 3; Tomasz Adamek, 2; Devon Alexander, 2; Vic Darchinyan, 2; Chris John, 2; Anselmo Moreno, 1.

Voting panel: Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100, Las Vegas; Gareth A. Davies, London Telegraph; Tris Dixon, Boxing News; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Doug Fischer, Ring; Scott Fyfe, Sunday Post, Scotland; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Carlos Gonzalez, Primera Hora; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, BoxingScene.com; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out; Keith Idec, Herald News, New Jersey; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated; 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; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Peter Owen Nelson, freelance; Brett Okamoto, Las Vegas Sun; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Cliff Rold, Boxingscene.com; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Rosenthal, Ring; Lem Satterfield, Fanhouse.com; Tim Smith, New York Daily News; Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer & Wall Street Journal; T.K. Stewart, Boxingscene.com; Paul Upham, Seconds Out; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City; John Whisler, San Antonio Express-News.

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