If there was one magic formula that would cure whatever ails boxing, it would be for the best fighters in the world to compete regularly in meaningful bouts on network television. Do that and boxing will quickly be one of the so-called "Big 4" sports once again.
A close second, though, would be the presence of a thriving heavyweight division.
And while it's probably not fair to refer to the current state of the heavyweights as thriving, it's also probably not as bad as you might think. For the first time since the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound rankings began in 2007, there are two heavyweights in the Top 10 in the May rankings.
Wladimir Klitschko, the International Boxing Federation/World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion, checks in at No. 6. His older brother, Vitali, makes his debut in the by edging Bernard Hopkins for the 10th spot.
Also for the first time in the history of the poll, four active heavyweights received at least one vote. Neither Tomasz Adamek nor World Boxing Association champion David Haye were a threat to make the Top 10, but each earned mention.
In all, the 43 voters in the May poll tabbed 25 different boxers. Adamek, who fights Vitali Klitschko on Sept. 10 in Poland, got six points, while Haye, who meets Wladimir Klitschko on July 2 in Germany, received one point.
It's a modest accomplishment, but it's an accomplishment that shouldn't be ignored. If Haye and/or Adamek perform well in their bouts against the Klitschko brothers, the heavyweight division would suddenly become very interesting.
As good as Adamek is – he's a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion who is 44-1 with 28 knockouts – he's very unlikely to defeat Vitali Klitschko. Adamek couldn't stop Chris Arreola when they met last year, though he repeatedly clocked Arreola with clean, hard shots. And if he can't knock Klitschko out, the chances of him outboxing him and winning a decision are remote. Getting inside Klitschko's powerful jab would be a feat in and of itself.
Haye is a more interesting proposition, though. He's a puncher and will undoubtedly have the capacity to hurt Wladimir Klitschko when they meet. The key there will be for him to contend with Klitschko's range and his powerful 1-2 combinations. Haye, though, is very quick and athletic, along with his power, and it's not out of the question that he could win.
Whether Haye or Adamek wins, though, is beside the point. For the first time in a long time, there are heavyweight fights on the horizon worth talking about. And that's not bad.
Before we get to the newest top 10, please note that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been removed from the rankings for inactivity. The poll requires fighters to have competed at least once in a calendar year. Mayweather hasn't fought since a May 1, 2010, win over Shane Mosley, meaning he's no longer eligible for consideration until after he fights again.
And with that, here's the new Top 10 …
1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 430 (43 of 43 first-place votes)
Record: 53-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Shane Mosley on May 7
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Likely Nov. 12 vs. No. 4 Juan Manuel Marquez
Analysis: Perhaps also boxing's pound-for-pound hardest puncher
2. Sergio Martinez
Record: 47-2-2 (26 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion emeritus
Last outing: TKO8 Sergiy Dzinziruk on March 12
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Would love a shot at Pacquiao, however unlikely it may be
3. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Record: 26-1 (18 KOs)
Title: WBC, WBO bantamweight champion
Last outing: TKO2 over Fernando Montiel on Feb. 19
Previous ranking: 4
Analysis: Shooting photos at fights, but not boxing
4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 52-5-1 (38 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: TKO9 over Michael Katsidis on Nov. 27
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Likely Nov. 12 vs. No. 1 Manny Pacquiao
Analysis: Size is biggest question mark against Pacquiao
5. Andre Ward
Record: 24-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Arthur Abraham on May 14
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: TBA vs. Carl Froch-Glen Johnson winner
Analysis: 2004 Gold Medalist hasn't lost fight in 13 years
6. Wladimir Klitschko
Record: 55-3 (49 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Samuel Peter on Sept. 11
Previous ranking: 6
Up next:July 2 vs. WBA champion David Haye
Analysis: Only question surrounding him is his quality of his chin
7. Timothy Bradley
Record: 27-0 (11 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: TD10 over Devon Alexander in Pontiac, Mich., on Jan. 29
Analysis:Could be squeezed out of big fight mix for time being
8. Lucian Bute
Record: 28-0 (23 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 Brian Magee on March 19
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: July 9 vs. Jean Paul Mendy
Analysis:A showdown with Super Six winner awaits if he keeps winning
9. Yuriorkis Gamboa
Record: 20-0 (16 KOs)
Title: IBF/WBA featherweight champion
Last outing: TKO4 Jorge Solis on March 26
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: TBA
Analysis: The better his defense gets the more dangerous he becomes
10. Vitali Klitschko
Record: 42-2 (39 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: KO1 over Odlanier Solis on March 19
Previous ranking: NR
Up next:Sept. 10 vs. Tomasz Adamek
Analysis:With size and power, may be most difficult man in world to beat
Others receiving votes: Bernard Hopkins, 51; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 42; Miguel Cotto, 23; Amir Khan, 20; Paul Williams, 19; Chris John, 15; Giovani Segura, 13; Victor Ortiz, 8; Juan Manuel Lopez, 7; Tomasz Adamek, 6; Carl Froch, 5; Marco Huck, 3; Steve Cunningham, 2; David Haye, 1; Anselmo Moreno, 1.
Voting panel:Al Bernstein, Showtime; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100, Las Vegas; Mike Coppinger, freelance; Gareth A. Davies, London Telegraph; Tris Dixon, Boxing News; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Corey Erdman, Sirius/XM; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Doug Fischer, RingTV.com; Scott Fyfe, Sunday Post, Scotland; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Carlos Gonzalez, Primera Hora; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Katz, Gaming Today; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Peter O. Nelson, freelance; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com; Michael Rosenthal, RingTV.com; Lem Satterfield, BoxingScene.com; Tim Smith, New York Daily News; Tim Starks, The Queensbury Rules; Don Steinberg, Wall Street Journal/Philadelphia Inquirer; T.K. Stewart, BoxingScene.com; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City; George Willis, New York Post.
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- Wladimir Klitschko
- Tomasz Adamek
- Vitali Klitschko
- Manny Pacquiao
- David Haye