In each of his last three bouts, Manny Pacquiao has taken on an opponent who was naturally bigger. The size Pacquiao gave away was, in each case, thought to be his biggest vulnerability.
But he moved up to lightweight and thrashed David Diaz in his bid for a lightweight title. He then jumped to welterweight and pummeled Oscar De La Hoya. And then he moved back down to super lightweight and completely destroyed the myth of Ricky Hatton.
As a result of those three dominant victories, Pacquiao is a unanimous No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound rankings.
His lead at the top, though, is hardly safe. Floyd Mayweather Jr., who was No. 1 before his ill-fated 2008 retirement, will be eligible to be ranked again after he fights No. 2 Juan Manuel Marquez on Sept. 19 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on an HBO Pay-Per-View show.
It will be difficult for many voters not to put Mayweather back on top if he scores a decisive victory over Marquez, something in two fights Pacquiao was unable to do.
It's unlikely that Paul Williams will get any votes for the top spot in the September poll, given he's not scheduled to fight between now and then.
That, though, may be a serious miscarriage of justice. Williams is scheduled to fight Kelly Pavlik for the middleweight title sometime later this year, but he insists he can still make the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.
Welterweight happens to be the class where both Pacquiao and Mayweather are competing. The pound-for-pound concept was created as a way to compare boxers of disparate weights.
But no such concept is needed when the fighters are in the same class. In that case, they can fight to prove who is better.
As great as Pacquiao has been in his recent fights, it's hard to imagine him having a remote chance to defeat Williams. Williams is seven inches taller and has a 15-inch longer reach.
It would almost seem like an unfair fight, even if both of them weighed the same. A Pacquiao-Williams fight will almost certainly never happen. Unfortunately, a Mayweather-Williams fight is just about as unlikely.
And as great as both Pacquiao and Mayweather are, both would have a very difficult time defeating Williams. It wouldn't be impossible – Carlos Quintana, who is nowhere near the Pacquiao-Mayweather level, did it – but it would be an enormous challenge for either.
He's No. 3 and he's never got a first-place vote, but it might be time to start reassessing that strategy.
I voted for Pacquiao in the top spot, as did every other voter. Even though I believe Williams would beat him if they ever fought as a welterweight, I voted because I don't believe Pacquiao is truly a welterweight.
For what it's worth, my votes were like this: Pacquiao first, followed by Williams, Juan Manuel Marquez, Cotto, Wladimir Klitschko, Chad Dawson, Bernard Hopkins, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Lopez and Chris John.
With that, let's take a look at how the top 10 came out in this month's voting:
1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 190 (19 of 19 first-place votes)
Record: 49-3-2 (37 KOs)
Title: Ring Magazine super lightweight champion
Last outing:: TKO2 over Ricky Hatton on May 2
Previous ranking:: 1
Up next: Vs. No. 6 Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14
Analysis: A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in 2010 could be the richest bout ever.
2. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 50-4-1 (37 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO, Ring lightweight champion
Last outing:: TKO9 over Juan Diaz on Feb. 28
Previous ranking:: 2
Up next: Vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sept. 19
Analysis: Brilliant all-around fighter remains mired in shadows.
3. Paul Williams
Record: 37-1 (27 KOs)
Title: Interim WBO junior middleweight champion
Last outing:: W12 over Winky Wright on April 11
Previous ranking:: 3
Up next: Vs. Kelly Pavlik in Nov. or Dec.
Analysis: May be most gifted man in the game.
4. Bernard Hopkins
Record: 49-5-1 (32 KOs)
Title: Ring light heavyweight champion
Last outing:: W12 over Kelly Pavlik on Oct. 18
Previous ranking:: 4
Up next: TBA
Analysis: May meet Dawson-Johnson winner in Dec.
5. Shane Mosley
Record: 46-5 (39 KOs)
Title: WBA welterweight champion
Last outing:: TKO9 over Antonio Margarito on Jan. 24
Previous ranking:: 5
Up next: Potential unification fight with Andre Berto
Analysis: Can't land super fight against Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
6. Miguel Cotto
Record: 34-1 (27 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing:: W12 over Joshua Clottey on June 13
Previous ranking:: 6
Up next: Vs. No. 1 Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas
Analysis: Showed much moxie fighting for 10 rounds with deep gash above eye.
7. Chad Dawson
Record: 28-0 (17 KOs)
Title: IBF light heavyweight champion
Last outing:: W12 over Antonio Tarver on May 9
Previous ranking:: 8
Up next: Rematch with Glen Johnson
Analysis: Hopes to make statement with clear win over veteran Johnson.
8. Juan Manuel Lopez
Record: 26-0 (24 KOs)
Title: WBO super bantamweight champion
Last outing:: TKO9 Olivier Lontchi on June 27
Previous ranking:: 10
Up next: vs. Rogers Mtgawa in Sept.
Analysis: Fast climbing power-puncher.
9. Rafael Marquez
Record: 38-5 (34 KOs)
Last outing:: TKO3 over Jose Francisco Mendoza on May 23
Previous ranking:: 9
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Looking at a fourth fight with Israel Vazquez later this year
10. Ivan Calderon
Record: 32-0-1 (6 KOs)
Title: WBO light flyweight champion
Last outing:: TD7 with Rodel Mayol on June 13
Previous ranking:: 8
Up next: Rematch vs. Rodel Mayol on Sept. 12
Analysis: Is age catching up with superb boxer?
Others receiving votes: Wladimir Klitschko, 29. Nonito Donaire, 13. Arthur Abraham, 13. Timothy Bradley, 7. Fernando Montiel, 5. Kelly Pavlik, 4. Celestin Caballero, 3. Hozumi Hasegawa, 2. Chris John, 2. Vic Darchinyan, 1.
Voting panel: Raul Alzaga, Primera Hora; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100, Las Vegas; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Scott Fyfe, Sunday Post, Scotland; Lee Groves, MaxBoxing.com; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out.com; Keith Idec, Herald News, New Jersey; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Katz, Gaming Today; Scott Mallon, Asian Boxing News.com; Franklin McNeil, Newark Star Ledger; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Rosenthal, Ringtv.com; T.K. Stewart, Boxingscene.com.
- Manny Pacquiao
- Juan Manuel Marquez
- Paul Williams
- Kelly Pavlik
- Juan Manuel Lopez