Star inactivity sapping the life out of boxing

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

In his first year as a professional boxer, Manny Pacquiao fought 10 times. In Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s second year as a pro, he also fought 10 times.

By the end of 1997, Pacquiao's third year, he had already fought 23 times, or 38.9 percent of his total. By the end of 1998, Mayweather, in his third year, had fought 19 times, or 45.2 percent of his career total.

That is a sad reminder of what might be in boxing. The top stars simply don't fight enough anymore. Mayweather, who is No. 1 in the new Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings, has fought 10 fights combined since 2005. Pacquiao, who is No. 2 in the poll, has fought only nine times since 2008. And Sergio Martinez, Yahoo! Sports' third-ranked fighter, also has only had nine fights since 2008.

The reason they're so inactive, of course, is money. The fighters command massive purses now and promoters can't afford to pay them the kind of money they demand in order to fight more than once or twice a year. Mayweather hasn't fought as much as twice in a year since 2007 and neither Pacquiao nor Martinez has fought as many as three times in the same calendar year since 2008.

The great Sugar Ray Robinson fought 10 times or more in a year eight times. He had a high of 20 fights in 1941, but even as his career waned, he fought 10 times in 1964 and 14 times in 1965.

How much better off would the sport be if either Mayweather or Pacquiao fought 10 times in 2012? If the fighters would agree to take less – a few million per fight for a handful of less-than-major bouts per year against slightly lesser opponents – the interest and excitement in the sport would rise dramatically.

The biggest stars attract the most attention. The extraordinary attention paid to talks over the last two-plus years about a potential superfight between Mayweather and Pacquiao is proof of that. It seems as if there have been as many words written since late 2009 on a fight that hasn't happened and that may never happen than there has been on the bouts that have occurred.

Find a way to get the top 10 or 15 guys to fight four to six times annually instead of one to three times and you'll be credited as the person who revived the sport.

There is nothing wrong with boxing that a little activity from its biggest stars can't fix.

With that, let's go to the newest Top 10, in which none of the fighters had a bout since the last rankings came out. Four more votes were received this month than last, 38-34, so there was one minor change in the ranking.

With that, let's get to the new Yahoo! Sports boxing Top 10:

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Mayweather

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 361 (22 of 38 first-place votes)
Record: 42-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBC welterweight champion
Last outing: KO4 over Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: May 5 against TBA
Analysis: Begins serving 90-day prison sentence on June 1

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Pacquiao

2. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 353 (16 of 38 first-place votes)
Record: 54-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over No. 4 Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Likely June 9 against TBA
Analysis: Reputation took a hit with performance against Marquez

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Martinez

3. Sergio Martinez
Points: 280
Record: 48-2-2 (27 KOs)
Title: Ring, WBC middleweight champion emeritus
Last outing: KO11 Darren Barker on Oct. 1
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: Vs. Matthew Macklin on March 17
Analysis: Is on Mayweather's radar for potential bout later this year

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J.M. Marquez

4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Points: 242
Record: 53-6-1 (39 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: L12 to No. 2 Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: T4
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Still could land a match with Pacquiao

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Donaire

5. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Points: 213
Record: 27-1 (18 KOs)
Title: WBC, WBO bantamweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Omar Narvaez on Oct. 22
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Feb. 4 in San Antonio against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
Analysis: Moving up to super bantamweight in next outing

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Ward

6. Andre Ward
Points: 207
Record: 25-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBC super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Carl Froch on Dec. 17
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Showed the full package in winning Super Six

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W. Klitschko

7. Wladimir Klitschko
Points: 129
Record: 56-3 (49 KOs)
Title: Ring, IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: W12 over David Haye on July 2
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: March 3 vs. Jean Marc Mormeck in Germany
Analysis: Kidney stone forced postponement of December bout

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Bradley

8. Timothy Bradley
Points: 79
Record: 28-0 (12 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion, WBC super lightweight champion in recess
Last outing: TKO8 over Joel Casamayor on Nov. 12
Previous ranking:9
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: In running for Pacquiao match

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Bute

9. Lucian Bute
Points: 57
Record: 30-0 (24 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Glen Johnson on Nov. 5
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: Likely on April 14, vs. TBA
Analysis: Top body puncher would make good scrap with Carl Froch

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V. Klitschko

10. Vitali Klitschko
Points: 50
Record: 43-2 (40 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Tomasz Adamek on Sept. 10
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: Feb. 18 vs. Dereck Chisora in Germany
Analysis: Not as fluid as younger brother, but has been more dominant and a better finisher

Others receiving votes: Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 33; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 31; Miguel Cotto, 30; Bernard Hopkins, 21; Chris John, 5; Anselmo Moreno, 3; Adrian Broner, 1;Toshiaki Nishioka, 1; Lamont Peterson, 1; Guillermo Rigondeaux, 1.

Voting panel:Raul Alzaga, Primera Hoya; Al Bernstein, Showtime; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Scott Christ, Bad Left Hook.com; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100; Mike Coppinger, RingTV.com; Gareth A. Davies, London Telegraph; Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Carlos Gonzalez, Primera Hora; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out; Rafael Hernandez Brito, Univision; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; 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; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com; Mike Rosenthal, Ring Magazine; Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com; Tim Smith, New York Daily News; Tim Starks, The Queensbury Rules; T.K. Stewart, BoxingScene.com; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City.

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