Who is the Y! Sports fighter of the year?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Joe Calzaghe, Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik have combined for a 146-0 record and 111 knockouts.

Mayweather has won world titles at every division from super featherweight through super welterweight and has been considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world for the last several years.

Calzaghe has worn a super middleweight title for more than 10 years and is 22-0 in world title fights.

Cotto has been a champion at both 140 and 147 pounds and is ranked No. 4 in the Yahoo! Sports poll of the world's top boxers.

Pavlik won the middleweight title in September when he knocked out Jermain Taylor and has fought past the eighth round only once in his career.

Yet, none of the four have ever won the Fighter of the Year honor from the Boxing Writers Association of America.

But one of them will this year win that honor from Yahoo! Sports. Each has a significant claim to make, so let's take a look at each:

Floyd Mayweather: He went 2-0 in 2007, winning the WBC super welterweight title by split decision over Oscar De La Hoya on May 5 in the largest-grossing fight in boxing history. He followed that with a decisive 10th round stoppage of Ricky Hatton on Dec. 8 in a battle for the WBC welterweight title.

He's the best defensive fighter of any of the top contenders and he's underrated offensively. Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward said before Mayweather destroyed Hatton that Hatton would be in trouble if Mayweather fought aggressively.

Mayweather was aggressive, repeatedly hurt Hatton, and wound up stopping him after a vicious left hook.

Joe Calzaghe: The Welshman, whose father, Enzo, is the 2007 Yahoo! Sports Trainer of the Year, was 2-0 in the year as well. He stopped the overmatched Peter Manfredo Jr. in the third round on April 7 and then outpointed previously unbeaten Mikkel Kessler on Nov. 3 in a super middleweight unification.

Calzaghe, No. 3 in the Yahoo! Sports poll, may be the game's most complete fighter. He proved against Kessler that he was dangerous fighting backward as well as coming forward. He has a wide variety of punches, which he demonstrated against Kessler, and he's much better defensively than he's given credit for.

Kelly Pavlik: Pavlik went 3-0 and went from unproven would-be prospect to acclaimed middleweight champion. He began the year with an eighth-round knockout of Jose Luis Zertuche on Jan. 27 in a fight that many in his camp didn't want him to take. He followed that with a seventh-round stoppage of Edison Miranda on May 19 and capped the year by getting off the deck to stop Taylor for the title on Sept. 29. He's hands down the year's most exciting fighter.

Miguel Cotto: Cotto also went 3-0, stopping a game but outclassed Oktay Urkal in March. He had his biggest test in June, when he faced Zab Judah. He passed that test, taking several hard shots from Judah early but continued to move forward. He wound up stopping Judah in the 11th to retain the WBA welterweight title.

In November, he recorded the biggest win of his career by outpointing former world No. 1 Shane Mosley.

"It was my best year in boxing," Cotto said. "I faced the best names I've faced in my career. People wondered if I could stay in there with fighters like Zab Judah and Shane Mosley and I proved that I could."

The choice has to come down to either Pavlik or Cotto.

Calzaghe only had one tough fight and, while he was superb, one big win isn't enough when you're comparing fighters at this level.

Mayweather, too, suffers from the competition issue. Hatton was moving up in weight and few careful observers figured Hatton could win. Cotto, who was ringside for that bout, said, "To me, Hatton was overrated. Mayweather should have won that fight."

And in the De La Hoya fight, he wasn't his usual dominant self and won by a split decision in a bout many thought he deserved to lose.

Either Pavlik or Cotto would be a good choice, but when you line up the opponents, Cotto beat a far better class of opponent.

Mosley-Judah is a better 1-2 than Taylor-Miranda.

That's enough for me.

Miguel Cotto is the 2007 Yahoo! Sports Fighter of the Year.

See also: