November 27, 2009
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Yahoo! Sports' decade in review takes to the ring for a series of boxing-related top-fives.
Next up is fighters of the decade – and if you even think about arguing that the decade doesn't really end until next year then we're going to send Pacman 'round to have some harsh words. Watch out.
5. Juan Manuel Marquez
Marquez has put together a spectacular decade, racking up 20 victories while operating mainly at the elite world level.
His only defeats have come against Chris John in Indonesia, Manny Pacquiao and a much bigger Floyd Mayweather, with the Pacquiao defeat subject to a contentious points decision.
He also fought to a draw with Pacquiao in their classic 2004 encounter and has been a regular presence near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings.
4. Bernard Hopkins
It is amazing to consider that 10 years ago Hopkins was already considered to be in the twilight of his career.
Years of successfully defending his IBF middleweight title had not garnered him widespread recognition – but that all changed in September 2001 when he cut down Felix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden to become the undisputed champion.
His middleweight reign, which included a spectacular body-shot knockout of Oscar De La Hoya, was brought to an end by two defeats to Jermain Taylor, but even into his 40s Hopkins was far from finished, punishing then-rising star Kelly Pavlik with a superb display in 2008.
3. Joe Calzaghe
Calzaghe came into the 2000s already a champion as holder of the WBO super middleweight title, and he continued his dominance before retiring undefeated at the end of 2008.
His last three fights were the ones that defined his career – a unification bout with Mikkel Kessler, and trips to America to beat Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr.
Calzaghe's conditioning and work ethic were second to none, although he was criticized in some quarters for not testing himself in the States earlier in his career.
2. Manny Pacquiao
Just a few months before the turn of the decade, Pacquiao was fighting at 112 lbs and the boxing world could not imagine the future impact he would have on the sport.
He has risen through the divisions to win officially sanctioned belts in five divisions while being considered champion in seven, and elevated himself to the level of genuine superstar by trouncing Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.
Pacquiao drew with Agapito Sanchez in 2001, with Marquez in 2004 and lost a tight decision to Erik Morales in 2005. Apart from those setbacks, he has put together a perfect decade. No man has had a greater impact on boxing in the past two years.
1. Floyd Mayweather
No fighter has owned the 2000s like the Pretty Boy, whose sublime boxing skills have protected his perfect record and established him as the sport's leading star.
That status has come under threat thanks to the emergence of Pacquiao, and a 2010 bout between those two could be one for the ages.
Mayweather announced his retirement after beating Ricky Hatton in December 2007, but that was short-lived and he is back to cement his legacy.
Criticism that he has failed to fight the best out there persists, yet no one can question Mayweather's ability, with exceptional defense and phenomenal hand speed.