Rankings: Youth over experience

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Four of the top 10 fighters in the April Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings are under 30 years old and have a combined record of 96-1 with 57 knockouts.

Andre Ward (23-0), ranked seventh and Timothy Bradley (27-0), a spot behind him at eighth, are each 27. Nonito Donaire (26-1), who is fourth, is 28 and Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0), who enters the rankings at 10th, replacing Juan Manuel Lopez, is 29.

There are several other fighters of note who are under 30, such as Paul Williams (29), Giovani Segura (29), Lopez (27), Andre Berto (27), Abner Mares (25), Anselmo Moreno (25), Victor Ortiz (24), Amir Khan (24), Mikey Garcia (23) and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (20).

The sheer numbers of them are a signal that, despite the frequent cries of the uninitiated, the sport is healthy and faces a bright future.

Ward, Bradley, Donaire and Gamboa are likely to be in or around the Top 10 for several years, and clearly, the group of the other 10 fighters figures to be in the hunt for Top 10 pound-for-pound spots for at least the next five years, if not more.

Bradley is the youngest member of the Top 10, about six months younger than Ward. But Ortiz, a man who received just one vote out of the 32 cast from boxing writers and broadcasters around the world, may soon take that spot.

Ortiz took a lot of abuse prior to his fight on Saturday with Berto, in which Ortiz won the World Boxing Council welterweight title with a unanimous decision in a hellacious back-and-forth battle. Ortiz was derided as soft and as a quitter, but Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, who has been predicting greatness for Ortiz for years, said the criticism hurt because it hit close to home.

"You can't blame people for what they were saying about him, because they saw his actions up there in that ring and he gave them reason to question him," De La Hoya said. "He has the power and the speed and the ability to box. The only thing missing was the determination.

"With young guys, you just never know when all of a sudden it's going to come together. Sometimes, it doesn't. But sometimes, like on Saturday with Ortiz, all of a sudden they figure it out and then they gain confidence and go on a roll. It's like in golf. Once a guy gets that first win, he is tough to beat and racks up a few more."

De La Hoya said he rates Manny Pacquiao the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, because Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not active. If Mayweather were active, De La Hoya said, he'd have Mayweather first. He said Donaire and Sergio Martinez also belong in consideration for the top spot.

But he said not to be surprised if Ortiz is in the running for that spot in the not-too-distant future.

"Victor was tired of people talking about him and calling him a quitter," De La Hoya said. "He got fed up with it and decided to do something about it. That's what you want to see in a fighter. Now that he has done that and proven to himself, you're going to see the natural talent come out and he's going to get better and better. When I talked to him after the fight, the first thing he said to me was that he made a lot of mistakes. That's important because he knows now what he needs to do.

"It's exciting to me because boxing has so many young guys who can fight and we can put them together and make all of these great fights. As boxing fans, it's good for us because we know there are a lot of super fights ahead of us."

And with that, let's take a look at the updated rankings. As a point of information, Mayweather will not be eligible for next month's poll because he will have been inactive for more than 12 consecutive months.

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Pacquiao

1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 320 (32 of 32 first-place votes)
Record: 52-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: May 7 vs. Shane Mosley in Las Vegas
Analysis: Pacquiao at the peak of his career

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Martinez

2. Sergio Martinez
Points: 261
Record: 47-2-2 (26 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion emeritus
Last outing: TKO8 Sergiy Dzinziruk on March 12
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Why he has trouble getting TV dates is a great mystery

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Mayweather

3. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 243
Record: 41-0 (25 KOs)
Title: None
Last outing: W12 over No. 10 Shane Mosley on May 1
Previous ranking: 3
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Completing his 12th consecutive month of inactivity

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Donaire

4. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Points: 190
Record: 26-1 (18 KOs)
Title: WBC, WBO bantamweight champion
Last outing: TKO2 over Fernando Montiel on Feb. 19
Previous ranking: 4
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis: An arbiter will decide which promoter he is bound to

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J.M. Marquez

5. Juan Manuel Marquez
Points: 176
Record: 52-5-1 (38 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: TKO9 over Michael Katsidis on Nov. 27
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Talking about fight with IBF 140-pound champion Zab Judah

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W. Klitschko

6. Wladimir Klitschko
Points: 120
Record: 55-3 (49 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Samuel Peter on Sept. 11
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: June or July vs. WBA champion David Haye
Analysis: Took 50-50 split to get Haye fight made

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Ward

7. Andre Ward
Points: 119
Record: 23-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Sakio Bika on Nov. 27
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: May 14 vs. Arthur Abraham in Carson, Calif.
Analysis: Now the clear favorite to win the Super Six

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Bradley

8. Timothy Bradley
Points: 116
Record: 27-0 (11 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: TD10 over Devon Alexander in Pontiac, Mich., on Jan. 29
Previous ranking:6
Up next:Likely on July 23 vs. Amir Khan
Analysis:Fight with Khan will determine supremacy at 140

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Bute

9. Lucian Bute
Points: 56
Record: 28-0 (23 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 Brian Magee on March 19
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: Tuneup fight in summer in Romania
Analysis:A showdown with Super Six winner awaits if he keeps winning

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Gamboa

10. Yuriorkis Gamboa
Points: 30
Record: 20-0 (16 KOs)
Title: IBF/WBA featherweight champion
Last outing: TKO4 Jorge Solis on March 26
Previous ranking: NR
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Lost big money payday when Juan Manuel Lopez was stopped

Others receiving votes: Vitali Klitschko, 29; Bernard Hopkins, 22; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 16; Miguel Cotto, 13; Paul Williams, 11; Chris John, 6; Amir Khan, 6; Victor Ortiz, 6; Juan Manuel Lopez, 5; Tomasz Adamek, 3; Giovani Segura, 3; Carl Froch, 2; Marco Huck, 2; Steve Cunningham, 1.

Voting panel:Raul Alzaga, Primera Hora; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Mike Coppinger, freelance; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; 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; Rafael Hernandez Brito, freelance; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Peter O. Nelson, freelance; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; 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.