Rankings: Mayweather takes over top spot

There have been passionate debates in sports about which athlete is better than another ever since records were first kept.

In the 1940s, the debate of the day was between outfielders Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. The answer, of course, depended in large part upon where you lived and which team was your favorite.

A New Yorker who worshipped the Yankees went with the graceful, all-around ability of DiMaggio. A Bostonian who lived and died with the Red Sox preferred the man known as the greatest hitter ever.

In the 1960s, it became a debate between the powerful golf game of Jack Nicklaus and the swashbuckling, go-for-broke style of Arnold Palmer. In the 1970s, it was the cool precision of Bjorn Borg against the passion of Jimmy Connors.

Now, it's a debate between the offensive majesty of Manny Pacquiao against the defensive wizardry of Floyd Mayweather Jr. The 44 active voters in the Yahoo! Sports boxing pound-for-pound poll had their say, and 29 of them voted Mayweather first.

As a result, Mayweather takes over the top spot in our November ratings by a razor-thin margin. Mayweather received 29 first-place votes, nine second-place votes and six third-place votes. Pacquiao received 15 first-place votes, 26 second-place votes, two third-place votes and one fourth. The remaining second-place votes went to Sergio Martinez (seven) and Juan Manuel Marquez (one).

Voters are asked to select the 10 best fighters in the world, regardless of weight. Assuming each fighter weighed the same, who would win if they kept their same physical dimensions and skills.

Since Pacquiao moved full-time to welterweight, it has made a comparison somewhat easier, because there was no longer a need to project. It was only a fantasy matchup a few years ago, when Pacquiao was a featherweight and Mayweather a welterweight.

There is no question, though, that Pacquiao is a legitimate welterweight. And that allows more direct comparisons between them.

I voted for Mayweather first and Pacquiao second, as I have done for several months. I have long believed that Mayweather is the best fighter in the world, having first designated him that way back in 2000, shortly before his epic 2001 match with the late Diego Corrales.

That there is even a little debate, in my mind, is a credit to Pacquiao and how dramatically he has improved.

However, Pacquiao's disputed win over Marquez pointed out he still has several significant flaws. He struggles against counterpunchers and he doesn't do well backing up. He also often forgets to jab his way in.

Hopefully, they'll fight soon and debates like this one will be rendered moot. Given the personalities involved, though, it's more likely the unemployment rate drops a few percentage points.

So, debate it with your friends and make your best case. Until they meet in the ring, it's the only way we'll be able to compare them.

Before we get to the results of the November voting, I'd like to thank Bryan Graham of Sports Illustrated for joining the panel.

And without any further adieu, here's the latest Top 10:

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Mayweather

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 419 (29 of 44 first-place votes)
Record: 42-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBC welterweight champion
Last outing: KO4 over Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17
Previous ranking: 2
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Will the Pacquiao fight ever be made?

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Pacquiao

2. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 407 (15 of 44 first-place votes)
Record: 54-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over No. T4 Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Reputation took a hit with performance against Marquez

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Martinez

3. Sergio Martinez
Points: 336
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: Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Has an outside shot at a May bout against Mayweather

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J.M. Marquez

4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Points: 265
Record: 53-6-1 (39 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: L12 to No. 2 Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis:If he doesn't retire, has a big-money fight awaiting him

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Donaire

5. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Points: 262
Record: 27-1 (18 KOs)
Title: WBC, WBO bantamweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Omar Narvaez on Oct. 22
Previous ranking: 4
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Inability to finish Narvaez dropped him in some voters' minds.

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W. Klitschko

6. Wladimir Klitschko
Points: 169
Record: 56-3 (49 KOs)
Title: Ring, IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: W12 over David Haye on July 2
Previous ranking: 7
Up next:Dec. 10 vs. Jean Marc Mormeck in Germany
Analysis: Punches like a heavyweight, as agile as a middleweight

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Ward

7. Andre Ward
Points: 167
Record: 24-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Arthur Abraham on May 14
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Dec. 17 vs. Carl Froch for Super Six championship
Analysis: Ward now recovered from cut that postponed Froch fight

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Bradley

8. Timothy Bradley
Points: 91
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:Definitely in running for Pacquiao match

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Bute

9. Lucian Bute
Points: 69
Record: 30-0 (24 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Glen Johnson on Nov. 5
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Good move would be to face Super Six winner in early 2012

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V. Klitschko

10. Vitali Klitschko
Points: 54
Record: 43-2 (40 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Tomasz Adamek on Sept. 10
Previous ranking: 10
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis:Not as fluid as younger brother, but has been more dominant and a better finisher

Others receiving votes: Bernard Hopkins, 41; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 38; Amir Khan, 34; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 31; Carl Froch, 16; Miguel Cotto, 8; Chris John, 5; Giovani Segura, 3; Marco Huck, 2.

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; Tris Dixon, Boxing News; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Corey Erdman, Sirius/XM; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Doug Fischer, RingTV.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Carlos Gonzalez, Primera Hora; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Bryan Graham, Sports Illustrated; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated; 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; Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com; Tim Smith, New York Daily News; Tim Starks, The Queensbury Rules; Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer/Wall Street Journal; T.K. Stewart, BoxingScene.com; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City; George Willis, New York Post.

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