LAS VEGAS – The days before a big fight are always a good time to discuss past big fights, so before I delve into a very busy reader mailbag, I thought I'd share what I see as the top 10 performances by a boxer since 2000.
Keep in mind that these aren't necessarily my picks for the best fights, but rather for boxers who performed the best in big fights.
After this, I'll answer your questions about Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Ricky Hatton fight at the MGM Grand Garden, as well as various boxing topics.
10. Miguel Cotto TKO6 Kelson Pinto, Sept. 11, 2004: Cotto was so precise and so devastatingly accurate he nearly ended the previously unbeaten Pinto's career.
9. Shane Mosley W12 Oscar De La Hoya, June 17, 2000: Mosley established himself as one of the game's elite with a strong second-half performance in this highly hyped bout.
8. Marco Antonio Barrera W12 Naseem Hamed, April 7, 2001: Barrera destroyed the myth of Hamed with this boxing lesson.
7. Antonio Tarver KO2 Roy Jones Jr., May 15, 2004: Tarver not only knocked Jones cold, but he essentially ended Jones' reputation as a big-time fighter.
6. Manny Pacquiao TKO11 Marco Antonio Barrera, Nov. 15, 2003: Pacquiao boxed smart en route to pulling a significant upset.
5. Kelly Pavlik TKO7 Jermain Taylor, Sept. 29, 2007: Pavlik was knocked down and nearly out in the second, but he retained his composure and went on to an impressive TKO win.
4. Winky Wright W12 Felix Trinidad, May 14, 2005: Wright won nearly every second of every round.
3. Ricky Hatton TKO11 Kostya Tszyu, June 4, 2005: Tszyu was a massive favorite, but was no match for Hatton's pressure offense.
2. Bernard Hopkins TKO12 Felix Trinidad, Sept. 29, 2001: It's almost hard to believe now that Trinidad was a solid favorite going into the fight.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. TKO10 Diego Corrales, Jan. 20, 2001: The signature victory of Mayweather's marvelous career.
With that, it's on to the mailbag. Remember, my answers are in italics after the questions.
As I read your column about the Mayweather-Hatton fight, I smiled. You idolize so much Mayweather that sometimes you forget a columnist should not be biased or favoring so much one athlete like your God. Mayweather is not the best athlete. He is the best runner and is not actually a fighter.
Yep, and Jim Brown isn't the greatest football player, Bobby Orr wasn't the greatest defenseman and Rocky Road isn't the greatest Baskin Robbins flavor.
SHUT UP, ROGER
I'm sick of Mayweather's camp talking down about a boxer who not only has a better record than Pretty Boy, but also someone who has a lot more class than he does. I think Hatton will win this fight and after he does, Roger Mayweather should have to go three rounds with him just to get that big mouth shut.
Hatton and Roger might be a tighter fight, I'd say.
Do you see anyone at 140 to 147 really beating Mayweather? The young man really has great skills. Just like the person who taught the man the game says. Everything the other fighters have, Floyd has squared. Floyd is the king of boxing game right now no question. Ricky Hatton will leave the ring with a hamburger face.
I don't see anyone beating him at 140 or 147 and I think you ought to stay out of Kingsport, Tenn., or you may find yourself going toe-to-toe with an angry Hatton fan.
As good as the fight between Mayweather and Hatton might be, I think a Floyd-Cotto fight might be better.
I completely agree.
ROOTING FOR RICKY
I'll buy the PPV in hopes of seeing Hatton win, preferably by KO. I don't think Hatton is the most competitive opponent Mayweather could have faced (i.e. Mosley, Cotto, etc). Instead, he picked an opponent who had trouble at 147 and had to move back down to 140 to stay unbeaten. It was probably more of a safety move for Mayweather than a true determination of the best pound-for-pound.
San Clemente, Calif.
It was primarily a business decision. At this stage, he'd make more money fighting Hatton than anyone other than Oscar De La Hoya.
I have some issues with the fact that you and every other writer keep referring to Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the best fighter in the world. I looked back at his fights during the last seven years, and of those 14 fights, less than half were against opponents that were very good fighters.
Well, of those "not so good" last 14 opponents, consider that 12 of the 14 were either current or former world champions when he fought them, or would go on later to become champions. That's not bad by my reckoning.
NOT REALLY GREAT
Mayweather has all the skills in the world, except compassion for his father or other fighters. I think that he overestimates his abilities when comparing himself to the great ones from the past. Hell, he is not on par with Hank Armstrong! He has not been in there with a true great fighter in a while. But I have a strange feeling Hatton will be way better that he thinks. Who do you think the winner of this fight, fights?
He's not on par with Henry Armstrong, but there's only one fighter in history who has been and that's Sugar Ray Robinson. My guess is that Mayweather lands somewhere from 80 to 100 all-time when he's done. As for his next opponent, I'll go out on a limb and say De La Hoya.
I would rather buy 10 Cotto fights rather than one MayRunner fight.
I wish more fans understood the power they have as consumers. If you don't like what you see on HBO, Showtime or pay-per-view, either don't buy the fights or cancel the subscription.
RATHER SEE OSCAR
Do you really believe Mayweather was the reason for the sellout in the De La Hoya fight? You are not giving any credit to Oscar. I bought the fight to see Oscar fight. And I would pay to see Oscar fight again before I would pay to see Mayweather.
Obviously, Alfred, De La Hoya drove that promotion. But his three fights combined prior to fighting Mayweather (Ricardo Mayorga, Bernard Hopkins and Felix Sturm) did combined on PPV what the Mayweather fight did. Thank about that.
IRON BOY FAN
What is your take on Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon? I noticed he is not in the Yahoo! Sports Top 10, but I am glad to see he is being considered since he has some points. I am guessing it is because of his weight class he doesn't get much attention.
Toa Baja, P.R.
I think the Iron Boy is terrific and he belongs in the top 20. But I don't think he's a top 10 fighter. He has no power and you have to be a more complete fighter in my mind to make the top 10.
If Chad Dawson drops to 168 pounds, which I've heard is a possibility since no one will fight him at light heavyweight, do you believe he would have any interest in Joe Calzaghe? Or, better yet, would Joe want any part of him? Also, if Roy Jones Jr. wins the fight against Felix Trinidad on Jan. 19, what would likely be next for him? He is, in my opinion the best of our generation, not Floyd Mayweather.
Dawson is going to fight Glen Johnson with an eye toward a match against the winner of a bout between Antonio Tarver and Jeff Lacy set for the second half of 2008. Calzaghe is planning to move to light heavyweight, but I'm not sure Dawson is a big enough name at this stage to interest Calzaghe. Jones was phenomenal in his prime, but a win over Trinidad at this point would be meaningless. The guy won't have fought in nearly two years, lost every round in his last fight and is moving up to the highest weight of his career.
PACMAN OR MARQUEZ?
Who is your early pick for Pacquiao-Marquez II? My pick is Pacquiao by a close decision. I scored the first fight for Pacquiao by about a point. While I have a ton of respect for Marquez's abilities, Pacquiao seems to have done nothing but improve since their first fight with his right hand and boxing abilities. Marquez also seems to be fighting more of a brawling style at times now and that will definitely benefit Pacquiao.
I like Marquez in the rematch. I disagree that he's been brawling more; in fact, I believe quite the opposite to be true. I thought Marquez controlled the first fight after he got his bearings after the disastrous opening round and I think he'll be able to do the same in the March 15, 2008, rematch. It'll be a tight fight, but I'll go with Marquez.
IS MAYORGA NEXT?
Now that Vernon Forrest has successfully defended his title on Saturday, who is next for him? Is there a chance he'll get to fight Ricardo Mayorga again?
Mayorga is certainly the most logical opponent for Forrest and promoter Gary Shaw is talking about the fight. Even though he fought a stiff on Saturday, stopping Michele Piccirillo, I thought Forrest looked good.
• Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.