As bad as things seem to get in boxing, it's easy to overlook the good thing that are occurring. But if you look at the quality of champions who stand atop the respective divisions these days, you'll notice that in nearly every division, particularly so in the marquee classes, there is a dominant, easily identifiable champion.
If you don't believe me, consider:
At heavyweight, the brothers Klitschko, Wladimir and Vitali, are so far ahead of the pack that they're clearly the best in their class. And since they've promised their mother they'll never fight each other, take your pick as the best and you have an easily recognizable, dominant champion.
At middleweight, despite his loss at light heavyweight to Bernard Hopkins and his battle with staph infection, Kelly Pavlik is clearly the man. He won his belt in the ring and there is no one who can reasonably be tabbed the top 160-pounder other than Pavlik. Paul Williams would have an argument, but he fights in many different classes and hasn't beaten a ranked middleweight yet.
At welterweight, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the man.
At super lightweight, it's Manny Pacquiao. At lightweight, it's clearly Juan Manuel Marquez.
Up and down the roster of the divisions, there are clear choices for the top man in the weight class.
The key is for in 2010 those men to fight the leading challengers, early and often. That's an easy way to continue the revival of the sport that began this year with so many compelling matches.
I'll get to your questions and comments in the mailbag soon, but before I do, I ask you to follow me on Twitter.
And with that, let's get to the mailbag:
DAWSON SHOULD REPLACE TAYLOR
I've read about Chad Dawson's team talking about coming down to 168 because there are more fights to be made there than at 175. I would like to see him replace Jermain Taylor in the Super Six. What do you think about that? I think he'd win it!
Dawson is an excellent fighter and would be a favorite to win Showtime's "Super Six" tournament, but he has a light heavyweight title fight set for Nov. 7 against Glen Johnson in Hartford, Conn. Thus, he is not available. I suppose Showtime could offer him a spot assuming he beats Johnson, but I would not count on it.
I read that everyone's been talking about what will happen if Manny Pacquiao wins his fight against Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14. But I want to know what will happen if Cotto wins? Does this mean he'll be in the top three pound-for-pound? Will he fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Will people will start saying that Cotto was too big and too strong for Manny and fail to give him respect? I want to know what this fight means for Cotto.
If Cotto wins, I think he'll move into the top three and perhaps the top two. And I'd think he'd instantly become the favorite to face Mayweather next year. He'll get plenty of respect if he wins.
I'm so excited for the Cotto-Pacquiao fight. I have my countryman, Cotto, winning by stoppage late in the fight. Remember, no one has knocked out Cotto (even with bricks in their gloves). I'm guessing Cotto will bring it hard. By what I saw on the HBO 24/7 seeing them both at the same time, their size is incredibly different. I really don't see how Pacquiao could hurt Cotto. The only way I could see Pacquiao winning is by outboxing him with quick movements and not getting hurt. I really think Cotto's power will overwhelm Pacquiao. How do you think Pacquiao will manage Cotto's power throughout the fight?
Manolo, I'd favor Cotto if I were convinced he's the same guy he was before he fought Antonio Margarito last year. That fight, though, seems to have taken a lot out of him. He now seems to get hit more and to have slowed a bit. If he's the pre-Margarito Cotto, I think he'll be able to break Pacquiao down with his body work. But if he's the Cotto we've seen in his last two outings, he won't be able to catch up with Pacquiao and will be fast combinations to the face as he's trying to chase him down and cut off the ring.
STEVENSON COULD PUNCH
I would love to hear your thoughts on a Cuban heavyweight Olympic champion, Teofilo Stevenson. I have never seen such explosive right hand power. He destroyed Bobbick's face with one punch. He was limited, upright with little mobility and strictly a one-two puncher, but that power...awesome. His career was affected and curtailed by an automobile accident, and Cuban politics kept him from fighting professionally.
He was a thunderous puncher as an amateur, but it's hard to know how that would have translated to the pros. It's sad, because he would have been a great opponent for guys like Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and others who were active in the early-to-late 1970s.
CAN 'KINGPIN' PULL IT OFF?
What type of chance do you give Kevin Johnson when he faces Vitali Klitschko for the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship on Dc. 12 in Berne, Switzerland? I believe that it will be a decent heavyweight fight, with Vitali winning a shockingly close decision. Kevin Johnson is not a bad heavyweight and I am one of the few that actually thinks he is and has been the best American prospect over the last two years. He has a good jab and better than average defense. The reason though I think Kevin will lose is because of his lack of power. He may get lucky however, and don't be surprised if this happens, and he catches Vitali on the right night when he shows up and actually looks his age.
The fighter who is going to beat Klitschko is one who has a great jab, good lateral movement, a solid chin and a punch hard enough to prevent Vitali from walking through his jab. Johnson has the jab, but I'm not sure his chin will be up to Klitschko's power. Klitschko's jab is pretty awesome. This fight might be a jabfest and I believe Klitschko has the better, and harder, jab.
DEBATING THE RANKINGS
How come Floyd Mayweather Jr. is so highly ranked? What has he done the last two years? Maybe it's that most of Yahoo!'s boxing panel doesn't know anything about the sport and was blindsided by his win against a good but small lightweight. To this so called boxing panel (please don't call them experts), please give justice to boxers who were competing the last two years and give them due respect. You will lose credibility if you continue this rotten judgment.
I disagree with our panel, too, Edbrit, but I think Mayweather should be No. 1, not No. 2. I'm assuming he'll fight one of the top contenders (Pacquiao, Cotto or Mosley) in 2010 and that should answer all the questions about him.
I believe Vitali Klitschko and Timothy Bradley should get more respect in your rankings. These two fighters are facing the up-and-coming young, tough and hungry warriors. Vitali is left off and his brother is placed on for what reason? Is it because he's younger, because he hasn't done anything lately except talk trash about David Haye. Vitali's victory over Chris Arreola was superb. I'm really impressed with the talent Bradley has faced: Junior Witter, Kendall Holt and now Lamont Peterson. These are all guys Pacquiao has passed.
Both are quality fighters and are deserving of serious Top 10 consideration. Bradley, to me, needs a signature win to get it. But they're both elite fighters, I agree.
How come you have Bernard Hopkins is still ranked in your Yahoo Top 10 when he has been idle for over a year? Wasn't the criteria for staying in the Top 10 is to have had a bout within a year? Don't get me wrong, I am a big Hopkins fan, but it is not fair to have him in the Top 10 and then bounce other great fighters such as Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez, such as you did in the March rankings. I read your reasoning before but would like just a little clarification.
Eli, I made a decision to allow Bernard even though he's been inactive for more than a year because he has a Dec. 2 fight scheduled with Enrique Ornelas. Since he is slated to fight, I didn't think it made sense to change the rankings dramatically for two months and then to insert him back in. I told the voters he was eligible but they should consider his inactivity in making their votes. A few did, and Bernard wound up dropping from a tie for fourth in September to seventh in October. Vazquez and Marquez were ruled ineligible back in March because they had no fights scheduled. Once each fought, they became eligible again, as did Mayweather
I noticed that in the updated rankings, one of my favorite fighters, heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, finally broke into the Top 10. Is this the first time he's done so in Yahoo's poll? If so, what propelled him into the Top 10 even though he isn't going to fight again in 2009?
I had been voting for Wladimir ever since his victory over Ruslan Chagaev in June. Other voters had him ranked 12 or 13 and as other fighters lost, they moved Wladimir up and eventually he received enough votes to crack the Top 10 for the first time in September.