You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI.
Readers were surprised that Paul Williams climbed past Shane Mosley and moved into third place on the Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings. And, as usual, they had a lot to say, positive and negative, about Floyd Mayweather Jr.
I'll tackle that, and more, in this week's edition of the boxing mailbag.
DEBATING THE RANKINGS
On your Feb. 18 column, where the rankings were displayed, I noticed that 27 out of 28 first-place votes went to Manny Pacquiao, while one went to Floyd Mayweather Jr. I'm curious to know who of the panelists cast the first-place vote for Mayweather and what his justification of that is? I know there is blame to go all-around for why their fight didn't happen, but I'm having a really hard time seeing how a boxing expert can justify giving Mayweather a first-place vote. Pacquiao has bigger wins against better opponents and Mayweather has fought once in two-plus years.
Brett Okamoto of the Las Vegas Sun cast his ballot for Mayweather first. Agree with his opinion or not, his logic made sense. He said he voted for Mayweather because he believes if they fought, Mayweather would win. That's a sound reason to me.
I think the voting panel made a huge error by giving Paul Williams the No. 3 spot in the February rankings. I believe Sergio Martinez beat him back in December. Also, how in the world did they come up with Bernard Hopkins at No. 5? Wow. I think WE should be paid to watch his fight with Roy Jones in April.
I know the Martinez fight was close, despite the ridiculously wide scoring that the judges had in favor of Williams. But Williams has quite a few quality wins and I think that makes a difference. In the last two-plus years, he's beaten Antonio Margarito, Winky Wright, Carlos Quintana and Martinez. That has to count for something. I think Hopkins deserves his spot, though I am like you and not particularly interested in the fight with Jones. It's just ego gratification for Hopkins and little more. I'd rather see him in a competitive fight than face a washed-up fighter who has been continuously knocked out. But I guess that's just me.
I disagree with the list having Paul Williams in the third spot. Having lost to Quintana, a guy who isn't even a top 10 fighter in the weight class, and a questionable win against Sergio Martinez leaves me feeling like he should be down a few spots on the rankings. Perhaps he should be at No. 9 and everybody in between should move up a spot. The other questionable guy in the rankings is Juan Manuel Lopez. I know that his record right now is better than Yuriorkis Gamboa's, but I assure you that Gamboa will be top five by the end of the year and he will beat Lopez when they meet. Gamboa has destroyed his opponents like a mini-Mike Tyson.
I do think Quintana is a top 10 welterweight and, in the rematch, Williams blew him out, stopping him in the first round. He's had one slip in his career and I think we can give him that given he's fought a lot of good people recently. As far as Lopez is concerned, I think he's a quality fighter, but I agree with you about Gamboa. I think Gamboa is the most gifted guy in that division. That said, his defense is questionable and I sometimes have questions about his dedication. If he's focused and on, he's the best at 126 and among the elite in the world. He'll have to prove to me he can tighten his defense and be as dominant offensively when he starts meeting elite competition. Personally, I'm surprised the voters haven't given more recognition to Timothy Bradley, whom I believe is a phenomenally gifted fighter and deserving of a Top 10 spot.
BENN OVER McCLELLAN RATES
I think one of boxing's great upsets people forget to talk about is Gerald McClellan's loss to Nigel Benn in 1995. What do you think?
I had that fight on my list of the top upsets, Shyam. People tend to forget how feared McClellan was at the time. He was destroying good fighters. His trainer, Emanuel Steward, will tell you that guys didn't want to spar with McClellan, let alone fight him. He was a beast and no one expected him to be stopped by Benn. It was tragic what happened to him in that fight. My good friend, the very talented Associated Press columnist Tim Dahlberg, wrote a compelling piece on McClellan in 2003 that I would suggest reading for those who don't know his story.
RUIZ CHANGING HIS STYLE
Please, let it be true! I was always impressed with Ruiz' size and would try to "will him" to throw combinations. I can honestly say that I barely remember one. I think it was a right uppercut/left cross that missed both times but gave me hope. The way that he muscled Roy Jones around the ring, before the ref stopped him, I felt that he was a natural heavyweight. He also has a businesslike quality when he interviews and has got to have the thickest of skin! I hope that he can turn it around and finish up strong and as a crowd-pleaser, with a KO or two! Great article!
Jose L. Munoz
He's had enough bad fights that he's going to have to prove it in the ring, and not by talking. John has always been a class act no matter how much abuse he's taken and I wish him the best as he tries to resurrect his reputation.
CAN DIRRELL UPSET KING ARTHUR?
Kevin, Just wondering what your take is on the upcoming Dirrell vs. Abraham fight. Even though Abraham is a clear favorite in the sports books, I believe Dirrell can very handily beat him. Jermain Taylor was giving Abraham some problems before the heavy-handed knockout in the 12th round. I believe Dirrell has learned his lesson from the fight with Carl Froch, which he should have won easily with a few more flurries per round. I think Abraham will give up too many rounds while curled up in his famous defensive stance and he wont be able to land the big shot as he did in the Taylor fight.
The fight has been rescheduled until March 27 from March 6 because Dirrell injured his back. I think Abraham will win the fight because I believe he's the more complete fighter. I also disagree with you about how close the fight with Taylor was. Abraham was ahead comfortably on all three cards: 107-102, 105-103 and 106-102 after 11 rounds. He clearly was going to win the 12th, had it been finish. So I don't think he was having as much difficulty with Jermain as you'd suggest. I stand by my pre-tournament selection of Andre Ward to win the Super 6, but I have Abraham as the No. 2 choice.
MORE MEDIA COVERAGE
One of the things I bemoan as a British boxing fan is the lack of coverage in the media: TV companies here rarely cover anything other than world title fights involving Brits (often on PPV for a nothing fight involving Amir Khan!) and newspapers cover even less. I tend to get most of my info from sites like Yahoo! Sports, Ring and, possibly best of all, from fan-made comment and opinion shows on YouTube. There have been a lot of recent articles and comments about how to appeal more to the mass media and casual fans, but do you think there is more that boxing can do to reward the effort that fans on the Internet make for the love of the sport?
Put big fights on free television and the sport will be huge and covered by everyone. Just think back to how frequently Muhammad Ali fought on ABC back in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, all of those fights would be on pay-per-view. Worse, boxing often can't get the fights the fans want to see made, a la Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. If you make those fights and put some of them on network television, it will rectify the problem. I don't anticipate it happening, but that's the solution.
DURAN WAS AWESOME
Roberto Duran's 1983 upset of Davey Moore was awesome and probably as brutal a knockout as I have ever seen. The funny thing about this win is that Duran was supposed to be washed up. After knocking Moore out in the eighth round, Duran faced Marvelous Marvin Hagler for the middleweight title and nearly won it. Hands of Stone simply was the best and if he were around today fighting, Manny Pacquiao wouldn't be able to hold his jockstrap.
I think Duran is the best lightweight in history, Robert. I think he'd have beaten Pacquiao, but I do think Manny would have been competitive against him.
FLOYD AS GREATEST EVER
What would it take for you to consider Floyd Mayweather Jr as the greatest fighter of all-time? Is there any list of opponents he would have to beat that would be sufficient to view him as the best ever? To me, he would earn that if he beats Shane Mosley, Paul Williams, Andre Berto and Manny Pacquiao.
I just don't see anything that Floyd could do that would cause me to choose him best ever over Sugar Ray Robinson. That's not a knock on Floyd, whom I think very highly of, but it's a sign of the respect I have for Robinson.