Discussion

A class of its own

Updated: May 14, 2008, 1:43 PM ET
By Dan Rafael
Your weekly random thoughts …

• With junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton scheduled to return to the ring May 24 against Juan Lazcano, I've been thinking about the 140-pound division. A few years ago it was teeming with stars Kostya Tszyu, Arturo Gatti, Floyd Mayweather Jr. , Miguel Cotto and Hatton. But that was then, this is now. Tszyu hasn't fought since 2005, Gatti is retired and Mayweather and Cotto are the stars at welterweight. Only Hatton, now the recognized champion after stopping Tszyu, remains at 140 pounds. But you know what? Although the division is bereft of stars other than Hatton, it's actually one of the deepest divisions in boxing. It is one of the few weight classes where you can legitimately come up with a solid top 10 and keep on going. I've been doing regular division rankings for ESPN.com for three-plus years and I did them for five years at USA Today. Trust me, it is not as easy as it looks. It's often hard to sort out the bottom part of the top 10 in many divisions because the field is so shallow. But that's not the case at junior welterweight, where there is quality talent despite the lack of big names. Besides the ESPN.com top 10 of Hatton, Paulie Malignaggi, Timothy Bradley Jr. , Ricardo Torres, Junior Witter, Kendall Holt, Andreas Kotelnik, Vivian Harris, Gavin Rees and Souleymane M'Baye, there are least six other worthy contenders: Juan Urango, Steve Forbes, Herman Ngoudjo, Lazcano, Demetrius Hopkins and Mike Arnaoutis. It's tough to have to leave those last few guys out of the top 10, especially when you look at a division like the featherweights, where the talent falls off considerably after five or six guys.

• Forbes might not be much of a knockout puncher, but I guess he can inflict some damage. Just ask Oscar De La Hoya. Even though De La Hoya beat him easily on the scorecards, Forbes literally broke De La Hoya's face, fracturing one his facial bones in their fight two weeks ago.

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