Thursday, October 30, 2003
Updated: November 3, 9:22 AM ET
Kellerman: Roy leads pound-for-pound race
By Max Kellerman
Special to ESPN.com
Several weeks ago in my chatroom someone asked for my new pound-for-pound list in
light of James Toney's domination of Evander Holyfield. I deftly avoided
answering the question. I think I said I would post my updated pound-for-pound
list in my next column, and then I never did.
So here it is:
1. Roy Jones
2. Bernard Hopkins
3. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
4. Marco Antonio Barrera
5. Erik Morales
6. Kostya Tszyu
7. James Toney
8. Shane Mosley
9. Oscar De La Hoya
10. Rafael Marquez
1. Roy Jones still has yet to participate in a fight he was truly in danger of losing.
This, despite the fact that he has fought James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, a top
five heavyweight, and every significant 175-pound contender (except Dariusz
Michalczewski, who just lost, and Antonio Tarver, who Jones will fight next
Saturday night). A Roy Jones comes on the scene every 50 years or so.
The last time he was called Sugar Ray Robinson.
2. Bernard Hopkins has had only one fight against a world-class fighter -- a
destruction of Carl Daniels -- since destroying Felix Trinidad late in 2001.
The middleweight champ has a title defense coming up against William Joppy
(his Ring Magazine No. 1 contender) on Don King's Dec. 13th card in Atlantic
City. The Joppy match should give us a better idea of whether "The Executioner" is still at least an approximation of the fighter who beat up Trinidad.
3. Floyd Mayweather is taking on Phillip Ndou this upcoming Saturday night.
Ndou is a very busy fighter who hits with power. As stay-busy fights go,
this one is dangerous for Floyd. Against lightweights, Mayweather has simply
not been as dominant as he was against junior lightweights. While Ndou is rising from
junior lightweight for this fight, he is a volume puncher who hits with power.
Should Mayweather dominate, or even win decisively, my ranking him third here
will make sense. Should he squeak by, he will likely drop several slots.
4. Marco Antonio Barrera has not beaten a top notch world class fighter in a
hot minute now, but, like Hopkins, retains his ranking until there is some
evidence that he does not deserve it.
5. Kostya Tszyu has never risen above his natural junior welterweight division
and beaten bigger game. Tszyu has a knockout loss on his record against a
very good but not great fighter in Vince Phillps. Tszyu has struggled
against Shambra Mitchell and even Jesse James Leija. But over the last half
decade, King Kostya has emerged from every fight with a win, and he has
fought the very best of boxing's deepest division. With Shane Mosley and
Oscar De La Hoya both looking like fighters in decline while losing (and even
winning) recent fights, Tszyu's wins over Zab Judah, Mitchell, Oktay Urkal,
Ben Tackie and company land him in the top five. However, Kostya too looks like
a fighter in decline.
6. Erik Morales should never be separated from Marco Antonio Barrera by much
on any list. The two have proven against each other in two fights that they
are essentially equals. Barrera ranks a little higher based on Morales'
greater struggles against other world class opponents and based on Barrera's
domination of Naseem Hamed.
7. James Toney just beat the No. 1 cruiserweight in the world in the
fight of the year, and followed that up with the most thorough destruction of
Evander Holyfield imaginable. While Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley seem
less effective than they were several years ago, Toney looks sharper and
stronger than ever. His skill has reached an absurd level.
8. Shane Mosley won a close fight against De La Hoya and his two losses to
Vernon Forrest probably speak to how marginal the difference is between top
fighters in most weight divisions. Shane does not look quite as fast as he
did a couple of years ago, and certainly did not beat Oscar as decisively at
154 pounds as he did at 147. But the point is, he beat Oscar De La Hoya at
154 pounds and at 147! And other than Forrest, Shane has beaten every
professional fighter he has ever fought.
9. Oscar De La Hoya probably deserves to rate higher, but where? Ahead of
the guy who just beat him for the second time? Maybe. Ahead of someone like
Kostya, who has never taken on and beaten the best of bigger weight classes?
Maybe. There is a good argument for rating Oscar significantly higher. He
began his career as a junior lightweight, and competed on a world class level
from there up to junior welter and on the very highest world class level at
welter and junior middle. But Oscar never firmly established himself as the very
best in any one weight class for any significant length of time. At 147 and
154 (and maybe at 140, too, had he stuck around to find out), there have
always been one or more fighters who were as good as him. He has never been
the Roy Jones or Bernard Hopkins of any weight division.
10. Rafael Marquez should be getting Manny Pacquiao's press. Paquiao has
looked frightening destroying some good fighters. Marquez has looked special
knocking out some great ones. Mark Johnson will go down as the best sub-
bantamweight fighter since Miguel Canto, who dominated the flyweights in the
1970's. Tim Austin will go down as the best American bantamweight since Jeff
Chandler, who dominated the 118-pounders in the early 1980's. Both Johnson
and Austin went down against Marquez. Another big win and Shane and Oscar
Next Sixteen (in order of weight division):
Juan Manuel Marquez
Max Kellerman is a studio analyst for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and the host of the show "Around The Horn."