The Best Fighters of the Millennium
Below is my list of the greatest fighters of the past 10 years. I provided their record in the millennium as a reference point. I attempted to rank each fighter by his record, quality of opponents, and domination of quality opponents.
1) Manny Pacquiao: 23-1-2
Only a loss to Eric Morales diminishes the exploits of the greatest figher of the millennium. The quality of his opponents is what sets Manny apart from any other fighter. His wars against Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manual Marquez gave him the nickname "The Mexican Assassin."
His move up in weight class, and subsequent destruction of De La Hoya, Hatton, and Cotto, put him into a category all his own. Only recent steroid whispers have dampened his legacy.
2) Joe Calzaghe: 19-0
"The Pride of Wales" was the second best fighter of the millennium. Period. He had convincing, if not dominating wins, over Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Jeff Lacy, and Mikkel Kessler. He retired undefeated.
What's more, I never saw him in real trouble. Bernard Hopkins couldn't do anything with him but hold since he was that outclassed in hand speed. Roy Jones Jr. looked like a journeyman fighter against Calzaghe.
3) Paul Williams: 38-1
One loss to Carlos Quintana that was quickly avenged. The knock on Williams has been the supposed quality of his opponents. However, big wins over both Antonio Margarito and Winky Wright put to rest that argument. What's even more impressive was his win against Margarito came at a time when Margarito was most likely using casts in his wraps.
He is perhaps the most dangerous and avoided fighter in the boxing ranks right now. I can't blame Kelly Pavlik for pulling out of their fight. He's tall, relentless, extremely quick, and has excellent power. I'd love to see him get a major payday against either Pacquiao or Mayweather.
4) Floyd Mayweather Jr.: 18-0
Pretty Boy Floyd has been a dominating force in the millennium, but a suspicious lack of quality opponents is a huge tarnish on his perfect record. Only Jose Luis Castillo and perhaps Marquez stand out as formidable opponents.
Also, his record lacks knockouts against a plethora of substandard opponents. Really, he couldn't knock out Carlos Baldomir, DeMarcus Corley, or even Zab Judah?
5) Bernard Hopkins: 14-3
Two very puzzling losses to Jermaine Taylor dampen his record in the millennium. However, his quality of opponents is impressive so a few losses should be expected. He fought, and beat, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, and Antonio Tarver, and he did it all at an age when most fighters are in decline.
6) Chad Dawson: 28-0
"Bad" Dawson was undefeated in the millennium with significant wins against the likes of Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. It will be interesting to see if he drops down in weight to the super middleweight division. That division is unquestionably the darling of the fight world right now with talent galore. He's running out of quality opponents at the light heavyweight class.
7) Juan Manuel Marquez: 20-3-1
His most recent loss against Mayweather has diminished his status a bit. Marquez fought two wars against Manny Pacquiao, one of them resulting in a draw. He had significant wins against Marco Antonio Barrera, Rocky Juarez, Joel Casemoyer, and Juan Diaz. A devastating body puncher and an absolute warrior.
8) Vic Darchinyan: 33-2-1
If you haven't watched Darchinyan fight, you've really missed out. A southpaw who simply loads up with his right and comes straight after his opponent, he's brash and cocky and tough as nails. A recent loss to Joseph Agbeko tarnishes his record, but he's been fairly unbeatable throughout the millennium.
9) Chris John: 30-1
The knock on John is a lack of quality of opponents. He fights out of Indonesia, and until his win over Marquez, nobody had even heard of him. He's mostly fought no-names out of Asia. However, his undefeated record is impressive, as are wins over Juan Manuel Marquez and Rocky Juarez.
10) Winky Wright: 14-2-1
Yes, he's lost his last two fights against Paul Williams and Bernard Hopkins. Still, Wright beat Shane Mosley (twice), Felix Trinidad, and Ike Quartey. In my opinion, Winky should have gotten much bigger fights earlier in his career and never garnished the respect he deserved.
Roy Jones Jr: 14-5
With a 14-5 record in the millennium, the '90s were Jones Jr.'s time of dominance.
Vitaly Klitschko: 12-2
Losses to both Lennox Lewis and Chris Byrd take him off the list. Honestly, who has the guy fought? Chris Arreola? Kevin Johnson? In another era, he would have been a mid-range heavyweight. In today's bare heavyweight division, he stands out as a champion.
Oscar De La Hoya: 8-5
Most over-hyped fighter of all-time. Lost twice to Shane Mosely, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao, and Bernard Hopkins in the millennium. Really, who has the guy ever beaten? An aging Julio Cesar Chavez and Fernando Vargas.