1.) Chad Dawson (29-0, 17 KOs)
Buzz: In a November rematch, Dawson once again decisioned Glen Johnson, and this time more convincingly. This followed back-to-back wins over Antonio Tarver. Chad would love to get his smack on with Bernard Hopkins, but I don’t get the impression that B-Hop wants to play like that.
Style: He is an extremely quick and athletic left-handed boxer-puncher with a sharp jab and decent power. He has occasional periods where his work rate slows and is also not completely polished defensively.
2.) Bernard Hopkins (50-5, 32 KOs)
Buzz: B-Hop continues to amaze at an age when most people begin tucking money away for hip-replacement surgeries. After being inactive for more than a year, he dealt with unknown Enrique Ornelas fairly easily on Dec. 2.
He is currently in negotiations for a fight with Danny Green, and has also been popping off about sticking his snoot into the heavyweight division to fight for a title.
Style: Hopkins is a crafty old buzzard who is one of the most ring-savvy fighters of all time. He has excellent defense and is an outstanding counterpuncher. He tends to get off to slow starts, and at this stage of his career has difficulty dealing with exceptionally quick fighters.
3.) Glen Johnson (49-13, 33 KOs)
Buzz: Johnson lost to Chad Dawson for the second time on Nov. 7, in a rematch from 2008. He’s scheduled to fight Yusaf Mack next, with the winner in line for a shot at Tavoris Cloud’s IBF belt. The Road Warrior is still competitive at a high level, but appears to be inching closer to that point on the map where he’ll need to start looking for an off-ramp.
Style: He is a veteran ringmaster who applies pressure while maintaining a very good defense. At 41 years old, he is not quite as quick and athletic as he once was.
Next: Yusaf Mack on Jan. 30
4.) Jean Pascal (25-1, 16 KOs)
Buzz: Pascal outpointed Adrian Diaconu on Dec. 12 for the second time in six months to retain his WBC crown. He’s on a four-fight roll since losing a solid decision to Carl Froch. He’s also temporarily on the shelf after having surgery for a dislocated shoulder suffered in the Diaconu fight.
Style: Pascal is sort of a middle class man’s Roy Jones. He emulates Jones’ style but is less effective because although he’s fast-handed and moves well on his feet, he lacks Roy’s otherworldly quickness.
He keeps his hands down when he fights and likes to use the ring, maintain his distance, and sneak in and out with power shots. He uses a jab at times and is much more effective when he does.
5.) Tavoris Cloud (20-0, 18 KOs)
Buzz: Cloud convincingly decisioned Clinton Woods in August to claim the IBF title. He has yet to face true top-level talent, but that will change now that he sits upon one of the major thrones. If his skills are up to the challenge, his style and power give him the potential to be a major draw.
Style: He is a boxer-puncher with huge power and respectable and improving boxing skills.
6.) Vyacheslav Uzelkov (22-0, 14 KOs)
Buzz: Uzelkov TKOd Tomas Adamek—no, not that Tomasz Adamek—in October. He also owns a KO win over Gabriel Campillo—yes, that Gabriel Campillo, the reigning WBA champ—in ’07. All but two of his fights have been in his native Ukraine.
Style: He is a rugged, heavy-handed, blue collar-type of pressure fighter who likes to walk his way in behind a high guard and mix it up.
7.) Karo Murat (20-0, 12 KOs)
Buzz: He last fought in August, winning comfortably on points over Sergey Demchenko, in his first fight since moving up from super-middleweight. He took a close majority decision over current WBA champ Gabriel Campillo in Sep. 2008.
Style: Murat is a pressure fighter who likes to get on the inside where he can dig to the body and rip uppercuts. He doesn’t have much interest in using the jab and is not overly skilled technically. He’s got fairly good speed, average power and a pretty solid defense.
Next: TBA on Jan. 30
8.) Antonio Tarver (27-6, 19 KOs)
Buzz: No word on whether the 41-year-old plans to stay active since losing his rematch with Chad Dawson in May. He’s gone 5-4 since KOing Roy Jones in ’05, with none of those wins coming against top-level talent. So unless he plans on sawing Al Bernstein in half on an upcoming Showtime telecast, it looks like the Magic Man may have run out of tricks.
Style: Tarver is a tall, ringwise veteran southpaw who is well-rounded and skilled in all areas, although those skills have diminished with age.
Next: TBA (I’m really hoping for the Al Bernstein thing—no offense Al.)
9.) Gabriel Campillo (19-2, 6 KOs)
Buzz: The Spaniard—whose three previous fights had been in Argentina, Denmark, and Germany—ventured to the boxing Mecca of Kazakhstan in August to fight a native Kazakhstani who lives in Las Vegas. In the process, he barely pulled out a majority decision against Beibut Shumenov, who was fighting professionally for just the ninth time. Campillo majority-decisioned Hugo Hunan Garay in June to snag the WBA title.
Style: He is a tall, fairly slick southpaw boxer. He uses a lot of lateral movement and has good speed and a nice jab, but very little power.
10.) Adrian Diaconu (26-2, 15 KOs)
Buzz: Diaconu lost on points on Dec. 11 to Jean Pascal in a rematch from June which had produced the same result. He beat Chris Henry in ‘08 for the interim WBC title.
Style: He is a boxer-puncher who likes to counter. He’s very strong, is an accurate puncher and has good power in his right hand. He could use his jab more and sometimes lunges when he throws.