1.) Andre Ward (21-0, 13 KOs)
Buzz: On Nov. 21 against Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler, Ward swam circles around the Viking Warrior’s ship, dismantled it from bow to stern, and backstroked away from the wreckage straight onto the pound-for-pound lists. He also easily decisioned Edison Miranda earlier in the year.
Next up is a fight against a worn-out remnant of Jermain Taylor in Stage Two of the Super Six Tournament.
Style: He is a very quick natural left-handed boxer who fights orthodox. Ward has excellent boxing skills, is an outstanding counterpuncher, and is very evasive.
Next: Jermain Taylor on Apr. 17
2.) Lucian Bute (25-0, 20 KOs)
Buzz: If only he was part of the Super Six tournament. On Nov. 28, in round four, Bute did what no man had done before—KO Librado Andrade. Of course, this was a rematch from a year earlier of a controversial fight won by Bute that saw him out on his feet and barely surviving a knockdown—with a little help from an incompetent referee— at the final bell.
Bute also won comfortably on points over Sakio Bika in 2007.
Style: Bute is a tall, slick, skilled left-hander with excellent boxing skills and a slippery defense. He uses a lot of lateral movement, has good hand and foot speed, and very good power.
3.) Mikkel Kessler (42-2, 32 KOs)
Buzz: He ran into a tough S.O.B. called S.O.G.—Andre Ward— badly losing an 11-round technical decision. Kessler had been the top ranked super-middleweight and favorite to win the Super Six tourney. His only other loss is to Joe Calzaghe by decision in ’07. He’ll face Carl Froch in Stage Two of the Super Six next.
Style: Kessler is a skilled but fairly basic boxer puncher. He has good power and decent, but not exceptional speed.
Next: Carl Froch on Apr. 17
4.) Arthur Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs)
Buzz: In Super Six tournament action in October, Abraham KO’d Jermain Taylor in the final round of a fight he was winning fairly comfortably. This was his first foray into the super-middleweight division after a three-and-a-half year reign as IBF middleweight champion. Many have him ranked as co-favorite with Ward to win the tourney.
Style: Abraham has a unique style. He fights from behind a very high guard and alternates between offense and defense. He has a huge left hook and is an overall hard and accurate puncher. He is not always busy enough in the ring.
Next: Andre Dirrell on Mar. 6
5.) Carl Froch (26-0, 20 KOs)
Buzz: Froch narrowly decisioned Andre Dirrell in a fight where Dirrell ran and held as much as he fought, in an October Super Six tournament bout. In April, Froch KO’d Jermain Taylor in the 12th in a fight he was trailing. He also beat Jean Pascal by decision in 2008.
Style: He is a boxer puncher who fights with his hands low. He likes to apply pressure while fighting from a distance that allows him to extend his long arms and throw. He is physically strong and is an accurate, powerful puncher.
Next: Mikkel Kessler on Apr. 17
6.) Andre Dirrell (18-1, 13 KOs)
Buzz: Against Carl Froch on Oct. 17, Dirrell produced more holding and running than a penalty-ridden football game with two broken-armed quarterbacks. Strangely enough, whenever he decided to actually fight, he did well.
Fortunately for him, he has a chance to reestablish himself in March, but has to go through the funky-style and bodacious hook of Arthur Abraham to do it.
Style: Dirrell is a very quick boxer who can fight either southpaw or orthodox. He is not yet completely polished technically. He can be a bit wild with his punches and needs to work his jab more. Not to mention that he needs to cool out on the running and holding thing.
Next: Arthur Abraham on Mar. 6
7.) Allan Green (29-1, 20 KOs)
Buzz: Green is coming off of an impressive win via decision over previously unbeaten Tarvis Simms in October. In his only test against top-rated talent, Green was solidly decisioned in 10 by Edison Miranda in 2007, in a fight were he was dropped twice but kindly granted Miranda a sniff of the canvas as well. It’s high time for him to get busy with a top contender.
Style: Green is a boxer puncher with nice technical skills and good speed and power. He has been criticized for inconsistent performances.
8.) Sakio Bika (28-3-2, 19 KOs)
Buzz: He last fought in July against a fellow named Casanova, who apparently is more of a lover than a fighter, as Bika flattened him in the opening seconds and finished him at 1:27 of the first round.
In his only two fights against name opponents, Bika was decisioned by both Lucian Bute and Joe Calzaghe. He has had just three fights in the past two years and seriously needs to find some meaningful action soon.
Style: Bika is a big, strong brawler who comes to mix it up. He tends to be wide with his punches, leaving himself open to be countered.
9.) Librado Andrade (28-3, 21 KOs)
Buzz: Lucian Bute kicked Librado’s bootay in a November rematch, by way of fourth-round knockout. Andrade is now 4-3 in his last seven fights including two losses to Bute and another via a Mark Buehrlesque virtual no-hit shutout thrown by Mikkel Kessler in early 2007.
His biggest win is a TKO in eight over fairly well-regarded WBO champ Robert Stieglitz in March of 2008.
Style: Andrade is a non-stop pressure fighter with an iron will who is extremely offensive minded. His defense is sorely lacking and his reputation for having an iron chin may be starting to crumble.
10.) Edison Miranda (33-4, 29 KOs)
Buzz: Miranda withdrew from a fight with WBO champion Robert Stieglitz scheduled for Jan. 9 due to a flu and nasal infection. The fight may or may not be rescheduled. Edison KO’d Francisco Sierra in one round in his most recent fight in October. He has won seven of his previous 11 fights, including KO losses to Kelly Pavlik and Arthur Abraham, as well as losses on points to both Abraham and Andre Ward.
Style: Miranda is a boxer puncher with good power and a suspect defense. He needs to work behind his jab more.