1.) Kelly Pavlik (36-1, 32 KOs)
Buzz: The Ghost fought only twice in 2009. However, he made up for the lack of action by fighting two opponents who had six names between them.
He spanked a tough but under-skilled Miguel Angel Espino on Dec. 19 by fifth-round TKO. This followed a 10-month hiatus due to an unusual collection of physical maladies after having stopped Marco Antonio Rubio in February.
Style: Pavlik is a tall, strong pressure fighter with good power who throws a lot of punches. He’s not the quickest around and doesn’t have exceptional technical skills or stellar defense.
2.) Paul Williams (38-1, 27 KOs)
Buzz: Williams squeaked out a decision over Sergio Martinez in December in a fight so furious and action packed it would have made Michael Vick proud.
He also dominated a growingly decrepit Winky Wright in April.
Style: The Punisher is a very tall southpaw with good hand speed and solid boxing skills who throws an enormously high volume of punches. He has a long reach and good power. He would be better served to box more at times but loves to throw and mix it up.
3.) Felix Sturm (33-2, 14 KOs)
Buzz: Sturm hasn’t fought since winning a close decision over Khoren Gevor in July due to a stink with his promoter.
He has been the WBA champion for nearly four years. He decisioned contender Sebastian Sylvester in 2008 and lost a disputed decision to Oscar De la Hoya in 2004.
Style: The Sturminator has very good technical skills and an excellent jab, but is as underpowered as a rookie Republican Congressman.
4.) Khoren Gevor (31-4, 16 KOs)
Buzz: Gevor decisioned little-known Jeferson Luis Goncalo on Jan. 9 after a tough, controversial loss on points to Felix Strum.
He was KO’d in the 11th round by Arthur Abraham in 2007.
Style: He is a fast-handed southpaw with good technical skills who throws a high volume of punches. He has the skills of a slick boxer but often chooses to fight.
5.) Anthony Mundine (37-3, 23 KOs)
Buzz: The Australian easily handled Alejandro Gustavo Falliga via decision in October. He also won a split decision over Daniel Geale in May in an Aussie grudge match.
He is a former WBA super-middleweight champ.
Style: Mundine is athletic and quick with good boxing skills, a nice jab, and solid defense. He keeps his hands low and likes to maintain his distance.
Next: Robert Medley on Jan. 11.
6.) Daniel Geale (22-1, 13 KOs)
Buzz: Geale powdered the nose of Samir Dos Santos Barbosa over 12 rounds on Oct. 21. He lost a close battle to Anthony Mundine earlier in the year.
Style: He is a boxer puncher with good skills who maintains a high work-rate but possesses only modest power.
7.) Sebastian Sylvester (32-3, 15 KOs)
Buzz: Sylvester split-decisioned Giovanni Lorenzo for the vacant IBF title in September. He is on a three-fight roll after a convincing decision loss to Felix Sturm in 2008.
Style: The German is a high-handed pressure fighter who can also box a bit. He has a good jab and throws decent combinations. He is not overly quick or powerful.
Next: Pablo Navascues on TBA
8.) Winky Wright (51-5, 25 KOs)
Buzz: Wright was completely dominated by Paul Williams in April, badly losing a 12-round decision. He is now 1-2-1 since 2005. The Winkster has two decision wins over Shane Mosley.
Style: Winky is a rare, defensive minded pressure fighter. He maintains a tight, high-handed defense, has an excellent jab, and a very good chin. The left-hander has slowed and faded with age.
9.) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (22-0, 15 KOs)
Buzz: When Muhammad Ali taunted Ernie Terrell by repeatedly asking “What’s my name?” while methodically bludgeoning him for having referred to Ali as Cassius Clay, at least Terrell knew the answer. It’s a good thing Terrell wasn’t fighting this guy.
To this point, N’Jikam has been making a career of fighting in France against an assortment of miscellaneous opponents. In his last fight, he stopped an Argentinean by the name of Sergio Jose Sanders in six on Dec. 10.
Other names on his curriculum vitae include Dieder Nkuku Mupeko, Malkaz Berkatsashvili, Woulid Guarras, Vepkhia Tchilaia, and Affif Belghecham.
It’s time for N’Jikam to step up in class to some familiar name opponents, if for no other reason than to stop my spell-checker from locking up.
Style: He is a tall, quick boxer with a good jab. He moves and boxes well from the outside, and is not afraid to exchange.
10.) Gennady Golovkin (18-0, 15 KOs)
Buzz: Gennady has been systematically doling out prison poundings to mostly low-level fighters in Germany. His most recent conquest was Mikhail Makarov, whom he KO’d in two in November.
He has a hugely successful amateur background with a win over Lucian Bute by KO as well as a decision against Andre Dirrell.
Style: Golovkin is a boxer puncher who applies effective pressure and has excellent power. He is not flashy, but is highly skilled.