Boxing Rankings: Jean Pascal and the Top 10 Fighters Under 30 Years Old
It will be a battle of young vs. old when Jean Pascal steps into the ring Saturday night to face an opponent 18 years older than him in Bernard Hopkins.
It makes for a contrast of styles, experience and physical ability. Can the youth and determination of Pascal beat the experience and certitude of Hopkins?
This question will come up a lot as the following 10 fighters begin to take on the bigger and sometimes older opponents that they will be facing in the near future.
Each of these fighters are younger than 30, which means they will be the stars for the rest of this decade and possibly more if they continue the route that Hopkins has in his 23-year boxing career.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Rios, Age 25 (27-0-1, 20 KO)
Undefeated Mexican fighter Brandon Rios is one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the sport right now. He fights in the lightweight division and has victories over Anthony Peterson and Miguel Acosta.
Rios is an exciting, aggressive fighter who exploded onto the scene with his win over Peterson last year.
He won the WBA world lightweight title from Acosta in February on Showtime after knocking him out in the 10th round.
His next bout will be against Urbano Antillon (28-2, 20 KO) in July.
No. 10: Saul Alvarez, Age 20 (36-0-1, 26 KO)
Saul Alvarez is only 20, but he has an extensive professional record of 36-0-1 with 26 knockouts.
He has had some standout performances against Carlos Baldomir, Jose Miguel Cotto and his most recent win over Matthew Hatton, where he claimed the WBC light-middleweight title.
His next bout will be on June 18 against Ryan Rhodes (45-4, 31 KO), an opponent who has only lost once in the last nine years and started his career 10 years earlier than Alvarez.
No. 9: Victor Ortiz, Age 24 (29-2-2, 22 KO)
With Victor Ortiz' recent win over previously unbeaten prospect Andre Berto to win the WBC welterweight title, he has greatly increased his chances of getting a shot at one of the big names in the most stacked division.
The welterweight division is filled with tough contenders, but to get to the big fights, a fighter must have to go through them to get a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao.
Ortiz would like a shot at either one, but it seems for now he will need to settle for lesser competition. The good news is he is one of the most exciting and intriguing fighters in the division, so each of his fights is a can't-miss event.
A rematch with Marcos Maidana, a 27-year-old with an aggressive but one-dimensional skill set, could be an appealing fight. He defeated Ortiz in 2008 after they exchanged five knockdowns in six rounds.
No. 8: Giovani Segura, Age 29 (27-1-1, 23 KO)
With two knockout victories over Ivan Calderon, Mexican boxer Giovani Segura can make the claim that he is the greatest light-flyweight in the sport right now.
The only loss of his career occurred in 2008 against Cesar Canchila. They fought in a rematch soon after, and Segura earned a fourth-round TKO.
In the lighter weight classes, the fans look for punchers and exciting fighters. Segura brings that and more, and his 80 percent knockout ratio easily shows he is capable of producing sudden violent endings to his fights.
No. 7: Chad Dawson, Age 28 (29-1, 17 KO)
Former IBF, WBC and IBO light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson is currently embarking on his comeback trail as he prepares to face Adrian Diaconu this weekend in the co-main event under Pascal vs. Hopkins on HBO.
Before suffering his first professional defeat last year to Pascal, Dawson had a 27-0 record with multiple wins over Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson from 2008 to 2009. He hasn't fought since losing to Pascal.
He is also the only fighter to hold a win over current heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek.
No. 6: Timothy Bradley, Age 27 (27-0, 11 KO)
Current WBC and WBO light-welterweight champion Timothy Bradley is 27-0 with 11 knockouts and is coming off a January bout versus Devon Alexander. He won a technical decision after 10 rounds, giving Alexander the first defeat of his professional career.
Bradley is one of the leading candidates for Manny Pacquiao's upcoming opponents. As of now, he hasn't been considered for the spot to face the top pound-for-pound superstar, but he is rapidly making his ascension to the top of the division.
A bout with Amir Khan is currently in the works, but it appears it is likely not to happen anytime soon. If it does, it will be in the summer or early fall.
No. 5: Jean Pascal, Age 28 (26-1, 16 KO)
Canadian boxer Jean Pascal is the current WBC and IBO light-heavyweight champion. His six-fight win streak since losing to Carl Froch is a testament to his skills as one of the best in the division that is overlooked by many.
Wins over Adrian Diaconu, Chad Dawson and a draw with all-time great Bernard Hopkins have increased his status throughout the world and especially in Canada, where all but two of his bouts have taken place.
A Canadian superfight between him and Lucian Bute may be on the line if he successfully defeats Hopkins in their rematch this weekend on HBO.
No. 4: Andre Ward, Age 27 (23-0, 13 KO)
Top-10 pound-for-pound super-middleweight Andre Ward fought his way through three stages of the Showtime Super Six Super-Middleweight Tournament to earn a spot in the finals against the winner of Carl Froch vs. Glen Johnson.
He is the current WBC champion and the favorite to win the tournament. With dominant victories over Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green, he advanced to the finals for a chance to prove to the world that he is one of the very best, if he hasn't done it already.
No. 3: Yuriorkis Gamboa, Age 29 (20-0, 16 KO)
2004 Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa is the best featherweight in the sport right now. With Juan Manuel Lopez' recent loss, Gamboa can easily make that claim.
Lopez was upset earlier this year to Orlando Salido, an opponent Gamboa defeated by unanimous decision over 12 rounds last year.
Since that megafight can't be made now, it will be tough to find opponents for the 29-year-old from Cuba, but his fighting style makes up for the lack of competition that is placed in front of him. He is fighting good fighters, but he's a step above many, and possibly all, of them.
His most recent victory came over Jorge Solis, an opponent whose single loss was to Pacquiao. Gamboa finished him in four rounds.
No. 2: Amir Khan, Age 24 (25-1, 17 KO)
WBA World light-welterweight champion Amir Khan has become one of the most promising young stars in the sport since going 7-0 after suffering his first professional defeat in 2008.
The knockout loss has haunted his career for a while, but with wins over significant fighters in the welterweight division, Khan is quickly erasing any doubts about his chin and potential.
His quick and busy comeback has led him to defeating fighters like Paulie Malignaggi, Andriy Kotelnik, Marcos Maidana, Paul McCloskey and Marco Antonio Barrera.
He is currently scheduled to defend his title in July, and it might come against undefeated WBO and WBC light-welterweight champion Timothy Bradley.
No. 1: Nonito Donaire, Age 28 (26-1, 18 KO)
Current top pound-for-pound Filipino boxer Nonito Donaire is one of the most entertaining fighters in the lighter weight divisions, and he has had his share of knockouts to prove it.
Ring magazine's knockout of the year award in 2007 went to Donaire when he knocked out unbeaten Armenian fighter Vic Darchinyan.
Since that bout, the 28-year-old has won eight more times and most recently knocked out top pound-for-pound fighter Fernando Montiel in the second round of their February bout.
He is the current WBC and WBO bantamweight champion.