Boxing: Britain's Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Boxers for July 2011

Martin SaltCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2011

Boxing: Britain's Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Boxers for July 2011

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    The UK has some of the best boxers in the world. We also have some of the worst (an alternative list will be coming soon).

    As of this date, the UK has four world champions in four different weight classes and has several others who hold minor versions of international titles.

    This list will be updated on a monthly basis.

Honourable Mentions

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    Ryan Rhodes

    Titles: None (Former European Light-Middleweight Champion)

    Ring Magazine Rating - N/A

    Record: 50 Fights - 45 Wins - 5 Losses

    Recently fought Saul Alvarez for the WBC Light-Middleweight Belt and lost by a unanimous points decision. Rhodes has become a respected journeyman fighter but he has been unable to take it to the next level. Difficult to see where he goes from here. 

    Rendall Munroe

    Titles: WBA Int. Cont. Title (Former European & Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight Champion)

    Ring Magazine Rating - N/A

    Record: 24 Fights - 22 Wins - 2 Losses

    Munroe fought Toshiaki Nishioka on 24th October 2010 for the WBC Super-Bantamweight Belt in Tokyo but lost by a unanimous points decision. A brave effort won Munroe many fans and he has recently returned with a victory. Munroe is hoping to fight Guillermo Rigondeaux this year.

10: George Groves (Super-Middleweight)

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    Titles: British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - N/A

    Record: 13 Fights - 13 Wins - 0 Losses

    George Groves just scrapes onto the list because he holds two major British titles after only just 13 fights.

    Groves fought James DeGale in a highly publicised grudge match for the British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight titles on 21st May 2011. Groves had beaten DeGale when they were amateur boxers.

    DeGale won Olympic Gold for Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and has been widely tipped to be one of Britain's next great world champion boxers. His brash and arrogant attitude has won him few fans and in that respect he is arguably the British equivalent of Floyd Mayweather. DeGale does have serious talent and is one to watch.

    Groves was seen as a heavy underdog going into the bout but Groves was able to outbox DeGale with a highly disciplined approach winning via a Majority Points decision. The decision may have been questionable but there was no doubt who wanted the win more.

    Groves needs to stay active to remain on this list. At the moment he has nothing scheduled. DeGale is quickly rebounding and will fight for the European Super-Middleweight title later this year. We could yet see Groves vs. DeGale II.

9: John Murray (Lightweight)

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    Titles: European Lightweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 4 Lightweight

    Record: 31 Fights - 31 Wins - 0 Losses

    The speedy Manchester boxer is a fighter on the brink of battling for world honours. Murray has built himself up on the domestic scene and has defeated the likes of Jon Thaxton and the rugged Karim El Ouazghari.

    The first major test of his ability to fight at world level comes against former WBO Lightweight title challenger Kevin Mitchell on Saturday 16th July 2011 in Liverpool.

    A win for Murray could see him granted a title shot at WBA Lightweight World Champion Brandon Rios.

8: Kell Brook (Welterweight)

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    Titles: British Welterweight Champion & WBA International/WBO Inter-Continental Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 9 Welterweight

    Record: 24 Fights - 24 Wins - 0 Losses

    Kell Brook has the brash attitude and slick style that is reminiscent of former WBC/WBO/IBF and WBO World Featherweight Champion Prince Nazeem Hamed. An exciting fighter to watch and potential future world champion in the making.

    Brook has defeated some decent opposition in his last few fights, including Michael Jennings and Lovemore N'Dou.

    However, it is becoming make or break time for Brook and a step up in class is required for a world title challenge. Amir Khan has long been a domestic rival for Brook and Khan has suggested that they may fight sometime next year when Khan moves up from the Junior-Welterweight ranks.

    In the meantime, Brook would be wise to fight a top ten contender within the Ring Magazine's list.

7: David Haye (Heavyweight)

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    Titles: None (Former WBA Heavyweight Champion)

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 4 Heavyweight

    Record: 27 Fights - 25 Wins - 2 Losses

    David Haye's fight with Wladimir Klitschko on July 2nd was a massive disappointment and also a big annoyance.

    After blowing hot air for months with his ravings on how he was going to destroy Wladimir, Haye got a lesson in humility and was battered into submission, losing on a unanimous points decision.

    Instead of helping the Heavyweight division, Haye practically helped finish it off. This is not the Klitschko brothers fault but it can safely be said that there is no real challenge for them left.

    The excuse of a broken toe preventing Haye from fighting his best did not go down well with the 12,000 travelling fans from the UK. In the UK the backlash has been reasonably harsh and rightly so.

    Haye should be out of this top ten list completely but his accomplishments as a Lineal Cruiserweight World Champion (WBA/WBO/WBC and Ring Magazine Titles) cannot be ignored. Haye would have been better off remaining in the division and taking on the likes of Steve Cunningham and Marco Huck.

    There are several possible ways for David Haye to redeem himself. Instead of retiring, could he drop to the Light-Heavyweight Division and take on the likes of Bernard Hopkins and Tavoris Cloud?

6: Darren Barker (Middleweight)

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    Titles: British and European Middleweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - N/A

    Record: 23 Fights - 23 Wins - 0 Losses

    A sharp operator in the Middleweight Division, Barker has run out of decent opponents to challenge him at both Domestic and European level.

    As with most fighters at this stage in his career, Barker should be looking upwards at challenging for major honours. A showdown with fellow British fighter Matthew Macklin would be preferable but Macklin is likely to pursue a rematch with WBA Middleweight World Champion Felix Sturm later this year.

    It is widely known that Barker may be on the verge of fighting Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion Sergio Martinez. A formal announcement has not yet been made but to fight Martinez would be a massive coup for Barker.

    However, Martinez may be a bit too much for Barker at this stage in his career, and with a lack opponents willing to face him, the Ring Magazine's number 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world is looking for an easy challenge.

    Could Barker provide a major upset?

5: Matthew Macklin (Middleweight)

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    Titles: None (Former European Middleweight Champion - Vacated)

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 3 Middleweight

    Record: 31 Fights - 28 Wins - 3 Losses

    If Matthew Macklin had fought Felix Sturm in any other country than Germany it is quite likely that he would have been crowned WBA Middleweight World Champion on 2nd July 2011.

    As it was, Felix Sturm won on a controversial split decision which left Macklin, boxing pundits and fans clamouring for a rematch. According to reports a rematch is scheduled for November this year in Germany.

    Macklin will be aware that if the contest goes to the judges then the decision is likely to be in Sturm's favour again unless he completely dominates him. This shows guts on behalf of the Macklin team that they are willing to go to Germany in light of what happened last time.

    Macklin is a decent fighter and showed his credentials in the fight with Sturm. If the fight with Sturm does not occur for any reason then Macklin is not short of options. Dimtry Pirog and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would provide a decent challenge.

4: Nathan Cleverly (Light-Heavyweight)

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    Titles: WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 5 Light-Heavyweight

    Record: 22 Fights - 22 Wins - 0 Losses

    Nathan Cleverly is another of Britain's future boxing superstars capable of dominating his weight division. After just 22 fights the Welshman is the WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion.

    Cleverly has defeated the best that the domestic and European level fighters have to offer and is now pursuing the bigger bouts. Cleverly defeated the tough Karot Murat in September 2010 before a scheduled fight against the then WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion Jurgen Brahmer.

    Brahmer had legal problems prior to the contest but was not prevented from attending the fight scheduled for 21st May 2011. At the time Cleverly was the 'Interim' champion. Brahmer selfishly failed to show up without reason and he was promply stripped of the title with Cleverly upgraded to full champion. Cleverly was upset at not being able to win the title from Brahmer on merit.

    The Welshman has a style similar to that of his fellow countryman Joe Calzaghe along with his power. With any luck Cleverly will be pursuing the likes of Tavoris Cloud and Bernard Hopkins in the near future.

    Definately a fighter to watch.

3: Ricky Burns (Super-Featherweight)

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    Titles: WBO Super-Featherweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 2 Super-Featherweight

    Record: 33 Fights - 31 Wins - 2 Losses

    Ricky Burns captured the WBO Super-Featherweight World Title in September 2010 with a shock win over reigning champion Roman Martinez.

    It was widely expected that Puerto Rican fighter Martinez would be too much for Burns and the challenger was knocked down in the first round. Burns won every round after that with a disciplined display and emerged victorious with a unanimous decision. Martinez has not fought again since the defeat.

    Ricky Burns has become Scotland's 13th World Championship Boxer.

    Since the Martinez fight, Burns has defended his title against Andreas Evensen and Joseph Laryea. Burns will fight former WBO Super-Featherweight Champion Nicky Cook this Saturday in Liverpool, UK.

    With the IBF and Ring Magazine titles now vacant, Burns will be expected to press ahead and unify the division should he get past Cook. The division has decent talent and fights against Jorge Solis and Takashi Uchiyama would test the popular and likable Scot.

2: Amir Khan (Junior-Welterweight)

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    Titles: WBA Junior-Welterweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating - Number 2 Junior-Welterweight

    Record: 26 Fights - 25 Wins - 1 Loss

    Amir Khan has developed into a much better fighter since teaming up with Freddie Roach. He is challenging the best in the division having defeated Marcos Maidana last year.

    Khan will be fighting IBF Junior-Welterweight Champion Zab Judah in a unification bout on 23rd July 2011.

    Questions are still asked about his chin after his one and only knockout defeat to Columbian Bredis Prescott on 6th December 2008. There were numerous occasions during the Maidana fight that Khan was seriously troubled but Maidana did not do enough to finish Khan off.

    Khan is a fast, slick and entertaining fighter to watch. However, his relationship with the boxing fans in the UK can only be described as lukewarm at best.

    After going pro in 2005, Khan fought a series of poor fighters and lost when he finally came up against a decent opponent in Prescott. Unfair comparisons were made between Khan and Audley Harrison after the Prescott fight.

    The main problem is Golden Boy Promotions insistence that Khan is a 'Pay-Per-View Fighter.' The boxing public show with their pockets that a fighter is pay-per-view rather than being told what they should be paying for.

    Khan learned the hard way when his fight with Paul McCloskey was pulled from Sky Sports Pay-Per-View in the UK and put on a standard Sky Sports channel. Team Khan decided to cut ties with Sky and chose small channel Primetime to show the fight. Khan lost more exposure simply to make a bit more money but the PPV sales showed he failed to make a profit.

    Whilst Khan is at odds with the UK Broadcasters he will fail to generate a big following in his own country. Khan is relying on being able to defeat Judah and sell himself to the US market. If he was to fail, Khan may not be able to take being a contender fighting on smaller cards for less money. Leaving Sky who have supported him for years may have been a bad idea.

    Khan may learn the hard way - never bite the hand that feeds you. 

1: Carl Froch (Super-Middleweight)

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    Titles: WBC Super-Middleweight Champion

    Ring Magazine Rating—No. 2 Super-Middleweight

    Record: 29 Fights—28 Wins-1 Loss

    Carl Froch is the current No. 1 British pound-for-pound fighter.

    It has taken too long for the 'Cobra' to gain the recognition he so rightly deserves. Froch has defeated world class opposition in Jean Pascal, Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson.

    Froch is exciting to watch in a time where many boxers employ hit and run tactics. Froch fights toe-to-toe with his opponents in a war of attrition. Froch breaks his foe down physically before going in for the kill.

    Froch's greatest weakness is his defence, which in all honesty is non-existent. But he counters his defensive weakness with a granite chin which always takes a battering with his low guard.

    Froch will soon be taking on WBA Super-Middleweight Champion Andre Ward in the final of Showtime's Boxing Super Six. Ward is fast and loads his punches in quick combinations. Froch will find it hard to defend himself against Ward and we will see how many punches his granite chin can take. 

    Ward will provide a tough fight for Froch but Ward will not have come up against such a solid opponent. It is quite likely that Ward will win the early rounds. But if Froch takes Ward to the later rounds, it will be Ward's chin that will be tested 

    It may be unwise to bet against the 'Cobra' walking away with the trophy.