1) Manny Pacquiao: 48-3-2, 36 KOs
Pacquiao defied all odds. He fought in three different weight divisions in 2008 and in the process claiming the Super featherweight and Lightweight crowns. His last performance against Oscar De La Hoya says it all.
With the help of his long-time trainer Freddie Roach Pacquiao, the Brawler has now become a brilliant boxer. Right now, boxing aficionados and fans are anticipating his next fight against the Pride of Britain, Ricky Hatton.
Analysis: Pacquiao could be eyeing his fifth world title in as many weight divisions. A fight with Floyd Mayweather is big but risky.
2) Juan Manuel Marquez: 49-4-1, 36 KOs
Last March, Marquez lost his Alphabet Belt to Pacquiao in a very close decision that saw both men bloodied. But he rebounded big time, schooling Joel Casamayor and then knocking him outin the late rounds to claim his Lightweight Lineal belt.
His next fight with Juan Diaz doesn't excite me. For one thing, I think the baby bull is raw for Marquez.
Analysis: Looks like Marquez really wants a third fight with Pacquaio. If that materializes, it might be a bitter end for Marquez.
The first fight I saw Pacquiao winning, the second fight I thought Marquez won—but based on Pacquiao's recent performance, it's clear for me now that Marquez have a very slim chance of winning.
3) Bernard Hopkins: 49-5-1, 32 KOs
Hopkins found the fountain of youth. Last October many experts and analysts never gave the old man a puncher's chance in winning his fight against Kelly Pavlik—but he proved the doubters wrong, as it was very clear that he outboxed the younger, faster and perhaps stronger Pavlik.
Analysis: 2008 might be the end of Hopkins' career, but it would be good for boxing if a rematch of him against Joe Calzhage would push through.
4) Israel Vazquez: 43-4-1, 31 KOs
Vazquez only fought once in 2008, in a brutal, bloody, action-packed and dramatic brawl against Rafael Marquez, perhaps the Best Trilogy in recent memory. Vazquez won in a close contest and retains his WBC belt.
Analysis: Right now Vazquez is getting his much needed rest after his trilogy with Marquez and Eye surgery might cost him several more months. It would be better if upon return, he would fight for a unification bout against any of the other title holders rather than to engage in a risky fourth clash with Marquez.
5) Joe Calzhage: 46-0-0, 32 KOs
Calzhage once held the WBO super-middleweight belt for a record ten years, until He Relinquished it this year to fight in the light heavyweight division, wherein he claimed two wins against future Hall of Famers.
Analysis, Calzhage is not getting any younger, but before he retires I would want him to face Hopkins for a rematch, and schedule another fight with a worthy opponent. I prefer Chad Dawson.
6) Antonio Margarito: 37-5-0, 27 KOs
Margarito had a very good year in 2008, with notable wins against the top contenders in his division—namely, Kermit Cintron and Miguel Cotto. In the Cotto fight, Margarito was considered an underdog but he showed heart and determination in knocking the highly favored Puerto Rican in the late rounds.
Analysis: I have a feeling that 2009 is Margarito's year, there's so many opportunities and if we can avenge his loss to Paul Williams and Erase all doubts by giving Cotto a rematch. We might see a new pound-for-pound king.
7) Rafael Marquez: 37-5-0, 33 KOs
Marquez has fought only once in 2008—a close, action-packed, Rocky Balboa-like brawl against Vazquez. Even though he lost, I think Marquez deserves and is worthy to be in everybody's pound-for-pound rankings.
Analysis: I like Marquez to be busy this year. At least three fights in 2009, and then he may be ready for the inevitable fourth encounter with Vazquez. I like him to fight credible opponents. I'm thinking of Gerry Penalosa, Celestino Caballero, orRicardo Cordova.
8) Paul Williams: 36-1-0, 27 KOs
Williams had a record of 3-1 in 2008 with wins against Carlos Quintana, Andy Kolle and the most recent is his big win against Verno Phillips.
Analysis, If Williams can get past Winky Wright, I would like him to face Vernon Forrest or Antonio Margarito. Any of these fights is winnable—and a win will definitely elevate him in my pound-for-pound list.
9) Ivan Calderon: 32-0-0, six KOs
Calderon might not even knock out my nine-year old brother, but he definitely deserves to be in this list. He is the best pure boxer of this generation. Even though Calderon lacks power, he has the technical skills that gives him the Ws.
Analysis: Calderon might want to train in the meat plant, punching cows just like Sylvester Stallone did. But seriously, I want him to clean the division—which I think is easy for him to do—by schooling Edgar Sosa and Ulises Solis.
10) Vic Darchinyan: 31-1-1, 25 KOs
Darchinyan's stance might not impress me, but his performances against top opposition in 2008 really wowed me. Well, his win with Dmitri Kirilov didn't surprise me, but his win against Christian Mijares is the real highlight of his year's performance.
Analysis: His upcoming fight with Jorge Arce will be the biggest test of his career. Even though I'm an Arce fan, my money would go on Darchinyan.
Edging closer in my list: Nonito Donaire, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Kelly Pavlik, and Fernando Montiel.
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