December top fighters by division
What changes were made in the weight class rankings for December? Dan Rafael reveals his new world standings.
Check out my rankings within each boxing division by clicking on the links below. The next rankings will be updated on the second Thursday of each month.
Who is the world's best fighter, regardless of weight class? See my pound-for-pound rankings.
Note: Results through Dec. 7:
1. Chris Byrd (39-2-1)
In the wake of Vitali Klitschko's retirement, longest reigning heavyweight titlist takes over the top spot. But Byrd's ongoing legal duel with promoter Don King has been a huge distraction, and it might cost him a lucrative March title defense against Wladimir Klitschko.
2. James Toney (69-4-2)
Named mandatory for Hasim Rahman, and they'll probably meet in March, but he and promoter Dan Goossen should be ashamed of themselves for asking for a 50-50 purse bid split rather than the traditional 75-25 in favor of the titleholder. Toney has done nothing to deserve that kind of bump in his pay -- unless testing positive for steroids counts.
Next: TBA vs. Rahman
3. Lamon Brewster (33-2)
If Byrd doesn't come to terms for a Klitschko fight in March, Brewster probably will face Klitschko instead, in a rematch against the man he took the belt from. The fight would be in Germany, where Brewster is familiar with the hostile territory. He knocked out his last opponent, Luan Krasniqi, there.
4. John Ruiz (41-5-1)
He'll have his hands full with 7-foot, 340-pound mandatory Nicolay Valuev later this month. As if that is not imposing enough, Ruiz has the unenviable task of defending his belt in one of the toughest places on earth for a foreigner to win a decision: Germany. If you've been rooting long and hard to be rid of Ruiz, this might be your best chance.
Next: Dec. 17 vs. Valuev
5. Hasim Rahman (41-5-1)
Had the interim tag dropped from his title when Vitali Klitschko retired but didn't get the much-needed $4.2 million payday he would have gotten had the fight with Klitschko taken place. Now, Rahman must face Toney in a very tough fight for much less money.
Next:TBA vs. Toney
6. Wladimir Klitschko (45-3)
Baby brother of retired champ Vitali Klitschko will get a title shot early next year in an HBO fight in Germany. It will be against either Byrd or Brewster, whichever one comes to terms first.
Next: March 11 or 18 vs. TBA
7. Calvin Brock (27-0)
Returned home to Charlotte to outpoint David Bostice on Nov. 19 in a stay-busy fight while waiting for promoter Main Events to find him something significant. If the much-discussed David Tua bout doesn't come off, Brock could land on the Feb. 25 undercard of the Fernando Vargas-Shane Mosley fight.
8. Samuel Peter (24-1)
Returns from disappointing September loss to Wladimir Klitschko to face journeyman Robert Hawkins on a small pay-per-view card. We expect nothing less than a big knockout from Peter.
Next: Dec. 15 vs. Hawkins
9. David Tua (44-3-1)
"Tuaman" has posted two wins this year after a two-year layoff while he battled his former managers in court. Now there is talk that he will face Brock, but the fight is on hold for the moment because there is no available TV date for the attractive fight.
10. Monte Barrett (31-4)
Outclassed by Rahman in a decision loss when they met in August for an interim title, which eventually became a main title when Vitali Klitschko retired. Barrett always has been the kind of fighter to fall just short in a big spot.
1. Jean-Marc Mormeck (31-2)
Frenchman is the big favorite to defeat O'Neil Bell at the Madison Square Garden Theater and join Evander Holyfield as the only other fighter to claim the undisputed cruiserweight championship. Kudos to Showtime for showcasing this underrated division.
Next: Jan. 7 vs. Bell
2. Guillermo Jones (33-3-2)
He's the obvious fighter to get the first crack at the Mormeck-Bell winner. He deserves it and is Mormeck's mandatory.
3. Steve Cunningham (18-0)
If Jones doesn't face the Mormeck-Bell winner, it should be Cunningham, who is mandatory for Bell's title. The division might not get much attention or respect, but there are good fighters at the top of it.
4. Johnny Nelson (45-12-2)
The 38-year-old Brit ended 14-month layoff by retaining belt on a decision against mandatory Vincenzo Cantatore in Italy on Nov. 26. Next up could be a Jan. 28 showdown with rising British star Enzo Maccarinelli, who blew out a tomato can in the first round on the undercard.
5. O'Neil Bell (25-1-1)
Mormeck is clearly the better overall fighter, but Bell has the sort of punching power that can change a fight with one shot. He'll need it to beat Mormeck, but anything is possible.
Next: Jan. 7 vs. Mormeck
6. Dale Brown (34-4-1)
Will fight an opponent to be named on the untelevised undercard of Warrior's Boxing's upcoming pay-per-view show to prepare for a March bout against Felix Cora Jr.
Next: Dec. 15 vs. TBA
7. Wayne Braithwaite (21-2)
With promoter Don King so entrenched in the division, it's probably just a matter of time until the former champ gets another crack.
8. Carl Thompson (34-6)
Exciting British slugger returned from 14-month layoff to outpoint Frederic Serrat in an entertaining fight on the Nov. 26 Ricky Hatton-Carlos Maussa undercard.
9. Virgil Hill (49-5)
After multiple postponements, mandatory bout with Valery Brudov of Russia for a bogus vacant belt is back on yet again. And get this: They expect people to buy that trash on pay-per-view. We'd rather flush $25 down the toilet than pay for that.
Next: Jan. 27 vs. Brudov
10. Sebastian Rothmann (18-4-2)
South African-based Israeli had Bell in serious trouble, easily outboxing him most of the way. However, then he ran into that monster punch and got knocked out in the 11th of a recent title challenge.
1. Antonio Tarver (24-3)
He's playing heavyweight champ Mason "The Line" Dixon in the sixth "Rocky" movie. Get used to seeing him bulked up because we'd be shocked if he ever fought at light heavyweight again.
2. Glen Johnson (43-10-2)
Former champ was supposed to face Orlando Rivera on Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Dec. 15, but the card was so bogged down with problems and fallouts that it was canceled. The fight probably will never happen as Johnson's mandatory shot at Clinton Woods grows closer.
3. Zsolt Erdei (23-0)
Best light heavyweight fight Europe could ask for would be to see Erdei face either Fabrice Tiozzo or Tomasz Adamek in a unification bout. However, boxing's gruesome politics mean neither match is likely to happen.
4. Fabrice Tiozzo (47-2)
Was supposed to defend against Australia's Paul Murdoch on Dec. 5, but Tiozzo pulled out of the date. Depending whom you believe, Tiozzo was either ill or was having a bear of a time making weight. Whatever the real reason, no great loss.
5. Roy Jones Jr. (49-4)
HBO rejected a recent offer of a rematch with titlist Clinton Woods, but there remains the prospect of an HBO PPV rematch with Bernard Hopkins, the perfect fight for each of them to close out obvious Hall of Fame careers.
6. Tomasz Adamek (30-0)
Polish titlist's first defense, a knockout of Thomas Ulrich, was impressive, and Adamek is an exciting fresh face in a division that could use a new face. It's time for the TV executives at HBO and Showtime to give him a chance.
7. Clinton Woods (38-3-1)
Mandatory title defense against Johnson looms, a fight Woods probably does not want. Can you blame him? He already has a loss and a gift draw against Johnson.
8. Julio Gonzalez (38-3)
Scored unanimous decision victory against Jason DeLisle on Nov. 17 to rebound nicely from points loss in a title bout against Woods.
9. Paul Briggs (24-2)
Rematch of May brawl with Adamek is exactly the type of exciting match the TV executives at HBO and Showtime should be pursuing. Relatively speaking, it's not that expensive, and it probably would be another barn burner.
10. Montell Griffin (47-6)
Former champ is looking for a fight, and his handlers are trying to shop a match against George Khalid Jones.
1. Joe Calzaghe (39-0)
Despite the announcement and news conferences, it's still hard to believe that unification fight with Jeff Lacy actually will happen, but we sure hope it does. It's one of the 10 best fights you can make in boxing.
Next: March 4 vs. Lacy
2. Jeff Lacy (21-0)
Lacy has wanted to fight the best and finally gets the chance when he faces Calzaghe, although he will do so on Calzaghe's turf in the United Kingdom. Whatever happens, we'd be shocked if it weren't an entertaining fight.
Next: March 4 vs. Calzaghe
3. Mikkel Kessler (36-0)
We expect Danish titlist to remain undefeated when he is host to former champ Eric Lucas of Canada. Kessler simply has too much youth and power for Lucas to stay with him at this stage of his career. Ideally, Kessler will face the Lacy-Calzaghe winner.
Next: Jan. 14 vs. Lucas
4. Markus Beyer (33-2)
Here we go again. Mr. Boring from Germany refuses to pick a serious opponent if not forced to, so what's next for him? How about Alberto Colajanni, an undefeated Italian who has never fought outside of Italy? And although he is 18-0, he has just two knockouts against 18 schmears and is in no way, shape or form deserving of a championship fight at this point.
5. Danny Green (20-2)
In his second fight with new trainer Ismael Salas, Green faces rugged spoiler Kirino Garcia (37-26-3, 26 KOs) in a tuneup for a much-anticipated early 2006 showdown with countryman Anthony Mundine.
Next: Dec. 11 vs. Garcia
6. Anthony Mundine (24-3)
With Australian megafight against Green on tap for February, Mundine is taking no chances in the tuneup fight. He'll face New Zealand journeyman Rico Chong Nee (10-6-2, 6 KOs), who is 1-5-2 in his last eight bouts.
Next: Dec. 11 vs. Nee
7. Otis Grant (38-2-1)
If Canadian contender wants to get a title shot at Beyer, he'll have to go through Golden Boy's undefeated Librado Andrade.
8. Librado Andrade (22-0)
Purse bid for elimination bout with Grant pushed back from Nov. 19 to Dec. 20. The winner of that eventual bout will get a mandatory shot at Beyer.
9. Robin Reid (38-5-1)
Although Reid pushed Calzaghe to the limit in a decision loss a few years ago and was knocked out by Lacy this past summer, that doesn't necessarily mean Lacy will defeat Calzaghe; Kessler's people inquired about Reid as an opponent, but Reid priced himself out of the fight.
10. Eric Lucas (38-6-3)
He'll get one more payday when he goes to Denmark to challenge Kessler in a title challenge we give Lucas no shot at winning.
Next: Jan. 14 vs. Kessler
1. Jermain Taylor (25-0)
Although it sure was close again, Taylor scored a second consecutive decision victory over Bernard Hopkins. And though it would have been nice had Taylor fought more effectively in the second half of both bouts with Hopkins, there are no more questions -- Taylor is the legitimate middleweight world champion.
2. Winky Wright (49-3)
Assuming he handles Sam Soliman, which he should in fairly easy style, Wright will hear the drum beat for an eventual fight with Taylor. Wright will deserve it, too.
Next: Saturday vs. Soliman
3. Bernard Hopkins (46-4-1)
Two ultraclose losses to Taylor at age 40 don't diminish a legacy of 20 consecutive title defenses and a 12-year unbeaten run. But it is probably time to retire now because he is incapable of fighting a full fight or putting together any meaningful combinations.
4. Felix Sturm (24-1)
A left elbow injury scuttled a Nov. 26 fight for Maselino Masoe's bogus title, but the initial diagnosis that Sturm would need surgery was revised. Now, he just needs to rest before returning early next year. Eventually, we want to see him face Taylor in a rematch of a 2000 Olympic bout Taylor won.
5. Arthur Abraham (18-0)
On the heels of a solid victory against Howard Eastman in July, the German-based Armenian will face Kingsley Ikeke for a title belt vacated by Taylor. It should be a highly competitive fight.
Next: Saturday vs. Ikeke
6. Howard Eastman (40-3)
After back-to-back decision losses to Abraham and Hopkins, he is in desperate need of a victory to keep his flagging title hopes alive.
7. Kingsley Ikeke (23-1)
The winner of the Ikeke-Abraham bout, which is in Germany, will claim a vacant belt but remain largely in the shadow of Taylor, the real champ.
Next: Saturday vs. Abraham
8. Sam Soliman (31-7)
Australian contender's best hope against Wright is that either Soliman's awkward style will give Wright problems or that Wright is taking him lightly while dreaming of a big-money fight with Taylor.
Next: Saturday vs. Wright
9. Raymond Joval (35-4)
Went to Australia and knocked out hometown favorite Shannan Taylor in the 10th round Nov. 27. That's a very good victory for Joval, who has won both of his bouts since a decision loss to Fernando Vargas in March. This week, Joval signed with Northeast Promotions.
10. Kelly Pavlik (27-0)
Top Rank will make its move with the 23-year-old puncher in 2006, beginning with a featured fight against brawler Jose Luis Zertuche on the Erik Morales-Manny Pacquiao II HBO PPV undercard
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Zertuche
1. Roman Karmazin (34-1-1)
He has been mentioned for a variety of fights and TV slots, but so far there's nothing concrete. We think, however, that there eventually will be a rematch with Kassim Ouma, whom he upset for the title in July.
2. Kassim Ouma (22-2-1)
As he continues his comeback from a summer title loss to Karmazin, Ouma will headline ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" against experienced Francisco Mora of Argentina. They'll fight to become the No. 1 contender for new titlist Sergej Dzindziruk.
Next: Jan. 27 vs. Mora
3. Ricardo Mayorga (27-5-1)
He'll be the underdog when he defends paper title against Oscar De La Hoya in the spring, but Mayorga can punch as well as anyone and De La Hoya will be coming off a 20-month layoff. It won't come as a surprise to us if he drills De La Hoya.
Next: May 6 vs. De La Hoya
4. Fernando Vargas (26-2)
Fight with Shane Mosley isn't for a title and neither man is what he once was, but they both have star power and styles that mesh well. We believe it will be an outstanding fight.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Mosley
5. Sergej Dzindziruk (31-0)
German-based Ukrainian is a former European champ who claimed a world title with a close unanimous decision against Daniel Santos on Dec. 3 in Germany. But besides the Santos bout, Dzindziruk's 31-0 record has been built against virtual unknowns.
6. Daniel Santos (29-3-1)
Returned from 14-month layoff to lose title on a close decision to mandatory challenger Dzindziruk, who punctuated the victory with an eighth-round knockdown.
7. Ike Quartey (37-2-1)
Ex-welterweight champ dominated game Carlos Bojorquez until stopping him in the 10th round on the Taylor-Hopkins II undercard. After three victories in his three comeback fights, Quartey is ready for something significant.
8. Alex "Terra" Garcia (25-1)
Don King, if you're reading this: Please do your job and put this exciting, power-punching titleholder on the televised portion of one of your cards already. Time's a-wasting.
9. Rodney Jones (36-3-1)
Faced Raul Frank in an eliminator to determine Karmazin's mandatory on the Oct. 1 Tarver-Jones III undercard. The sleep-inducing fight turned out to be a draw -- a fair decision given that neither guy did anything. Now, they'll meet in a rematch that figures to be just as bad.
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Frank
10. Javier Castillejo (59-6)
So much for his talk about retirement. Former champ outpointed Presente Brito in an eight-rounder in native Spain last month in first bout since suffering a lopsided decision loss to Vargas in August. Now looms as mandatory for European titlist Sebastian Sylvester.
1. Zab Judah (34-2)
Undisputed champ faces weak mandatory Carlos Baldomir on Showtime, but if Judah wins, we expect to see him in a far more meaningful fight: an April showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on HBO PPV.
Next: Jan. 7 vs. Baldomir
2. Antonio Margarito (32-4)
Delayed title defense against Manuel Gomez -- put on hold when the November Vitali Klitschko-Rahman heavyweight card was canceled -- will headline a Top Rank pay-per-view card in Las Vegas.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Gomez
3. Cory Spinks (34-3)
He has been idle since losing undisputed title on a knockout to Judah in February. Since then, Spinks has been embroiled in contract issues with promoter Don King and domestic problems with his wife. Doesn't leave much time for boxing.
4. Shane Mosley (41-4)
Returned to welterweight this year after losing two junior middleweight title fights to Winky Wright in 2004. But with the lure of big money, Mosley is headed back up to 154 pounds for a showdown with fellow star Fernando Vargas in what we expect will be a terrific fight.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Vargas
5. Manuel Gomez (27-10-2)
"Shotgun" has waited this long for a title shot, so what's another few months now that his delayed bout with Margarito has been rescheduled?
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Margarito
6. Thomas Damgaard (37-0)
Southpaw from Denmark will risk perfect record when he ventures outside his home country for the first time in his career to face Arturo Gatti on HBO. If he beats Gatti, we won't consider it that big of an upset.
Next: Jan. 28 vs. Gatti
7. Luis Collazo (26-1)
King won purse bid for Collazo's mandatory defense against Oktay Urkal and probably will take the fight to Germany early next year.
Next: TBA vs. Urkal
8. Kermit Cintron (25-1)
There was talk of a Showtime bout against former champ Vernon Forrest at 154 pounds in January, but those rumors have cooled and Showtime's schedule is now set for January, February and March.
9. Oktay Urkal (36-3)
He has been a good fighter for a long time but has lost all three of his world title bouts at 140 pounds, to Kostya Tszyu and Vivian Harris (twice). For that reason alone, you have to give Collazo the edge when they meet.
Next: TBA vs. Collazo
10. Joshua Clottey (28-1)
Buried deep on the Taylor-Hopkins II undercard, rugged Clottey shut out journeyman Marcos Primera. None of the top fighters want to fight Clottey because he's dangerous and brings nothing to the table in terms of money or recognition. Promoter Lou DiBella has a tough job in front of him to get Clottey a meaningful fight.
1. Ricky Hatton (40-0)
Followed career-defining victory against Kostya Tszyu with impressive 10th-round knockout of Carlos Maussa last month to unify two belts and further cement his status as the real champ at 140 pounds. Now, Hatton is looking to come to America for the really big money fights.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (35-0)
Overwhelmed Sharmba Mitchell in the exact kind of mismatch we predicted for months. That overpriced fight -- HBO paid a sick $3.75 million for that garbage -- was just as putrid in the ring as it was on paper. But thankfully it is over, and hopefully we'll next see Mayweather challenge Zab Judah for the undisputed welterweight title.
Next: April 8 vs. TBA
3. Miguel Cotto (25-0)
Star titlist from Puerto Rico is recovering from a perforated ear drum, but when he returns in March, he is expected to headline a Top Rank pay-per-view card or appear on HBO. Eventually, though, we want to see him fight Hatton.
Next: March 11 or 18 vs. TBA
4. Kostya Tszyu (31-2)
Despite recent rumors in the Australian media that he is going to continue his career and move up to welterweight, Tszyu denied it and said he is still deciding on his next career move.
5. Arturo "Thunder" Gatti (39-7)
In wake of loss to Mayweather, Gatti is moving up to welterweight to face undefeated southpaw Thomas Damgaard of Denmark. However, there has been talk that if Gatti wins, he could then challenge Hatton in mid-2006 in a major HBO fight.
Next: Jan. 28 vs. Damgaard
6. Junior Witter (33-1-2)
European champ's mandatory against Giuseppe Lauri isn't due for nine months, so Witter will focus on world title eliminator with Gianluca Branco of Italy. More likely, however, is that Witter-Branco will wind up being for a title because Mayweather is sure to vacate before facing the Witter-Branco winner.
Next: TBA vs. Branco
7. DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley (31-4-1)
Former titlist has been mentioned as a candidate to face Cotto in March in what would be a rematch of a fight that Corley clearly was losing before a questionable stoppage.
8. Carlos Maussa (19-3)
Put up just the sort of spirited effort we expected against Hatton on Nov. 26, but was outclassed and stopped in the 10th round of their unification bout.
Next: Nov. 26 vs. Hatton
9. Vivian Harris (25-2-1)
Left in limbo after upset loss to Maussa in June, Harris took the first step to getting his career back on track by signing with promoter Gary Shaw.
10. Ricardo Torres (28-1)
Colombian puncher injured his hand, forcing him to back out of a Dec. 10 bout in Puerto Rico against Henry Bruseles, a stablemate of Cotto, who beat Torres in a sensational September brawl.
1. Jose Luis Castillo (53-7-1)
The rubber match with rival Diego Corrales is on -- their third fight in nine months -- and we're predicting another Castillo victory. However, he had better make the weight this time or we doubt Corrales will get in the ring with him. He won't make that mistake twice.
Next: Feb. 4 vs. Corrales
2. Diego "Chico" Corrales (40-3)
He has gotten the worst of the punishment in his two fights and 14 rounds with Castillo, so we think he's at a disadvantage going back in for a third time in nine months. He needs a longer rest. But he's a fighter and told us he is looking forward to it. Being honest, so are we.
Next: Feb. 4 vs. Castillo
3. Acelino "Popo" Freitas (37-1)
Corrales is about to be stripped of one of his belts for agreeing to a third bout with Castillo instead of a rematch with mandatory challenger (and former titlist) Freitas. That means Freitas will get an opportunity to fight for a vacant belt in the spring.
4. Juan Diaz (28-0)
Mandatory rematch with former titlist Lakva Sim was supposed to be Dec. 15 on a Fox Sports Net card, but Sim got cut in training and the fight was canceled. Could be rescheduled in January.
Next: TBA vs. Sim
5. Joel Casamayor (31-3-1)
Proposed bout with South African contender Isaac Hlatshwayo (22-0) didn't sound too realistic when promoter Cedric Kushner mentioned it. So it's no surprise it's not happening.
6. Julio Diaz (32-3)
Former titlist has rebounded well from a tough 10th-round TKO loss to Castillo in March to win both of his ensuing fights by first-round knockout. We fully expect him to get another significant opportunity.
7. Juan Lazcano (35-3-1)
In second fight since ending a 14-month layoff, he drilled Courtney Burton in the ninth round Nov. 11. Now, the "Hispanic Causing Panic" and promoter Golden Boy are seeking a meaningful fight.
8. Zahir Raheem (27-1)
It's almost as though his upset victory against Erik Morales in September never happened. Raheem came, he won and he has disappeared.
9. Jesus Chavez (43-3)
According to Golden Boy, Chavez is on board to defend his belt against Marco Antonio Barrera but Barrera has not yet agreed. Let's hope it happens because it has a chance to be a sensational fight.
10. Lakva Sim (21-4-1)
The first time he faced Juan Diaz, he did so with an injured shoulder and lost a decision. While training for the Dec. 15 rematch, Sim suffered a cut that was too severe for him to go on with the fight. It will be rescheduled eventually.
Next: TBA vs. Juan Diaz
1. Marco Antonio Barrera (61-4)
Unified champ still debating whether he will make jump to 135 to challenge titlist Jesus Chavez or stay at 130 and further unify with Jorge Barrios. Either way, we'll be happy because they are both outstanding fights.
Next: March 25 vs. TBA
2. Erik Morales (48-3)
Smartly decided to return to 130 pounds for his rematch with Manny Pacquiao after a disastrous foray to 135, where Zahir Raheem toyed with him in a lopsided decision.
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Pacquiao
3. Manny Pacquiao (40-3-2)
Yes, Morales lost his last fight, but that has nothing to do with the rematch with Pacquiao. We think it's the same fight all over again, which means another Pacquiao defeat in another great fight.
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Morales
4. Jorge Barrios (44-2-1)
The exciting titleholder is set for a nontitle bout in his native Argentina to be followed by a major fight in the United States, perhaps a unification bout with Barrera. Golden Boy also has made overtures to Don King for a unification bout with Vicente Mosquera.
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Nazareno Gaston Ruiz
5. Carlos Hernandez (41-6-1)
It has been two months and we're still ticked off about how badly he was robbed of the decision against Bobby Pacquiao. To us, that was as clear a victory as there is in a distance fight.
6. Vicente Mosquera (21-1-1)
He's the perfect illustration of one of boxing's biggest problems: He won a world title in April in a terrific fight to open up all sorts of possibilities for future exciting fights and paydays. He hasn't fought since, and now any momentum he had is gone. However, there are rumblings he could face heavily hyped Edwin Valero early next year.
7. Yodsanan Nanthachai (45-3-1)
Thai southpaw and former titlist picked up two six-round decision victories in the past few weeks, one Nov. 17 and one Dec. 5. The latter drew 80,000 in Bangkok to a card held in honor of Thailand King Bhumiphol's birthday.
8. Alex Arthur (21-1)
European champ saw showdown with Willie Limond fall apart after Limond withdrew from his mandatory position to go in another direction. That leaves Arthur to face Ricky Burns instead in an all-Scottish fight.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Burns
9. Robbie Peden (25-3)
After losing belt in a lopsided unification fight against Barrera, Peden is on a break. Promoter Dan Goossen would love to get him a crack at Mosquera.
10. Manuel Medina (65-14)
Former five-time featherweight titlist successfully moved up to 130 to score a fifth-round TKO of Miguel Angel Galindo in Mexico, and he would like one more title shot before calling it a career.
1. Juan Manuel Marquez (44-2-1)
First he was stripped of both of his belts for ridiculous political reasons. Then, after realizing that he had little choice, he agreed to go to Indonesia to face Chris John as the challenger for a paltry $31,250. Then the fight was postponed. Twice. Perhaps he should stop walking under ladders and breaking mirrors?
Next: TBA vs. John
2. Injin Chi (30-2-1)
Korean titlist returns from leg injury that forced him out of defending against Rocky Juarez in August. Next, Chi faces Takashi Koshimoto (38-1-2) of Japan, a 35-year-old southpaw at the end of his career. Eventually, Chi will have to face interim titlist Humberto Soto. That is, unless the disgusting WBC continues to perpetrate the fraud of having two titlists in the same division.
Next:Jan. 29 vs. Koshimoto
3. Scott Harrison (25-2-2)
Now that he's safely through his mandatory defense against Nedal Hussein, Harrison can turn his attention to the toughest fight of his career: a mandatory defense against former 122-pound titlist Joan Guzman.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Guzman
4. Humberto Soto (38-5-2)
Interim titlist's rematch of a 2004 no contest with Jorge Solis (28-0-2) was slated for Dec. 17 but postponed because Soto came down with the flu.
Next: Feb. 3 vs. Solis
5. Chris John (36-0-1)
Indonesian paper titleholder's mandatory against division king Marquez was supposed to be Dec. 17 but it was postponed for a second time after John suffered an ankle injury in training. Now it probably won't happen until at least February.
Next: TBA vs. Marquez
6. Rocky Juarez (23-1)
Returns from highly competitive loss to Humberto Soto in August to face journeyman Reynaldo Hurtado in Corpus Christi. If Juarez wins, we expect to see him back in a prime fight in the first part of next year.
Next: Friday vs. Hurtado
7. Joan Guzman (24-0)
Big puncher from the Dominican Republic is a former junior featherweight titlist with an excellent shot to win another title when he travels to Harrison's native Scotland for a mandatory challenge. It should be an explosive fight.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Harrison
8. Victor Polo (34-5-3)
Lost a lopsided decision to Marquez in May, Polo's fifth unsuccessful try for a world title. Can't blame the guy for taking a long break after that disappointment.
9. Derrick Gainer (39-7-1)
Former featherweight titlist hasn't fought since lopsided loss to John in April, and there's been no sign of him since. Not that there's anything wrong with that, given his agonizing style.
10. Nicky Cook (25-0)
For the second time since August, Brit suffered a right-hand injury, forcing him to pull out of a fight. This time he backed out of a Nov. 18 European title defense against Yuri Voronin, but it will be rescheduled for next year.
Next: TBA vs. Voronin
1. Israel Vazquez (39-3)
New Ring magazine champ unified alphabet belts in rubber match with Oscar Larios to ascend to the top of the 122-pound rankings. He knocked Larios down in the first round and stopped him on a bloody cut in the third round on the Taylor-Hopkins II undercard. It was a huge victory for Vazquez and his promoter, Sycuan Ringside Promotions.
2. Mahyar Monshipour (28-2-2)
Titlist from France was ringside to watch Vazquez-Larios III in the hopes that he eventually will face the winner. What a fight that would be.
Next: TBA vs. Somsak Sithchatchawlan
3. Oscar Larios (56-4-1)
Tried to play games by signing for a unification bout with Vazquez and then refusing to follow the rules at the last minute, which meant that had Larios won, the belts would not have been unified. So we're pleased that Vazquez won, saving us from an unnecessary controversy, and that Larios got what he deserved.
4. Celestino Caballero (23-2)
Southpaw from Panama outpointed former titlist Yorber Ortega on Oct. 15 to claim an interim title; could wind up facing former bantamweight champ Tim Austin, who is on the comeback trail after a 2½-year layoff.
5. Daniel Ponce De Leon (27-1)
Brute puncher claimed a vacant title Oct. 29 and promoter Golden Boy has been receiving offers for him to fight, including one from France to face Monshipour in a unification bout. We'd love to see it, but we'd favor Monshipour.
Other contenders: Yoddamrong Sithyodthong, Poonsawat Kratingaengym, Sergio Manuel Medina, Ricardo Cordoba
1. Rafael Marquez (35-3)
There's not much left for this dominant champion at 118 pounds, but if he is going to stay at the weight, the fights we'd like to see are a rematch with Genaro Garcia or a unification bout with Jhonny Gonzalez.
2. Hozumi Hasegawa (19-2)
Has mandatory due against Diego Morales, which was delayed because of an injury to Morales. If he wins that fight, a rematch with Sahaprom is probable.
Next: TBA vs. Morales
3. Veeraphol Sahaprom (51-2-2)
Former champ knocked out Rey Llagas (57-27-3) with a second-round body shot Dec. 6 in Thailand, his fourth straight win since losing title to Hasegawa in April.
4. Jhonny Gonzalez (31-4)
Ultraexciting puncher will make first defense of the belt he won Oct. 29 on the HBO PPV undercard of the Vargas-Mosley fight. He has no opponent yet, but Golden Boy hopes to match him with former flyweight and junior bantamweight champ Mark Johnson.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. TBA
5. Genaro Garcia (34-4)
Slated to face veteran contender Ricardo "Chapo" Vargas in a 12-rounder on the Mormeck-Bell undercard. It's a quality matchup that, like many of Don King's excellent undercard fights, won't be televised. Next: Jan. 7 vs. Vargas
Other contenders: Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, Silence Mabuza, Wladimir Sidorenko, Cruz Carvajal, Ivan "Choko" Hernandez
1. Martin Castillo (29-1)
Mandatory rematch with former champ Alexander Munoz was one of the undercard casualties when Klitschko-Rahman was canceled, but it has been rescheduled for the Morales-Pacquiao II HBO PPV undercard
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Munoz
2. Fernando Montiel (31-1-1)
If the folks from Castillo promoter Top Rank and the people from Montiel promoter Golden Boy could mend fences, maybe boxing fans would be able to see the most meaningful fight in this division, Castillo-Montiel, not to mention several other outstanding matches in other weight classes. Until then, we can dream about those fights.
3. Luis Perez (23-1)
He's probably the worst-promoted, worst-managed champion in boxing. For a guy as exciting as he is -- not to mention a guy who doesn't cost all that much -- to languish so badly for the past few years borders on criminal.
4. Masamori Tokuyama (31-3-1)
Tokuyama is only 31 but has told Japanese media that, win or lose, he will retire after a mandatory defense against American Jose Navarro.
Next: Feb.27 vs. Navarro
5. Jose Navarro (23-1)
Got robbed in first title shot against Katsushige Kawashima in January but will get another shot next year against Tokuyama, who subsequently defeated Kawashima. However, the fight has been postponed from its original date of Jan. 3.
Next: Feb. 27 vs. Tokuyama
Other contenders: Katsushige Kawashima, Mark Johnson, Alexander Munoz
1. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (58-2)
Veteran Thai champion has made 12 title defenses, but he seems reluctant to face interim titlist Jorge Arce.
Next: TBA vs. Rosendo Alvarez
2. Jorge Arce (41-3-1)
Little dynamo defends interim belt in Monterey, Mexico, while awaiting eventual mandatory with Wonjongkam to be enforced. Is there a more exciting little guy to watch than Arce?
Next:Dec. 16 vs. Adonis Rivas
3. Lorenzo Parra (26-0)
Venezuela native had a surprisingly easy time as he dominated mandatory Brahim Asloum, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist for France who had been groomed for a championship since the day he turned pro. Parra scored a second-round knockdown and won a lopsided unanimous decision.
4. Vic Darchinyan (24-0)
Australia's "Raging Bull" has been allowed to pursue an optional title defense following the postponement of his mandatory against Damean Kelly and Kelly's subsequent participation in another fight. Darchinyan's next mandatory will be the winner of an eliminator between Mexico's Victor Burgos and Diosado Gabi of the Philippines.
5. Rosendo Alvarez (35-2-2)
Former 105 and 108 champ is scheduled to fight for the third time this year in his native Nicaragua in a bid to stay active while awaiting a title bout with Wonjongkam.
Next: Saturday vs. Jonathan Gutierrez
Other contenders: Victor Burgos, Irene Pacheco, Omar Narvaez, Brahim Asloum
1. Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon (23-0)
If Calderon retains title against former champ Daniel Reyes, the slick 105-pound champ is penciled in to defend on Top Rank's Feb. 18 PPV card headlined by the Margarito-Gomez welterweight title bout.
Next:Saturday vs. Reyes
2. Roberto "The Spider" Vasquez (20-1)
Exciting 22-year-old champion from Panama survived a third-round knockdown and scored his own 10th-round knockdown in a second successful defense of his 108-pound title, a decision against Nerys Espinoza of Nicaragua on Nov. 19.
3. Will Grigsby (18-2-1)
Mandatory against Ulises Solis will happen on the Mormeck-Bell undercard, but it will not be part of Showtime's broadcast. If you want to see it, you'll have to buy a ticket.
Next: Jan. 7 vs. Solis
4. Hugo Cazares (22-3-1)
His promoter, Golden Boy, has been talking about a series of fights between its champions and Don King's champions. If they're able to work it out, look for an eventual unification bout between Cazares and Grigsby.
5. Brian Viloria (18-0)
2000 U.S. Olympian will make first 108 defense on the Margarito-Gomez PPV card against former 105 titlist Jose Antonio Aguirre. Eventually, Viloria will probably face Calderon, one of his amateur rivals.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Aguirre
Other contenders: Nelson Dieppa, Yutaka Niida, Beibis Mendoza, Muhammad Rachman
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
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