February top fighters by division
What changes were made in the weight class rankings for February? Dan Rafael reveals his new world standings.
Check out my rankings within each boxing division by clicking on the links below. The 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 Feb. 8:
1. Chris Byrd (39-2-1)
He and promoter Don King have finally reached a settlement on their bitter lawsuits against each other. They're going their separate ways, which paves the way for Byrd to defend his title in a rematch against Wladimir Klitschko in Germany on HBO.
Next: April 22 vs. Klitschko.
2. James Toney (69-4-2)
Win or lose, let's just hope he is steroid-free - and in shape -- when he challenges for Hasim Rahman's title.
Next: March 18 vs. Rahman
3. Lamon Brewster (33-2)
He has a title, he's American, he's articulate, he's got impressive stoppage wins against Klitschko, Andrew Golota and Luan Krasniqi, and yet, for reasons we can't explain, he can't seem to get arrested at either HBO or Showtime these days. What gives?
4. Hasim Rahman (41-5-1)
Many thought he was a one-hit wonder after he beat Lennox Lewis for the title and then was knocked out in their rematch. But if Rahman beats Toney, it will go a long way to erasing that image.
Next:March 18 vs. Toney
5. Wladimir Klitschko (45-3)
If his 2000 bout with Byrd is any indication - when Klitschko won in dominant fashion - then Klitschko ought to ravage him again in their rematch.
Next: April 22 vs. Byrd.
6. Nicolay Valuev (43-0)
The 7-foot, 330-pound Russian giant is scheduled to make his first title defense in Germany on April 1, the perfect date because it is April Fool's Day and anyone who would pay good money to watch him face thoroughly undeserving challenger Owen Beck is a fool.
Next:April 1 vs. Beck.
7. John Ruiz (41-6-1)
He plans to continue on after controversial loss to Valuev, but with no title, and no love from the fans, networks or media, it will be difficult for him to get another title opportunity. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
8. Calvin Brock (27-0)
If he can take care of business against journeyman Zuri Lawrence on the Fernando Vargas-Shane Mosley HBO PPV undercard, Brock is expected to headline HBO's "Boxing After Dark" on June 24. At the moment, Brock's opponent for that fight would be Timor Ibragimov.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Lawrence
9. Samuel Peter (24-1)
HBO and Showtime are both interested in featuring the Nigerian knockout artist, but finding a quality opponent who is willing to fight him has been difficult.
10. David Tua (44-3-1)
First he backed out of a Feb. 24 fight on a Warriors Boxing pay-per-view card because of a supposed problem with his visa. Then, one day after the fight was made, backed out an April 1 Showtime fight with Shannon Briggs for no particular reason. Seems like "Tuaman" isn't really interested in fighting much anymore.
1. O'Neil Bell (26-1-1)
We're thrilled that the undisputed champ says he plans to stay at cruiserweight and defend his title rather than make the jump to heavyweight like most top cruiserweights have done in the past. Maybe he realized that of all those who have tried, only Evander Holyfield and James Toney have had any real success. If Bell sticks to his plan, he would next have to face mandatory Steve Cunningham, which is a very interesting fight.
2. Guillermo Jones (33-3-2)
Although he is one of Bell's mandatory challengers - and a worthy one at that -- fellow mandatory Cunningham is ahead of him in line and expected to get the first shot.
3. Steve Cunningham (19-0)
His mandatory shot at Bell is actually deserved, unlike so many other mandatory fights. If it comes off, the style mesh if perfect given that Bell is a huge puncher and Cunningham is a consummate boxer.
4. Johnny Nelson (45-12-2)
Upcoming defense against British countryman Enzo Maccarinelli is the epitome of Nelson's experience vs. Maccarinelli's youth. Let's put the match between the 38-year-old titlist and his 25-year-old challenger in perspective: Nelson won his title in March 1999 - seven months before Maccarinelli even turned pro.
Next: March 4 vs. Maccarinelli
5. Jean-Marc Mormeck (31-3)
One of the marks of a great fighter is how he rebounds from adversity. Mormeck, having lost his belts to Bell on a definitive knockout last month, can either pack it in or try to make a strong comeback. It's up to him.
6. Dale Brown (35-4-1)
Bell has shamefully dismissed the notion of giving Brown a much-deserved rematch of their bout last May, in which Bell claimed a vacant belt on a horrible decision. However, because Brown is so single-minded about getting the rematch, he has pulled out of a March 24 ESPN2 fight with Felix Cora Jr.
7. Virgil Hill (50-5)
Although he is 42, he looked more like he was 22 in soundly outpointing Russian Valery Brudov for a vacant belt Jan. 27. It was the fifth title of Hill's career - albeit a cheapened one given the WBA's absurd "super champion" rules -- and a most impressive performance. Hill says he wants one more fight before retirement, although wouldn't it be sweet to see him walk away on top? He could take a hint from NFL star Jerome Bettis.
Next: Jan. 27 vs. Brudov
8. Wayne Braithwaite (21-2)
The bad news for "Big Truck" is that the former champ has lost two fights in a row. The good news is that at least they were to top-notch opponents in Mormeck and Jones, which are forgivable losses.
9. Carl Thompson (34-6)
Exciting British slugger is 41 and we'd love to see him get a big-time fight before he calls it quits. He's given so much of himself to boxing that it is the least he deserves.
10. David Haye (15-1)
British puncher has rebounded impressively from his lone setback, a TKO loss to Thompson in 2004. Since then, Haye has won all five of his bouts by knockout, including a surprising first-round blowout of former title challenger Alexander Gurov to claim the European title.
Next: March 24 vs. Lasse Johansen
1. Antonio Tarver (24-3)
With Roy Jones in a snit with HBO and his proposed rematch with Bernard Hopkins practically dead, Tarver's people are in serious talks about a Tarver-Hopkins fight for early summer. It's the perfect match for Tarver because he can make big money for a relatively safe fight instead of going to heavyweight, where he will get creamed.
2. Glen Johnson (43-10-2)
Former champ knows Tarver won't come near a dangerous rubber match with him, so Johnson is moving on with his career, which means headlining a Warriors Boxing pay-per-view card against former title challenger (and fellow Jamaican) Richard Hall.
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Hall
3. Zsolt Erdei (23-0)
The buzz out of Europe is that Erdei, of Hungary, could meet France's Fabrice Tiozzo in a May unification fight. That's a major bout in Europe and one that would clearly establish the winner as the continent's best light heavyweight.
4. Tomasz Adamek (30-0)
After seeing his bloody slugfest with Paul Briggs followed by an impressive knockout performance against Thomas Ulrich in first title defense, there is no foreign fighter we are more desperate to see on American television than the exciting and skillful Adamek.
5. Fabrice Tiozzo (47-2)
It's been nearly two years since French star won his title, but he's only defended it once and is only a couple of weeks shy of a year of inactivity. But a possible unification bout with Erdei would make us forget about that.
6. Roy Jones Jr. (49-4)
Now that HBO has kicked him to the curb, making the rematch with Hopkins more and more unlikely, Jones is talking about a deal with Showtime that would culminate with him facing the winner of the Jeff Lacy-Joe Calzaghe super middleweight unification bout. We'd rather see Jones retire rather than watch younger guys build their reputations on Jones' name.
7. Clinton Woods (38-3-1)
Titleholder from England has been mentioned as a possible candidate to fight Jones, who, when he was champion, crushed Woods in six rounds in a 2002 defense.
8. Julio Gonzalez (38-3)
Promoter Dan Goossen hopes to get Gonzalez back in action on an April Fox Sports Net card. Eventually, we'd love to see a rematch with Johnson, who lost a controversial decision to Gonzalez in 2003.
9. Paul Briggs (24-2)
Might return home to Australia for a quick tune-up fight as a prelude to a mandatory rematch against Adamek. If it's half as good as their first bloody brawl, it will still be a fight of the year candidate.
10. Montell Griffin (47-6)
In first fight with new promoter Joe DeGuardia, Griffin will headline "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2 against Orlando Rivera, who is coming off a knockout loss.
Next: April 7 vs. Rivera.
1. Joe Calzaghe (40-0)
Boxing's longest reigning champion has held his title since October 1997 and made 17 defenses. But it has taken until now for him to get a career-defining match, a unification fight with Jeff Lacy. A win finally would give Calzaghe the respect he covets.
Next: March 4 vs. Lacy
2. Jeff Lacy (21-0)
All young fighters could take a lesson from Lacy. He's a diligent worker in the gym, stays out trouble, appreciates what he has and has a great desire to fight the best, one of the reasons he has fearlessly agreed to face Calzaghe in their unification fight on his Great Britain turf.
Next: March 4 vs. Calzaghe
3. Mikkel Kessler (37-0)
Easily retained title with a dominant 10th-round TKO of former titlist Eric Lucas on Jan. 14. Afterward, Lucas announced his retirement. Kessler, meanwhile, came to the United States to support Danish countryman Thomas Damgaard for his fight with Arturo Gatti and told the American press he'd love to fight the Lacy-Calzaghe winner.
4. Markus Beyer (34-2)
German titlist scored a 12th-round TKO of unworthy Italian challenger Alberto Colajanni to retain belt. The fact that the punchless Beyer knocked him out is proof enough how poor a challenger Colajanni was.
5. Danny Green (21-2)
Even though the Australian super fight between Green and Mundine is more than two months away, the hype is already in full swing as the fighters held separate press conferences because of the bad blood between them.
Next: April 19 vs. Mundine
6. Anthony Mundine (25-3)
Showdown with Green is so big in Australia that it is being held in a 50,000-seat soccer stadium and figures to draw the largest live crowd in Australian boxing history.
Next: April 19 vs. Green
7. Otis Grant (38-2-1)
He'll have the comfort of the home crowd in Montreal on his side when he faces Librado Andrade with a title shot against Beyer on the line.
Next: April 8 vs. Andrade
8. Librado Andrade (22-0)
Elimination fight with the vastly more experienced Grant is a tough way to come out of a 14-month layoff, but a win proves that Andrade is for real.
Next: April 8 vs. Grant
9. Robin Reid (38-5-1)
Taking it nice and easy since that crushing, four-knockdown stoppage loss to Lacy last summer.
10. Chad Dawson (21-0)
Armed with terrific skills and trainer Dan Birmingham in his corner, the 6-foot-3 southpaw has all the makings of a future champion. He cruised to a shutout decision against Jason Naugler on the Feb. 4 Jose Luis Castillo-Rolando Reyes undercard.
1. Jermain Taylor (25-0)
Negotiations for his mandatory against Winky Wright were as excruciating as a trip to the dentist for multiple wisdom tooth extractions, but the fight finally got done in large part because Taylor truly wanted the dangerous fight.
Next: June 17 vs. Wright
2. Winky Wright (50-3)
Finally came to his senses after his childish behavior, including firing promoter Gary Shaw for no real reason, nearly killed the Taylor fight. When the disloyal Wright realized he had no other way to get the fight, he re-hired Shaw and took a deal that was overly generous to him to begin with. Instead of complaining that he, as the challenger, is only getting 45 percent of the money (almost $4 million), he should be thankful Taylor's side was still willing to give it to him.
Next:June 17 vs. Taylor
3. Bernard Hopkins (46-4-1)
Whomever he fights, the former long-reigning undisputed champ promises that his next bout will be his last. With the deal for a rematch with Roy Jones on the rocks, Hopkins has turned his attention to a possible June 10 fight with light heavyweight king Antonio Tarver.
4. Felix Sturm (24-1)
With his left elbow injury healed, Sturm's challenge for Maselino Masoe's bogus belt has been rescheduled.
Next: March 11 vs. Masoe
5. Arthur Abraham (19-0)
German-based Armenian was supposed to make first title defense against Raymond Joval until handlers decided he was too tough of an opponent. So who did they get? Australia's Shannan Taylor, who was knocked out in his last fight by Joval. Just another example of how boxing is killing itself.
Next: March 4 vs. Taylor
6. Sam Soliman (31-8)
Australian contender is sitting tight to see what happens in the Taylor-Wright soap opera because he could land the fight with Taylor if Wright can't work out his issues.
7. Howard Eastman (40-3)
With Dale Brown backing out of his ESPN2 main event against Felix Cora, Eastman's elimination fight with exciting rising contender Edison Miranda (25-0, 22 KOs) is expected to replace it as the main event. And you know what? That's an even better fight than Brown-Cora.
Next: March 24 vs. Miranda
8. Kingsley Ikeke (23-2)
Promoter Golden Boy hopes to bring "Sharp Knuckle" back from lopsided TKO loss to Abraham with a low-profile bout in March or April.
9. Raymond Joval (35-4)
After getting dumped from the Abraham fight, an old neck injury from a car crash a few years ago flared up, so he'll be idle for about three months while it heals.
10. Kelly Pavlik (27-0)
A hand injury forced him out of a match with former Mexican Olympian Jose Luis Zertuche on the Jan. 21 Pacquiao-Morales II card, but Pavlik should be ready to go shortly.
1. Roman Karmazin (34-1-1)
Although he's been idle since winning title from Kassim Ouma last summer in a big upset, he could be back in the ring in a rematch with Ouma on the May 6 Ricardo Mayorga-Oscar De La Hoya undercard. Wouldn't that be sweet?
2. Kassim Ouma (23-2-1)
Former champ scored an impressive eighth-round TKO of Francisco Mora on Jan. 27, Ouma's second consecutive win since an upset loss to Karmazin.
3. Ricardo Mayorga (27-5-1)
The way he got his title was a joke, but he can help validate it with a victory against De La Hoya. It's a fight Mayorga can win because he has major league power and De La Hoya probably will be quite rusty after the 20-month layoff that followed his knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins.
Next: May 6 vs. De La Hoya
4. Fernando Vargas (26-2)
In the two biggest fights of his career, Vargas was brutally knocked out by Felix Trinidad and De La Hoya. Upcoming showdown with Shane Mosley is the third biggest fight of his career and Vargas can't afford another bloody ending.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Mosley
5. Sergei Dzindziruk (31-0)
Title-winning effort against Daniel Santos in December was impressive. He knocked Santos down in the eighth and clearly won. This was no home turf decision for the German-based fighter.
6. Daniel Santos (29-3-1)
He was off for 14 months, which certainly didn't help him in his title-losing decision loss to Dzindziruk. Now that Santos has been defeated, we wouldn't be surprised to see him disappear for another 14 months.
7. Ike Quartey (37-2-1)
HBO fight against fellow former welterweight champ Vernon Forrest is a tremendous matchup because both guys are big names aiming to see exactly what they have left. The winner will position himself for a major fight while the loser will be left for dead.
Next: April 15 vs. Forrest
8. Alex "Terra" Garcia (25-1)
Promoter Don King looking to have Garcia defend his belt against former welterweight titlist Jose Antonio Rivera, a fight he is pitching to Showtime for May. Garcia is an exciting puncher and deserves a little love from the TV networks.
9. Rodney Jones (36-3-1)
October fight against Raul Frank was excruciatingly boring and, to no surprise, ended in a draw because neither guy deserved to win. Watching that was bad enough. A rematch amounts cruel and unusual punishment.
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Frank
10. Vernon Forrest (37-2)
Former welterweight champ has won both of his fights by knockout since a two-year injury layoff. But those matches were against lesser opponents. So Forrest is taking one more tune-up fight before putting his career on the line April 15 against Quartey.
Next: March 3 vs. Raul Munoz.
1. Carlos Baldomir (42-9-6)
His monumental upset of Zab Judah to win the title will pave the road to a major payday, which most likely will come this summer against Arturo Gatti.
2. Antonio Margarito (32-4)
The most ducked fighter in the sport defends against another guy few want to fight, the dangerous Manuel Gomez, on a Top Rank pay-per-view card.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Gomez
3. Zab Judah (34-3)
That the disgusting IBF allowed him to keep its belt after Baldomir beat him is bad enough - and that's very, very bad. But Judah and his promoter, Don King, aren't much better and showed their lack of character by keeping a title they know Judah doesn't deserve. Let's be clear here: Our issue is not with Judah facing Floyd Mayweather coming off a loss. The problem is that Judah is defending a title he shouldn't have, which relegates the fight to a farce.
Next: April 8 vs. Mayweather.
4. Cory Spinks (34-3)
Former undisputed champ is closing in on a year of inactivity and has nothing on the drawing board that we are aware of.
5. Shane Mosley (41-4)
The former three-division champ is moving back to junior middleweight for a money fight with Fernando Vargas. Sure, the meeting might be a couple of years late in happening, but we still think it will be an entertaining fight, not to mention the both fighters have their careers as headliners at stake.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Vargas
6. Manuel Gomez (27-10-2)
"Shotgun" might not beat Margarito when they meet in the headline fight of a Top Rank pay-per-view card. But we're sure of one thing: If Gomez indeed loses, he'll go down swinging.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Margarito
7. Luis Collazo (26-1)
Promoter King and Oktay Urkal promoter Wilfried Sauerland are working on a deal to put Collazo's mandatory on the April 1 Valuev-Beck undercard, but they're not quite there yet.
Next: TBA vs. Urkal
8. Arturo "Thunder" Gatti (40-7)
Move up to welterweight went well for former junior welterweight titlist as he brutalized Thomas Damgaard en route to an 11th-round TKO, although Gatti did hurt his troublesome right hand. The victory could set the stage for a summer title challenge against Baldomir.
9. Kermit Cintron (25-1)
Crushing knockout loss to Margarito last April set his career back quite a bit, but Cintron rebounded with a third-round knockout of Francisco Parra in the fall and is looking to re-establish himself.
10. Oktay Urkal (36-3)
Mandatory with Collazo has been put off long enough. It's time for the promoters, King and Sauerland, to get a deal done and stop delaying the careers of their fighters.
Next: TBA vs. Collazo
1. Ricky Hatton (40-0)
The ESPN.com 2005 fighter of the year has signed with promoters Artie Pelullo and Dennis Hobson and they are negotiating a TV deal for him in England and in the United States, where Showtime and HBO are both hot for the exciting champ. Whichever network lands him and whoever he fights, one thing is certain: Hatton is going to be making big bucks.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (35-0)
We can blame him for a lot of things but Zab Judah's loss isn't one of them. Therefore, we don't blame him for going through with the Judah fight because it is still the most lucrative realistic fight for Mayweather right now. But what we can blame Mayweather for is going along with the ridiculous notion that the fight is a legitimate welterweight title bout when anyone with a brain knows that Judah's designation as a champion is pure fantasy.
Next: April 8 vs. Judah
3. Miguel Cotto (25-0)
Exciting titlist set to defend at home in Puerto Rico against Gianluca Branco of Italy knowing that a victory could pave the way for a showdown with either Jose Luis Castillo or Hatton later in 2006.
Next: March 4 vs. Branco
4. Kostya Tszyu (31-2)
If the future Hall of Famer decides to make a comeback, he most likely would do so as a welterweight. How about this scenario: Arturo Gatti wins the title from Carlos Baldomir and then defends against Tszyu? That would be pretty cool.
5. Junior Witter (33-1-2)
European champ is also Mayweather's mandatory, but that fight is unlikely with Mayweather set to fight Judah. So while Witter waits to see what is going on with his world title shot, he's pursuing his mandatory European defense against Italy's Giuseppe Lauri.
6. DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley (31-4-1)
Although there is not great demand for him as an opponent right now, he's a wily old veteran and a former titlist, so that can change very quickly.
7. Carlos Maussa (19-3)
Although he was knocked out and lost his belt to Hatton last fall, don't you want to see the wild man back in action? We do. He's expected to return on a Telemundo card in April.
8. Vivian Harris (26-2-1)
Quietly made return from upset knockout loss to Maussa by easily outpointing journeyman Marteze Logan on Jan. 20. Now that Harris is back in the win column, he could land a shot at Hatton if Hatton winds up making a deal with Showtime.
9. Ricardo Torres (28-1)
Big puncher from Colombia is recovering from right hand surgery and should be ready to go in April or May, when his handlers hope to reschedule a fight with Henry Bruseles of Puerto Rico.
10. Juan Lazcano (35-3-1)
Although Lazcano fought his last two bouts above the lightweight limit, he was expected to return to the division when he had a serious fight. But now that he's taking a third consecutive fight as a junior welterweight against the rugged Ben Tackie in a Telefutura main event, Lazcano is now rated in this division.
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Ben Tackie
1. Jose Luis Castillo (54-7-1)
Pounded out lopsided decision win against petrified late replacement Rolando Reyes in a horrible fight on Feb. 4. But the bout was only made on a few weeks' notice after an injured Diego Corrales was forced to postpone his rubber match with Castillo. If it comes off, we're highly skeptical that Castillo will ever get all the way down to 135 pounds since he had a hard time making 138 to fight Reyes.
Next: TBA vs. Corrales
2. Diego "Chico" Corrales (40-3)
A rib injury forced him to postpone rubber match with Castillo, which could be a blessing in disguise since Corrales took much more punishment in their first two fights and probably needed the extra rest. The target date for it to be rescheduled is June 3.
Next:TBA vs. Castillo
3. Acelino "Popo" Freitas (37-1)
After two fights in his native Brazil, "Popo" is coming back to the United States to face Zahir Raheem for a vacant belt on the debut of HBO's revamped "Boxing After Dark." It's a nice matchup between the puncher (Freitas) and the boxer (Raheem).
Next: April 29 vs. Raheem
4. Juan Diaz (28-0)
The problems just never end. Just when it looked like mandatory rematch with Lakva Sim had finally been rescheduled for March 3 and had been formally announced, the fight was scrapped again because of problems between Sim promoter Dan Goossen and Diaz manager Willie Savannah.
5. Joel Casamayor (31-3-1)
Former junior lightweight returns from last June's draw against Almazbek Raiymkulov to face journeyman Antonio Ramirez on the undercard of a Warriors Boxing pay-per-view card.
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Ramirez
6. Julio Diaz (32-3)
Former titlist can instantly re-establish himself if the fight with Freitas comes off and Diaz wins. It's a terrific matchup, so we hope to see it happen.
7. Zahir Raheem (27-1)
Will follow upset victory against Erik Morales with an interesting fight against Freitas. The way for Raheem to beat Freitas when they meet for a vacant belt is it to outbox him because if he tries to slug it out, Raheem is in big, big trouble. Freitas has a huge advantage in the power department.
Next: April 29 vs. Freitas
8. Jesus Chavez (43-3)
It took quite some time to work out the details, but Chavez's first title defense is finally set, an HBO main event against junior lightweight champ Marco Antonio Barrera in what should be an outstanding action fight. Of course, Chavez will be in his first bout since the tragic passing of Leavander Johnson following their fight last September.
Next: March 25 vs. Barrera
9. Lakva Sim (21-4-1)
Former two-division belt holder's mandatory rematch with Juan Diaz was postponed when Sim suffered a cut in training, but he's fine now and the fight has been rescheduled to headline on Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period."
10. Isaac Hlatshwayo (22-0)
Hasn't fought since a convincing 12-round unanimous decision against highly regarded South African countryman Cassius Baloyi last summer, but due back in the ring against former two-time title challenger Aldo Rios.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Rios
1. Manny Pacquiao (41-3-2)
Impressively knocked out Erik Morales in their Jan. 21 rematch. How's this for something truly impressive: Pacquiao now owns KO victories against both Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. Pacquiao is probably headed to a May fight in the Philippines before the contractually obligated rubber match with Morales.
2. Marco Antonio Barrera (61-4)
Finally, it's official. Barrera is moving up to lightweight to try to become the first Mexican fighter to win a title in four divisions when he challenges for Jesus Chavez's belt. On paper, it looks like a potential fight of the year. And let's be thankful for this: It's on HBO, not HBO PPV.
Next: March 25 vs. Chavez
3. Erik Morales (48-4)
Suffered first two real knockdowns and first knockout loss of his brilliant career in exciting rematch with Pacquiao. But Morales has exercised his rematch clause and they will meet again outdoors at a Las Vegas football stadium.
Next: Sept. 16 vs. Pacquiao
4. Jorge Barrios (45-2-1)
Returns to the United States from native Argentina to face skilled mandatory Janos Nagy of Hungary on the HBO undercard of the Chavez-Barrera lightweight title bout.
Next: March 25 vs. Nagy
5. Carlos Hernandez (41-6-1)
It's been four months and we're still ticked off about how badly he was robbed of the decision against Bobby Pacquiao. How clear was the victory? Pacquiao's trainer, the honorable Freddie Roach, said that Hernandez won.
6. Vicente Mosquera (23-1-1)
In his second non-title bout since claiming a belt almost a year ago, Mosquera fought as a junior welterweight and stopped Carlos Saenz last weekend in native Panama. It would be nice if his promoter, Don King, could line up a title defense for him.
7. Yodsanan Nanthachai (45-3-1)
Former champ headed for an elimination bout with another recently deposed titlist, Robbie Peden, in what could be a terrific fight if it comes off.
8. Alex Arthur (21-1)
Former bantamweight champ Wayne McCullough will be part of Arthur's corner and final training preparations for his European title defense against fellow Scotsman Ricky Burns.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Burns
9. Robbie Peden (25-3)
Potential eliminator against Nanthachai is being discussed for late April. It could happen in Peden's native Australia but would also make for a terrific ESPN2 main event.
10. Manuel Medina (65-14)
Former five-time featherweight titlist is looking for one more title shot before retiring, but at this stage of the game that might be pushing it.
1. Juan Manuel Marquez (44-2-1)
The best featherweight in the world has become almost an afterthought due to the bizarre moves made by his manager/trainer Nacho Beristain. The latest is deciding to go to Indonesia for $31,250 to challenge Chris John for the belt that was insanely stripped from Marquez in the first place. As a manager, Beristain is a heck of a trainer.
Next: March 4 vs. John
2. Scott Harrison (25-2-2)
Much-anticipated mandatory against Joan Guzman has been bumped from February to March, but it should be worth the wait. We'd be tickled if an American network picked up the broadcast rights so we can all see it.
Next: March 25 vs. Guzman
3. Humberto Soto (38-5-2)
Interim titlist will headline in his hometown of Los Mochis, Mexico, in a solid fight with former two-time title challenger Oscar Leon. Eventually, if the rancid WBC ever follows its own rules, the winner will have to face full titlist Koshimoto.
Next: Feb. 17 vs. Leon
4. Takashi Koshimoto (39-1-2)
35-year-old southpaw pulled off a major upset on Jan. 29, when he won a title from Injin Chi on a split decision to become Japan's oldest fighter to win a world title.
5. Injin Chi (30-3-1)
Probably deserves a rematch with Koshimoto because of the controversial way he lost his title. An accidental head butt in the 11th round cut Koshimoto and left Chi the victim of a point deduction because of the WBC's ridiculous rule dictating that in the event a fighter is cut on an accidental head clash, the uncut boxer loses a point. Had Chi not lost the point, he would have retained the title on a draw.
6. Chris John (36-0-1)
He's done well against a handful of good opponents, but facing Marquez is a whole different ballgame. He can prove a lot by winning or even looking good in a loss. Being at home in Indonesia for the fight should be a big help.
Next: March 4 vs. Marquez
7. Rocky Juarez (25-1)
Stopped Backlin Medrano in four rounds on Jan. 21, Juarez's second consecutive low-profile knockout win as he makes his comeback from last summer's upset decision loss to Soto.
8. Joan Guzman (24-0)
You never know what will happen when the bell rings, but we expect mandatory title challenge against Harrison to be one of the year's most action-packed fights. Both guys can crack, and both are aggressive. This one should be fun for as long as it lasts.
Next: March 25 vs. Harrison
9. Victor Polo (34-5-3)
Idle since May, when he lost a decision to Marquez in fifth unsuccessful (0-4-1) try at a world title. But we suspect Polo will be back to give it another run.
10. Nicky Cook (25-0)
European champ from England injured his hand, forcing postponement of a Nov. 18 defense against Yuri Voronin. But the hand has healed and the fight has been rescheduled.
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Voronin
1. Israel Vazquez (39-3)
Unified champion should be in line for a money fight but probably will wind up making one of his mandatory defenses instead when he returns from TKO of Oscar Larios in their unification bout.
2. Mahyar Monshipour (28-2-2)
One of our favorite foreign fighters is as exciting as they come. There is a chance he could face Vazquez down the road, but in the meantime the France-based champion has a defense scheduled.
Next: March 18 vs. Somsak Sithchatchawlan
3. Oscar Larios (56-4-1)
Former champ's name has come up as a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao, who is going to take a fight in the Philippines in May before going through with a September rubber match with Erik Morales. Larios would have to move up two weight divisions, but it probably would be worth it for the payday.
4. Celestino Caballero (24-2)
Fighting at home in Panama, Caballero scored two knockdowns en route to a seventh-round TKO of Roberto Bonilla in defense of an interim title on Feb. 4. Two huge problems though. One, Bonilla was 3-4 with a no contest in his previous eight fights and had done nothing to qualify for a title bid. And two, the heinous WBA allows an interim title in this division despite the fact that Monshipour is an active, injury-free champion.
5. Daniel Ponce De Leon (27-1)
Crude puncher slated to make first title defense on the untelevised portion of the Chavez-Barrera undercard in Las Vegas. One name mentioned as a possible opponent is Wayne McCullough, which would be sad.
Next: March 25 vs. TBA
Other contenders: Yoddamrong Sithyodthong, Sergio Manuel Medina, Ricardo Cordoba
1. Rafael Marquez (35-3)
So far and away the best 118-pounder in the world right now that it is scary. But his mismanagement by manager/trainer Nacho Beristain, who has also hurt big brother Juan Manuel Marquez's career, has cost him some opportunities for higher-profile fights. It's a crying shame.
2. Hozumi Hasegawa (19-2)
Assuming former champ Veerapol Sahaprom of Thailand takes care of business in a tune-up bout, Hasegawa of Japan will face him in a rematch in Japan. The rematch was made possible when mandatory Diego Morales declined the shot at Hasegawa because he couldn't make weight..
Next: March 25 vs. Sahaprom
3. Veeraphol Sahaprom (51-2-2)
Former champ scheduled for a tune-up bout in preparation for a March 25 rematch with Hasegawa, the man who took the title from him on a unanimous decision in an April 2005 upset..
Next: Feb. 17 vs. Scari Korori
4. Jhonny Gonzalez (31-4)
Insiders already know how exciting Gonzalez is to watch. Now he has the opportunity to show a much wider audience against former junior bantamweight and flyweight champ Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson in the co-feature on the Fernando Vargas-Shane Mosley card.
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Johnson
5. Genaro Garcia (34-4)
Was supposed to fight Ricardo "Chapo" Vargas on Jan. 7 in an eliminator with a shot at Marquez at stake. However, Garcia came down with the flu and pulled out. But instead of ordering the fight to be rescheduled, the disgusting IBF bypassed Garcia in favor of sanctioning an eliminator between Vargas and Silence Mabuza, who was blown out by Marquez in November and yet to win another fight since. Typical of the IBF. Next: TBA
Other contenders: Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, Silence Mabuza, Wladimir Sidorenko, Cruz Carvajal, Ivan "Choko" Hernandez.
1. Martin Castillo (29-1)
Although he retained title on a split decision in fabulous action rematch with Alexander Munoz on the Pacquiao-Morales II undercard, it will take time for Castillo's cuts to heal. That will keep him from fighting on April 8 Judah-Mayweather undercard.
2. Fernando Montiel (32-1-1)
Once Castillo's cuts heal, there is a good chance we finally will see a unification match between him and Montiel despite the bad blood between their respective promoters, Top Rank and Golden Boy.
3. Luis Perez (23-1)
Promoter Don King won a purse bid for his mandatory defense against Dimitri Kirilov of Russia. Just what Perez needs: Another meaningless fight that few will see and one for which he probably will earn very little money.
Next: TBA vs. Kirilov
4. Masamori Tokuyama (31-3-1)
With trilogy against Katsushige Kawashima behind him, Tokuyama will defend his title against mandatory Jose Navarro. Win or lose, Tokuyama has told the Japanese press that he is retiring after the fight.
Next: Feb.27 vs. Navarro
5. Jose Navarro (23-1)
Returning to the scene of the crime: Japan, where he was robbed of the decision in a January 2005 title fight against then-champ Kawashima. Navarro best bring his own judges -- his fists -- if he wants to assure himself of a different outcome.
Next: Feb. 27 vs. Tokuyama
Other contenders: Alexander Munoz, Katsushige Kawashima, Mark Johnson
1. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (59-2)
Veteran Thai champion slated to make 13th defense but against undeserving journeyman Gilberto Keb Baas (26-12-1). Gotta love the WBC, which is responsible for approving such garbage.
Next: Feb. 16 vs. Keb Baas
2. Jorge Arce (43-3-1)
Interim titlist stopped Adonis Rivas in six rounds in their Jan. 28 rematch. Afterward, Arce engaged in a brief scuffle in the ring with Rosendo Alvarez, whom he will face for real in a terrific matchup on the Judah-Mayweather HBO PPV undercard.
Next: April 8 vs. Alvarez
3. Lorenzo Parra (27-0)
Any champion who refuses to go on the road to fight need look no further than Parra, the sport's ultimate road warrior of late. He's 6-0 in world title fights and all of them have come in countries (France, Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico) other than his native Venezuela. You've got to respect that.
4. Vic Darchinyan (24-0)
Let's give Showtime a huge round of applause for making a deal to televise Darchinyan's upcoming defense against Diosado Gabi (26-2-1) of the Philippines on its "ShoBox: The New Generation" series. Showtime is getting one of the most exciting fighters in the world in Darchinyan and fans should appreciate the move.
Next: March 3 vs. Gabi
5. Rosendo Alvarez (37-2-2)
Former 105 and 108 champ stopped Eduardo Perez in six rounds Feb. 4 in preparation for clash with Arce, whom he sucker punched in the ring following an Arce victory last month.
Next: April 8 vs. Arce
Other contenders: Victor Burgos, Omar Narvaez, Irene Pacheco.
1. Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon (24-0)
Here's a prediction: "Iron Boy" easily outboxes former champ Isaac Bustos when they meet on the undercard of the Top Rank PPV card headlined by Antonio Margarito-Manuel Gomez. Of course, predicting a lopsided decision victory for Calderon is about as easy as coming up with examples of ridiculous moves made by the IBF.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Bustos
2. Roberto "The Spider" Vasquez (21-1)
Exciting 22-year-old champion from Panama is set for third title defense, a hometown fight against Venezuela's Noel Arambulet (21-5-1), a former strawweight who has lost three of his last four.
Next: April 29 vs. Arambulet
3. Hugo Cazares (22-3-1)
108 titlist looked very good defending against Kaichon Sor Vorapin last fall in his first fight with promoter Golden Boy, which hopes to bring him back for his third defense in April.
4. Brian Viloria (18-0)
If 2000 U.S. Olympian is successful in first 108 defense against former 105 titlist Jose Antonio Aguirre, there are several marketable fights that promoter Top Rank can put together, including fights with 105 champ Calderon, a unification fight with Ulises Solis or a match with flyweight star Jorge Arce.
Next: Feb. 18 vs. Aguirre
5. Ulises "Archie" Solis (20-1-1)
Returns from Jan. 7 title victory against Will Grigsby to make first defense in a homecoming fight in Guadalajara, Mexico, against Filipino journeyman Bert Batanwang (35-12-3). Azteca America will televise.
Next: March 25 vs. Batanwang
Other contenders: Will Grigsby, Nelson Dieppa, Yutaka Niida, Beibis Mendoza, Muhammad Rachman
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- Pacquiao decisions Algieri, easily retains title
- Lomachenko hurts hand, still tops Piriyapinyo
- Quigg decisions Otake to retain WBA crown
- Boxer Taylor charged in shooting at his home