November top fighters by division
What changes were made in the weight class rankings for November? Dan Rafael reveals his new world standings.
Check out my rankings within each boxing division by clicking on the links below. The rankings are 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 Nov. 9:
1. Wladimir Klitschko (46-3)
In a terrible heavyweight division, Klitschko is the man of the moment. He's the most recognized of the title holders, brings the most to the table financially, has the backing of powerful HBO and is a dynamic puncher. He's a big favorite to get past American hopeful Calvin Brock in his first title defense, which comes on the big stage of Madison Square Garden.
Next: Nov. 11 vs. Brock.
2. Samuel Peter (27-1)
The purse bid for his immediate rematch with James Toney was called off because the sides are close to a deal that would place the elimination fight on Jan. 6 on Showtime. Since the unnecessary fight is being forced on Peter, might as well get it over with as soon as possible.
Next: TBA vs. Toney.
3. Oleg Maskaev (33-5)
If he defeats unknown Peter Okhello in Moscow and Klitschko defeats Brock, there's a very good chance we could see a unification fight in the spring. It's the sort of fight that boxing needs, but not if it adds to the glut of overpriced pay-per-view cards.
Next: Dec. 10 vs. Okhello.
4. James Toney (69-5-3)
Boxing's angry old man still can't believe he didn't get the decision against Peter when they met Sept. 2, and it is making him more irritable than usual. Maybe it will motivate him to get in better shape than he was for the first fight.
Next: TBA vs. Peter.
5. Nikolai Valuev (45-0)
The 7-foot, 328-pound Russian giant hammered Monte Barrett last month and is scheduled to make his third defense in Germany, probably against the winner of the Nov. 18 elimination bout between former titlist John Ruiz and Ruslan Chagaev. If it turns out to be a rematch with Ruiz, get ready for another stinker.
Next: Jan. 27 vs. TBA.
6. Shannon Briggs (48-4-1)
After 11-plus horrible rounds, an exhausted, pathetic Briggs finally landed a great shot to knock down Sergei Liakhovich, and a few seconds later finished him off to claim a title belt Nov. 4. Is this what the heavyweight division has come to? Underachieving Shannon Briggs is a champion? That ought to tell you how poor the division really is.
7. Sergei Liakhovich (23-2)
Which is the real Liakhovich? The exciting fighter who went toe-to-toe with Lamon Brewster in April and won a title in a great fight, or the one who looked terrible in plodding around the ring for 11-plus rounds in an awful Nov. 4 fight against Briggs before getting knocked out in the 12th while leading on the scorecards?
8. Lamon Brewster (33-3)
If he watched Liakhovich's fight with Briggs, Brewster must be muttering to himself, "Why couldn't Liakhovich have shown up looking that bad when we fought?"
9. Hasim Rahman (41-6-2)
Former champ has been keeping a low profile since he was embarrassingly drilled by Maskaev in an upset in August. After all the smack he talked before that fight, he might not be able to show his face for a few more months.
10. Chris Byrd (39-3-1)
The former titlist has no prospects for a meaningful fight in the aftermath of his April destruction by Klitschko. So he will bide his time participating in the eight-man "Superfighter" exhibition tournament in Australia on Dec. 1 hoping to win the $5 million top prize.
1. O'Neil Bell (26-1-1)
Although he has a mandatory bout -- as ridiculous as it is -- due against former titlist Jean-Marc Mormeck, whom Bell drilled in their January unification fight, the fight is on hold for the moment. In the meantime, Bell has received permission from the WBC to participate in the Dec. 1 "superfighter" exhibition tournament in Australia, where he will try to win the $5 million top prize while trying his hand at heavyweight.
Next: TBA vs. Mormeck.
2. Guillermo Jones (33-3-2)
After a tremendous 2005, in which he fought three times -- knocking out former title holders Wayne Braithwaite and Kelvin Davis and losing a highly controversial 10-round split decision to Steve Cunningham -- Jones was primed for a big 2006, too. But he will finish the year without having a fight, partly because he became ill and had to pull out of a rematch with Cunningham for a vacant title.
3. Steve Cunningham (19-0)
He's overcome adversity in his life and he'll have to do it again because when he faces Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (36-1) for a vacant title, he'll do so on hostile turf in Poland.
Next: Nov. 25 vs. Wlodarczyk.
4. Jean-Marc Mormeck (32-3)
Former titlist was ridiculously appointed as Bell's mandatory challenger even though Bell knocked him out in the 10th round of their January unification fight. In his only fight since, Mormeck knocked out an overmatched opponent with a sub-.500 record. He did nothing to earn his rematch with Bell.
Next: TBA vs. Bell.
5. Virgil Hill (50-5)
When the 42-year-old Hill claimed a belt in January, he said he only wanted a big payday and maybe one more fight. Hill was patient and he got it, a rematch for seven figures with German rival Henry Maske, also 42, whom Hill defeated on a razor-close split decision in a 1996 light heavyweight unification match.
Next: March 31 vs. Maske.
6. Enzo Maccarinelli (25-1)
In March, Maccarinelli won a hard-fought, 12-round decision against Mark Hobson. However, in the rematch -- Maccarinelli's first title defense -- he blew Hobson out in 71 seconds by landing a great shot behind the ear. That's a heck of a way to kick off a title reign. He'll try to keep it going when he gets right back in the ring to replace troubled featherweight titlist Scott Harrison in the main event now that Harrison won't be able to defend his belt.
Next: Dec. 9 vs. TBA.
7. David Haye (17-1)
In 1999, Haye lost an amateur fight to Italy's Giocobbe Fragomeni (21-0) at an Olympic qualifier. Now, Haye is European champ and will meet Fragomeni with a mandatory shot at Bell's world title at stake.
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Fragomeni.
8. Vadim Tokarev (22-0-1)
The former kickboxing star from Russia will face Shane Swartz (18-4) on the undercard of the Cunningham-Wlodarczyk card in Warsaw. Swartz is coming off a major upset of Dale Brown in June.
Next: Nov. 25 vs. Swartz.
9. Wayne Braithwaite (21-2)
Former champ has been idle for 14 months since suffering the second of his back-to-back defeats to Mormeck and Jones. Where, oh where, has he gone?
10. Firat Arslan (26-3-1)
At age 36, the German contender scored his most significant victory when he stopped Grigory Drozd in the fifth round of an eliminator. The win earned Arslan -- who has a 2003 draw with Tokarev -- a shot at Hill's belt.
1. Clinton Woods (40-3-1)
Now that Roy Jones' potential bouts with Manny Siaca and Peter Manfredo have fallen through, maybe Jones will go directly to a rematch with Woods, whom he knocked out in a 2002 title defense. Woods has improved since then and now owns a belt, which he would be pleased to defend against Jones because he can still show Woods the money.
2. Tomasz Adamek (31-0)
If you like your championship fights action-packed and bloody, Adamek is your man. The Polish titlist is one of the sport's can't-miss fighters. If you saw either of his bouts with Paul Briggs, you know what we are talking about.
3. Glen Johnson (44-11-2)
He's appealing his loss to Woods because he says Woods should have been disqualified when a member of his team illegally went onto the ring apron during the fight. It is unlikely that he will win the Nov. 18 appeal, but in the bizarro world of the IBF, you never know.
4. Zsolt Erdei (25-0)
With the arrival of his first child last month, Erdei is understandably taking a few months off, although he could be back in the ring for his seventh defense in late January.
5. Paul Briggs (25-3)
Two of the Australian contender's three losses came on majority decisions to Adamek in world title bouts, including last month's exciting bloody battle. While trying to get over that heartbreaking loss, Briggs might face Jones in a four-round exhibition bout as part of the Dec. 1 "superfighter" event in Melbourne.
6. Antonio Tarver (24-4)
Adviser Al Haymon says the former champion will be back in the ring in the first quarter of 2007, which will have given Tarver a nice, long break and plenty of time to reflect on his humiliating defeat to Bernard Hopkins.
7. Roy Jones Jr. (50-4)
Typical Roy. He wanted to fight twice in two months -- Dec. 9 vs. Manny Siaca and Jan. 19 vs. Peter Manfredo -- and now will end up not fighting at all, and it's his own fault. Promoters of the proposed Jan. 19 fight wouldn't go through with their deal if he insisted on also fighting on Dec. 9. Jones picked the Siaca fight. When it was announced, the deal hadn't yet been signed, and when Jones asked for more cash, the promoter pulled the plug.
8. Fabrice Tiozzo (48-2)
The French star gave up his title and announced his retirement last month because he couldn't get the major fights he desired. If the retirement sticks, Tiozzo, 37, leaves the sport having won two light heavyweight titles and a cruiserweight belt in a solid 18-year career. His only losses were against Virgil Hill.
9. Julio Gonzalez (40-3)
While awaiting a mandatory title shot against Woods, Gonzalez will stay busy with an eight-rounder against Vitali Kopitko (24-8), loser of three of his last four bouts.
Next: Nov. 16 vs. Kopitko.
10. Chad Dawson (23-0)
According to his promoter, Gary Shaw, Dawson's Nov. 18 elimination fight in Germany against Stipe Drews was canceled with no reason given by Drews' promoter, Universum. Shaw said Dawson will get 10 percent of his purse as a penalty and Shaw will try to line Dawson up for a direct shot at Adamek.
1. Joe Calzaghe (42-0)
Calzaghe easily defeated Sakio Bika for his 19th title defense in Oct. 14 HBO debut to set up big business in 2007. Although the right fight for boxing is Calzaghe against fellow unified champ Mikkel Kessler, Calzaghe's plan looks more like this: Defense No. 20 in Wales early next year, perhaps against Peter Manfredo or Anthony Mundine, followed by a big fight in the United States, possibly against middleweight champ Jermain Taylor or top middleweight contender Winky Wright.
2. Mikkel Kessler (38-0)
Thanks to HBO, we were able to see highlights in the U.S. of the powerful Danish champion smashing Markus Beyer to bits in the third round of their Oct. 14 unification fight. The impressive victory gives Kessler two belts, while Calzaghe has the other two belts. They need to fight each other, and the sooner the better. Kessler, however, is a little nicked up from the Beyer fight and won't be available until at least March, when he has a mandatory bout due against Librado Andrade.
3. Anthony Mundine (26-3)
Former titlist will return from his huge May win against rival Danny Green to face Argentina's Ruben Eduardo Acosta (12-1-4) in Australia. While Mundine prepares for that fight, his handlers continue talking about an all-Australian showdown with middleweight contender Sam Soliman.
Next: Nov. 15 vs. Acosta.
4. Jeff Lacy (21-1)
After a career spent fighting on Showtime, the former titlist will make his HBO debut on the card headlined by his Tampa buddy Winky Wright. In his first bout since losing the title on a lopsided decision to Calzaghe, Lacy will face Vitali Tsypko (17-1) in a rematch of their 2004 two-round no contest.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Tsypko.
5. Librado Andrade (24-0)
As Tom Petty once sang, "The waiting is the hardest part." Andrade is the mandatory opponent for Kessler, and he's been waiting and waiting and waiting. But with Kessler sidelined until at least March, he'll have to wait a little bit longer.
6. Allan Green (23-0)
Green went 5-0 in 2006, closing out his year with an impressive eighth-round knockout of Jerson Ravelo on ESPN2. Next year, Green should be fighting on HBO or Showtime and vying for a title. He deserves it.
7. Lucien Bute (18-0)
Bute's bruised hand kept him from appearing on the Oct. 14 Kessler-Beyer undercard, but it won't keep him from headlining a card in Montreal against tough veteran Sergey Tatevosyan (24-6) of Russia. Bute was ringside to see Tatevosyan knock out Rudy Markussen on the Kessler-Beyer undercard.
Next: Dec. 1 vs. Tatevosyan.
8. Markus Beyer (34-2-1)
It came as little surprise that he was relieved of his belt via crushing third-round knockout by Kessler in Denmark on Oct. 14. At 35 and having been a three-time titlist, it would also not come as much of a surprise if Beyer decided to retire.
9. Carl Froch (19-0)
After various postponements and cancellations since 2004, the British and Commonwealth champ is finally set to face rival Tony Dodson (20-3-1), and Froch is promising a knockout.
Next: Nov. 24 vs. Dodson.
10. Denis Inkin (29-0)
Germany-based Russian scored the biggest win of his career when he knocked out Mario Veit in the seventh round on Oct. 21.
1. Jermain Taylor (25-0-1)
If Taylor happens to lose his crown to Kassim Ouma, there will be a lot of second-guessing, given that half of his training camp will be spent without head trainer Emanuel Steward. Taylor was too stubborn to go to Pennsylvania, where Steward was preparing Wladimir Klitschko to face Calvin Brock on Nov. 11. Instead, Taylor is in Miami training without Steward, who will join him for the final four weeks of camp.
Next: Dec. 9 vs. Ouma.
2. Winky Wright (50-3-1)
We still can't figure out exactly why Wright opted to fight Ike Quartey when he could have made more money to fight a much more meaningful rematch with Taylor. If Wright loses, he will regret his decision.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Quartey.
3. Edison Miranda (26-1)
He was the victim of an atrocious decision and a horrifically officiated title bout against Arthur Abraham on Sept. 23 in Germany, but the dubious loss won't hurt Miranda. He has retained his mandatory contender status in one of the organizations and he's getting a much-deserved opportunity to fight on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" against Willie Gibbs (20-1). Miranda is the favorite, but it should be explosive while it lasts.
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Gibbs.
4. Arthur Abraham (22-0)
Although Abraham retained his belt on a disputed decision against Miranda, Miranda did damage that Abraham won't soon forget. He fractured Abraham's jaw in two places, an injury that required several days in the hospital and the surgical insertion of two steel rods into his jaw.
5. Sam Soliman (32-8)
Australian contender faces Enrique Ornelas (25-2) on Showtime's "ShoBox," but he could be looking ahead to a possible showdown in early 2007 with countryman Anthony Mundine, a top super middleweight contender.
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Ornelas.
6. Javier Castillejo (61-6)
First defense of his paper title against Mariano Carrera was scheduled for Nov. 18, but it has been bumped back two weeks because of German promoter Universum's scheduling issues.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Carrera.
7. Felix Sturm (25-2)
Former titlist will fight light-hitting Gavin Topp (20-2-2) on the same card as Castillejo-Carrera knowing that if he wins he will get a rematch with Castillejo, who knocked him out in a July upset.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Topp.
8. Kelly Pavlik (29-0)
Powerful Pavlik keeps racking up wins, the latest coming in the form of an impressive fourth-round knockout of Lenord Pierre on Versus. The victory paved the way for Pavlik to make his HBO debut early next year on a "Boxing After Dark" card headlined by Jorge Arce.
Next: Jan. 27 vs. TBA.
9. Kingsley Ikeke (23-2)
Although "Sharp Knuckle" hasn't fought since being stopped by Abraham in December and his subsequent release by Golden Boy, Ikeke served as a key sparring partner to help Sergio Mora prepare for his recent victory against Eric Regan.
10. Raymond Joval (35-4)
He's home in the Netherlands attending to personal business while his handlers are looking around for a fight for him before the end of the year now that he has recovered from a neck injury.
1. Cory Spinks (35-3)
Although the former undisputed welterweight champ defeated Roman Karmazin in a close fight to win a belt in his second weight class (IBF light middleweight) in July, it was not an impressive performance. Spinks was lucky to escape with the victory. His reward for doing so? Getting stuck with a mandatory defense against Rodney Jones, a fight no one on the planet wants to see.
Next: TBA vs. Jones.
2. Roman Karmazin (34-2-1)
Besides the close loss to Spinks, his only other defeat came on a close decision in an interim title bout against Javier Castillejo, who later moved up and won a middleweight strap.
3. Kassim Ouma (25-2-1)
Former titlist is moving up to middleweight and headed into the lion's den of champion Jermain Taylor's hometown of Little Rock, Ark. Considering what Ouma has been through in his life -- growing up as a child soldier kidnapped into service in his native Uganda -- do you really think he's going to break a sweat going into hostile territory?
Next: Dec. 9 vs. Taylor.
4. Sugar Shane Mosley (43-4)
If business partner Oscar De La Hoya decides not to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mosley is Mayweather's most attractive alternative. While Mayweather-Mosley isn't as big commercially as De La Hoya-Mayweather, it's a pretty sweet consolation prize.
5. Oscar De La Hoya (38-4)
Will he or won't he fight Mayweather? It's by far the biggest fight in boxing and could be the richest non-heavyweight fight in history. But making it will require several people to put their egos in check and be realistic about the financial splits. We hope De La Hoya, who will have the most say in whether the fight is made, does the right thing for the sport, which is to make the fight.
Next: May 5 vs. TBA.
6. Ike Quartey (37-3-1)
Although he officially lost on a highly controversial decision to Vernon Forrest in August, it didn't hurt him when it came to landing a significant fight. Coming off the "defeat," the former welterweight champ is moving up in weight again to face Winky Wright in a middleweight eliminator for a seven-figure payday.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Wright.
7. Vernon Forrest (38-2)
Raise your hand if you actually thought he deserved the decision against Quartey when the former welterweight champs met in August? Anyone? Anyone? We didn't think so.
8. Sergei Dzindziruk (33-0)
In second defense of his belt, the Germany-based Ukrainian titlist easily outpointed obscure Alisultan Nadirbegov (15-2) of Russia on Oct. 21. Dzindziruk, a southpaw, isn't all that well known in this star-studded division, but that doesn't mean he's isn't very talented.
9. Daniel Santos (30-3-1)
Former titlist had a wasted year, making a 52-second cameo appearance in July and drilling the pathetic and utterly overmatched Will Evans with the first decent punch he landed. That's not exactly the way to gain momentum toward another title fight.
10. Jose Antonio Rivera (38-4-1)
Like Santos, Rivera is another Don King fighter limited to just one fight this year. At least Rivera's campaign wasn't a total waste. He looked terrific in his May fight, surviving a knockdown and dropping Alejandro Garcia five times en route to a title-winning decision victory.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (37-0)
The pound-for-pound king can now finally call himself "champ" after a thorough domination of Carlos Baldomir to win the title Nov. 4. The fight wasn't an exciting brawl, but that's not Mayweather's game. He's so much better than everyone that he doesn't need to turn fights into grueling physical confrontations because he can so easily outbox his opponents. With the title in hand, our attention can finally turn to the biggest fight in the sport: A possible May 5 showdown with money-man junior middleweight titlist Oscar De La Hoya.
2. Antonio Margarito (33-4)
He can beg, plead and cajole but it doesn't look like the "Tijuana Tornado" is going to get his desired fight with Mayweather. Margarito has other things to worry about anyway, such as a dangerous fight with Joshua Clottey and, if Margarito wins, an even more dangerous mandatory bout against Paul Williams.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Clottey.
3. Ricky Hatton (41-0)
The British star is moving back down to junior welterweight to challenge Juan Urango of Colombia for his old belt, but instead of Jan. 13 in Atlanta, the potentially action-packed fight is being moved. It will probably wind up in either in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
Next: Jan. 20 or 27 vs. Urango.
4. Luis Collazo (27-2)
In his first action since a close points loss to Hatton in May, Collazo returned on the Nov. 4 Briggs-Liakhovich card and scored a sixth-round TKO of journeyman Artur "Scar" Atadzhanov. Now that he's back in the win column, Collazo figures prominently into the mix for any notable match at this weight. We'd love to see him face Margarito or Kermit Cintron.
5. Kermit Cintron (27-1)
He obliterated Mark Suarez in six rounds on Oct. 28 to win the vacant/badly tainted IBF belt. But Cintron is an exciting fighter who can punch, and he seems to be all the way back from his lone knockout loss to Margarito in April 2005. There are good things to come for him, especially now that he is under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward.
6. Paul Williams (32-0)
The lanky southpaw puncher destroyed game Santos Pakau in six rounds in a showcase fight on the Mayweather-Baldomir card. Williams looms as the mandatory opponent for Margarito, a fight we think he will win if it ever happens.
7. Carlos Baldomir (43-10-6)
Sure, "Cinderella Man" couldn't lay a glove on Mayweather and lost the title in a shutout. However, that doesn't diminish his remarkable accomplishments this year, which include upsetting Zab Judah to win the undisputed title in January and knocking out Arturo Gatti in another upset in a July defense. Baldomir also set himself up for life by earning more than $3 million in purses after spending a lifetime in poverty.
8. Zab Judah (34-4)
Although he is under a license revocation in Nevada for precipitating a near-riot during the 10th round of his April fight with Mayweather, Judah had hoped to win an appeal to the Association of Boxing Commissions that would allow him to fight in other states. But the ABC smacked him down and will force him to serve the punishment he deserved.
9. Oktay Urkal (37-3)
The German mandatory contender is content to take step-aside money to allow Miguel Cotto and Carlos Quintana to battle for the belt Hatton vacated. The winner will be obligated to face Urkal in his next fight.
10. Arturo Gatti (40-8)
Mr. Blood and Guts has a fight left on his HBO deal, so he'll take the money and at least one more fight before thinking about retirement. One name mentioned as a possible comeback opponent is popular New Yorker Dmitriy Salita (26-0-1), whose record is better than his ability.
1. Miguel Cotto (27-0)
Vacated title for his long-anticipated move to welterweight, where he's not taking any old get-used-to-the-weight kind of fight. Cotto will make his Showtime debut by jumping right into the fire to face dangerous Puerto Rican countryman Carlos Quintana, a skilled southpaw, for the belt that Ricky Hatton vacated in order to move down in weight.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Quintana.
2. Junior Witter (34-1-2)
Because he recently won a vacant belt, the nasty WBC has imposed two mandatory fights on the slick Brit. However, if he can get an exception, there has been some initial talk that Witter will come to the United States in February or March and face Juan Lazcano.
3. Vivian Harris (27-2-1)
To get a shot at Witter's title, Harris, a former title holder, could wind up fighting Lazcano in an elimination fight. That's a heck of an interesting match for a Showtime or HBO co-feature.
4. Jose Luis Castillo (54-7-1)
The former two-time lightweight champ is being penciled in to fight on Ricky Hatton's January HBO undercard with the understanding that if he and Hatton both win, they would face each other in the spring in a major HBO main event. If the deal is worked out, Castillo probably would face Canadian Herman Ngoudjo (15-0).
5. Ricardo Torres (29-1)
When Colombian puncher faces "Mighty" Mike Arnaoutis for the belt that Cotto vacated on the Pacquiao-Morales III HBO PPV undercard, it will come down to this: Can Torres' crushing power trump Arnaoutis' slick boxing skills? We're psyched for this one.
Next: Nov. 18 vs. Arnaoutis.
6. Demetrius Hopkins (24-0-1)
Golden Boy had so much trouble finding a top-level opponent for the nephew of Bernard Hopkins that he will have to settle for fighting journeyman Rogelio Castaneda (23-10-3). It may not be televised in full on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" broadcast because of the weak caliber of the opponent. But at the very least, we'll see highlights, although that's just not the same for a fighter looking for significant exposure.
Next: Nov. 25 vs. Castaneda.
7. Lovemore N'dou (44-8-1)
Golden Boy won a purse bid to promote its fighter, Naoufel Ben Rabah, against N'dou in a title eliminator in which the winner will become the mandatory challenger for the winner of the January title bout between Juan Urango and Ricky Hatton. Rabah-N'dou probably will take place in January or February in Australia, where both fighters live and have been taking swipes at each other in the media.
Next: TBA vs. Rabah.
8. Souleymane M'Baye (35-1)
Golden Boy reached out to M'Baye promoter Frank Warren about making his first defense against Hopkins on the Nov. 25 HBO card, but M'Baye, who won the vacant trinket via a fourth-round knockout of Raul Balbi on Sept. 2, declined.
9. Kendall Holt (21-1)
The talented, but inactive Holt ended a 14-month layoff and put on a clinic against Isaac Hlatshwayo (25-1) of South Africa in a Nov. 3 coming-out party on "ShoBox." It was supposed to be a pick 'em fight, but Holt rose to the occasion and surprisingly dominated Hlatshwayo, dropping him three times and winning a lopsided decision.
10. Juan Lazcano (37-3-1)
"The Hispanic Causing Panic" should have panicked while listening to the decision in his Oct. 21 HBO PPV undercard bout against Manuel Garnica because Lazcano didn't deserve the victory. However, that didn't stop the judges from awarding him a blatant hometown decision in his native El Paso, Texas.
1. Joel Casamayor (34-3-1)
The new champ could be headed for a rematch and unification fight with Acelino "Popo" Freitas. It's a fight that Casamayor has wanted since losing a close decision to him in a 2002 junior lightweight unification bout. One issue standing in the way, however, is that Casamayor has a mandatory bout due against interim titlist David Diaz.
2. Diego "Chico" Corrales (40-4)
Former champ's next fight won't be with the scale or an opponent. It is more likely to be promoter Gary Shaw, who claims to still have a contract with Corrales despite Corrales signing with Golden Boy Promotions. This could get ugly.
3. Acelino "Popo" Freitas (38-1)
The poster child for why folks are so skeptical when a boxer announces his retirement. His lasted all of three weeks before he decided he wanted to fight again, specifically in a rematch with rival Casamayor. If the fight happens, it could be in Freitas' native Brazil in March or April.
4. Juan Diaz (31-0)
The "Baby Bull" made his sixth successful defense (and first under promoter Don King) on Nov. 4, winning a lopsided, but exciting, decision against unknown Fernando Angulo on the Briggs-Liakhovich undercard. We've never complained about Diaz's opponents before, but the time has come for him to fight a significant fighter. Enough with the nobodies.
5. Julio Diaz (33-3)
All along, the interim titlist has been ready, willing and able to face belt-holder Jesus Chavez, but it has been Chavez who has been reluctant to fight him, even blowing off a Nov. 25 date that HBO had been holding for the fight. Now, however, it appears the bout will finally happen early next year after Don King -- who doesn't promote either fighter -- swooped in and won a purse bid with a surprisingly high $501,000 offer.
Next: TBA vs. Chavez.
6. Jesus Chavez (43-3)
He has been dealing with two major issues since winning a belt in his last fight in September 2005 -- the death of opponent Leavander Johnson, who died from injuries suffered in the bout, and a serious arm injury that still hasn't healed 100 percent. Can you blame him for not rushing into a dangerous fight with Julio Diaz? However, Golden Boy says Chavez is now willing to take the fight under the terms of King's winning purse bid, and the fight could wind up on Showtime in February.
Next: TBA vs. Diaz.
7. Nate Campbell (29-5-1)
It wasn't really a shock that the "Galaxxy Warrior" defeated Poland's Matt Zegan in an Oct. 7 title eliminator. But what was shocking was that he dropped him twice and won a thoroughly lopsided decision to earn an eventual shot at the Chavez-Diaz winner.
8. Zahir Raheem (27-2)
He's been persona non grata since his disgraceful performance in an April title bout against Freitas, but promoter Top Rank hasn't totally given up on him. It offered Raheem a Dec. 9 DirecTV PPV main event against Jose Cotto (Miguel's brother), but Raheem turned it down because he was unhappy with the purse. Considering how pitiful he fought against Freitas, Raheem is lucky Top Rank offered him anything.
9. David Diaz (32-1-1)
The interim titlist has been confirmed as the mandatory challenger for Casamayor, who must fight Diaz or relinquish his sanctioning organization belt. That's great for Diaz, but not great for boxing fans, who would probably rather see a Freitas-Casamayor rematch.
10. "Kid Diamond" Almazbek Raiymkulov (23-1-1)
He's won three in a row this year since suffering a shocking 10th-round TKO loss to Campbell last fall. Raiymkulov can close out the year 4-0 by winning a Telefutura bout next month.
Next: Dec. 15 or 22 vs. TBA.
1. Manny Pacquiao (42-3-2)
Erik Morales defeated Pacquiao in their first fight. Pacquiao knocked Morales out in the rematch. Now "The Grand Finale" is upon us and it figures to be a possible fight of the year with so much at stake for both fighters. Unlike some recent HBO PPV duds -- can you say Mayweather-Baldomir? -- this card figures to be worth the money.
Next: Nov. 18 vs. Morales.
2. Marco Antonio Barrera (63-4)
His next title defense should come against the winner of Pacquiao-Morales III. Either match is a huge fight. Barrera wants revenge for his loss to Pacquiao in 2003 and Barrera is up 2-1 on Morales in their sensational trilogy. The easier fight to make is Pacquiao-Barrera II because they are both with Golden Boy, while Morales is with Golden Boy rival Top Rank.
3. Erik Morales (48-4)
The proud Mexican warrior has lost three of his past four bouts and his career as an elite fighter is clearly on the line when he faces Pacquiao in their much-anticipated rubber match. Morales, however, seems in great spirits heading into the fight thanks to a commitment to conditioning and the return of his father/trainer Jose Morales to his corner.
Next: Nov. 18 vs. Pacquiao.
4. Joan Guzman (26-0)
Guzman's recent success -- winning a vacant belt in impressive fashion against Jorge Barrios on Sept. 16 -- has put boxing on the map in the Dominican Republic, which loves him so much that the government is sponsoring his first title defense.
Next: Dec. 16 vs. TBA.
5. Humberto Soto (40-5-2)
How's this for typical WBC garbage: Soto paid a sanction fee and defeated Ivan Valle in an August title eliminator. That meant he was the next mandatory opponent for champion Barrera. However, the organization ruled at its annual convention that Soto will only get the mandatory shot if the winner of Pacquiao-Morales III declines it. We've had enough of the double dealing sanctioning organizations to last us a lifetime.
6. Rocky Juarez (25-3)
In the wake of a second loss to Barrera, Juarez is trying to regroup. His first move was to re-sign with manager Shelly Finkel. Now, they are listening to a variety of promotional offers, and once that is settled, Juarez should be back in a meaningful fight in short order.
7. Edwin Valero (20-0)
This puncher extraordinaire has left his native Venezuela to relocate with his family to Japan, where he has been fighting for top Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda for a few years and where he is expected to make his first title defense before the end of the year.
8. Vicente Mosquera (24-2-1)
The good news is that Mosquera lasted longer than any of Valero's previous opponents, taking him into the 10th round in their August title fight. The bad news, of course, is that Mosquera got knocked out and lost his title.
9. Yodsanan Nantachai (48-3-1)
Former titlist won his fifth straight low-level fight in Thailand since losing his belt to Mosquera in April 2005. The latest victim was Sataporn Singwangcha, who fell in the fourth round on Oct. 31.
10. Alex Arthur (24-1)
Scottish star easily defended his European title for the third time with a fifth-round destruction of Sergio Palomo (24-2) on Nov. 4. Arthur, one of Europe's most exciting fighters, is worthy of a world title shot right now.
1. Chris John (38-0-1)
John is slated to defend his title against Jose Rojas in a rematch of his four-round technical decision in December 2004. Organizers are targeting Feb. 17, but rarely does the original date discussed for a fight in John's native Indonesia come off as planned.
Next: TBA vs. Rojas.
2. Juan Manuel Marquez (45-3-1)
Marquez was supposed to defend his trinket against Jimrex Jaca (27-2-1) of the Philippines in the main event of an HBO PPV card on Oct. 21. However, the fight was called off at the last minute when Jaca was unable to secure his visa. After much drama, the bout has been rescheduled as the main event of an HBO "Boxing After Dark" card. And no worries this time -- Jaca arrived in the United States in early November.
Next: Nov. 25 vs. Jaca.
3. Scott Harrison (25-2-2)
His life makes Mike Tyson's look calm these days. The belt holder from Scotland was arrested in Spain on Oct. 6 on an assault charge -- just the latest in a string of incidents -- and sent to jail, where he has been sitting for weeks. He had held out hope that he would be released in time to face Nicky Cook on Dec. 9, but that was a pipe dream, and the fight has been canceled. Because Harrison has already been given extension after extension to defend his crown in a timely manner, he probably will be stripped.
4. Rodolfo Lopez (19-2-1)
The first title defense for the 23-year-old Mexican will be a tough one. He has to go to South Korea to face former titlist Injin Chi in a mandatory defense. The bout was originally scheduled for Nov. 26, but has been postponed by organizers.
Next: Dec. 17 vs. Chi.
5. Injin Chi (30-3-1)
Former titlist is a significant favorite to reclaim his old belt when he faces Lopez. The winner of the fight will be obligated to face former junior featherweight champ Oscar Larios.
Next: Dec. 17 vs. Lopez.
6. Nicky Cook (26-0)
Unfortunately, Cook was caught in the middle of Harrison's troubles. His Dec. 9 title shot lingered in limbo for weeks while Harrison tried to get out of jail and get himself together. Ultimately, the bout was called off, leaving Cook out in the cold.
7. Oscar Larios (57-5-1)
After losing his junior featherweight title to Israel Vazquez 11 months ago and then jumping up to junior lightweight, where he lost a decision to Manny Pacquiao, Larios has settled into his new division. He knocked out Roberto Bonilla on Oct. 6 and somehow is now the wacky WBC's mandatory for the winner of Lopez-Chi. But next up will be a tune-up fight in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Next: Dec. 16 vs. TBA.
8. Spend Abazi (35-1)
Abazi easily outpointed Edinso Torres on the Oct. 14 Kessler-Beyer undercard in yet another meaningless fight. Abazi is a fine fighter who went 3-0 this year, but he only fought six-rounders. He's 28 years old and has 36 professional fights. What are he and his promoter waiting for?
9. Jorge Solis (31-0-2)
Brother of junior flyweight titlist Ulises Solis was supposed to face Cook in a Nov. 17 title eliminator until Cook got an opportunity to fight directly for a belt. Solis will get his shot eventually.
10. Orlando Salido (28-9-2)
He handily defeated Robert Guerrero to win a belt on the Mayweather-Baldomir card, but he probably won't keep it for long. Salido tested positive for steroids in his postfight drug screen and faces a disciplinary hearing in Nevada, where he likely will be fined and suspended. He also probably will be stripped of the title and have his victory overturned to a no decision. Hey, it's still better than what happened after he lost his first title fight to then-unified champ Marquez in 2004, when Salido was arrested for stealing cars in his native Mexico and went to jail for six months.
1. Israel Vazquez (41-3)
Vazquez finished the year 2-0, both by knockout, in defense of the legitimate junior featherweight title. He's expected back in the ring in early 2007. His ideal match would be to jump up in weight to face Manny Pacquiao, but that might not be realistic because Pacquiao will probably pursue a bigger fight if he beats Erik Morales again. What would be interesting is for him to face Celestino Caballero or Daniel Ponce De Leon, both of whom have belts and both of whom could give him a run for his money.
2. Celestino Caballero (25-2
Fresh from an Oct. 4 third-round knockout victory against Somsak Singchachawan to win a title in Thailand, Caballero showed up ringside to watch fellow titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon smash Al Seeger to bits a few weeks later. His appearance prompted talk of a rematch with De Leon, whose only career loss came via decision to Caballero. We'd love to see it.
3. Daniel Ponce De Leon (30-1)
When Juan Manuel Marquez's Oct. 21 bout fell out at the last minute, De Leon's third title defense against Seeger was elevated from the HBO PPV co-feature status to the main event, and De Leon took advantage of the additional attention. He looked sensational in pummeling Seeger into submission in the eighth round. De Leon is a brute puncher who could knock down a wall.
4. Somsak Singchachawan (46-2-1)
Although he lost his title via third-round knockout to Caballero at home in Thailand on Oct. 4, Singchachawan can take solace at least knowing that his March title victory against Mahyar Monshipour is the probable fight of the year.
5. Michael Hunter (26-0-1)
Brit will have the hometown advantage and is the favorite to defeat Steve Molitor when they clash for a vacant belt, one that was unceremoniously stripped from Vazquez because he refused to fight the undeserving/unqualified/preposterous mandatory Molitor.
Next: Nov. 10 vs. Molitor.
Other contenders: Sergio Manuel Medina, Ricardo Cordoba
1. Rafael Marquez (36-3)
The brilliant champion has made seven title defenses (five by knockout) and has done pretty much all that there is to do at bantamweight, especially considering that the odds of a unification bout in the division are so slim. That means he needs to move up to junior featherweight for a serious challenge, which he could get if quiet discussions to match him with 122-pound titlist Celestino Caballero pan out.
2. Jhonny Gonzalez (33-5)
After an unsuccessful shot at junior featherweight champ Israel Vazquez, Gonzalez will remain at bantamweight. Golden Boy is talking about matching him with Gerry Penalosa, a former junior bantamweight champ who was impressive stopping former titlist Mauricio Martinez in the ninth round on Oct. 21. On paper, Gonzalez-Penalosa is an all-action scrap.
3. Hozumi Hasegawa (20-2)
Long-delayed mandatory with Genaro Garcia was supposed to take place in July, but Hasegawa suffered a rib injury that delayed the fight for four months.
Next: Nov. 13 vs. Garcia.
4. Genaro Garcia (35-4)
When he faces Hasegawa, the WBC's awful new open scoring rule will be put to the test. The judges' scorecards will be revealed after the fourth and eighth rounds. The fight takes place in Tokyo and Japan's commission plans to apply it, but don't expect to see the rule implemented in the United States.
Next: Nov. 13 vs. Hasegawa.
5. Veerapol Sahaprom (53-3-2)
Former two-time champ from Thailand is eyeing his second win in a row since being knocked out by Hasegawa in their title rematch in March.
Next: Nov. 11 vs. Michael Bayona.
Other contenders: Irene Pacheco, Ratanachai Sor Vorapin, Wladimir Sidorenko, Gerry Penalosa, Silence Mabuza.
1. Fernando Montiel (32-2-1)
Golden Boy said it offered Montiel a Dec. 8 date on Telefutura to make his mandatory defense against Z Gorres of the Philippines. Gorres (26-1-1) agreed to terms, but Montiel turned it down and asked for a purse bid, a bizarre request because Golden Boy promotes both fighters.
Next: TBA vs. Gorres.
2. Masamori Tokuyama (32-3-1)
Tokuyama, 32, has reportedly announced his retirement from boxing and plans to compete in a K1 fight. If that is the case, interim titlist Cristian Mijares, who defeated Katsushige Kawashima, will drop the interim tag from his title and will face former champ Kawashima in a Jan. 3 rematch.
3. Nobuo Nashiro (8-0)
Coming off his title-winning upset of Martin Castillo, Nashiro will make the first defense of his title in Osaka, Japan, against little-known Eduardo Garcia (17-4) of Mexico.
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Garcia.
4. Martin Castillo (30-2)
Castillo, who has been prone to cuts, underwent successful surgery to remove the buildup of scar tissue over his eyes, have some blood vessels moved and have the bone around his eyes shaved down. The former titlist had so much scar tissue that the surgeon used a laser to burn it off rather than just cut it off. Talk about a rough day. But Castillo is eager to return to the ring and should be ready by March or April.
5. Jorge Arce (45-3-1)
The "Lollipop Cowboy" successfully moved up to junior bantamweight and annihilated Hawk Makepula in a Sept. 23 title eliminator that also served as Arce's HBO debut. Arce is coming right back to headline HBO's first "Boxing After Dark" card of 2007.
Next: Jan. 27 vs. TBA.
Other contenders: Luis Perez, Alexander Munoz, Dimitri Kirilov, Jose Navarro, Cristian Mijares.
1. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (62-2)
The Thai champion has made a division-record 15 title defenses, albeit against brutally weak opposition. Next up is a long-overdue mandatory defense against South Africa's Monelisi Myekeni (21-2), whose reputation indicates that maybe he will be competitive. Before Wonjongkam retires or loses, we'd like to see him try to unify titles at least once. Is that too much to ask?
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Myekeni.
2. Lorenzo Parra (27-0)
A knee injury forced him to pull out of a defense last month against former junior flyweight titlist Roberto Vasquez, and he won't be back until February or March. Because of the injury, an interim title bout was approved, and Vasquez will face Takefumi Sakata on Dec. 2 in Paris.
3. Vic Darchinyan (27-0)
Australia's "Raging Bull" is the most exciting fighter in the sport from featherweight on down. He has one mission when he fights -- to knock out his opponent. Hopefully, someday we will get to see the one fight that fans of the smaller divisions wants to see: Darchinyan vs. junior bantamweight contender Jorge Arce. It would be a guaranteed barnburner.
4. Omar Narvaez (23-0-2)
Instead of going through with an Oct. 7 bout against Darchinyan, Narvaez pulled out and stayed at home in Argentina, where he made his ninth defense with a unanimous decision against journeyman Walberto Ramos (11-5-2) on Oct. 14.
5. Brahim Asloum (20-1)
The 2000 French Olympic gold medalist was dominated by Parra in a 2005 title shot, but Asloum figures to get another one eventually, perhaps against the winner of the Dec. 2 interim title bout between Vasquez and Sakata.
Other contenders: Roberto Vasquez, Victor Burgos, Luis Maldonado, Takefumi Sakata
1. Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon (27-0)
Stop us if you've heard this before: Calderon won his last fight by a dominant decision. Shocking right? Death, taxes and a lopsided points for Calderon. This time, he made the 10th defense of his 105-pound crown by dominating Jose Luis Varela in Colombia on Oct. 21. Calderon could fight on the moon and probably still win by scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-108.
2. Hugo Cazares (24-3-1)
Impressively stopped Nelson Dieppa in the 10th round of their Sept. 30 rematch to earn recognition as the legitimate world champion at 108 pounds. Encore will be a mandatory defense against Wilfrido Valdez Perez (23-1-3) of Colombia. We'd rather see him fight Calderon in a summit meeting of the sport's best little guys?
Next: TBA vs. Perez.
3. Ulises "Archie" Solis (21-1-2)
Please, please, please, someone explain how Will Grigsby is Solis' mandatory challenger? Solis easily outpointed him in January to win a 108-pound title and Grigsby hasn't fought since. So just how did he earn another title shot when their first fight had not one ounce of controversy? Ahhhh, yes. We've figured it out. It's an IBF title bout and the IBF does things without the benefit of cognitive thinking.
Next: TBA vs. Grigsby.
4. Omar Nino (24-2-1)
Although he easily outpointed Brian Viloria to win a version of the 108-pound title in August, a rematch with Viloria was his best financial option, so they'll do it again on the Pacquiao-Morales III HBO PPV undercard. Let's see if he can win again and prove the first fight was for real.
Next: Nov. 18 vs. Viloria.
5. Brian Viloria (19-1)
The former U.S. Olympian barely threw any punches in giving away his title via lopsided decision to Nino in August. Viloria better show up able to execute a much better plan than he did in that fight, or he'll lose again, which would be a severe blow to an already disappointing career.
Next: Nov. 18 vs. Nino.
Other contenders: Yutaka Niida, Will Grigsby, Eagle Kyowa, Koki Kameda, Juan Landaeta
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- De La Hoya, Trinidad part of new Hall class
- Arum: Pacquiao-Rios hits about 500K PPV buys
- Roy Jones Jr. bound for Russia for next fight
- Design approved for Frazier statue in Philly