ESPN.com's divisional rankings
What changes were made in the weight class rankings in January? Dan Rafael reveals his new world standings.
Check out my rankings within each division by clicking on the links below.
Who is the best fighter, regardless of weight class? See my pound-for-pound rankings.
Note: Results through Feb. 23. In an effort to provide the most up-to-date rankings, ESPN.com's division-by-division boxing rankings will be updated every Monday.
1. Wladimir Klitschko (52-3)
Now that big brother Vitali won't be facing David Haye (22-1) next, it's likely Wladimir will defend his belts against Haye instead. Target date: June 20 in London, with HBO televising in America. That's a huge fight, even if Klitschko figures to knock him out cold.
2. Vitali Klitschko (36-2)
When Klitschko makes his mandatory defense against Juan Carlos Gomez in Stuttgart, Germany, there's good news for American fight fans -- it will be live on ESPN. Isn't it great to have a serious heavyweight fight on basic cable?
Next: March 21 vs. Gomez.
3. Ruslan Chagaev (25-0-1)
After overcoming a variety of injuries and illness, Chagaev returned for his first fight since January 2008, a sloppy sixth-round technical decision win on Feb. 7 against Carl Davis Drummond. The fight ended when Chagaev was busted open over his eye because of a bad accidental head butt. Assuming Chagaev isn't looking at another long layoff, he's mandated to face Nikolai Valuev to clean up the WBA's monumental heavyweight mess.
4. Alexander Povetkin (16-0)
Wladimir Klitschko's mandatory challenger is planning his return from a foot injury that cost him a Dec. 13 title shot. The 2004 Russian Olympic gold medalist will face American Jason Estrada (15-1) while awaiting his mandatory shot, which is expected to be in September.
Next: April 4 vs. Estrada.
5. Samuel Peter (30-2)
In his comeback fight after losing his title via one-sided destruction to Vitali Klitschko in the fall, Peter will face slick Eddie Chambers (33-1) in an outstanding ESPN2 main event. It'll be a must-win fight for Peter.
Next: March 27 vs. Chambers.
6. Oleg Maskaev (35-6)
While the former titleholder waits for an absurd mandatory fight against the winner of Klitschko-Gomez, Maskaev will stay busy in his father's homeland of Mordovia against journeyman Rich Boruff.
Next: March 14 vs. Boruff.
7. Cristobal Arreola (26-0)
Arreola is likely to appear on HBO on the proposed Paul Williams-Winky Wright card in April. However, finding a solid opponent for him is tough in such a thin heavyweight division.
8. Nikolai Valuev (50-1)
He turned in a dreadful performance against Evander Holyfield on Dec. 20 to retain his belt in a horrible fight that had a worse decision. Now, the 7-foot, 300-plus-pounder from Russia, who apparently wants a rematch with Holyfield, also must make a mandatory defense against Chagaev. Does anyone want to see either of those dreadful matches?
9. John Ruiz (43-8-1)
Although Ruiz has some quality victories on his résumé and has twice won versions of the title, he's also lost twice to Valuev. In light of Valuev's performance against Holyfield, it sure makes Ruiz look bad.
10. Juan Carlos Gomez (44-1)
The former cruiserweight titleholder is the mandatory challenger for Vitali Klitschko's title, and the sides have come to an agreement for the fight, which will take place in Germany, where the Cuban-born Gomez and Ukraine's Klitschko are based.
Next: March 21 vs V. Klitschko.
1. Tomasz Adamek (36-1)
After bumping off Steve Cunningham in December in a terrific fight, the new champ returns for his first defense on a special edition of Showtime's "ShoBox" to face Johnathon Banks (20-0), the rising contender trained and managed by Emanuel Steward.
Next: Feb. 27 vs. Banks.
2. Steve Cunningham (21-2)
In the wake of his loss to Tomasz Adamek in their December slugfest, Cunningham could quickly find himself back in a title bout if he beats former titleholder Wayne Braithwaite in an elimination match. A purse bid is scheduled for March 3.
3. Jean-Marc Mormeck (33-4)
The former champ hasn't fought since losing the title via seventh-round knockout to Haye in November 2007, but he's finally got something in the works. Mormeck is supposed to challenge titleholder Guillermo Jones in Mormeck's native France, although it will be pushed back from the original target month of March.
Next: TBA vs. Jones.
4. Guillermo Jones (36-3-2)
The beltholder from Panama is headed to France to make his first title defense against former champion Mormeck in what could a pretty interesting fight.
Next: TBA vs. Mormeck.
5. Marco Huck (23-1)
In his second defense of the European title, Germany's Huck smoked Belgium's Geoffrey Batello (now 18-1) in three rounds on Jan. 24. Next up could be a fight with former world titleholder Firat Arslan.
6. Enzo Maccarinelli (29-2)
"Big Mac" was supposed to face Banks, but he elected to take a fight with Adamek instead, leaving Maccarinelli to challenge titlist Victor Emilio Ramirez, who upset Alexander Alekseev on Jan. 17. However, Ramirez says he won't be ready in time for the bout, so Maccarinelli will instead face Ola Afolabi (13-1-3) for an interim title, with Ramirez obligated to face the winner.
Next: March 14 vs. Afolabi.
7. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (41-2)
The handlers of former titleholder Wlodarczyk and beltholder Giacobbe Fragomeni avoided a purse bid and made a deal for the mandatory fight. It will take place on Fragomeni's turf in Milan, Italy.
Next: March 27 vs. Fragomeni.
8. Firat Arslan (29-4-1)
In his last bout, in September, Arslan lost his world title via 10th-round TKO to Jones. For his comeback fight, Arslan might challenge Huck for the European title in what could be an interesting fight.
9. Giacobbe Fragomeni (26-1)
Italy's Fragomeni, 39, will face mandatory challenger Wlodarczyk in his first defense and will have the home turf advantage after their promoters made a deal and avoided a purse bid.
Next: March 27 vs. Wlodarczyk.
10. Vadim Tokarev (26-1-1)
The rugged Russian stopped journeyman Manu Ntoh in the eighth round Nov. 27 for his third consecutive win since dropping a majority decision to Huck in a May 2007 title eliminator.
1. Joe Calzaghe (46-0)
The Southpaw Joe C. Wales has announced his retirement, but in honor of his Hall of Fame-worthy career, in which he won the legitimate world championship at super middleweight and light heavyweight and finished undefeated, we'll give the Pride of Wales one more week atop the rankings. See you in Canastota in five years, Joe.
2. Bernard Hopkins (49-5-1)
With Calzaghe's retirement, Hopkins won't get that rematch with him for which he'd been so desperate. Now, maybe, just maybe, Hopkins will give serious thought to facing Chad Dawson at some point. Hopkins also could join Calzaghe in retirement but has said that even though he is 44, he feels as though he still has a couple of fights left in him.
3. Chad Dawson (27-0)
Dawson suffered a right-hand injury, forcing him to withdraw from his March 14 rematch (and HBO debut) against former champ Antonio Tarver. For those with no interest in the rematch, don't get too excited. It will be rescheduled, probably for sometime in May.
Next: TBA vs. Tarver.
4. Glen Johnson (48-12-2)
Johnson, who looms as the mandatory challenger for the winner of Adrian Diaconu-Silvio Branco, will stay busy by headlining ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" in a rematch of a 2003 draw with Daniel Judah (23-3-3).
Next: Feb. 27 vs. Judah.
5. Zsolt Erdei (30-0)
Erdei outpointed Ukraine's Yuri Barashian (now 25-5) on Jan. 10, but the bout was rendered a nontitle fight because Barashian failed to make weight.
6. Antonio Tarver (27-5)
Tarver will have to wait a couple of extra months to get his contractually mandated rematch with Dawson in the wake of Dawson's hand injury, which forced their March 14 rematch to be postponed.
Next: TBA vs. Dawson.
7. Adrian "The Shark" Diaconu (25-0)
Diaconu's first defense of his paper title will come against 42-year-old former titleholder Silvio Branco (57-9-2). The mandatory bout likely will take place in March in Branco's native Italy after the sides made a deal and avoided a purse bid.
Next: TBA vs. Branco.
8. Roy Jones Jr. (52-5)
Despite a lopsided loss to Calzaghe in November, the former champ and pound-for-pound king will fight on, in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla., on a small pay-per-view contest against faded Omar Sheika (27-8).
Next: March 21 vs. Sheika.
9. Hugo Hernan Garay (32-3)
Argentina's Garay did something very difficult to do -- go to Germany with a title and leave with it intact after taking a clear unanimous decision in his first title defense against popular German Juergen Braehmer (now 31-2) on Nov. 22.
10. Clinton Woods (41-4-1)
Woods was planning to return to action, following his loss last spring to Antonio Tarver, by going to France to face Rachid Kanfouah for the vacant European title. However, something better came along -- a world title eliminator against Elvir Muriqi (35-4), who also lost to Tarver.
Next: Feb. 14 vs. Muriqi.
1. Mikkel Kessler (41-1)
In a mismatch on paper and in the ring, Kessler destroyed wickedly undeserving mandatory challenger Danilo Haussler (now 29-4-1) in three rounds on Oct. 25 on Haussler's turf in Germany. After two wins in a row since his loss to Joe Calzaghe, hopefully, Kessler will step back up and fight a significant opponent. Kessler is too good to continue feasting on third-rate competition.
2. Lucian Bute (23-0)
After his win against Librado Andrade in October, in which Bute was nearly knocked out in the final few seconds, Bute said he'd give Andrade a rematch. However, it won't be immediate. Bute's next defense will come against solid puncher Fulgencio Zuniga (22-3-1) in the comfy confines of Montreal's Bell Centre in a fight that Showtime will air in the United States.
Next: March 13 vs. Zuniga.
3. Jermain Taylor (28-2-1)
The former undisputed middleweight champ and mandatory super middleweight challenger has spent virtually his entire career fighting on HBO, but he's headed for Showtime (for at least two fights) to challenge titlist Carl Froch after HBO rejected the fight. HBO's decision not to approve Froch as a Taylor opponent is nothing but perplexing.
Next: April 18 or 25 vs. Froch.
4. Anthony Mundine (34-3)
The former titleholder continues his string of fights against obscure, overmatched or faded fighters. He'll take what's behind door No. 3 when he moves down to middleweight to face Australian countryman Shannan Taylor (48-6-3), who was at his best at welterweight and is years past his prime.
Next: Feb. 11 vs. Taylor.
5. Carl Froch (24-0)
After brutal negotiations, England's Froch is headed stateside to defend his belt for the first time against Taylor on Showtime in what should be one hell of a fight.
Next: April 18 or 25 vs. Taylor.
6. Librado Andrade (27-2)
He's not getting an immediate rematch with Bute, but he's going to fight Vitali Tsypko (22-2) in an eliminator with the winner getting a crack at Bute. Andrade-Tsypko will take place on the Tim Bradley-Kendall Holt undercard in Montreal, although it is not slated to be part of Showtime's telecast.
Next: April 4 vs. Tsypko.
7. Karoly Balzsay (20-0)
In his first shot at a title, Hungary's Balzsay closed strong and won a competitive decision against Denis Inkin in a mandatory fight to claim a belt on Jan. 10.
8. Allan Green (27-1)
Because of the Froch-Taylor fight, Green won't go against Taylor. Instead, he'll fight on the Taylor-Froch undercard, probably against Carlos De Leon Jr.
Next: April 18 or 25 vs. TBA.
9. Sakio Bika (27-3-2)
The winner of the third season of "The Contender" makes good fights and is willing to face anyone. Wouldn't a match with fellow Australian Mundine be interesting?
10. Denis Inkin (34-1)
Russia's Inkin claimed one of the belts Calzaghe vacated by outpointing Fulgencio Zuniga (now 21-3-1) in September, but lost it in his first defense when Balzsay took a decision against him on Jan. 10.
1. Kelly Pavlik (35-1)
The champ put the nightmare of his lopsided nontitle loss to Bernard Hopkins behind him by triumphantly returning Feb. 21 to smack around mandatory challenger Marco Antonio Rubio for nine rounds in front of an adoring hometown crowd in Youngstown, Ohio. Who's next? The leading candidates, in no particular order, are John Duddy, Sergio Mora, Felix Sturm and Vernon Forrest. Notice Arthur Abraham is not on the list.
2. Arthur Abraham (28-0)
Instead of a serious fight, Abraham will defend his belt in Germany against the utterly undeserving Lajuan Simon (28-0), whose record looks great but was built against nobodies.
Next: March 14 vs. Simon.
3. Felix Sturm (31-2-1)
Sturm and his handlers continue to play it safe, matching him with Japan's Koji Sato (14-0), who has a nice record but has never faced anyone even remotely recognizable.
Next: April 25 vs. Sato.
4. Khoren Gevor (30-3)
Gevor went to Amin Asikainen's home turf in Finland on Nov. 28 and stopped him in the seventh round to win the vacant European title in a mild upset. It was Gevor's third win in a row since being stopped in the 11th round by Abraham in August 2007.
5. Javier Castillejo (62-8)
Facing a younger, stronger man, the 40-year-old Castillejo hung in a grueling fight against Sylvester on April 12 and almost made it to the final bell. That is, of course, until Sylvester knocked him cold in the center of the ring with one shot. Expect retirement talk again from the former titleholder, who has had a very solid career if he decides to call it quits.
6. Randy Griffin (24-2-3)
When he received a draw against Sturm last fall, it could have gone either way. In the summer rematch, Griffin was a legitimate points loser. Not only did the loss prevent Griffin from picking up a belt, it also knocked him out of the Pavlik sweepstakes.
7. Sebastian Sylvester (29-3)
The former European champion from Germany will try to shake off his November points loss to Sturm when he returns to face Italy's Gaetano Nespro (14-4) under the guidance of new trainer Karsten Rower.
Next: Feb. 28 vs. Nespro.
8. Roman Karmazin (37-3-1)
The former junior middleweight titleholder returned to action Dec. 20 for his first fight in 11 months and easily defeated faded Bronco McKart. Next, Karmazin will headline on Azteca America against Miguel Espino (19-2-1), a participant on the first season of "The Contender."
Next: March 21 vs. Espino.
9. Amin Asikainen (25-2)
Asikainen could not defend his home turf in Finland, suffering a seventh-round knockout loss to Gevor on Nov. 28 in a battle for the vacant European championship.
10. Marco Antonio Rubio (43-5-1)
In a mandatory shot against Pavlik on Feb. 21, Rubio did very little other than take a shellacking before retiring on his stool after the ninth round. That he remains ranked just shows how little depth there is at middleweight.
1. Vernon Forrest (41-3)
Although Forrest owes a mandatory defense against Sergio Martinez, he's been mentioned as possible summer opponent for middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik. There is also a chance of wretched April mismatch on Showtime against Charles Whitaker. Pray that one doesn't happen.
2. Paul Williams (36-1)
Unable to find a top opponent at welterweight or junior middleweight, Williams is going to middleweight to face Winky Wright (51-4-1) on HBO. Even though Wright has been idle for ages, he'll still present a serious test for Williams, especially at 160 pounds. Some have ripped the fight as a likely snorefest, but it says here that it will be an interesting fight.
Next: April 11 vs. Wright.
3. Sergei Dzindziruk (36-0)
Facing his mandatory challenger on Nov. 1, Dzindziruk's smooth skills and southpaw style trumped the aggression and power of Joel "Love Child" Julio. Dzindziruk's next mandatory challenger is Williams, but with Williams eyeing middleweight, it seems unlikely that the fight will happen.
4. Daniel Santos (32-3-1)
Santos accepted a Feb. 14 title defense on HBO against Sergio Martinez and then backed out a couple of days later. So next time he complains about not being active or not getting opportunities on TV, he has only himself to blame. Next: TBA.
5. Sergio Martinez (44-1-1)
First, Joe Greene developed kidney stones and pulled out of a Jan. 17 HBO fight with Martinez. Then, Martinez was shifted to an HBO card a month later to face Santos, but Santos pulled out a couple of days later. Now, Martinez is supposed to defend his interim belt on HBO against former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron (30-2), who is moving up in weight. Let's hope this fight sticks.
Next: Feb. 14 vs. Cintron.
6. Verno Phillips (42-12-1)
On Nov. 29, his 39th birthday, Phillips "celebrated" by getting smashed by Williams en route to an eighth-round TKO loss, just the second stoppage defeat in his 20-year pro career, in which he has won versions of the junior middleweight title three times and faced everyone.
7. Cory Spinks (36-5)
With Phillips' relinquishing his version of the title to face Williams, Spinks is headed to a fight with fellow St. Louis native Deandre Latimore (19-1). When and where? Well, that's a different story.
Next: TBA vs. Latimore.
8. Sergio Mora (21-1-1)
Last time he was offered a middleweight title shot against then-champion Jermain Taylor, Mora turned it down because he didn't want to fight him in Memphis, which is a few hours from Taylor's hometown in Little Rock, Ark. Now, Mora is a leading candidate to land a title shot against Pavlik. But if Mora wants it, he'll likely have to go to Cleveland, which is a lot closer to Pavlik's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, than Memphis is to Little Rock.
9. Joachim Alcine (30-1)
His title reign of one year and one successful defense ended in violent fashion July 11 on the wrong end of a Santos left hand. Back to the drawing board.
10. Joel "Love Child" Julio (34-2)
The Love Child returns from his competitive loss to Dzindziruk in November to face heralded power-punching prospect James Kirkland (24-0) on HBO in a sensational match on paper. It should be bombs away for however long it lasts.
Next: March 7 vs. Kirkland.
1. Sugar Shane Mosley (46-5)
At 37, Mosley turned back the clock on Jan. 24, putting a mountain of problems outside the ring behind him to simply dominate and crush the previously indestructible Antonio Margarito. It was a down-home butt whipping en route to a sensational ninth-round knockout. All hail the new welterweight king.
2. Miguel Cotto (33-1)
Cotto put last summer's loss to Margarito behind him with a strong performance in his comeback fight as he unloaded on a woeful Michael Jennings for five lopsided rounds to claim a vacant belt Feb. 21. Since there's unlikely to be a rematch with Shane Mosley, hopefully when Cotto returns in June, he'll find himself in a unification match with Joshua Clottey.
3. Antonio Margarito (37-6)
Some have taken to calling him "Margar-cheato" in the wake of the accusation that he tried to load his hand wraps before his fight with Mosley, who dominated him for a ninth-round knockout. He may ultimately deserve that nickname, but can't we wait until hearing the results of the California commission's investigation?
4. Joshua Clottey (35-2)
Clottey and Cotto are both promoted by Top Rank. They both have titles. It's a fight that ought to take five minutes to put together. Cotto is going to fight again in New York, which happens to be where Clottey lives. And did we mention that Cotto-Clottey would be an entertaining and competitive fight? That's the bout that should happen next, and it's one Clottey really wants.
5. Andre Berto (24-0)
Making his second defense, Berto really grew up by winning an extremely close and outstanding slugfest against former titleholder Luis Collazo on Jan. 17. What a hell of a way to kick off the 2009 HBO season. Terrific fight, one that demands an eventual rematch.
6. Luis Collazo (29-4)
The former titleholder's slugfest with Berto could have gone either way, but Collazo came out with the short end of the stick. Give Collazo credit for an excellent performance and for not complaining too loudly about a decision that many believed he deserved. Hopefully, we'll see a rematch down the road.
7. Zab Judah (37-6)
There has been talk that Judah could face former titlist Carlos Quintana on an HBO undercard. Obviously, the winner would be an ideal challenger for Berto.
8. Kermit Cintron (30-2-1)
First he got knocked out in the seventh round by Sergio Martinez before it was overturned in a heinous ruling. Then Cintron got a gift draw in the Feb. 14 fight. And now all Cintron does is run around telling people he won the bout. Maybe such delusions of grandeur are the result of one too many shots to the skull from Martinez.
9. Carlos Quintana (26-2)
The former titleholder from Puerto Rico sprained his ankle while training, forcing his Jan. 16 "Friday Night Fights" junior middleweight bout against Eromosele Albert (21-2-1) to be scrapped.
10. Isaac Hlatshwayo (28-1-1)
After a draw with Delvin Rodriguez (23-2-2) in a Nov. 17 title eliminator, Hlatshwayo was supposed to face Rodriguez in a rematch March 6 on ESPN2. However, Hlatshwayo, who is having problems with his promoter, pulled out of the fight.
1. Ricky Hatton (45-1)
Now that the drama of the deal is over, we can look forward to a huge, huge fight between Hatton and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. Get ready for a great promotion and, hopefully, an even greater fight.
Next: May 2 vs. Pacquiao.
2. Timothy Bradley Jr. (23-0)
Bradley was ringside for Kendall Holt's win against Demetrius Hopkins to get a good look at his next opponent. It will be Holt in a unification bout on Showtime.
Next: April 4 vs. Holt.
3. Kendall Holt (25-2)
Holt took care of business Dec. 13 by beating late substitute Demetrius Hopkins (now 28-1-1), who filled in for Ricardo Torres after Torres pulled out of the rubber match on a week's notice. Now Holt will get a unification bout with Bradley.
Next: April 4 vs. Bradley.
4. Andreas Kotelnik (31-2-1)
Kotelnik took a hard-fought split decision in an excellent fight against power puncher Marcos Maidana on the Feb. 7 Ruslan Chagaev-Carl Davis Drummond pay-per-view undercard. Kotelnik really showed a lot.
5. Junior Witter (37-2-2)
Witter's handlers are in talks with promoter Don King about an interim title bout against young Devon Alexander, which is the definition of a crossroads fight. Witter is the veteran whose career would be in serious jeopardy with a loss. Alexander is the rising talent in need of a big name on his résumé.
6. Juan Urango (21-1-1)
The aggressive Urango went to Herman Ngoudjo's adopted hometown of Montreal and scored an impressive one-sided decision win (plus two knockdowns) on Jan. 30 to reclaim the alphabet belt Paulie Malignaggi vacated last fall in order to face Hatton.
7. Paulie Malignaggi (25-2)
Malignaggi was ready, willing and able to face rising contender Mike Alvarado on the Feb. 21 Miguel Cotto-Michael Jennings Top Rank PPV card, but for whatever reason, Top Rank decided it didn't want to do the fight.
8. Ricardo Torres (32-2)
Whether he was ill or just having problems with his weight is irrelevant. What is important is that the Colombian slugger pulled out of his Dec. 13 rubber match with Holt a week before the bout. Hopefully, we'll see it someday.
9. Marco Maidana (25-1)
Although the heavy puncher from Argentina lost to Kotelnik on Feb. 7, it was a split decision, and Maidana showed he is an excellent fighter with a bright future. Looking forward to seeing him again.
10. Herman Ngoudjo (17-3)
In losing his second title shot, Ngoudjo showed tremendous heart to go the distance with Urango in their Jan. 30 title bout after suffering two knockdowns in the third round and a broken jaw.
1. Juan Manuel Marquez (49-4-1)
The champ is headed to Houston to face hometown hero and former unified titleholder Juan Diaz in an early candidate, on paper anyway, to be the 2009 fight of the year. Give Marquez credit for agreeing to defend the title in his opponent's hometown, especially after the memories he must have of going to Indonesia to face featherweight titlist Chris John and losing a tight decision.
Next: Feb. 28 vs Diaz.
2. Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2)
You can't make a Pacquiao fight without drama, which is just what we got during the round-the-clock watch for Pacquiao to sign the contract to face junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton. After the fight was called off, Pacquiao finally came around and signed. It's going to be great.
Next: May 2 vs. Hatton.
3. Nate Campbell (32-5-1)
Campbell will make one of his mandatory defenses against Ali Funeka on HBO in a fight that hopefully will help Campbell dig out of the financial hole that caused him to declare bankruptcy.
Next: Feb. 14 vs. Funeka.
4. Juan Diaz (34-1)
If you put together a list of dream fights for 2009, Diaz challenging Marquez would have to make that list. Well, guess what? It's set to happen in Diaz's hometown of Houston. And how about this? It's on HBO, not on pay-per-view.
Next: Feb. 28 vs. Marquez.
5. Joan Guzman (29-0).
With Nate Campbell vacating his belts on the scale when he didn't make weight, Guzman likely will face Yuri Romanov for one of the vacant straps.
6. Julio Diaz (36-4)
His proposed ESPN2 April 10 fight with brawler Michael Katsidis is out the window because Katsidis has instead committed (supposedly) to Golden Boy's lightweight tournament pay-per-view card. It's a shame because Diaz-Katsidis would have been a heck of a fight.
7. Joel Casamayor (36-4-1)
If he wants to, Casamayor would be welcome in Golden Boy's proposed April lightweight tournament, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. But can Casamayor deal with the fact that, at this stage of his career, his market value is not what it was before Marquez drilled him?
8. Antonio Pitalua (46-3)
He's due to face fellow big hitter Edwin Valero for a vacant belt, which likely will come in Texas on Golden Boy's lightweight tournament card on April 4. Expect someone to taste the canvas in that one.
Next: TBA vs. Valero.
9. David Diaz (34-2-1)
Out of action since taking a beating from Pacquiao in June, Diaz is still recovering from September knee surgery and a setback in December.
10. Ali Funeka (30-1-2)
South Africa's 6-foot Funeka, who bounced Zahir Raheem off the canvas five times in a dominant fourth-round knockout to become one of Campbell's mandatory challengers, will get his title opportunity on HBO in his American debut.
Next: Feb. 14 vs. Campbell.
1. Humberto Soto (46-7-2)
Soto finally earned his world title when he won a lopsided decision against Francisco Lorenzo in December. He'll return for his first defense on the Top Rank PPV show headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez against Carlos Nascimento. Chavez may be the main event because he's the draw, but Soto obviously is the far better fighter.
Next: March 28 vs. TBA.
2. Edwin Valero (24-0)
The former titleholder, who is moving up to lightweight, has signed a three-year promotional deal with Top Rank and will face Antonio Pitalua for an interim belt, which is expected to be April 4 on Golden Boy's all-lightweight pay-per-view card.
Next: TBA vs. Pitalua.
3. Rocky Juarez (28-4)
When featherweight titleholder Steven Luevano refused to come to Houston to face Juarez on Feb. 28 on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz HBO undercard, Juarez promoter Golden Boy made an even more interesting fight for Juarez. He'll still move down in weight but will face Indonesia's Chris John, the No. 1 featherweight, for his title instead.
Next: Feb. 28 vs. John.
4. Jorge Linares (26-0)
After moving up from featherweight, Linares claimed a vacant belt with a fifth-round knockout of Whyber Garcia (20-6) in November and will return for his first defense against Josaphat Perez (12-1) on the undercard of Cristian Mijares' ring return in Mexico.
Next: March 14 vs. Perez.
5. Cassius Baloyi (36-3-1)
Baloyi's second defense likely will come against former titlist and South African countryman Malcolm Klassen in April. It's a big fight in South Africa with added intrigue: Both fighters are trained by Nick Durandt, who plans to work with Baloyi for the bout.
Next: TBA vs. Klassen.
6. Nicky Cook (29-1)
Cook's mandatory defense against Roman Martinez (21-0-1) of Puerto Rico will come on the same card as the fascinating Marco Antonio Barrera-Amir Khan bout in Manchester, England.
Next: March 14 vs. Martinez.
7. Robert Guerrero (23-1-1)
"The Ghost" ended an 11-month layoff because of arbitration with his former promoter, not to mention his wife's life-threatening illness, in spectacular fashion. He returned to knock out journeyman Edel Ruiz in the first round Jan. 24, setting him up for an HBO appearance against Indonesia's Daud Yordan (23-0).
Next: March 7 vs. Yordan.
8. Mzonke Fana (28-4)
After losing his alphabet trinket to South African countryman Baloyi in April, Fana returned to score a third-round knockout of Victor Manon on Aug. 29.
9. Alex Arthur (26-2)
In the wake of losing his belt to Cook in the fall, Scotland's Arthur is moving up to the stacked lightweight division, where he will debut on the Ricky Burns-Michael Gomez undercard.
Next: March 27 vs. TBA.
10. Jorge Barrios (47-4-1)
The former titleholder likely will move up in weight and be part of Golden Boy's proposed lightweight pay-per-view card on April 4 against former titleholder Carlos Hernandez. How could that fight be anything but action-packed?
1. Chris John (42-0-1)
After 10 defenses -- six in his native Indonesia, three in Japan and one in Australia -- John is headed for America to defend against Rocky Juarez (who is coming down from junior lightweight) in Juarez's hometown of Houston on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz HBO undercard. That is a sensational card.
Next: Feb. 28 vs. Juarez.
2. Steven Luevano (36-1-1)
Luevano likely will face Bernabe Concepcion (28-1-1) of the Philippines in his next defense on the Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao HBO PPV undercard.
Next: May 2 vs. TBA.
3. Elio Rojas (20-1)
With titleholder Oscar Larios sidelined because of a cut in his last fight on Oct. 16, mandatory challenger Rojas was supposed to face 2004 Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa (12-0) for the vacant belt. However, Gamboa's handlers are understandably having second thoughts and looking in another direction.
4. Jorge Solis (37-1-2)
The older brother of junior flyweight titlist Ulises Solis stopped Monte Meza-Clay in the fifth round Jan. 31 to earn a shot at winner of the fight between titlist Cristobal Cruz and Cyril Thomas.
5. Cristobal Cruz (37-11-1)
Cruz is headed to Saint-Quentin, France, to make his first title defense against former European champion Cyril Thomas (33-2-4).
Next: Feb. 14 vs. Thomas.
6. Mario Santiago (19-1-1)
Puerto Rico's Santiago didn't get the immediate rematch he hoped for with Luevano after their fantastic June draw, but could get one later this year. Santiago will return for his first fight since that draw to box on the Kelly Pavlik-Marco Antonio Rubio undercard.
Next: Feb. 21 vs. TBA.
7. Thomas Mashaba (20-2-4)
The South African contender is supposed to fight Fernando Beltran Jr. (31-3-1) in the United States in the headline fight of a card that likely will wind up on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights." Nice match.
Next: March 20 vs. Beltran.
8. Orlando Salido (31-10-2)
Salido gave a good effort against Cruz but lost a split decision in their battle for a vacant belt in October. He's slated to return to action against Eloy Perez (12-0-2) on an Azteca America undercard.
Next: March 21 vs. Perez.
9. Hector Velazquez (50-12-2)
Although the veteran Mexican is coming off a lopsided decision loss to Rojas in a title eliminator last fall, Velazquez had been on a solid run, which included a 10-round technical decision over Santiago.
10. Hiroyuki Enoki (27-1-2)
Although he lost a decision, Japan's Enoki gave John a very tough challenge when they met in Tokyo in October.
Next: March 7 vs. Ardo Diego.
1. Israel Vazquez (43-4)
Vazquez is dealing with an eye injury and has had multiple surgeries on his retina, so it is unclear when the world champ will make his 2009 debut. Hopefully, he comes back strong, perhaps in a much-discussed fourth fight with rival Rafael Marquez.
2. Celestino Caballero (31-2)
Unable to secure another significant fight after unifying against Steve Molitor, Caballero will make a mandatory defense against Jeffrey Mathebula.
Next: TBA vs. Mathebula.
3. Juan Manuel Lopez (24-0)
Lopez has scored three consecutive first-round knockouts and will aim for another when he defends his belt on HBO's "Boxing After Dark," likely against bantamweight titlist Gerry Penalosa, who will move up for the opportunity. The deal isn't 100 percent done yet, but both sides say they do not see any issues.
Next: April 25 vs. TBA.
4. Rafael Marquez (37-5)
Marquez was willing to face Vazquez for a fourth time. But between Marquez's financial demands and Vazquez's eye injury, it will happen later rather than sooner, if at all.
5. Jhonny Gonzalez (40-6)
He'll get a shot at titlist Toshiaki Nishioka (33-4-3) as a mandatory challenger, and it probably will come in Mexico instead of Japan after Gonzalez's team won a purse bid.
Next: TBA vs. Nishioka.
Other contenders: Daniel Ponce De Leon, Steve Molitor, Rendall Munroe, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, Ricardo Cordoba.
1. Hozumi Hasegawa (25-2)
Japan's Hasegawa's eighth defense will be a mandatory against South Africa's Vusi Malinga (18-2-1), who impressively stopped former titlist Veerapol Sahaprom in the fourth round in June to earn the title shot.
Next: March 12 vs. Malinga.
2. Gerry Penalosa (54-6-2)
In a tuneup fight for his likely April 25 move up to junior featherweight to challenge titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez, Penalosa scored a virtual shutout of German Meraz (20-12-1) in a nontitle bout in the Philippines on Feb. 21.
3. Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko (26-1)
King Kong's mandatory bout with William Gonzalez (now 21-3) was postponed numerous times, but it was worth the wait when it finally happened Dec. 11. Agbeko claimed a majority decision in his first title defense in a brutal distance slugfest.
4. Anselmo Moreno (24-1-1)
There are talks that Moreno could defend his belt against former unified junior bantamweight titlist Cristian Mijares, who plans to move up in weight, in March in Mexico.
5. Wladimir Sidorenko (21-1-2)
Although Sidorenko was the favorite and had the home-turf advantage in Germany going into his seventh title defense, he was outboxed and outhustled by Moreno on May 31.
Other contenders: Silence Mabuza, Vusi Malinga, Eric Morel, Abner Mares, Sasha Bakhtin.
1. Vic Darchinyan (32-1-1)
First, he wiped out Cristian Mijares in nine rounds in November to unify three titles. Then, on Feb. 7, Darchinyan destroyed Jorge Arce in 11 rounds. Darchinyan is on a spectacular and exciting roll. Next could be a move to bantamweight or even junior featherweight. The world is his oyster.
2. Fernando Montiel (38-2-1)
Weight issues will force Montiel to vacate his title, meaning a proposed March title defense against Nonito Donaire is out the window. Instead, pending the outcome of a Feb. 5 purse bid, Montiel plans to go up to bantamweight and face former flyweight titlist Eric Morel (40-2) for the title Gerry Penalosa plans to vacate on Top Rank's March 28 PPV card.
Next: TBA vs. Morel.
3. Cristian Mijares (36-4-2)
In the wake of his shockingly one-sided knockout loss to Darchinyan, Mijares will move up to bantamweight and face Nehomar Cermeño (16-0) for an interim belt in Mexico.
Next: March 14 vs. Cermeño.
4. Alexander Munoz (32-3)
Munoz gave it his best shot against Mijares but was too slow and wide with his punches to pull off the unification victory in the spring in the division's biggest fight since the Johnny Tapia-Danny Romero unification bout.
5. Nobuo Nashiro (12-1)
Nashiro, who holds the cockamamy WBA "regular" belt while Darchinyan is its "super" champion, will defend his trinket against Japanese countryman Konosuke Tomiyama (18-1).
Next: April 11 vs. Tomiyama.
Other contenders: Z Gorres, Dimitri Kirilov, Roberto Vasquez, Jose "Carita" Lopez, Jorge Arce.
1. Daisuke Naito (34-2-3)
Naito scored an 11th-round knockout of Japanese countryman Shingo Yamaguchi (now 23-6-2) on Dec. 23 for a successful fourth title defense.
2. Nonito Donaire (20-1)
With the prospect of meeting the weight-challenged Fernando Montiel for a junior bantamweight title out the window, Donaire will remain at flyweight for at least one more bout and defend his title on Top Rank's pay-per-view card from the Philippines against Raul Martinez (24-0), in what ought to be a good fight.
Next: March 21 vs. Martinez.
3. Omar Narvaez (29-0-2)
By stopping American mandatory challenger Rayonta Whitfield in the 10th round on Feb. 7, Argentina's Narvaez recorded his 15th title defense, breaking the record he had shared with his country's greatest fighter, former middleweight champ Carlos Monzon.
4. Denkaosan Kaowichit (45-1-1)
The first time Thailand's Kaowichit challenged Takefumi Sakata for his title in Japan, they fought to a draw in November 2007. In the Dec. 31 rematch, also in Japan, Kaowichit smoked him in two rounds to claim a title in impressive fashion.
5. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (67-3-1)
The Thai legend won his first two fights with Naito in easy fashion and then lost the title in their third meeting. The fourth chapter was a draw. A fifth is certainly possible.
Other contenders: Takefumi Sakata, Koki Kameda, Brian Viloria, Moruti Mthalane, Rayonta Whitfield.
(108 AND 105 POUNDS)
1. Ivan Calderon (32-0)
The bad cut Calderon suffered in his seventh-round technical decision victory to retain the 108-pound world title against former champ Hugo Cazares on Aug. 30 was bad enough to keep Calderon out of action for the rest of the year. When he does come back, there's a chance he will move back down to strawweight and fight for another belt.
2. Ulises "Archie" Solis (28-1-2)
Solis will make his ninth defense of his 108-pound belt on a Top Rank PPV from the Philippines against former titlist Brian Viloria (24-2).
Next: March 21 vs. Viloria.
3. Edgar Sosa (34-5)
Before a home crowd in Mexico City, Sosa stopped mandatory challenger Juanito Rubillar (now 46-11-7) of the Philippines in the seventh round on Nov. 29. It was Sosa's seventh defense since winning the belt in April 2007, making him a very busy titleholder.
Next: March 28 vs. Porsawan Porpramook.
4. Hugo Cazares (26-5-1)
The former 108-pound champ is eyeing a return from his loss last summer in a rematch with Calderon. Cazares is supposed to be on an Azteca America undercard.
Next: Feb. 6 vs. TBA.
5. Cesar Canchila (27-1).
The Colombian puncher's on again/off again rematch with Giovanni Segura is back on and is supposed to headline on Azteca America. The first fight was outstanding. Hopefully, the rematch is, too.
Next: Feb. 28 vs. Segura.
Other contenders: Roman Gonzalez, Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Brahim Asloum, Raul Garcia, Donnie Nietes.
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- Mayweather-Maidana sequel signed, sealed
- Pacquiao camp targets Algieri for next fight
- Back at it: Groves to fight Rebrasse in London
- Heavyweight contender Glazkov in ring Aug. 9