Commentary

Rapacious PacMan climbs to top of P4P rankings

Five world titles in five different weight classes is a feat that speaks for itself, but it was the way Manny Pacquiao dominated David Diaz that solidified PacMan's place as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Originally Published: July 16, 2008
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Who is the world's best fighter, regardless of weight class? See my top 20 below.

And don't forget to check out the divisional rankings, now updated weekly.

For a list of the current champions in all weight classes, click here.

Note: Results through July 16.

TOP 10
Manny Pacquiao
1. Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs)


Lightweight titlist and junior lightweight champion
Hits: The new No. 1 fighter in the world didn't ascend to the position because of attrition or another fighter's losing or retiring. No, Pacquiao slammed his way to the well-deserved position on the strength of an overwhelming and historical ninth-round knockout victory against David Diaz on June 28. The flawless performance, maybe the best of his career, netted the PacMan a world title in his fifth weight division. He has won belts at flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight (yes, it counts based on his domination of then-king and lineal champion Marco Antonio Barrera for the Ring championship), junior lightweight and now lightweight. Pacquiao is an amazing talent with a crowd-pleasing style that few who see him will ever forget.
Misses: Promoter Bob Arum keeps talking about a November fight with Edwin Valero, a junior lightweight titleholder who would move up in weight to challenge for Pacquiao's title. It'd be an exciting fight for a few rounds until Pacquiao would stiffen Valero in an overpriced pay-per-view bout designed to keep him winning until a bigger fight is made next year. We'd much rather see him either in a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez or facing any of the other better-known lightweights in the deep division.

Joe Calzaghe
2. Joe Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KOs)


Light heavyweight and super middleweight champion
Hits: Although Calzaghe falls from No. 1 because of Pacquiao's recent sensational performance, it's not as if he's far behind. Calzaghe has been a champion seemingly forever -- 11 years if you're counting at home -- and holds the recognized title in two divisions for the moment (until he officially abdicates the super middleweight crown). And Calzaghe has another big fight planned, a Sept. 20 date with former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones.
Misses: You never know what goes on behind the scenes, especially in the dicey fighter-promoter relationship, but it is unfortunate that Calzaghe and promoter Frank Warren couldn't remain a team after more than a decade of success together. Calzaghe severed ties with the man who built him into a champion (but also the guy who supposedly still owes him quite a bit of money from his April victory against Bernard Hopkins).

Juan Manuel Marquez
3. Juan Manuel Marquez (48-4-1, 35 KOs)


Junior lightweight
Hits: Besides two highly questionable results against Pacquiao, a split-decision loss to him in March and a draw in 2004, you can make a legitimate argument that Marquez should be undefeated. He lost his pro debut by first-round disqualification, a 1999 decision to Freddie Norwood in one of the ugliest fights ever because Norwood refused to fight, and a tight split decision to hometown fighter Chris John in Indonesia in 2006.
Misses: It's not Marquez's fault Pacquiao won't fight him again in the fall, so you can't really argue with his matchup against recognized lightweight champion Joel Casamayor. However, it is shameful that the fight headlines a $44.95 HBO PPV card. Even in a robust economy, that would be a tough sell.

Miguel Cotto
4. Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs)


Welterweight titlist
Hits: All you have to know about Cotto, who already has beaten Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and Carlos Quintana at welterweight, is that he enthusiastically embraced the idea of fighting formidable Antonio Margarito, a guy so few want to fight, on July 26. It's a fight that all boxing fans should look forward to. Cotto fights the best and makes great fights. That's more than you can say for one Floyd Mayweather Jr., who retired rather than face Cotto or Margarito.
Misses: Nothing to see here. Move along.

Bernard Hopkins
5. Bernard Hopkins (48-5-1, 32 KOs)


Light heavyweight
Hits: Even at 43, Hopkins, the former middleweight and light heavyweight champion, remains a highly skilled boxer capable of beating just about anyone despite a tight loss to Calzaghe in April in a fight many had Hopkins winning.
Misses: Although Hopkins is still one of the best in the business, his fights have become incredibly boring. Even if "The Executioner" wants to keep fighting, there really aren't any big-name opponents out there for him to face unless Jones defeats Calzaghe. And at this stage, a Jones-Hopkins rematch has long lost its appeal.

Kelly Pavlik
6. Kelly Pavlik (34-0, 30 KOs)


Middleweight champion
Hits: After exhausting a long list of possible fall foes, Pavlik and Top Rank finally might have found a good opponent for him to fight on Sept. 27, welterweight titlist Paul Williams, who is very credible. Even though Williams is moving up in weight, he matches up well with Pavlik in terms of height and fighting style. It could be a sleeper fight. And the best part is that if the bout is finalized, it will be on regular HBO instead of pay-per-view.
Misses: Boxing politics mean we all will have to wait until at least early next year for the fight we really want to see -- Pavlik facing dangerous titleholder Arthur Abraham. Like Pavlik, Abraham will take a fall interim match before the big fight.

Israel Vazquez
7. Israel Vazquez (43-4, 32 KOs)


Junior featherweight champion
Hits: It's nice to see Vazquez just chillin' this summer after three consecutive bruising fights against Rafael Marquez. Vazquez deserves the time off to enjoy his rubber-match victory, his summer and his family. Is anyone not looking forward to his return either later this year or in early 2009?
Misses: As long as he doesn't take too much time off, how can anyone complain about what he has accomplished or about the thrills he has given all of us in recent years?

Rafael Marquez
8. Rafael Marquez (37-5, 33 KOs)


Junior featherweight
Hits: Although he lost fights II and III to Vazquez, they were all-time great scraps and he was competitive all the way. That means we probably eventually will get a fourth fight, which should put a smile on our faces and, hopefully, fill up Marquez's bank account.
Misses: If Vazquez opts to fight somebody else, is there a big-time fight out there for Marquez? Doesn't look like it.

Cristian Mijares
9. Cristian Mijares (35-3-2, 14 KOs)


Unified junior bantamweight titleholder
Hits: Although Mijares is supposed to fight on Aug. 30 in his native Mexico, many in boxing are supremely excited about the prospect of a showdown with fellow titleholder Fernando Montiel on the same card as another outstanding 115-pound fight: Jorge Arce against flyweight titlist Nonito Donaire, who would move up in weight. Then the winners of each bout would fight next.
Misses: As exciting as the idea of a Mijares-Montiel and Arce-Donaire card is, remember that the person talking the most about it is Top Rank promoter Arum, who has been known to break a few hearts when it comes to not making certain fights that fans want to see.

Ivan Calderon
10. Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon (31-0, 6 KOs)


Junior flyweight champion
Hits: Calderon is the consummate technician, but he's 33, which is old for a 108-pounder. But that means he has slowed down just enough to make his fights a little more exciting, as evidenced by his being dropped by Hugo Cazares but winning the world title against him last summer. Now, Calderon and Cazares are set for an Aug. 30 rematch, which is a must-see fight for fans of the little guy.
Misses: For a long-reigning championship level fighter, Calderon has one of the worst knockout percentages in boxing history.

The next 10

11. Shane Mosley
12. Oscar De La Hoya
13. Ricky Hatton
14. Jermain Taylor
15. Chris John
16. Antonio Margarito
17. Joan Guzman
18. Nate Campbell
19. Juan Diaz
20. Fernando Montiel