Note: This feature originally appeared in the October edition of THE RING magazine. The November issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the cover, is on newsstands now. The cover story is titled: “10 Guys Who Would Have Kicked Mayweather's Butt.”
It was out with the old and in with the new as THE RING composed this year’s All-Star Report Cards. Gone from last year’s survey are such old warhorses as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chris John and Israel Vazquez. In place of those fighters were newer, fresher names like Yuriorkis Gamboa and Timothy Bradley, a sign that new blood is being pumped into the sport. Meanwhile, names like Sergio Martinez and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam show that our All-Star list always has room for veterans, provided they’re still producing in the ring.
Aside from the youth movement, other trends have emerged this year. For instance, there is a noticeable dip in Mexican or Mexican-American fighters among our 20 All-Stars. When THE RING first compiled this roster in 2003, there were five such fighters listed; this year, there is one. Also, the number of fighters born in the United States shrunk from 13 in 2003 to a measly four this year. Lopez and Miguel Cotto are U.S. citizens by way of Puerto Rico, but they didn’t learn their stuff in the American amateur system, so they can’t be counted. Brits are on the rise, though. There was only one Brit All-Star in 2003, but three made the list this year, sans Hatton.
Perhaps you’re wondering why some of your favorite fighters didn’t make the list, but rest assured that many other fighters were given close consideration. It’s just that some fighters seem to lose fights as we’re creating our list, and others just fall a bit short in terms of box office and general excitement value.
The 20 fighters who made it weren't chosen solely on their ability to sell tickets and attract cable customers but the ability to fill seats definitely plays a big part in our selection process. Some fighters, Nonito Donaire for example, might not yet be a legitimate star on the level of Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, but we felt he can compete with the best in terms of talent, and is certainly on his way to stardom.
Those who were removed from last year’s list are gone because they simply didn’t do enough to merit inclusion this year. The one exception is the late Edwin Valero. He made it last time, and there was every reason to believe he’d repeat.
With that in mind, here are the 2010 All-Star Report Cards. The fighters are judged on talent, achievement, marketability, support system, and growth potential. They are presented in order of weight class, starting with the heavyweights.
Today: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Tomorrow: Miguel Cotto.
JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR.
TALENT: His detractors won’t admit it, but the offspring of Mexico’s greatest fighter has developed some skills. Julio Jr. has always had a good hook to the body — he was probably throwing it in the crib, breaking the ribs of teddy bears — but in recent bouts he’s shown other talents, including a powerful and accurate right hand that he cracks like a whip. He has decent power and came very close to knocking out John Duddy in his most recent bout. Duddy is as durable as any fighter around, and the fact that Chavez came close to stopping him shows that Chavez has some deceptively heavy hands. Chavez’ defense is only fair, but so far he has shown an ability to take a punch. His opponents may take him lightly because he’s babyfaced and doesn’t appear physically strong, but he’s always coming forward, willing to dig on the inside. Grade: B+
ACHIEVEMENT: He’s come a long way from his 2003 debut as a scrawny 130-pounder. Now, he’s a strapping 24-year-old middleweight. He’s survived some rugged moments while plumping up his record on a host of journeymen and unknowns. A few of the decisions that went his way were jeered, and his critics will never give him a break, but he’s kept his focus and has never pouted or acted like a brat. His greatest achievement, in fact, may be that he has kept a cool head while under tremendous scrutiny. He has learned a lot on the job, considering he had no amateur career, and has shown great poise while enduring endless questions about being the son of “J.C.” So many predicted the legacy of the family name would be too much for him. They were wrong. If anything, he seems kind of psyched to carry on after his dad. Grade: B
MARKETABILITY: This is a no-brainer. You can’t deny the 24-year-old has charisma. He’ll always be a big draw in Mexico and he’s slowly building his name in America too. A small scandal brewed when Chavez was found to have taken an illegal diuretic to lose weight for a 2009 bout against Troy Rowland in Nevada. Chavez was fined $10,000 and suspended for seven months. The incident shouldn’t harm him in the long run. Grade: A
SUPPORT SYSTEM: Promoter Bob Arum was beside himself with joy after Chavez beat Duddy, but while it’s nice to have a sycophantic presence like Arum behind you, the real key to Chavez’ success is the recent addition of Freddie Roach to his corner. They’d only been together for five weeks prior to the Duddy bout. With more time, Chavez could improve immeasurably under Roach’s guidance. Grade: A
GROWTH POTENTIAL: He still needs some seasoning – and he'll get a little more of it when he faces The Contender alum Alfonso Gomez on Dec. 11 – but there are undoubtedly some big-money fights in his future. A showdown with Top Rank stablemate Miguel Cotto, a can't-miss ticket seller, is in the works for the first half of 2011. Arum has also mentioned a possible future bout with Kelly Pavlik in Cowboys Stadium. Grade: A-
Previous All-Star Report Cards