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: Miguel Cotto. Tomorrow: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
TALENT: During his impressive prime years, Cotto was a talented ring technician with a good body attack, decent power and very good hand speed. His combination punching was a beautiful sight to behold, and the relentlessness of his attack could be breathtaking. He was also as gutsy as any fighter of the past decade. On the downside, he has been hurt many times, has suffered some bad cuts and has been stopped twice. Enter Emanuel Steward, the old master of resurrection himself. Steward has set about correcting the bad habits Cotto has fallen into, and for the Yuri Foreman fight last June, Cotto looked somewhat rejuvenated, although it wasn’t exactly the return to form Cotto’s supporters trumpeted it to be. It was simply a nice little TKO over a feather-fisted rabbinical student with a bad knee. We’re not sure how Cotto will hold up against a two-legged opponent who hits harder than a roundcard girl. Grade: A-
ACHIEVEMENT: Cotto had excellent runs as a titleholder at junior welterweight and welterweight, beating the likes of Shane Mosley and Zab Judah before running into the possibly loaded gloves of Antonio Margarito. Last year, Cotto was given a serious beating by Manny Pacquiao, stopped in the 12th after being dropped twice and dominated for most of the bout. That happened to be Cotto’s first defense of the welterweight title he’d been given in 2009 after beating Michael Jennings. The win over Foreman, a ninth-round TKO that earned Cotto the WBA 154-pound belt, was a nice balm. Grade: A-
MARKETABILITY: He’ll always be a favorite on HBO, and he nobly filled the position of Puerto Rico’s top fighter since the heyday of Felix Trinidad. Still, he’s not quite the superstar we thought he’d be. The widely hyped Foreman bout drew a disappointing 20,272 to Yankee Stadium, which could mean 1) New York fans weren’t particularly interested in the bout, 2) fans were not as thrilled about a fight at Yankee Stadium as Top Rank had hoped, or 3) Cotto’s recent losses cost him some fanbase. Grade: B
SUPPORT SYSTEM: Cotto’s trouble in the ring seemed to coincide with ever increasing turmoil in his camp. Well-documented problems with his uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto finally came to a head in 2008 with his firing, and the death of Cotto’s father last year might have finally brought a long, family saga to a close. Top Rank still has belief in Cotto, but it feels measured. Steward could be the sort of calm, stabilizing force that could help pull things together. Grade: B+
GROWTH POTENTIAL: Was the win over Foreman a sign that good times are ahead or just a temporary break in what seems a slow, downward spiral? We might get the chance to see if he fights Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who must first beat Alfonso Gomez on Dec. 4. Grade: A-
Previous All-Star Report Cards
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.http://www.ringtv.com/blog/2396/the_ring_allstar_report_cards_julio_cesar_chavez_jr/