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: Manny Pacquiao. Tomorrow: Timothy Bradley.
TALENT: Pacquiao might go down in history as one or more of the following: the greatest southpaw of all time, the greatest Filipino fighter of all time and the most important fighter since the Muhammad Ali era. He’s done it with a blazing-fast left hand, great footwork, a determination to win that is above anyone else’s in the game and a willingness to improve his technique. Watching him go from being an awkward, free-swinging knockout artist of the early-2000s to the crafty ring stylist we see today has been one of the greatest pleasures a fight journalist could experience. Grade: A
ACHIEVEMENT: He has won boxing titles in seven weight divisions, including RING belts at featherweight, junior lightweight and junior welterweight, and was our Fighter of the Year three times. He’s had hit records on the Filipino pop charts, starred in Filipino movies and is currently holding a seat in the Filipino congress. He’s still sitting atop THE RING’s pound-for-pound list, is our No. 2-rated welterweight and will be vying for a vacant junior middleweight title when he faces Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 in Arlington, Texas. Since last year’s All-Star list, he TKO’d Miguel Cotto in 12, and then, before more than 50,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium, he put on a boxing clinic against Joshua Clottey to win by a unanimous decision. The poor boy from the streets of General Santos City grew up to be a cross between Joe Louis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a little bit of Elvis thrown in. Grade: A+
MARKETABILITY: Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have failed in two attempts to put together the biggest-possible fight and there are no signs that it will happen any time soon. In the meantime, you can’t turn on a TV set or walk past a billboard in the Philippines without seeing his face. Pacquiao enjoys a crossover appeal that Mayweather can only dream about. Grade: A+
SUPPORT SYSTEM: The bedrock of Pacquiao’s success is his relationship with trainer Freddie Roach, and Bob Arum continues to think big as Pacquiao’s promoter. After enduring an ever-increasing, ever-changing boardroom of advisors and managers, Pacquiao has stuck with Michael Koncz, who has acted as his chief advisor for about six years. Some feel Pacquiao’s political career might add to the chaos and distraction around him, but Pacquiao seems to be above it all, as if he’s guided by celestial forces. His family life also seems very solid, and his coterie of pals from the Philippines has become a delight to watch on HBO. Assistant trainer “Buboy” Fernandez is Pacquiao’s Bundini Brown. Grade: A
GROWTH POTENTIAL: Pacquiao, 31, has talked about cutting his career short to follow through on a promise he apparently made to his mother. Don’t count on it, though. He has at least several more big-money fights left in him.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/