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: Timothy Bradley. Tomorrow: Amir Khan.
TALENT: The term “throwback” is used far too often, but it’s a term that absolutely fits in describing Bradley’s hardcore work ethic and his willingness to fight anybody. It also goes a long way in describing Bradley’s attention to the subtleties of the fight game. The little muscleman is very good on his feet, is a sharp counterpuncher and is very difficult to hit cleanly. He doesn’t have exceptional power, but he has a nasty left hook and a strong overhand right that he throws from a crouching position. Aside from being dropped twice by Kendall Holt, he very rarely makes mistakes despite his willingness to exchange punches. He’s a rare mix of intelligence and aggression. Grade: A-
ACHIEVEMENT: For a 27-year-old to be mentioned among the top 140-pounders in the sport is quite an accomplishment, and Bradley has done it without a ton of publicity. He quietly emerged in 2008, winning the two major junior welterweight titles within an 11-month period. After winning nearly every round against undefeated Lamont Peterson in December ’09, Bradley stepped up to welterweight and was effective in winning a unanimous decision over undefeated prospect Luis Carlos Abregu. Prior to his pro career, he was a busy amateur, competing in over 140 bouts throughout the world. Grade: B+
MARKETABILITY: Bradley looked squarely into the cameras after making his HBO debut by beating Abregu and called out Manny Pacquiao, Marcos Maidana, Amir Khan, and Devon Alexander. The intensity of his voice made it feel like a star-making moment. The one tiny drawback with Bradley is an ongoing problem with butting. He’s already had one fight result in a no-contest because of headbutt cuts and he and Abregu cracked heads all night. That’s not fun to watch, and fans will grow tired of a guy who sends too many fights to the scorecards because of butts. Otherwise, he has the ingredients of a star. Even his miniscule knockout total can’t be held against him because he’s aggressive in every round. Grade: B+
SUPPORT SYSTEM: Bradley’s imposing father, Timothy Sr., serves as training guru and assistant handler during fights. Father and son seem to have a strong relationship, but it’s sometimes discomforting to hear papa trying to outshout head trainer Joel Diaz between rounds. Co-promoters Gary Shaw and Ken Thompson have done well by Bradley thus far in his young career. Bradley is managed by Cameron Dunkin. Grade: B+
GROWTH POTENTIAL: Bradley has had the same problem as Paul Williams – marquee fighters have no financial incentive to face a fighter of his ability – but he finally seems to have finalized a showdown with Alexander on Jan. 29. A victory would solidify his position on Top 10 pound-for-pound lists. Grade: A-
Previous All-Star Report Cards