BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
This is no precise science, so I’m winging it here. When you see most PFP lists, fighters from all weight classes are lumped in together. I figured I’d make it easy-ish on you readers out there as well as myself and take it by weight class. And figuring the “best” boxers in the world HAVE NOT (or will not) fight each other, this short list is highly debatable, if not downright WRONG to the naked eye. Check my list, check it twice, and then give me your comments, whether ugly or nice.
HEAVYWEIGHT- Vitali Klitschko:
Most of my Boxing Insider compatriots will flip their collective lids when they read this choice. For years I’ve been saying that Wladimir, not Vitali is the best pure boxer in the division. But after Wlad’s recent moment-in-the-spotlight vs. David Haye (in which he failed to deliver spectacularly), all I have to do is close my eyes and envision a fight between himself and big brother and the answer as to “who would win” is easy. Wladimir can bring all the skill in the world to the ring, but Vitali brings the even bigger size, tough-to-figure-skill set and punch output to beat him. Not to mention Vitali has the proven better chin and the “Big Brother” psychological edge over Wlad. So figuring these two will never duke it out anyway, and they are the #1 and #2 heavyweights in the world today, my hypothetical gut instinct tells me Vitali would prevail in this not-gonna-happen-ever match-up. Therefore, in this case, he would be the #1 PFP man in the division.
CRUISERWEIGHT- Steve Cunningham:
This one was slightly tough, but still definitive. If you look at most ratings in the cruisers, you normally see Cunningham’s name at the paramount. But also names like Marco Huck, Denis Lebedev, Krzystof Wlodarczyk and Antonio Tarver can be yanked into the argument, in part because skill-wise, these guys are damn-near at the same level, with perhaps Tarver being the only exception. Thing is, Cunningham has defeated all of the aforementioned pugilists minus Lebedev and Tarver. But Huck defeated Lebedev, and Tarver is 40+ years old. That might not be fair to Antonio’s skills, but I just can’t see him defeating Cunningham at his advanced age. Another fact that could be argued is that Wlodarczyk did defeat Cunningham by SD back in 2006, but Steve won the rematch a year later in another close scrap. It would be a clearer picture if there were “True” marquee fights out there for Cunningham. But aside from his SD victory over now-heavyweight title challenger Tomasz Adamek back in 2008, most of Cunningham’s more recent victories have been against pretty non-descript guys. And that’s why this pick is hard to gauge here in 2011. So I’ll leave it at this: On any given night, the spot for #1 at cruiserweight is ready to be taken. Perhaps Cunningham should follow in the steps of Adamek and move up to heavyweight. Everybody keeps screaming for a REAL US-based heavyweight contender. Maybe Cunningham is the guy, or maybe not. Thing is, he’s not getting any younger, and his options at 190-lbs are limited to say the very least.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT- Bernard Hopkins:
The upcoming bout between Chad Dawson and Bernard should help clear this debate up, and may even prove me dead wrong, but I doubt it. Piss yes I’m picking Bernard to win that fight (sorry Emanuel) and win convincingly. Just thinking back to Dawson’s loss to Jean Pascal cements the Hopkins pick even further. Sure there’s some talent in the division with the likes of Tavoris Cloud and Nathan Cleverly, but until these cats fight some quality opposition in a big-time fight atmosphere, they really have no place in the same sentence as Hopkins… like I just wrote… ah shit, forgive me.
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT- Andre Ward:
Until we all see it in the ring when Carl Froch and Ward mix it up for the winner of The SHOWTIME Super 6 Tournament, there will be constant debate on who will win. So, I guess I just gave away whom I’m picking. Froch is a tough-as-nails cat, but his loss to Mikkel Kessler showed just what a boxer could do to upset Carl’s gameplan. Froch can box some too, but Ward is the better “boxer” here. Froch is also the harder hitter, but Ward’s chin is usually nowhere to be found, or it’s resting on his opponents shoulder whilst he pot-shots and counters on the inside. It’s Ward’s style that will win this fight for him, and the #1 status in the division will shortly follow. No way can Lucian Bute be left out of this equation seeing that he’s ranked #1 by several websites, but he kept himself out of The Super 6 Tourney, and feasted on the likes of Jean Paul Mendy, Brian Magee, Jesse Brinkley, the corpse of Edison Miranda and a wartorn Librado Andrade instead of fighting the division’s best. And Andrade was ROBBED in his 1st fight with Bute. If it weren’t for the ref, Bute would’ve, and should’ve been stopped. That alone exempts Lucian from further discussion at an elite level. Ward will beat Froch, and whether the fight ever gets made or not, Ward would beat Bute as well. Case closed.
MIDDLEWEIGHT- Sergio Martinez:
This is an easy one in my opinion. The way I see it, Martinez should be an undefeated fighter. I had the now-Middleweight Champ winning his first go ‘round with “The Most Avoided Fighter on the Planet” in Paul Williams in 2009; a fight Martinez lost to myopic judging. But “Maravilla” more than made up for that atrocity by KOing Williams out cold in their rematch, and at the time, NO ONE saw that coming. Martinez’ mixture of speed and power, along with his southpaw style is a friggin’ nightmare-come-true for any opposition out there. His victories over the aforementioned Williams, former Undisputed Middle King Kelly Pavlik and most recently Serhiy Dzinziruk tell the story. Martinez’ draw with Kermit Cintron looks ominous on paper, but by all that’s unholy, a quick observation shows that Martinez is the better fighter. And poor refereeing only adds to the fact that the Cintron debacle was just that: A debacle that Martinez should have won flat out. Take away bad refereeing and judging, and Sergio should be the undefeated fighter I mentioned earlier. He is coming into his own too, and that’s a scary thing for aspiring middleweights across the globe. Felix Sturm is a name that can, and should be mentioned here, but I just don’t see him being able to cope with Martinez’ handspeed and/or style. It would be an interesting fight to see because Sturm is a nifty boxer with a pretty damn good resume, but politics will probably negate the fight from ever really happening. No worries though. Martinez would dominate Sturm. Undefeated Darren Barker is up next for the champ this coming October. What are his chances? My vote= NONE. Martinez can be Middleweight Champ for a very, very long time to come.
See the next series of my PFP lists whenever I get around to it!!!!
Be cool all-
Philip H. Anselmo is a musician, vocalist, songwriter for such groups as Pantera, Down, Super Joint Ritual and Arson Anthem. You can keep up with Phil’s latest music production and going-ons, including his video interview with former New Orleans Saints star Jeremy Shockey at www.thehousecorerecords.com