“Not another bogus list,” said a journalist from Las Vegas, Paul Hernandez;” What the heck are you talking about?”
Let me explain. For the past several years I have been approached to participate in several pound for pound lists and each time I respectfully declined. Finally one of my colleagues asked me why? “I just don’t care about that,” I said. I think pound for pound list is a good subject for a conversation at the barber shop. Other than that how could we decide who is better, Pacquiao or Mayweather unless they actually fight. Or who is better Manny Pacquiao of today or Aaron Pryor during his prime? These are all very interesting questions, but they are based strictly on opinions and feelings.
So I decided to make a top ten list of the most exciting fighters that would make me get on the road and travel far to cover their fights. What about Burbank Boxing trailer? Burbank Boxing trailer is my personal shrine to the sweet science that is stationary. But these ten warriors stand a chance of making it move. While subjective this list is based on how fans react to fighters. So here they are.
1. Manny Pacquiao (59-3-2,38KO). Aside from winning the hearts of ninety million Filipinos, Pacman transcended the sport and gained popularity all over the world with an all out assault style in the ring. Humble man from humble beginnings, Pacquiao walks to the ring with his patented smile as if he is enjoying a walk in the park with the family, but once inside the squared circle, opponents beware, Pacman is hazardous to your health. With top trainer Freddie Roach in his corner Manny has been able to add a lot of skills to his speed and power, but despite his ability to out box most of his opponents in the ring, he chooses to engage them. “That is what fans want!” exclaimed Pacquiao after destroying Antonio Margarito last month in Texas.
2. Alfredo Angulo (19-1,16KO’S) Former Mexican Olympian Alfredo El Perro Angulo inspires adulation of fans with relentless aggression and dogged determination in the ring. Even though his people insist that a nickname El Perro came from him helping an organization to protect pit bulls from discrimination, the collar fits perfect. Like a pit bull once El Perro sinks sharp teeth into his prey he will not let go. Just ask his last victim, Joachim Alcine, who made a mistake of holding Angulo, but giving him one free hand. Angulo kept punching and destroyed a former champion in the very first round.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez (52-5-1,38KO’S). Well known earlier in his career as a ring technician and a master boxer, with age and experience Juan Manuel Marquez understood the need for combat. The man also known as El Dynamita has treated his fans to some of the most thrilling ring wars in recent boxing history. Last year’s fight of the year with Juan Diaz where Marquez had to endure an incredible firestorm to stop the younger fighter in the later rounds was followed by my favorite fight of this year with Michael Katsidis. Heavy handed Aussie banger dropped the Mexican champion with a left hook in the third round that would end the night for most humans, but it only inspired Marquez to engage in dramatic blood bath that ended with him stopping Katsidis late. In both instances, realizing that they witnessed boxing history, fans did not want to go home talking about their hero till wee hours in the morning.
4. Miguel Cotto (35-2,28KO’S). Even though Puerto Rican super star has suffered several brutal defeats, one to Margarito in 2008 and another to Manny Pacquiao in 2009, Miguel Cotto have never been in a bad fight. He cuts easily, he bleeds, he gets hurt, but he always comes back and fights his heart out leaving everything in the ring for the fans. And fans do respond to the stoic demeanor of Puerto Rican warrior who sells out Madison Square Garden every time he fights there. Even fighting lesser known opponent Yuri Forman, three division champion Cotto sold a lot of tickets at the new Yankee Stadium in Bronx and no one had asked for a refund after the fight.
5. Marcos Maidana (29-2,27KO’S). Argentinean banger has entered the consciousness of American boxing fans last year in Los Angeles when he got off the canvass three times to stop highly regarded Victor Ortiz. His mind over matter determination and a right hand bomb has opened the hearts of fight fans from the onset. “I love this guy,” fans would exclaim: “When is he going to fight again?” This year Maidana provided more thrills for fight fans when he took on a British star, Amir Khan in light welterweight showdown that turned out to be a candidate for a fight of the year. Dropped hard in the first round with a liver shot that would end careers of most fighters, Maidana got up recovered and dominated the later rounds, having Khan in serious trouble and fans on their feet throughout round ten.
“I don’t feel like a looser,” said Maidana after the fight that he lost on the judge’s score cards.
6. Antonio Margarito (38-7,28KO’S). Antonio Margarito has lost a lot of loyal fans last year with the hand wrapping scandal that followed a dramatic knock out loss at the hands of Sugar Shane Mosley. That memorable night in Los Angeles, Staples Center had a record number of fans, twenty one thousand plus, to ever be assembled for any sporting event at the famous venue. Most of them were there to support Tijuana Tornado. This year proud Mexican warrior showed why fans continue to support him in a last month fight with Manny Pacquiao. Out gunned and outclassed and bludgeoned with barrage of punches in every round, Margarito never gave up trying to win the fight. Literally willing to die in the ring Margarito got his eye socket broken and ended up in the hospital. Would that be enough to win back all his fans?