Middleweight (160 Pounds):
Like the light heavyweight division, the middleweights experienced a mild resurgence. The year started with a very uninspiring Kelly Pavlik atop the division. Beneath him, Felix Sturm still struggled to assert himself impressively over the mid-level contenders of the division. The joint efforts of three fighters, served to put the rest of the division on notice and raised the division’s standing considerably. In April, Sergio Martinez captured the middleweight crown with a wild unanimous decision over Pavlik. In November, he stopped Paul Williams to gain sweet revenge and Knockout of the Year honors. The 160 pound class had an exciting champion for the first time since Pavlik began his reign. A second middleweight of great note in 2010, Dmitry Pirog graduated to the world class level from prospect status by disposing of Daniel Jacobs in July. Pirog scored a pretty nice looking fifth round KO that night in his third bout of 2010 and is poised to meet Martinez in the spring of 2011 according to the rumor mill. The KO artist of the division may not have met the caliber of opponent as the aforementioned two, but David Lemieux has caught the attention of the boxing world. His five victories this year included four early evenings. He finished Walid Smichet, Elvin Ayala, and Hector Camacho Jr. in just under ten minutes of work. Heading into 2011, Martinez proudly sits atop SecondsOut’s middleweight muddle, while Pirog and Lemieux impatiently reside at seven and eight.
Junior Middleweight (154 Pounds):
Once again, the junior middleweight division failed to live up to its potential or, really, its prospective potential. The prospects of 2009 are still just that: prospects. Instead, Miguel Cotto proved the welterweights had a stronger hand in shaping the junior middleweight division. Cotto stopped Yuri Foreman on an injury after dominating him for nine rounds in a fight many predicted to be competitive due to Cotto’s slowing down. Former welterweight, Antonio Margarito, and the division-less Manny Pacquaio competed in the most anticipated and publicized 154 pound bout in 2010, but the contest became one-sided after the second round. In another junior middleweight match-up of note, thirty-seven year old Cornelius Bundrage disposed of thirty-two year old Cory Spinks in five rounds. The 154 pound year was owned by Cotto, Pacquiao, and Bundrage instead of Foreman, Vanes Martirosyan, and Alfredo Angulo as we anticipated. In the end, Cotto stands among the SecondsOut junior middleweight ranks at third, Pacquiao continues to be ranked at welterweight, and Bundrage holds at tenth.
Welterweight (147 Pounds):
We finished 2010 wondering the same thing we wondered at the close of 2009: Who will win between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao? We still hope to find out in 2011. Overall, the welterweight division in 2010 is largely defined by what did not happen. The year was highlighted by Pacquiao performing dominantly in losing only two rounds in total on the three judges’ cards against Joshua Clottey and Mayweather’s wide decision over Shane Mosley after the Pretty Boy was rocked in the second round. It seemed like the perfect scenario to launch Mayweather into negotiations with Pacquaio. With Clottey and Mosley out of the way, boxing’s biggest fight seemed a given. Yet, here we are. Another huge miss for the division was the January showdown between Mosley and Andre Berto. A natural disaster in Berto’s native Haiti canceled the bout and it was never rescheduled. Pacquaio, Mayweather Jr., and Berto finished the year in that order in the SecondsOut welterweight rankings.
Junior Welterweight (140 Pounds):
Unlike the welterweights, the boxing world actually learned some things about the 140 pounds class. Timothy Bradley kept away from his home division to test the welterweight waters, but Devon Alexander won twice. In March, Alexander was pressed aggressively by Juan Urango in a unification bout in Connecticut, but the younger champion endured to score an impressive stoppage in the eighth. The Alexander-Bradley collision course began to heat up, but a summer showdown eluded boxing fans. Instead, Alexander was outhustled and outworked by former champion Andriy Kotelnik, but awarded a hometown decision. That performance helped boxing enthusiasts to better place Amir Khan in the Alexander-Bradley picture given Khan’s lopsided decision over Kotelnik the year before. Khan proved much in 2010 by stopping the seasoned Paulie Malignaggi in dominant fashion and by out boxing Marcos Rene Maidana. Khan built an early points lead with a body shot knockdown in the first and showed true grit by withstanding Maidana’s late round rally. Kaizer Mabuza also put himself on the 140 pound map with a sixth round retirement of Kendall Holt. Mabuza was on the shelf the rest of the year, but looks to be colliding with Zab Judah in 2011. As 2010 closed, Khan worked his way up to SecondsOut’s number two at 140, Alexander stumbled to third, and Mabuza entered at seventh.
Lightweight (135 Pounds) :
Some were pounding the nails in the lightweight division’s coffin after Juan Manuel Marquez was dominated by Mayweather Jr. in 2009. However, 2010 was actually a pretty good year for the division. The division’s lone superstar returned to score a wide decision over Juan Diaz in a July rematch and then, in a Fight of the Year contender, Marquez stopped a very brave Michael Katsidis in nine. Marquez had to get up from a resounding knockdown in the third to do it. Roberto Guerrero also found his stride in 2010 after scoring a pair of victories over Joel Casamayor and Vincente Escobedo. Now, seemingly content at 135, Guerrero is very much a leading contender in the division behind Miguel Acosta. However, Humberto Soto is right at Guerrero’s heels. Soto, always reliant upon his activity to keep his ranking up, scored two big wins over David Diaz in March and Urbano Antillon in December. The latter was a strong candidate for Fight of the Year as well. The lightweight elite four at SecondsOut finished, in order, Marquez, Acosta, Guerrero, and Soto.
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January 2, 2011