SecondsOut Rankings 2010 Year End Summary, Part I

By Derek Bonnett: Boxing fans can put another year of professional prizefighting in the record books. 2010 was a good, not great year of boxing, but it rose to the occasion and put in a strong comeback during the championship rounds of the year. Most would prognosticate a stronger year in 2011 considering a slew of meaningful fights on the horizon.

The clash between two of SecondsOut’s top three junior welterweights, Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, should start the year off nicely on January 29 in the spirit of the best meeting the best. February will also present us with the best bantamweight colliding in Fernando Montiel’s title defense against Nonito Donaire. If the talks are accurate, somewhere along the line, we may actually get to see David Haye share a ring with Wladimir Klitschko in the coming year. If that’s possible, then there is still great hope for Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquaio in 2011.

The SecondsOut staff extends its warmest regards to all of our readers and hopes for a prosperous 2011 for you all. Most importantly, we hope the 2011 boxing year exceeds all of our expectations. With a sport of all seasons, there is no need to wait. It is always boxing season. With that said, please enjoy a concise look back at some of the most significant movement across the divisions as the landscape of SecondsOut’s world rankings transformed again and again.

Heavyweight (Above 200 Pounds):

While the Brothers Klitschko remained the dominant forces in the division without question, Tomasz "Goral" Adamek was the big mover at heavyweight in 2010. After a impressive 2009 debut in a novelty bout against Andrew Golota, Adamek reeled of four victories among the big men of the sport. The former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion struggled periodically in bouts with the difficult Jason Estrada and the enormous Michael Grant. However, his real emergence was felt after he out-boxed and out-brawled the dangerous Chris Arreola on HBO’s April 24 card in Ontario, California. Arreola was a former world title challenger and a bonafide heavyweight contender. A fifth round TKO over the useful Vinny Maddalone, to keep busy, was icing on the cake for Adamek’s 2010 schedule. Adamek currently holds the number four ranking at SecondsOut, behind only the three titlists which include Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, and David Haye.

Cruiserweight (200 Pounds):

The cruiserweights never seem to get the attention they deserve. A lot of talent continues to reside in the former division of Haye and Adamek, but inactivity sullied the reputations of champions like Steve "USS" Cunningham and Guillermo Jones. Each man only fought once in 2011, which is why the year belonged to Marco Huck, Denis Lebedev, and Danny Green. Huck was victorious in four bouts, including a debatable December win over Lebedev, who fought three times in 2010. Lebedev, regarded as a mere puncher by many, proved his place among the cruiserweight elites with his strong showing against Huck. However, the fighter most likely to find himself in a big fight in 2011 could be Australia’s Danny Green. After finishing Roy Jones Jr. in one round in December of 2009, Green kept busy against Manny Siaca and Paul Briggs. Green’s November 2010 win over BJ Flores silenced many critics since Green had finally grown into his cruiserweight frame and beat a legitimate contender in the division quite comprehensively. Huck passed out Cunningham in the SecondsOut rankings to gain the number one position in spite of suffering his only professional loss to Cunningham in 2007. Lebedev earned a number three slot by year’s end and Green elevated his standing to seventh.

Light Heavyweight (175 Pounds):

The light heavyweight division regained some of its former luster after years mediocre title fights thanks to the work of Jean Pascal, Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, Glencoffe Johnson, and Bernard Hopkins. Pascal’s August decision victory over Dawson, a bout in which bout men were out on their feet, catapulted him to the number one position. Just a couple of weeks before, Glencoffe Johnson pushed Tavoris Cloud to his limit in a life and death battle that proved Johnson was not as done as he looked the year before against Chad Dawson and that Cloud could get through a tough contest with an elite fighter. To close the year out, Bernard Hopkins turned the division upside down by rising from two knockdowns unscathed and able to dominate Pascal from the fourth round on. The bout was unpopularly ruled a draw, but the light heavyweight shake-ups in 2010 served to spark greater interest in the division for 2011 as Pascal looks to rematch Dawson. By year’s end, SecondsOut’s top four became Hopkins, Pascal, Dawson, and Cloud. Johnson, ever the competitor, decided to shed seven pounds to compete as a super middleweight.

Super Middleweight (168 Pounds):

Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic again dictated the most salient action of the division in 2010. Andre Ward maintained his standing as the best in the division without facing Andre Dirrell, but it was Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, who put on the best shows of 2010. After losing to Ward in lopsided fashion in 2009, many expected Kessler’s best days were behind him. However, he turned in a career best performance in April to tuck away a closely contested unanimous decision over Froch. The bout, easily a candidate for Fight of the Year, did not receive its full due. Unfortunately, Kessler dropped out of the tournament citing personal injury and now his future seems uncertain in the sport as he relinquished his title. Froch met Arthur Abraham in a bid to regain his championship in November. What appeared to be a toss-up on paper, turned out to be a career best showing by Froch, who lost only one round on one judge’s scorecard. Lucian Bute had been excluded from many big fights due to his not being involved in the tournament, but continued to perform on a high level. Dirrell’s career is also uncertain at this point as he too has withdrawn from the tournament with Kessler and Jermain Taylor before him. SecondsOut’s 168 pound top three now recognizes Ward, Bute, and Froch.

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.

To check out Derek’s SecondsOut rankings Click here

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January 2, 2011
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