Manny Pacquiao frontrunner for fighter of the decade award
August 22, 7:01 PM Norfolk Boxing Examiner
The picture is getting clearer. Or so we hope. Pacquiao, Cotto, Marquez and Mayweather are four of the horses in the race to see who might be considered this decade's best fighter. Each, with their sights squarely on each other, hopes to lay claim to that mythical fighter of the decade label.
The fights that are and could be made are the sugar for that boxing sweet tooth. The lightweight through welterweight division is bringing back memories of the 70's heavyweight division. That class had names like Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Norton, Holmes, Quarry, Lyle and Shavers. Any of which could and probably would be champion in today's heavyweight division. Any combination of names was pleasing to the boxing faithful.
As for now we will only concentrate on the above mentioned four. We will bypass some of the other greats of the decade to simplify things. So left out for now will be names like Barrera, Lewis, Calzaghe and one of my personal favorites, Kostya Tszyu. Apologies to any boxer I may have slighted.
As of now the prohibited favorite has to be Manny Pacquiao. The 30 year old Pacman is set to fight Miguel Cotto in November. Taking on the powerful, rugged Cotto can do nothing but enhance Pacquiao's standing. Win or lose, people are buzzing at the idea of Pacquiao capturing a belt in a seventh weight division. He has apparently put to rest the notion that a fighter can't carry his power with him when he moves up in weight.
Throw in wins over future hall of famers Barrera, Morales, De La Hoya and Marquez and Manny's hall of fame ticket seems to have been punched. His destruction of Ricky Hatton further punctuated his hold on the fighter of the decade ballot.
Miguel Cotto could take a giant leap up the decade rankings with a win over Pacquiao. The Puerto Rican superstar has improved his standing because of his willingness to take on anyone. He has wins over Judah, Mosley and Clottey. His lone loss was a somewhat now controversial loss to Antonio Margarito. Add on to the fact that he has won titles in two divisions and he would seem to be a lock for the decade's top ten.
It doesn't hurt Cotto's case that he has become this decade's version of Arturo Gatti. He is never in a bad fight. He usually ends up bloodied. But the bottom line is that he wins. Some see his tough fights as a precursor of things to come. But most think that those fights could be the mental difference in a tough, grueling fight. November will show which side is right.
Juan Manuel Marquez is hoping for a piece of that decade pie. He has titles in three weight divisions and has beaten Casamayor, Barrera and Medina. He is considered an excellent counter puncher that has recently added more offensive punch to his game. His albatross will always be Pacquiao. Although he believes he beat Manny the last time out , the official record still is listed as a loss. Most see his fight with Mayweather as a way to get Pacquiao back in the ring. The risk is that the naturally bigger, faster Mayweather could send Juan's dream of a third fight right down the toilet. A dominating win by Juan may put his name right at the top of other boxer's wish list.
That brings us to Floyd Mayweather. He has won titles in five weight classes and was a force in the lower divisions. The undefeated Mayweather has the names of De La Hoya, Hatton , Corrales and Castillo on his resume. Some believe that he has avoided the bigger names, but by taking on Marquez he shows that he is willing to fight the best. His credentials are hall of fame worthy, but a win over Marquez and the Pacquiao-Cotto winner would make the fighter of the decade award a lock.
Fights like these are what the sport needs. The only downside to all of this is that Shane Mosley, also a fighter of the decade candidate, seems to have been left out of the mix. Throw in the comebacking Antonio Margarito, and it is hard to believe that the fighter of the decade will not be one of these great boxers.