Boxing News N’ Notes

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 30, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK — Being labeled as the world’s best fighter means that a boxer is able to defeat the very best opposition in multiple-weight classes. Also, their power, speed, and fighting capabilities are evident in the higher weight divisions.

In recent years, Roy Jones, Jr. was the world’s best fighter because of his dominance at middleweight, super middleweight, and light-heavyweight. Jones even won a world heavyweight title in 2003 after unifying the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles at 175 pounds.

Mayweather fought the best fighters available from super featherweight to junior middleweight. Miguel Cotto, a two-division world champion, has beaten Ricardo Torres, DeMarcus Corley, Randall Bailey, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, and is currently preparing for the biggest challenge of his career when he meets Antonio Margarito on July 26.

Should Cotto beat Margarito, he will be in line to fight Oscar De La Hoya, winner of world championships in six different weight classes.

Joe Calzaghe, after 21 successful super middleweight title defenses and a 12-round decision against light-heavyweight contender Bernard Hopkins, can also be considered one of the world’s best.

When you talk about the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound, especially with the recent retirement of Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao’s name must be included in that discussion.

Since Pacquiao’s first world title reign, a WBC flyweight championship in 1998, the 29 year-old Philippine has successfully carried his power, speed, and improved his boxing technique whenever he moved up in weight.

Pacquiao ran through Mexican boxing greats and future Hall of Famers Marco Antonio Barrera (twice) and Erik Morales. The rubber match between Pacquaio and Morales in 2006 was a shameful, third-round destruction in Pacqauio’s favor.

Pacquiao’s dominance continued on Saturday as he moved up in weight once more to the 135-pound division. Pacquiao (47-3-2, 36 KOs), in another dazzling display of sheer power, speed, and improving boxing skills, took the WBC lightweight championship by wiping the mat with David Diaz (34-1-1, 17 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday in Las Vegas.

It was Pacquiao’s fifth division world title.

In an interesting match-up of southpaw (left-handed) fighters, Pacquiao was simply took quick and too strong for a game, determined, but simply outmatched Diaz. Manny, trained by Freddie Roach, proved to be the superior boxer. Pacquiao threw as many as three, four, and at times five-punch combinations that hurt Diaz.

Credit to Diaz: He was the last man to hand Morales a loss before heading into an inevitable retirement. Diaz represented the United States at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

He has a respectable amateur background and defended his world title against perhaps the best fighter in the world. Diaz kept coming toward Pacquiao. He kept throwing punches and refused to give up.

The problem is that Pacquiao’s considered by many to be the best fighter in the world. Diaz, 32, Chicago, Ill, of Mexican decent, proved tough and rugged, but came up short.

Pacquiao-Diaz became target practice for the famous Pilipino by the fifth round. Diaz’ face was a swollen, bloody mess. The bout came to halt at 2:23 of the ninth round when Pacquiao hurt Diaz with a right-jab, followed by a hard-left hook to the chin that sent Diaz crashing to the mat face first.

Pacquiao makes history

Pacquiao made history by becoming the first Philippine fighter to win five world championships in as many weight divisions. Pacquiao previously won world championships at 112, 122, 126, and 130 pounds.

Pacquiao continues to fight the best fighters in the world: Barrera, Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jorge Julio, Oscar Larios, Jorge Solis, and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba.

Pacquiao has proven to be an action fighter and will continue to take tough fights. Pacquiao is expected to be ready to fight again in November. Presumably against WBC No. 1-ranked Jose Armando Santa Cruz before pursuing a big money fight with perhaps Ricky Hatton in 2009.

Monte Barrett chops down Tye Fields

Former three-time heavyweight title challenger Monte Barrett (34-6, 20 KOs) proved that at age 37, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Barrett giving up more than 6-inches in height and 45 pounds in weight to 6-foot-8, 265-pound southpaw, Tye Fields (41-2, 37 KOs), took care of business.

Barrett, using a barrage of solid right and left hooks to the head, knocked Fields out in exactly 57 seconds of the first round. It was the first professional loss since 2001 aftrer having won 24 consecutive fights.

Barrett, who challenged Wladimir Klitschko, Nikolai Valuev, and Hasim Rahman, for portions of the world heavyweight championship, nearly saw his career crumble after a shocking TKO loss to journeyman Cliff Couser last year July. Since then, Barrett has won his last three fights by knockout, including a rematch with Couser (TKO 2) in December.

Chagaev injured again, Valuev-Ruiz rematch?

With a little more than one week remaining before his highly anticipated rematch with Nikolai Valuev on July 5, WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev has pulled out of another fight. Chagaev has a torn Achilles tendon. Chagaev may not be ready to fight until the end of the year or early next year.

In all fairness to the world heavyweight championship and the fighters that work hard in the gym each day for a title opportunity, Chagaev should be stripped of the WBA title.

This is the third canceled bout Chagaev has had since he defeated Valuev for the belt in April 2007. Chagaev agreed to unify with then WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov in October and pulled out because of health issues.

The WBA was since enough to allow Chagaev an optional/voluntary defense against Matt Skelton (W 12) in January with an understanding that he would fight Valuev in April. Chagaev pulled out of his April fight with Valuev because of an injury and will be out for nearly six months.

Honestly, there are reports about Chagaev having been diagnosed with having hepatitis B, a detached retina, and that his boxing career could well be over.

If that is the case, the WBA should mandate Valuev fight John Ruiz for either the vacant or interim title. Ruiz, the only Latino to become a two-time heavyweight champion, won a 12-round decision against Jameel McCline in a WBA heavyweight title eliminator in March. It was Ruiz, who Valuev beat to become WBA champion in December 2005.