The Pugilist

The pound-for-pound top 10

The Pugilist

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Let's be honest: Rankings are bogus. Whether it's basketball, football or fighting, they're subjective, biased and just about meaningless.

Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield likes to say "styles make fights," but the same is true in other sports. Just because A beats B and C beats A doesn't mean that C beats B, whether it is basketball, football or boxing. Sport is weird like that.

But sport being what it is — entertainment — rankings provide a point of discussion for fans who love to debate the pros and cons of their favourites.

It's particularly difficult in the fight game because there are literally thousands of fighters and no one can accurately gauge all of them.

The key in ranking boxers is to see as many of the elite fighters as you can, talk to as many knowledgeable boxing people as you can and then come up with a criteria that you can consistently and easily apply.

My philosophy is to assume everyone weighs the same and keeps the same proportions. So, if we were to assume heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko were to be a middleweight, we would envision him with the same proportionate height, reach and power at 160 pounds as he does at heavyweight.

I use numbers where I can. So, Klitschko has a reach of 81 inches at 6-feet-6. Nonito Donaire has a reach of 68 inches at 5-5½. But if you divide height by reach, each man has 1.038 inches per reach for every inch of height. In other words, if they were in the same class, they'd have the same reach.

With those assumptions, who would come out on top the most if everyone fought one another? That, to me, is the best way to determine a pound-for-pound fighter.

The Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings are the result of the vote of journalists from around the world. In March, 38 votes were received. Fighters are awarded 10 points for a first, nine points for a second, down to a point for 10th. The fighter with the most points is the pound-for-pound champion.

My personal top 10 is only slightly different than the list below, which is the result of the 38 opinions. On my list, nine of the 10 fighters who were ranked by the larger group made it. My only difference was that I included World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto in my top 10 at the expense of International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion Lucian Bute, whom the voters placed ninth.

Bute is unbeaten and that clearly plays with voters. But I felt that Cotto had many more quality wins over top opponents than Bute and, were they to be the same size and fight, I'd favour Cotto. As a result, I voted for Cotto.

The "official" Yahoo! Sports rankings are below. But before we get to that, this is how I voted my personal top 10: Floyd Mayweather first, Manny Pacquiao second, Andre Ward third, Donaire fourth, Juan Manuel Marquez fifth, Sergio Martinez sixth, Vitali Klitschko seventh, Wladimir Klitschko eighth, Timothy Bradley ninth and Cotto 10th.

I weigh recent performance most heavily and I'm willing to move fighters significantly in the poll from month to month. A lot of voters take the college basketball pollster's attitude and are careful with their moves, and they won't demote a fighter with a win. I will, however, because unlike college basketball teams, which play 30 or more games a year, there isn't such a big sample size in boxing. The top fighters rarely fight four times a year and a number of them only fight twice a year.

The bottom line in all of this is to not let your blood pressure skyrocket when you look at someone's rankings. They're little more than a best guess. Have fun with them, but don't take them all that seriously.

With that, let the debate begin. Here is the latest Yahoo! Sports boxing top 10:

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Floyd Mayweather Jr

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 366 (25 of 38 first-place votes)
Record: 42-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBC welterweight champion
Last outing: KO4 over Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: May 5 against Miguel Cotto
Analysis: Defensive wizard fighting more offensively recently

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Manny Pacquiao

2. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 351 (13 of 38 first-place votes)
Record: 54-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over No. 4 Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: June 9 against No. 8 Timothy Bradley
Analysis: Says God told him to retire; is heart still in boxing?

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Sergio Martinez

3. Sergio Martinez
Points: 281
Record: 49-2-2 (28 KOs)
Title: Ring middleweight champion
Last outing: KO11 Matthew Macklin on March 17
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Superior conditioning makes him dangerous late in fights

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Juan Manuel Marquez

4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Points: 229
Record: 53-6-1 (39 KOs)
Title: Ring, WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: L12 to No. 2 Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: April 14 vs. Sergey Fedchenko
Analysis: Plenty of fight still left in veteran warrior

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Nonito Donaire Jr

5. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Points: 217
Record: 28-1 (18 KOs)
Title: WBO super bantamweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. on Feb. 4
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: July 14 vs. Cristian Mijares
Analysis: Stay at 122 pounds expected to be brief

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Andre Ward

6. Andre Ward
Points: 208
Record: 25-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBC super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Carl Froch on Dec. 17
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Showed the full package in winning Super Six

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Wladimir Klitschko

7. Wladimir Klitschko
Points: 134
Record: 57-3 (50 KOs)
Title: Ring, IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: KO4 over Jean Marc Mormeck on March 3
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Hasn't been threatened in years

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Tim Bradley

8. Timothy Bradley
Points: 92
Record: 28-0 (12 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: TKO8 over Joel Casamayor on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: June 9 vs. No. 1 Manny Pacquiao
Analysis: Will need to punch in combination more with move to welterweight

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Lucian Bute

9. Lucian Bute
Points: 69
Record: 30-0 (24 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Glen Johnson on Nov. 5
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: May 26 vs. Carl Froch in Nottingham, England
Analysis: Bute is a punishing body-puncher

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Vitali Klitschko

10. Vitali Klitschko
Points: 47
Record: 44-2 (40 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Dereck Chisora on Feb. 18
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Has begun speaking of retirement

Kevin Iole, Yahoo! US

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