November Fights Cause a Stir in the Pound for Pound Ratings
17.11.03 - By Carl Rice: The month of November has been incredible for the sport of boxing. In 3 consecutive weeks, boxing fans have been treated to a boxing feast, which included three of the very best boxing had to offer. The result of those 3 matches not only established who was the best fighter in their respected division, but they also created a major stir in the boxing community and created a shuffle in the mythical pound for pound stakes.
Article posted on 18.11.2003
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v Phillip Ndou: November 1, 2003
Floyd Mayweather came into this fight with a record of 31 victories against no losses and 21 blastouts. He was coming in against Phillip Ndou, a hard punching South African with a record of 31 wins against only 2 losses, but the talking point of his record were the remarkable 30 blastouts. This lead many people to believe that this would be one of the most difficult fights in "Pretty Boy" Floyd's glamorous career. Taking into consideration the fact that Floyd has not looked good since arriving at the lightweight division, and the fact that Ndou's style looked to give Mayweather fits, this looked to be a very tough fight for Floyd.
But on this night, Floyd would have none of it, making this fight one of the most impressive of his career. There were hardly any trouble spots for Mayweather, and although Ndou must be commended for the very game effort he put up, Floyd had his way with Ndou. The three right hands that put Ndou down and out were a thing of beauty and the victory firmly established Mayweather not only as the best in the lightweight division, but many now believe that he could move up to jr. welterweight and even welterweight and dominate those divisions as well.
Floyd can now afford to look ahead and he has said on more than one occasion that he would like to fight Arutro Gatti and then De La Hoya. It seems almost impossible that Gatti's people would let him go near Floyd at this point of his career, and De La Hoya is looking toward fight Shane Mosely a third time or taking on middleweight baron Bernard Hopkins, so Floyd may have to look elsewhere to hit the jackpot. However, there are many tough guys at 135 if he decides to clean up the division, something that everyone believes he is capable of doing. Even if he does move up to 140, which is one of the deepest divisions today, he can find some marquee fights with a fight with jr. welter kingpin Kostya Tzsyu topping the list. As for Ndou, he can take solace in the fact that he fought gamely with one of the world's best fighters. He was moving up from 130 to take this fight, and he could either stay at lightweight or return to jr. lightweight. In any case he will be a sought after name with the effort he put up on this night.
Antonio Tarver v Roy Jones, Jr.: November 8, 2003
Roy Jones, recognized as the best fighter in the world by most boxing pundits and fans, was expected to roll over Antonio Tarver, the man who seceded Jones as the lt. heavyweight king after Jones decided to chase bigger fish in the heavyweight division. Tarver, with a record of 21-1 and 17 KOs, had done a great deal of talking to anyone who would listen that he would be Jones' sternest test, it was his time, he's the future, blah, blah, blah. Apparently Jones was listening too, because he stated that his evil alter ego, RJ, would be up to and given the task to whoop Tarver's ass. The billing of the fight was "It's Personal", as both fighters are from Florida, both have fought before, and both have not liked each other for quite some time.
At fight time, Jones cane in first (forgoing the coin toss that would have determined who came in first, as both were champions), and from the onset Jones did not look like himself. Usually Jones is excitable, rapping as he enters the ring. But this time he looked rather pensive, not quite relaxed, but not anxious either: Perhaps the drain of losing 18+ pounds was affecting Jones in a way that even he did not foresee. Tarver came in looking as confident as he talked. The start of the fight looked different as well. It was Tarver, not Jones, in control of the fight as he got Jones on the ropes. This round displayed Tarver's strength as much as Jones' weakness, and Jones did nothing while on the ropes. The second round would go the same as the first, but there was a noticeable shift in the 3rd round. Tarver was not pressing as much, and Jones started to gain tactical control of the fight. This would continue for several more rounds until Buddy McGirt, Tarver's trainer, finally got him going again in the middle of the fight. Tarver would come on and actually hurt Jones on occasion, but his pressure was not sustained long enough. In the end, Jones gutted out the last two rounds, as he was a mostly spent force at the end of the fight, with a swollen left eye to boot. The fans were not happy with the result, but Jones, in the eyes of most, eked out a close victory.
Jones said that he would fight Tarver again if the money is right, but what he really wants to do is a mega-dollar fight with Cast Iron Mike Tyson and if that does not materialize, he'd done. It would be unfortunate for Jones to leave the ring with so much speculation that he lost this fight. Hopefully he will rematch Tarver, then goes back to business in the heavyweight division. Tarver, meanwhile, should not wait for Jones. He should get back in the saddle and take advantage of the momentum he has gained with the public. If he were to fight and defeat Julio Gonzales, who just dethroned the WBO champion Dariusz Michalczewski IN GERMANY (!!), he could make a case for fighting Jones again, as Jones has never held the WBO bauble. However, were he to lose that fight, no one would clamor for him to fight Jones again. In a weak lt. heavyweight division, there aren't many choices. Of course Tarver could move up to cruiser, but unless he beat some of the champions there is not much benefit to that either. Unfortunately, a rematch with Jones is his only real move, but he could end up waiting the rest of his natural life for that to happen.
Marco Antonio Barrera v Manny Pacquiao: November 15, 2003
This was the fight that most boxing fans were waiting for. Marco Antonio Barrera, the King of the Featherweights was taking on hard punching Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines. Most people expected Barrera, with 57 victories against 3 losses with 40 KOs, would walk over yet another guy moving up in weight. But there was one thing that was being overlooked: Manny's hunger. Pacquiao, 38-2-1 with 30 KOs, was young, hungry, and underrated because of his two losses to lesser opposition. If Pacquiao can be KOed by lesser competition, logic concludes that Barrera will walk over him. Besides, Pacquiao can't punch harder than Morales, can he?
On fight night, everything looked normal; Barrera came out with his poker face on and Pacquiao came out smiling. In the first round, Barrera did the unexpected: he started the fight by fighting, not boxing, and it seemed to work well for him. He even scored a questionable knockdown of Manny, in part because of his aggression and in part because Manny was off balance. Nonetheless, Barrera won the first round. However, that was the only round that Barrera would win as Manny put the boxing world, as well as Barrera, that he would not be denied. In the 3rd round, Pacquiao scored a knockdown on a huge left hand, and at that point Barrera stopped slugging and tried to box, but Manny would continue to press Barrera in a way that most fans had never seen before. Manny pretty much scored at will until Barrera's corner, having seen Marco take more punishment than he had in any of his previous fights, stepped in to save Barrera from taking an even worse beating.
Manny has the world on a string now. Hardly anyone outside the Philippines gave Manny a chance, but he not only beat the top featherweight, but he handed him a beatdown. He has the pick of the litter now; he could fight anyone from 122 to 130 at his leisure. Most fans would like to see him take on Juan Manuel Marquez, which would be a great, action packed fight. But those same fans would like to see him against Erik Morales. Time will tell what King Manny decides to do. Barrera, on the other hand, looked like he was moving in slow motion against Manny, and big fights will be slow to come as well. Having being beaten quite convincingly, Marco will have to work his way back up the ladder. Many in the feathers will think Barrera is ripe for the taking, so there will be no shortage of fights, but none as meaningful as the one he just lost.
My Pound for Pound Ratings
As stated earlier, these 3 fights shook up the respective divisions that these men fight in. But even most significant is the fact that the pound for pound ratings have been shook up as well. Most people would remove Jones from the top of the list, but I am not one of those folks. Jones' performance, though not expected, was still stirring. Jones was obviously not at his best, but in facing one of the toughest fights of his career, he showed that he does indeed have the heart and determination to be named not only the best today, but he deserves to be mentioned with past greats. Mayweather proved that he deserved to be higher on the list, but Mayweather has always been high on my list. The victory over Ndou only cemented his name in the higher echelon. As for Pacquiao, the result is twofold. He has firmly placed his name on the list and has removed Barrera from it. The way that Pacquiao took Barrera apart has made boxing fans look at him in a different light and has made them wonder who in the world can beat this guy. He was a star in the Philippines before the fight; now he is a star in the US and beyond.
1) Roy Jones Jr.-Showed he has the guts to compete with anyone today and from the past at lt. heavy.
2) Floyd Mayweather-Should finally get his props after beating yet another tough contender.
3) Bernard Hopkins-Inactivity hurts, but still fighting much younger than his years. A KO of Joppy could help his cause.
4) Erik Morales-Was the top at feather in my opinion, but now at 130. Tough fight with Jesus Chavez will show if he belongs this high.
5) James Toney-Dismanteling of Holyfield impressive after dethroning Jirov at cruiser. Next takes on huge Jameel McCline. If he wins, how can he not move up in the ratings?
6) Manny Pacquiao-Destruction of former pound for pound Barrera makes this a no-brainer.
7) Sugar Shane Mosely-Win v De La Hoya gives Shane his sweetness back; needs to gain more momentum if he wants to be in top 5 back anytime soon
8) Oscar De La Hoya-Still #1 box draw but is on downside of career. Beating Vargas again won't move him up.
9) Kostya Tzsyu-Tough fight against Sharmba Mitchell coming up. Only fights once a year, so his moving up depends on him winning next fight and other fights against top comp.
10) Chris Byrd-People really need to stop hating on Byrd. He has fought all comers and kept coming. Plus his skills cannot be denied.
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