Boxing


All Time Featherweight Survey: Pacquiao cracks top ten, but did he deserve it?

henry armstrongby Geoffrey Ciani - Who are the ten best featherweights of all-time?

This is the sixth in a series of surveys I have been conducting. In the first survey, we peered into the opinions of long-time boxing fans to make a definitive list of the top ten all time heavyweights. Although this is a very subjective topic that is skewed by personal bias, differences of opinion, and the absence of a universally agreed upon criteria to judge past fighters, we can still establish some degree of consensus. While contemplating my own list of top heavyweight pugilists, I decided gathering the input of others might help display a more accurate portrayal of what a 'true' top 10 list should look like. Since then I have had similar surveys involving the light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, and lightweight divisions.

In this survey, which included many of the same individuals from the previous five, I polled 30 long-time boxing fans (myself included). My question was simple. I had each person in the survey provide me with a chronological list of who he or she (there was one ‘she’ in the survey—my esteemed colleague from On the Ropes, the lovely Miss Jenna J) considered to be the ten best featherweights in boxing history..

Ties were not allowed, just a straight-forward list from one to ten. I then used a weighted scoring system to assign points to fighters based on where they appeared on each individual's list. First place votes received 25 points. Second place votes were worth 15 points, third place votes were worth 12, and fourth and fifth place votes were worth 10 and 8 points respectively. After that, the point differential was constant, with sixth place votes getting 5 points, seventh place votes getting 4, eighth getting 3, ninth place 2, and tenth place 1.

Survey Results

After all of the lists were tabulated with the aforementioned scoring system a total of twenty-eight different featherweight boxers received mention. Here is a list of the results. (First place votes are indicated in parenthesis).

1. 547 Willie Pep (13)
2. 442 Henry Armstrong (6)
3. 399 Sandy Saddler(4)
4. 314 Salvador Sanchez (5)
5. 129 Abe Attell (1)
6. 115 Jim Driscoll
7. 109 Alexis Arguello
8. 88 Vincente Saldivar
9. 67 Manny Pacquiao (1)
10. 61 George Dixon
11. 59 Terry McGovern
12. 56 Kid Chocolate
13. 47 Eusebio Pedroza
14. 46 Azumah Nelson
15. 18 Marco Antonio Barrera
16. 12 Danny Lopez
17. 9 Ernesto Marcel
18. 8 Battling Battalino
19. 6 Erik Morales
20. 5 Young Griffo
21. 3 Jeff Fenech
22. 2 [tie] Young Corbett II
22. 2 [tie] Tom Johnson
22. 2 [tie] Johnny Dundee
25. 1 [tie] Alberto Baby Arizmendi
25. 1 [tie] Davey Moore
25. 1 [tie] Freddie Miller
25. 1 [tie] Prince Naseem Hamed

Here is the distribution of votes.
TOTAL LISTS MADE - NAME - (1st-2nd-3rd-4-5-6-7-8-9-10)

30 Willie Pep (13 8 6 3 0 0 0 0 0 0)
29 Henry Armstrong (6 13 5 2 2 0 0 0 0 1)
29 Sandy Saddler (4 7 13 3 0 0 2 0 0 0)
28 Salvador Sanchez (5 2 0 11 1 6 2 1 0 0)
19 Abe Attell (1 0 2 1 4 3 4 1 1 2)
19 Jim Driscoll (0 0 1 2 6 4 1 1 4 0)
24 Alexis Arguello (0 0 1 1 5 3 1 5 5 3)
20 Vincente Saldivar (0 0 0 0 5 4 3 3 2 3)
8 Manny Pacquiao (1 0 1 0 1 3 1 1 0 0)
11 George Dixon (0 0 0 4 0 2 1 1 1 2)
17 Terry McGovern (0 0 0 1 2 1 2 3 3 5)
15 Kid Chocolate (0 0 0 1 1 1 4 3 3 2)
10 Eusebio Pedroza (0 0 0 1 2 1 1 3 1 1)
10 Azumah Nelson (0 0 1 0 0 1 6 1 1 0)
6 Marco Antonio Barrera (0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 3 0)
2 Danny Lopez (0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0)
4 Ernesto Marcel (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 1)
3 Battling Battalino (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1)
3 Erik Morales (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1)
2 Young Griffo (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0)
1 Jeff Fenech (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0)
1 Young Corbett II (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0)
1 Tom Johnson (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0)
2 Johnny Dundee (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2)
1 Alberto Baby Arizmendi (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1)
1 Davey Moore (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1)
1 Freddie Miller (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1)
1 Prince Naseem Hamed (0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1)

The Breakdown:

Willie Pep received top honors. He was the only featherweight to appear in all 30 lists. He received the most first place votes (13), finished in the top three according to 90% of those surveyed, and finished no lower than fifth on any list. Henry Armstrong and Sandy Saddler finished second and third, respectively. They both appeared on 29 of the 30 lists. Armstrong received six first place votes and Saddler was close behind with four. Both also appeared in the top three according to 80% of those surveyed, with Armstrong edging Saddler out by a single vote inside the top five.

Next up is Salvador Sanchez. He appeared on 28 out of 30 lists and received five first place votes. The fifth, sixth, and seventh place featherweights finished a good distance behind Sanchez; those were Abe Attell, Jim Driscoll, and Alexis Arguello. Attell was the only pugilist from that trio to receive a first place vote. He also had three more top three votes than his two close rivals. Interestingly enough, Arguello actually appeared on more lists than the other two, but generally speaking, his vote distribution was bottom heavy with the majority of those participating placing him at eighth, ninth, or tenth. Manny Pacquiao and George Dixon closed out the top ten.

Was Pacquiao’s top ten spot justified?

In the previous five surveys, Bernard Hopkins was the only active fighter to land a top ten spot. He finished fifth overall in the middleweight category, and rightfully so. Manny Pacquiao’s ninth place finish here makes him only the second active fighter to receive a top ten distinction. The case for Pacquiao is interesting. He only received votes on 8 out of 30 lists. Everyone else in the top fourteen received mention on at least ten lists, yet Pacquiao finished higher than five of those boxers, largely on the strength of his first place finish on one survey list. He also notched a third and fifth place vote on two other lists, and this enabled him to edge out George Dixon and Terry McGovern.

At the end of the day, I do not believe Pacquiao’s top ten finish was justified. The problem with Pacquiao is that he had such a small body of work in this weight class. In just four fights, his record was 3-0-1. His notable fights were an impressive victory against Marco Antonio Barrera and a somewhat controversial draw with Juan Manuel Marquez. Even if he had beaten Marquez (which many observers, myself included, feel he did), do victories over Barrera and Marquez justify the top spot? I do not believe so. He simply did not have enough fights at featherweight for such a high ranking. Were it not for the first place vote he received, he would have finished outside the top ten—where he belongs. By comparison, Terry McGovern had six successful defenses of the featherweight title—that’s more title defenses than Pacquiao had fights. Due to the timing of this survey, which started not long after Pacquiao’s brilliant victory against Miguel Cotto, I think some of my colleagues were infected with Pac-Man Fever.

How does my list compare?

In the heavyweight and light heavyweight surveys nine of the ten boxers from my list appeared in the official results. In the middleweight, welterweight, and lightweight surveys, I was down to eight, which is where I stand on this one. I had Terry McGovern and Johnny Dundee on my list, neither of whom appeared on the collective list. Manny Pacquiao and Jack George Dixon finished there, instead. In retrospect, Dixon may have been an oversight on my part. Regardless, I still maintain Terry McGovern is more deserving of a top ten spot than Manny Pacquiao.

1. Willie Pep
2. Henry Armstrong
3. Sandy Saddler
4. Salvator Sanchez
5. Jim Driscol
6. Abe Attell
7. Vincentre Saldivar
8. Alexis Arguello
9. Terry McGovern
10. Johnny Dundee

More Raw Data:

Here is a quick snap-shot at how the votes broke down amongst the top ten:

1. Willie Pep
Total Lists: 30 (100%)
First Place: 13 (43.3%)
Top Three: 27 (90%)
Top Five: 30 (100%)
Average Points: 18.2

2.Henry Armstrong
Total Lists: 29 (96.7%)
First Place: 6 (20%)
Top Three: 24 (80%)
Top Five: 28 (93.3%)
Average Points: 14.7

3. Sandy Saddler
Total Lists: 29 (96.7%)
First Place: 4 (13.3%)
Top Three: 24 (80%)
Top Five: 27 (90%)
Average Points: 13.3

4. Salvador Sanchez
Total Lists: 28 (93.3%)
First Place: 5 (16.7%)
Top Three: 7 (23.3%)
Top Five: 19
Average Points: 10.5

5.Abe Attell
Total Lists: 19 (63.3%)
First Place: 1 (3.3%)
Top Three: 3 (10%)
Top Five: 8 (26.7%)
Average Points: 4.3

6. Jim Driscoll
Total Lists: 19 (63.3%)
First Place: 0 (0%)
Top Three: 1 (3.3%)
Top Five: 9 (30%)
Average Points: 3.8

7. Alexis Arguello
Total Lists: 24 (80%)
First Place: 0 (0%)
Top Three: 1 (3.3%)
Top Five: 7 (23.3%)
Average Points: 3.6

8. Vincente Saldivar
Total Lists: 20 (66.7%)
First Place: 0 (0%)
Top Three: 0 (0%)
Top Five: 5 (16.7%)
Average Points: 2.9

9. Manny Pacquiao
Total Lists: 8 (26.7%)
First Place: 1 (3.3%)
Top Three: 2 (6.7%)
Top Five: 3 (10%)
Average Points: 2.2

10. George Dixon
Total Lists: 11 (36.7%)
First Place: 0 (0%)
Top Three: 0 (0%)
Top Five: 4 (13.3%)
Average Points: 2.0

Only three surveys left!

Going forward, I will continue conducting surveys for all of the original eight weight classes along with a separate list for the best pound-for-pound fighters of all-time. We are down to just three left: Bantamweight, flyweight, and pound-for-pound. In the next survey, we will delve into the bantamweight division.

Past Surveys:

In case you missed the previous surveys:

HEAVYWEIGHT SURVEY-CLICK HERE

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT SURVEY-CLICK HERE

MIDDLEWEIGHT SURVEY-CLICK HERE

WELTERWEIGHT SURVEY-CLICK HERE

LIGHTWEIGHT SURVEY-CLICK HERE

***

To contact Ciani:
ciani@eastsideboxing.com

To read more by Ciani please visit The Mushroom Mag:
http//www.eatthemushroom.com/mag

To hear more from Ciani, be sure to tune in every Monday at 6pm ET to listen to On the Ropes—the #1 boxing radio program on Blogtalk Radio:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/On-The-Ropes

Article posted on 12.02.2010



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