1. Andre Ward, super middleweight, (26-0): Ward has beaten Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch and Chad Dawson dating back to November 2009. No fighter has beaten a string of fighters that good in succession. A shoulder injury forced Ward to cancel a scheduled fight against Kelly Pavlik. He’s still No. 1.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr., welterweight (43-0): Although Mayweather is the most skilled fighter in the game, he doesn’t fight enough. The “Money” man has been in six fights dating back to his tilt with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. His list of recent conquests –Miguel Cotto, Victor Ortiz, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez– has been impressive, but it doesn’t quite measure up to Ward’s list.
3. Sergio Martinez, middleweight, (50-2-2): Beating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. did a lot for Martinez. Martinez earned this spot after dominating wins over Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin. Martinez will face Martin Murray on April 27.
4. Nonito Donaire, super bantamweight, (31-1): Donaire, the WBO super bantamweight champ dominated Jorge Arce on Saturday with a 3rd-round knockout. He scored a 9th-round TKO over Toshiaki Nishioka on Oct. 13 and continues to rise up the pound-for-pound ranks. With any luck he’ll delight boxing fans with a fight against Abner Mares in 2013.
5. Juan Manuel Marquez: light welterweight, (55-6-1): It took four fights, but Marquez finally got over the hump and scored an exciting 6th-round knockout of Manny Pacquiao. Other recent wins over Serhiy Fedchenko, Michael Katsidis, and Juan Diaz shows that Marquez still has it.
6. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight, (59-3): Klitschko, the IBF, WBO and WBA champ keeps fighting and keeps winning. He scored a unanimous-decision win over previously undefeated Mariusz Wach, beat Tony Thompson with a 6th-round TKO and knocked out Jean Marc Mormeck in the fourth round last March. The lack of prime talent in the heavyweight division has been well documented, but give credit where it is due.
7. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight (54-5-2): Pacman takes a big drop here, but not just because of his knockout loss to Marquez. Pacquiao has been off his game for a couple of years now. He’ll need a big victory over a big name (Floyd Mayweather?) to get back to the top.
8. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight (41-0-1): Alvarez deserves credit for scoring a 5th-round TKO over Josesito Lopez. Alvarez’s record is impressive, but it's time for him to think about stepping up in class. Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron and Alfonso Gomez are not in Alvarez’s class. Mosley was especially shot in their fight last May. Cintron can’t go past five rounds anymore and Gomez just didn’t have the skill to threaten Alvarez. That notwithstanding, Alvarez has earned his place on this list.
9. Timothy Bradley, welterweight, (29-0): Bradley’s “win” over Pacquiao is still considered a farce, but that still doesn’t diminish his standing as a quality fighter. He’s still undefeated and still has beaten an impressive list of boxers. The problem with Bradley is that he’s fought just once in the last 14 months.
10. Adrien Broner, lightweight (25-0): After an 8th-round TKO of Antonio DeMarco, for the WBC lightweight title, Broner is ready to make that leap in stardom. Only two of his last 10 fights have lasted past the fifth round.
Others under consideration: Danny Garcia, Brandon Rios, Austin Trout.