=== In-ring slowdown yields '10 for 30' list ===
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing Boxing Editor
 (Sports Network) - It's a pretty slow stretch for boxing these days.
 With a series of high-end fights just passed and at least a few more good ones
 on the way, this year's month of August is largely left for we opinion-pushers
 to  roust  old enemies, take  aim at recurring targets  or tilt at the nearest
 available windmills.
 Or,  if  none of those things  are readily inspirational... there's always the
 With  neither  the proximity  to take in  any weekend action  on site, nor the
 cable  access  to glean anything from  television, I was instead left to scour
 the online landscape for something to trigger a creative flow that might cover
 1,000 or so words.
 As luck would have it, my muse was Facebook.
 While   running   the  gauntlet   of  political  commentaries,  life-affirming
 quotations  and people taking pictures of their breakfasts (really?!?), I came
 across  a  go-to acquaintance whose  occasional boxing-related posts have been
 sometimes known to wind us up in a good-natured cyber firefight.
 This  time, while I  still hold my nose at his notion that Bernard Hopkins and
 James  Toney ought  to  rank  higher than  Roy  Jones Jr.  on  a  list of  top
 middleweights  since  Marvin Hagler -- Jones  did whip prime versions of both,
 after all -- the presentation did get me thinking about lists of my own.
 But  rather than  limiting myself  to a  particular division,  I'll tweak  his
 construct  slightly and simply  go with the best fighters I think I've seen --
 either  in person  or on live TV  -- across all weight divisions since I first
 became a magazine-buying, letter-writing wannabe 30 years ago in 1982.
 Here, in no order besides stream of consciousness, are my "10 for 30."
 Ray  Leonard -  Admittedly, his  most consistent  days --  defeats of  Wilfred
 Benitez,  Roberto Duran and  Thomas Hearns -- were behind him by 1982, but the
 jaw-dropping  nature of his  return to beat a high-end Hagler (and yes, he won
 the fight...) remains vivid enough to warrant inclusion 25 years later.
 Thomas  Hearns - The "Hitman" had as good a body of work as anyone in his era,
 winning  belts  from 147  to 190  before it became  as frequent  as it is now.
 Admittedly,  he's  known more for  losses (Leonard, Hagler) than wins (Cuevas,
 Benitez, Duran, Hill), but his full career beats any contemporary.
 Marvin  Hagler  - Certain  guys are  the signatures of  certain eras. Like Joe
 Louis  was the  heavyweight champ of my father's teenage years, Hagler was the
 middleweight  champ of mine. Until Leonard actually beat him in the springtime
 of my senior year, I was convinced the guy could never lose.
 Larry Holmes - Some guys like Lennox Lewis. Others tout Mike Tyson. But to me,
 the  man from Easton with the spear of a left jab is No. 1a on the list of the
 best heavyweights ever, and clearly the top of the heap since the early 1980s.
 From Cooney through Spinks, he was money in the bank.
 Michael  Spinks - He may ultimately be remembered for a flameout against Tyson
 in  Atlantic City,  but that's not nearly  the whole story. From 1981 to 1985,
 the  guy  did nothing less than  clean out the  light heavies, and his rise to
 legitimately beat a 48-0 Holmes was nothing short of shocking.
 Evander  Holyfield -  While Spinks mastered 175 and skipped past the cruisers,
 Holyfield  took his  Olympic  medal and  went straight  to  a division  that's
 scarcely  had as  much notice in a  generation since. And in moving up to beat
 heavy champs Douglas, Bowe, Moorer and Tyson, he cemented his greatness.
 Roy Jones Jr. - You can quibble over what his best division might have been --
 160,  168  or 175 -- but  you can't deny  that the athletic Floridian took the
 measure  of  all three, and whipped  a top five heavyweight, in his unfettered
 15-year  run  between 1989  and 2004.  Pre-Tarver II, he's  the best I've ever
 Floyd  Mayweather Jr.  - Like it or not, he's the sport's undisputed lightning
 rod. But, as competitively dominant as he's been while cruising without a loss
 from  130  to 154, the  former "Pretty  Boy" now known  as "Money" could use a
 career-definer (Pacquiao anyone?) to erase any ATG doubts.
 Manny  Pacquiao -  Those who've read me  know my views on what'll happen if he
 faces  the guy preceding him on the list, but only a fool would downplay every
 aspect  of  what he's accomplished  between flyweight and junior middle. There
 are holes to be poked, but it's been a remarkable run.
 Aaron  Pryor  - It  was close, but  the more  I thought about  it, the more it
 seemed  like  the  "Hawk's"  two  wins over  Arguello  trumped  Duran's  post-
 welterweight  scalp collection  of Cuevas,  Davey Moore  and Iran  Barkley. My
 biggest  emptiness as a fan is that Pryor never got a shot at the big names at
 This week's title-fight schedule:
 IBF/WBA middleweight titles -- Oberhausen, Germany
 Daniel Geale (IBF champion) vs. Felix Sturm (WBA champion)
 Geale (27-1, 15 KO): Third title defense; Second fight outside Australia (1-0)
 Sturm  (37-2-2,  16 KO):  Thirteenth  title  defense; Thirty-seven  fights  in
 Germany (34-1-2)
 Fitzbitz  says: "They're not Chavez or Martinez, but these are two pretty damn
 good  middles  getting together.  Sturm's been  in with  better and he's home,
 which should be enough." Sturm by decision
 IBF flyweight title -- Panama City, Panama
 Moruti Mthalane (champion) vs. Ricardo Nunez (No. 1 contender)
 Mthalane (28-2, 19 KO): Fourth title defense; Third fight outside South Africa
 Nunez  (24-2, 20  KO): First  title fight;  Four of  26 fights  have gone  the
 distance (4-0)
 Fitzbitz  says: "The  champion  is probably  the better  fighter  from top  to
 bottom, but the challenger is younger, he's at home and he's on a roll. Now...
 he gets a belt." Nunez in 9
 IBF mini flyweight title -- Guasave, Mexico
 Nkosinathi Joyi (champion) vs. Mario Rodriguez (No. 7 contender)
 Joyi (22-0, 15 KO): Third title defense; Held IBO title at 105 (2006-08, three
 Rodriguez  (14-6-4,  10 KO):  Second title fight  (0-1); Four-fight win streak
 ties career best
 Fitzbitz  says:  "Young Mexican  challenger has  reignited career after 10-6-4
 start,  but  the step up in  class to face Joyi  is too big for a 23-year-old,
 even in his backyard." Joyi by decision
 IBO middleweight title -- Verona, NY
 Gennady Golovkin (champion) vs. Grzegorz Proksa (No. 8 contender)
 Golovkin (23-0, 20 KO): Second title defense; First fight in United States
 Proksa (28-1, 20 KO): First title fight; Fourth fight in United States (3-0)
 Fitzbitz  says:  "Those familiar with  Golovkin are  extremely high on him and
 claim  the HBO  date will make believers  in his U.S. debut. I'll buy in until
 proven wrong." Golovkin in 10
 WBA super flyweight title -- Osaka, Japan
 Tepparith Kokietgym (champion) vs. Nobuo Nashiro (No. 10 contender)
 Kokietgym (20-2, 13 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten since 2008 (17-0)
 Nashiro  (18-4-1,  12 KO):  Tenth title  fight (4-4-1); Two  WBA reigns at 115
 (three defenses)
 Fitzbitz says: "Young Thai incumbent takes to the road to face former two-time
 belt-holder,  but he should have more than enough to handle anything the aging
 challenger has left." Kokietgym by decision
 Last week's picks: 1-0
 Overall picks record: 417-141 (74.7 percent)
 Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
 since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 08/31 10:38:43 ET

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