Note: This feature originally appeared in the October edition of THE RING magazine. The November issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the cover, is on newsstands now. The cover story is titled: "10 Guys Who Would Have Kicked Mayweather's Butt."
It was out with the old and in with the new as THE RING composed this year’s All-Star Report Cards. Gone from last year’s survey are such old warhorses as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chris John and Israel Vazquez. In place of those fighters were newer, fresher names like Yuriorkis Gamboa and Timothy Bradley, a sign that new blood is being pumped into the sport. Meanwhile, names like Sergio Martinez and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam show that our All-Star list always has room for veterans, provided they’re still producing in the ring.
Aside from the youth movement, other trends have emerged this year. For instance, there is a noticeable dip in Mexican or Mexican-American fighters among our 20 All-Stars. When THE RING first compiled this roster in 2003, there were five such fighters listed; this year, there is one. Also, the number of fighters born in the United States shrunk from 13 in 2003 to a measly four this year. Lopez and Miguel Cotto are U.S. citizens by way of Puerto Rico, but they didn’t learn their stuff in the American amateur system, so they can’t be counted. Brits are on the rise, though. There was only one Brit All-Star in 2003, but three made the list this year, sans Hatton.
Perhaps you’re wondering why some of your favorite fighters didn’t make the list, but rest assured that many other fighters were given close consideration. It’s just that some fighters seem to lose fights as we’re creating our list, and others just fall a bit short in terms of box office and general excitement value.
The 20 fighters who made it weren't chosen solely on their ability to sell tickets and attract cable customers but the ability to fill seats definitely plays a big part in our selection process. Some fighters, Nonito Donaire for example, might not yet be a legitimate star on the level of Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, but we felt he can compete with the best in terms of talent, and is certainly on his way to stardom.
Those who were removed from last year’s list are gone because they simply didn’t do enough to merit inclusion this year. The one exception is the late Edwin Valero. He made it last time, and there was every reason to believe he’d repeat.
With that in mind, here are the 2010 All-Star Report Cards. The fighters are judged on talent, achievement, marketability, support system, and growth potential. They are presented in order of weight class, starting with the heavyweights.
Today: Tomasz Adamek. Tomorrow: Andre Ward
42-1 (27 KOs)
TALENT: The former cruiserweight champion is a good boxer-puncher, with better than average ring smarts. His best punch is a winging right cross, and even if he hasn’t quite carried his punch from light heavyweight to cruiserweight to heavyweight, he can still hit hard enough to keep opponents wary. He has shown a tendency to brawl in the past, which made his wars with Paul Briggs and Steve Cunningham candidates for Fight of the Year, but as a heavyweight he’s relying more on his boxing skills. He’s also shown a pretty good beard so far as he tangles with bigger men. Grade: B+
ACHIEVEMENT: Adamek, 33, has been busy since last year’s All-Star ranking, making his presence felt in the heavyweight division. He started out by whacking 41-year-old warhorse Andrew Golota into submission, stopping him in five rounds. Adamek followed with decision wins over Jason Estrada, Chris Arreola and Michael Grant. After injuring his right hand early in the Arreola bout, he used a lot of movement and counterpunching to dominate the game Arreola and earn a majority decision win. The one loss on his record was to Chad Dawson at light heavyweight. Grade: B+
MARKETABILITY: A 2007 book published in Poland and written by a former member of Adamek’s camp linked him to steroids and organized crime, but Adamek denied the allegations and his popularity has not suffered. In fact, Polish-American fans haven’t been so excited about one of their own since Bobby “The Polish Prince” Vinton scored a 1974 pop hit with “Melody of Love.” The friendly, down-to-earth Adamek has already established himself as a favorite in Newark, N.J., near his new hometown of Jersey City, and his bout with Golota was a sensation in Poland. All that’s lacking is a little more love from the cable giants, HBO or Showtime. One would think his bout with Arreola, which was shown on HBO’s Boxing After Dark, impressed the suits, unless Ross Greenburg thinks Adamek is another Klitschko brother. Adamek’s fight against journeyman Vinny Maddalone on Dec. 9 in Newark is on Integrated Sports PPV. Grade: A-
SUPPORT SYSTEM: Even though Adamek has replaced Golota as Poland’s favorite pug, the shadow of Golota remains. Ziggy Rozalski, who previously handled Golota, acts as Adamek’s manager. Adamek’s longtime trainer Andrzej Gmitruk resigned recently because of health issues. In his place are the veteran duo of Ronnie Shields and Roger Bloodworth, the latter of whom worked with Golota. And after a turn with Panos Eliades promoting him, Adamek turned to Don King, who had promoted Golota. Adamek is now with Main Events, the group that promoted Golota in his prime. Golota never won a heavyweight title; maybe Adamek will. Grade: A-
GROWTH POTENTIAL: There has been talk of a fight with David Haye, and a bout with either Klitschko would create some interest. Fighting the 6-foot-7 (201cm) Grant was supposed to get Adamek used to fighting a taller opponent. Grade: A-