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Amazing boxing bouts bountiful 

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The resurgence of the sweet science in 2008 led by top pound-for-pound fighters

Some things get better with age — that seems to be the case for boxing. Thus far, 2008 has been one of the best years of boxing in recent history. Before the year started, there was not much hype for upcoming matchups. Stars like Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe were all reaching the end of the respective careers, so it seemed that 2008 would be a year of aging stars fighting lackluster fights — not even close.

With five months into the year we’ve already witnessed some of the greatest boxing matches in recent history, and arguably one of the greatest boxing matches of all time in Vazquez vs. Marquez III. With seven months to go, there is still a plethora of great matches approaching. Among these potential thrillers are — Mayweather vs. De La Hoya II, Cotto vs. Margarito, Calzaghe vs. Jones, Jr. and a potential mega fight: Mayweather vs. Cotto.

But as boxing experiences this regeneration, many fighters are making the case to be one of the top ten fighters, pound-for-pound, in the world. But as many competitors as there are, the list is fairly clear cut:

1. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. — Love him or hate him (most people hate him) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is not only the most talented and gifted fighter of our time, he could be considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. He has faced all of the biggest names in boxing and beat them every one of them. He won a close decision over Oscar De La Hoya, crushed the late Diego Corrales and broke down the previously undefeated Ricky Hatton.

Next fight — Oscar De La Hoya (September 20): In what will be the biggest payday for both fighters, it still won’t be the best fight for Mayweather. That contest would be a dream showdown between Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, which could take place at the end of this year or early next year.

2. Manny Pacquiao — “Pac-Man” is as ferocious a fighter as they come. In every fight he brings the heat to his opponents from the opening bell to the end of the fight, with devastating results, which is why he is often considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Though not as good as Mayweather, he is definitely the best of the rest. His recent rematch and victory over Juan Manuel Marquez was one of the greatest fights of the year thus far, after the first fight between the two was scored a draw. Pacquiao came off the canvas to win a very close decision against Marquez

Next fight — David Diaz (June 28): Pacquiao is moving up to lightweight to take on current WBC champion Diaz, but a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, would be ideal for both boxers.

3. Joe Calzaghe — At 45 wins and no losses, Joe Calzaghe deserves his due. For a long time he did not fight many of the top fighters at the super middleweight division (168 pounds), however, after a string of recent victories over undefeated fighters like Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler, Calzaghe’s crowning achievement came when he moved up to light heavyweight and defeated champion Bernard Hopkins.

Next fight — To be determined. Of all the potential fights out there for Calzaghe, the most lucrative fight seems to be against Roy Jones, Jr. Though this is the most likely scenario, there are a couple of intriguing matchups out there if Calzaghe were to go down to middleweight, like a big money match against Kelly Pavlik.

4. Miguel Cotto — Many fight fans can attest to Cotto’s punching power, but if you doubt Cotto’s boxing skills, please go back and watch his fight with former champion Shane Mosley. This blend of punching power and boxing skills makes him one of the best fighters in the world, and at his young age, he’s got time to grow.

Next fight — Antonio Margarito (July 26): This could be one of the best fights of the year. Both of these fighters have great boxing skills and great punching power. Mix these factors with their huge differences in styles and this makes for an exciting fight. After this fight, the sky is the limit for Cotto with potential fights against Mayweather or De La Hoya looming on the horizon.

5. Israel Vazquez — Vazquez is relentless, powerful and a great boxer. After watching the third fight of one of the greatest boxing trilogies of all time, between Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, it is impossible not to think that Israel Vazquez is one of the most amazing boxers in the world. Despite being floored earlier in the fight and losing the early rounds, Vazquez roared back and took a controversial split decision.

Next fight — To be determined: Boxingtalk.com says, “A well deserved rest.” I would have to agree.

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