(Updated August 19, 2010)

Still Numero Uno, baby!

#1 Holly Holm

Holm is so good she knocked out her last opponent without landing a significant blow. Like the super heroine her physique suggests, Holm left Jamie Clampitt writhing on the canvas from some mysterious force arguably akin to “greatness.” Ensorcellment is only one of her many attributes. Not only did Holm win, but her fight, in New Mexico, drew nearly three times as many fans as Andre Berto did for his last fight. Admittedly, hot dog eating contests draw more spectators than Berto does, but Holm also sells more tickets than Tim Bradley and Paul Williams. In fact, her bout with Clampitt drew more fans than two fights—combined!—between scintillating Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver. By the alleged standards of the day, Holly Holm is a superstar!

#2 Dimitry Pirog

Pirog, rumored to be on the verge of signing an endorsement deal with “Myth Busters,” breaks into the TCS P-4-P by playing whack-a-mole with Danny Jacobs. Ah, Danny Jacobs. There was enough hot air blown up his whatsis to keep two GoodYear blimps afloat for a decade, and for this reason Pirog will now get a contact high from secondhand hype. Why not just kick-start him, “The White Mayweather” (Thanks to reader/friend JPF for that one) on his way now and rank him at number two? On the other hand, Pirog has done the public a disservice by comically flattening Jacobs because now Jacobs will have to be rehabilitated at our expense. That means at least two years of fights against selected members of the Pro Bowlers Tour and folks with dyed skullets on HBO, Oh No Boxeo, and Fright Night Club.

#3 Kassim Ouma

Although Ouma has not fought since being “robbed” by Vanes Martirosyan in January, he moves up a notch on the “P-4-P” list because his inactivity is indicative of boxing superstars today who fight twice a year and then spend the rest of their days on funemployment or Tweeting inanities. Look for Ouma to rise in the rankings if he ever puts his Twitter account to good use like Amir Khan does.

#4 Beibut Shumenov

Beibut Shumenov defended his UNICEF & USO light heavyweight championships a couple of weeks ago in the near-empty parking lot of an obscure casino in Lemoore, California, against Viacheslav Uselesskov, possibly the worst 22-0 fighter in history. Still, Shemunov has now had 11 fights with 16 titles on the line. Truly, one of the most remarkable modern achievements in boxing.

#5 Edwin Valero

The WBO once ranked a dead fighter (Darrin Morris) and The Cruelest Sport, like many others who follow boxing, believes in history and tradition. Besides, even six feet under, Valero is more interesting than most of the anointed stars out there. His all-action style is/was a stark contrast to some of the superstars of boxing today who often fight as if they were suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Also, a comeback is a real possibility. After all, Valero is dead and small, which means Lou DiBella may be thinking of having him disinterred on behalf of Andre Berto.

#6 Danny Green

With his WWE persona and his take-no-prisoners attitude, Green is one of the best fighters in the world. His destructive knockouts of Roy Jones Jr., Manny Siaca and Paul Briggs prove that no one closing in on 40 is safe from Green. Although Briggs retired a few years ago because of a mysterious disease whose symptoms resembled those of Edmond O’Brien in D.O.A., he still posed a stiff challenge to Green: how in damnation would Green carry this ailing man for more than a round? Green is good, but not that good.

#7 Guillermo Rigondeaux

Rigondeaux retains his spot in the TCS P-4-P for the simple fact that, although he is officially listed at 29, he is clearly pushing 50. Not many fighters can make Joe Tessitore caterwaul at that age. With only a handful of pro fights under his belt, Rigondeaux gets Tessitore all hot and bothered at the mic like no one else. Ditto Teddy Atlas, who, in one breathless sequence, compared Rigondeaux to Kid Chocolate, Rommell, Jaco Pastorius, The Green Hornet, Che Guevara, Lando Calrissian, Mishima, Robert Oppenheimer, Stagger Lee, Marcel Marceau, Vlad the Impaler, Sheriff Bullock, Marc Anthony, Sun Tszu, Kostya Tszyu, Lord Littlebrook, Spencer Tracy in Bad Day At Black Rock, and Jacques Cousteau.

#8 Stephane Tessier

French-Canadian boxers are hot these days, so why not put one in the TCS P-4-P rankings? Sure, Tessier, 3-25-1, has not won a fight since 2005, but Cristian Favela never wins either, and the man is on television more often than Oprah Winfrey is. Of course, Jean Pascal belongs here instead, but The Cruelest Sport will defer to all the preening experts out there who believe, “Pascal needs more quality wins before cracking the…pound-for-pound ratings.” Tessier is 38, loves Cirque De Soleil, VoiVod, and Quebec Poutine.

#9 Marian Banciu

Romanian stalwart Marian Banciu lost another fight since the last TCS P-4-P ratings. He was knocked out in two rounds in Yepes, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, to bring his record to 0-33-2. This means that he still has a chance, even at 41, to win a fight and become the subject of a “redemption” story written by Lyle Fitzsimmons, whose most recent salvation piece on Michael Grant even made it to the Sports Illustrated website. From Budd Schulberg to Mark Kram to Pat Putnam to William Nack to Lyle Fitzsimmons. If that can happen, then Banciu can win!

#10 Rachel Donaire

Of course, Rachel Donaire is not a “real” fighter, but neither is Andre Berto. Also, since she is married to Nonito Donaire, Rachel has spent more time in the ring with world-class fighters than many HBO headliners. Anyway, the real reason she takes the number 10 slot is because she is drop-dead gorgeous.

#10 (INTERIM) Jorge Linares

Because Oscar De La Hoya says so.




(Updated February 23, 2010)

#1 Holly Holm

In addition to being the number one ranked female boxer in the world on Boxrec.com (whose idiotic computer system fails to rank Henry Armstrong on its pound-for-pound list) and knocking out a woman picked out of the audience at her last fight,  Holm is probably the hottest boxer on earth.  Only Natascha Ragosina and Ana Julaton are better-looking.  Holm always comes to rumble, is in better shape than Chris Arreola, fights harder than Kevin Johnson, draws bigger crowds than Chad Dawson, and is more exciting than Floyd Mayweather Jr.

#2 Edwin Valero

Twenty-seven fights and twenty-seven knockouts.  One of the greatest punchers of all time!  Not even Sugar Ray Robinson had a 100% KO record.  Valero is on the fast-track to the Hall of Fame.

#3 Michael Katsidis

One of the most accomplished fighters in boxing today is lightweight Michael Katsidis. He has won eight championships so far in his career.  In fact, 14 of his 28 professional bouts have been for titles, including his pro debut.  At 29, Katsidis will probably win more titles than anyone in boxing history by the time he retires.  Also, he wears a funky Greek warrior helmet into the ring.

#4 Beibut Shumenov

Shumenov is right behind Katsidis in collecting titles and he is on the Nova Express to greatness.  Shumenov may look crude, slow, unimaginative, and ungainly in the ring, but in just his tenth pro bout, he captured the WBA LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD by handily beating Gabriel Campillo in Las Vegas.  In his 10 professional bouts thus far, Shumenov has had 14 titles on the line.  In 2009, for example, Shumenov faced former super middleweight champion Byron Mitchell in a bout where four titles were at stake simultaneously, including three for “Asian” championships.  Shumenov is a threat to every titleholder in boxing!

#5 Kassim Ouma

Not only did Ouma resurrect, rejuvenate, and redeem his career by losing to Vanes Martirosyan last month, but he also entered the ring to the roaring sounds of Judas Priest, a fresh change of pace from all the rap and mariachi music boxing is drowning in.  If Ouma enters the ring to Motorhead next time—“Killed By Death” or “Iron Fist” would be good choices—look for him to move up on the P-4-P ratings.   Naturally, if Ouma ever wins another fight, he will move up as well.

#6 Guillermo Rigondeaux

The Cuban amateur standout has knocked out three of his last four opponents with body shots.  That proves his dominance! Besides, Joe Tessitore already called him one of the greatest fighters in the world.  The rumormill (not boxingscene.com on this occasion) reported that Tessitore howled so loud the last time he was at ringside for a Rigondeaux bout, that he lost control of his bowels.   That should be enough to put Rigondeaux on any P-4-P list.

#7 Jose Benavidez

Even before the bell sounded for his professional debut, the 17-year old Benavidez was called a future champ.  After blowing out Steve Cox in one round, ringside announcer Barry Tompkins had this to say: “Jose Benavidez Junior—looking like a champion after one fight!”  The usual internet suspects chimed in along similar lines within minutes.  The Cruelest Sport never likes to differ with the experts, so Benavidez is #7.

#8 Marian Banciu

Although he has yet to win a single fight (his record is 0-32-2, 27 knockouts) Banciu is one of the top fighters in Romania and those two draws prove that one day he will have a chance at redemption and possibly wind up the subject of a cliche-ridden article by Lyle Fitzsimmons.

#9 Hyacinthus Turnipseed

Like Valero, Turnipseed also has a 100% KO ratio, having lost all of his bouts by stoppage.  But the real reason he is on the inaugural TCS P-4-P list is his name. Hyacinthus Turnipseed has a name that might be better suited for a character out of Faulkner or Thomas Pynchon.   It would really be something if Turnipseed scored a knockout on Showtime, where Gus Johnson would lose all of his marbles simultaneously.  “Oh! Oh!  Lightning in a bottle!  Hyacinthus TURNIP-seed!!!  He stretched him!  Oh my!  Hyacinthus TURNIP-seed!!!”

#10 Jesus Ruiz

The rugged Mexican has lost all thirteen of his fights by knockout, which means he never allows crooked, narcoleptic, or incompetent judges to turn in bizarre scorecards that might add up to robberies.   Boxing needs more of his kind, especially since any fight that is not a blowout these days immediately becomes “controversial.”

#10 (INTERIM) Jorge Linares

Because Oscar De La Hoya says so.