Boxing: Highlights and lowlights
Manny Pacquiao, now a seven-time world champion, was the decade's top boxer
Antonio Margarito gained notoriety for his illegal hand wraps vs. Shane Mosley
Zab Judah deserves to be on this list for wasting the most talent of any boxer
BEST FIGHTER: Manny Pacquiao
With an improbable combination of speed and power, he's an electrifying presence in the ring, a relentless attacker and a master of distance, who comes at opponents from surprising angles while still maintaining tremendous leverage and balance. He also fights with an urgency and a joy unseen since the young Roberto Duran. Best of all, Pacquiao, 31, may not even have peaked yet; under trainer Freddie Roach, he just keeps getting better.
BEST FIGHT: Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I
Thirty seconds in, Castillo dropped Corrales with a crushing left hook. Amazingly, "Chico" beat the count, gaining a few extra seconds to recover when his mouthpiece came out. Castillo jumped on him immediately and, 30 seconds later, Corrales was down again, badly hurt. But again, the mouthpiece came out and this time referee Tony Weeks deducted a point. It seemed academic, as Castillo moved in for the finish, but Corrales, both eyes nearly swollen shut, fired back with a furious flurry, leaving Castillo hanging helpless on the ropes and forcing Weeks to end the fight with 54 seconds left in the round.
BIGGEST UPSET: Antonio Tarver vs. Roy Jones Jr. II
BIGGEST OVERACHIEVER: Ricky Hatton
BIGGEST UNDERACHIEVER: Zab Judah
A three-time New York Golden Gloves champ and one of the most highly touted amateurs in recent memory, Judah began the decade by winning the vacant IBF 140-pound title. He was 22 years old and 22-0 and, with his blend of unearthly speed and ring smarts, appeared on track for pound-for-pound greatness. But a lack of discipline and focus repeatedly derailed him.
In 2001, Tszyu knocked him out in two rounds. Judah came back to win, and then carelessly lose, two welterweight belts; melted down in a bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. that he had a shot at winning; and lost by technical knockout to Miguel Cotto. Judah's record for the decade: 17-6.
BIGGEST CONTROVERSY: The Hands of Antonio Margarito
Six months later, in Los Angeles, just before Margarito entered the ring to face Shane Mosley, one of Mosley's cornermen noticed a "white, pasty substance" on Margarito's hand wraps. Forced to rewrap his hands, Margarito went on to lose to Mosley by technical knockout in the ninth. The California commission subsequently determined that the substance was sulfur and calcium, which combine with oxygen to form Plaster of Paris. On Feb. 10, 2009, Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, were suspended for "at least a year."
The Mosley incident threw an immediate shadow over Margarito's knockout of Cotto, and while Margarito has denied any wrongdoing in that fight, most observers believe Cotto was the victim of an egregious crime.
HOTTEST FEUD: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Bob Arum
So, when the two parted ways in 2007, after Arum had promoted Mayweather for a decade, it was no surprise that some acrimony ensued. Mayweather charged Arum with underpaying and under-promoting him, while Arum asserted that the fighter was notoriously hard to deal with.
All that would just be more colorful fodder for boxing gossip, save for the fact that it threatens to get in the way of the next decade's first superfight: a showdown between Arum's Manny Pacquiao and the now self-promoted Mayweather. No sooner had Pacquiao beaten Cotto, clearing the way for a date with Mayweather, than Arum was referring to Floyd as "just a problem and a head case." Mayweather countered by calling Arum "a very old, grumpy man."
Still, in boxing, money (and we don't mean "Money" Mayweather) talks. Even the Hatfields and the McCoys would get together for the kind of bottom line Manny-Floyd will generate.