'8 Is Enough': An In-Depth Look At The Elite 8 In Boxings Deepest Division: Williams, Cotto, Mayweather, Cintron, Clottey, Margarito, Mosley and Collazo

shane mosley18.06.07 - By Vivek Wallace: When it comes to sports on an international platform, for whatever reason, the sport of boxing is generally one that comes up close to last. In an era that encompasses Golf great Tiger Woods, preceded by international Basketball icon Michael Jordan, unfortunately, few have found time to enjoy the sport known to it's aficionado's as the 'sweet science'.

Level of competition plays a key role in the question of 'why' Boxing has seemed to fizzle in the minds of sports fans globally, but all that could soon come to an end as things in one division in particular, (welterweights), have amped up a few notches. To put it in lyrical terms: "THINGS ARE HEATIN' UP LIKE MIAMI IN THE SUMMER WITH FIGHTERS ROUGH AND RUGGED LIKE A HUMMER"!!!

For the first time in a longtime (probably ever) Boxing fans can look down the top 10 welterweight rankings and actually recognize each of the fighters listed and in a video game like fashion, ponder what it would be like to witness a tournament that would actually pair each of these guys in a Championship eliminator. Unfortunately, the politics of the fight game won't allow that to happen but in an effort to bring that dream to life, today we'll analyze the top 8 players in the 'game'. (From less recognized to most). Aside from analyzing the fighters, we'll do a skills challenge, which will take a look at another fighter within this Elite 8 that would make for the most interesting matchup with each man.

1. Luis Collazo: 27-3, (13KO)

Talented, slick southpaw fighter with great skill. Highly underrated. Probably more talented than a couple fighters ahead of him in this breakdown but his lack of power - as evidenced in 13 KO's over 30 fights - puts him in the lower echelon until he proves differently. He may make some noise ultimately in the welterweight division but needs to get some 'big-name' victories under his belt.

Skills Challenge: Collazo vs Clottey {Slick southpaw vs Powerful Charging type fighter}

2. Joshua Clottey: 31-2, (19KO)

Very talented but major question marks are beginning to silently appear. Seems very powerful but apparently either doesn't know his own strength or simply hasn't learned how to use it to his benefit yet. Watching him punch Diego Corrales (RIP), and Antonio Margarito, you'd think he would have far more than 19KO's in 33 fights but some question his conditioning which could answer why he hasn't had too many late fight knockouts. Similar to Collazo, in order for his stock to rise he needs to get more 'big-name' victories under his belt. The other obvious stepping stone for him would be to learn to utilize his power better. The one thing that separates him from a Manny Pacquiao type pugilist is his lack of killer instinct. Juan Urango had the same problem as we saw against Brit great Ricky Hatton. He could demolish guys if he just fought with more energy and let his hands fly with reckless abandon.

Skills Challenge: Clottey vs Cintron {Both fighters have power, but need to polish other aspects of their game}

3. Kermit Cintron: 27-1, (25KO)

This guy was well on his way to becoming Puerto Rico's next big star until the rise of Miguel Cotto, which was preceded by his embarrassing loss to Antonio Margarito. Since the loss to Margo, Cintron has seemed to polish his skill level which could have alot to do with bringing Emanuel Stewart On board. His power was always there, (25KO's in 28 fights), so now if he can hone in on his other skills, he could be well on his way to the top echelon of our Elite 8. A scheduled matchup with Shane Mosley would have been a great gauge of his current ability, but since it fell through, we'll have to wait and see what he does next.

Skills Challenge: Cintron vs Clottey (See #2)

4. Paul Williams: 32-0, (24KO)

A total freak of nature. There's probably not one physical advantage that this guy doesn't possess over an opponent. An 82 inch reach, a southpaw stance, and stands two inches over 6 feet tall. What more could you ask from a young welterweight? Good question, but an easy one to answer. EXPERIENCE. It's far too early to say if he's the real deal or a fraud but with Walter Matthysse being the best (as far as records go) fighter that he's fought, and a bunch of has-beens and tomato can's prior to that, his upcoming matchup against Margo should tell us all we need to know. Of all the lower tiered fighters in this Elite 8, Williams could be the diamond in the rough, but only time will tell.

Skills Challenge: Williams vs Cotto. {There are probably better matchups for both but this challenge would test both men in areas they've never been tested before. How would Cotto handle a linky slugger that could get to him at will, and how would Williams handle a body banger that refuses to go backwards)?

5. Antonio Margarito: 34-4 (24KO)

This fighter is probably one of the more intriguing in the division. Watching him in his early days, the only thought to come to mind was WOW!!! He displayed power, skill, and a chin of granite. Recently however, the chin appears to be still sturdy, the power is still there, but the traps, the jab, and his skill level in general have seemed to vanish a bit. A perfect example of this was when he destroyed Kermit Cintron, only to turn around and barely escape an injured Joshua Clottey in a decision most felt was made of poor judgment in his biggest television stage yet. He has the ability to 'pull the curtains' on almost all of these Elite 8, but in order to be taken seriously he will have to completely destroy Paul Williams in their upcoming showdown in a way that removes the doubt from the minds of all of his fans as well as critics. If he has a weak performance and wins, he can't expect to see any big paydays any time soon. If he loses, he'll be well on his way to the land of Fernando Vargas' and Ricardo Mayorga's. Meaning he'll be cast as yet another fighter with great power but not enough skill to deal with the true greats of his era. An interesting stat to note going into his July 14th showdown with Paul Williams - Margarito has never won a professional fight in the month of July.

Skills Challenge: Margarito vs Cotto {Some would like to see him against Floyd Mayweather Jr., but I think the better matchup would be against Cotto. That would be a brawlers dream fight. You'd have two fighters that don't believe in fighting while going backwards. This would be a helluva collision}.

6. Shane Mosley: 44-4 (37KO)

Of all the Elite 8 fighters listed here, this one is easily the most battle tested. From a total package standpoint, even Floyd Mayweather Jr. would find himself entrenched in the midst of a tight race to finish ahead. Most thought Mosley was finished but after facing two guys who simply had his number, (Vernon Forrest/Winky Wright), he responded emphatically. Not only that, but he showed a great display of heart by immediately seeking rematches to avenge both losses - albeit in a losing fashion both times. Despite his age (35), Shane is still the creme of this crop. Many find age to be a loss of youthful progression but to a salty vet like Shane, age is an acronym, standing for: A - Greater - Experience. His ability paired with this experience easily puts him on pace to top any of these guys in the Elite 8, to include possibly Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Skills Challenge: Mosley vs Mayweather Jr. {Shane is similar to Floyd in speed but he has more of a knack to want to exchange and press the action which would force Floyd to fight more and pick his spots less. Shane's ability to want to exchange takes away from his defense which is why he was hit alot by much slower fighters like Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest. That would be his only undoing if any in an epic showdown with Floyd}.

7. Miguel Cotto: 30-0 (25KO)

Talented, tough, strong, and charges forward no matter what. Four attributes reminiscent of his island stablemate, a young Felix 'Tito' Trinidad. Similar to Tito, Cotto has managed to steal the hearts of not only his fans, but his opponents too. Just ask the flamboyant Zab Judah who thought going into their recent matchup that Cotto couldn't handle a fighter with his 'flash' and speed. Many, (myself included), saw Cotto as a sheltered question mark, but recently found out that he's actually more of an un-contained exclamation point. His worth as a fighter is now starting to be defined and his star will undoubtedly continue to rise. Granted, Zab is no Floyd, but Mayweather aside, I don't know many other fighters in this Elite 8 that would truly give him a run for his money. After beating Zab, I guess it's safe to say he's graduated to the higher echelon of contenders so we'll soon find out how high his 'elevator' goes.

Skills Challenge: Cotto vs Mosley {I would most like to see he and Floyd get busy, but from an action standpoint, Shane would be his best challenge. Shane poses the the bigger challenge to Cotto as his speed and power would be more than Cotto's ever seen from one opponent}.

8. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: 38-0 (24)

This fighter here, at least as it stands now, is at the top of the mountain. Speed, defense, reflexes, foot work, and an uncanny ring intelligence; This is the Elite 8's version of Billy 'The Kid', shooting with dead-on accuracy and a very innate ability to make it his fight, not be coaxed into fighting someone else's. Basically a total package. No one can question his skill, but his business-man type mentality has led many to question his heart. Every man in this Elite 8 has put his name in the hat, hoping to get picked in the 'chance to fight Floyd' sweepstakes and the unfortunate thing is that not one of them have been successful. Mosley or Cotto should get first crack at it, but for different reasons (depending on who you ask), retirement may catch Mayweather first. Floyd says he's done, but recently his Uncle and Trainer, Roger Mayweather stated that Floyd will be back in the ring for sure come November. Hopefully what Roger said was true. I just hope that it's not as a promoter like Floyd has stated it will be.

Skills Challenge: Floyd vs Mosley {Cotto would be a good fight but Floyd's already fought a fighter like him in Castillo. Margarito is a good fighter but hasn't shown me enough on the big stage. The other guys simply aren't as proven or worthy at this point in their careers. Mosley on the other hand matches Floyd in everything but defense}.

To wrap this all up, it's safe to say that the welterweight division has solidified itself as the perennial weight class in the sport of Boxing for the next few years to come and each of these guys mentioned will play a major role in what ever those headlines read. There are a few other fighters who could also enter these ranks as Ricky Hatton and a couple others contemplate a jump north in weight. Falling from our Elite group was Zab Judah who finds himself on the outside doorstep looking in at the #9 spot. Prior to that fight he was listed as #8, but in a grand numerical fashion, our #7 ate #9 - (Cotto defeated Zab) - (no pun intended). Carlos Baldomir would have rounded out the top 10. So in closing, now that this article is finished, let the debates, and hopefully the great matchups begin.

Article posted on 18.06.2007

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