Rankings: Mayweather, Pacquiao are 1-2 yet again, but one young phenom is closing the gap

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

For the eighth consecutive month, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao run 1-2 in the Yahoo! Sports rankings, a poll of boxing writers around the world. Mayweather and Pacquiao are as close to a sure thing as there is in the sport.

But with both fighting within a month of each other against elite opponents, the possibility exists that when the June rankings come out, neither will hold the top spot. Mayweather fights Miguel Cotto, who came in 12th, on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. On June 9, Pacquiao will take on No. 8 Timothy Bradley at the MGM.

Mayweather and Pacquiao are favorites to win, but neither Cotto nor Bradley are pushovers. In Cotto's case, he didn't balloon up in weight after his Dec. 3 victory over Antonio Margarito, as is often the case. Cotto never got much higher than about 168 pounds and so was well within range of making the 154-pound limit months before his super welterweight title bout against Mayweather.

Pacquiao has had all sorts of personal issues in the Philippines and can't be 100 percent focused on his preparations.

While most would likely elevate the current No. 3, Sergio Martinez, into the top spot in the event Mayweather and Pacquiao both lose, I'd propose Andre Ward instead. Ward may be the most physically gifted fighter in the world, though he's far from the most exciting. Exciting fights come when there is an exchange of punches, and Ward is difficult to hit.

The super middleweight champion is the best combination of offense, defense and ring intelligence besides Mayweather. If the sport's two superstars come up short the next time out, Ward is awaiting his coronation.

With that, let's head to the newest rankings:

Mayweather

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 299 (20 of 31 first-place votes)
Record: 42-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBC welterweight champion
Last outing: KO4 over Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: May 5 against Miguel Cotto
Analysis: Defensive wizard fighting more offensively recently

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Pacquiao

2. Manny Pacquiao

Points: 289 (11 of 31 first-place votes)
Record: 54-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over No. 4 Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: June 9 against No. 8 Timothy Bradley
Analysis: Out-of-ring issues could be a distraction

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Martinez

3. Sergio Martinez
Points: 222
Record: 49-2-2 (28 KOs)
Title: Ring middleweight champion
Last outing: KO11 Matthew Macklin on March 17
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Superior conditioning makes him dangerous late in fights

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Marquez

4. Juan Manuel Marquez

Points: 183
Record: 54-6-1 (39 KOs)
Title: Ring, WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 Sergey Fedchenko on April 14
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Likely July 14 vs. Brandon Rios
Analysis: Hoping for one more shot at Pacquiao

Ward


5. Andre Ward
Points: 180
Record: 25-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBC super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Carl Froch on Dec. 17
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Showed the full package in winning Super Six

Donaire


6. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Points: 175
Record: 28-1 (18 KOs)
Title: WBO super bantamweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. on Feb. 4
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: July 14 vs. Cristian Mijares
Analysis: Stay at 122 pounds expected to be brief

W. Klitschko


7. Wladimir Klitschko
Points: 123
Record: 57-3 (50 KOs)
Title: Ring, IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: KO4 over Jean Marc Mormeck on March 3
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: July 7 vs. Tony Thompson
Analysis: Rematch looks even less exciting than first bout

Bradley


8. Timothy Bradley
Points: 73
Record: 28-0 (12 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: TKO8 over Joel Casamayor on Nov. 12
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: June 9 vs. No. 1 Manny Pacquiao
Analysis: Will need to punch in combination with move to welterweight

V. Klitschko


9. Vitali Klitschko
Points: 48
Record: 44-2 (40 KOs)
Title: WBC heavyweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Dereck Chisora on Feb. 18
Previous ranking: 10
Up next: TBA
Analysis: Has begun to speak of retirement

Bute


10. Lucian Bute
Points: 38
Record: 30-0 (24 KOs)
Title: IBF super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Glen Johnson on Nov. 5
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: May 26 vs. Carl Froch in Nottingham, England
Analysis: Bute is a punishing body puncher

Others receiving votes: Yuriorkis Gamboa, 24; Miguel Cotto, 22; Bernard Hopkins, 17; Chris John, 4; Anselmo Moreno, 3; Orlando Salido, 2; Chad Dawson, 1; Toshiaki Nishioka, 1; Lamont Peterson, 1.

Voting panel: Raul Alzaga, Primera Hoya; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Brian Campbell, ESPN Mobile; Scott Christ, Bad Left Hook.com; Steve Cofield, ESPN Radio 1100; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100; Mike Coppinger, RingTV.com; Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com; Mike Rosenthal, Ring Magazine; Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com; Tim Starks, The Queensbury Rules; Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer/Wall Street Journal; T.K. Stewart, RingTV.com; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City.