By Nick Tywalk
Well, here we are, at the end of another year. Actually, that's not quite true in the great sport of boxing, because there are unusually good fights still to come over the next three weeks. Also, there's Wladimir Klitschko versus Jean Marc Mormeck. Zing!
But I kid Big Wlad. Since our power rankings come out at the beginning of every month, this is the last set of them for 2011. And there's a new man atop the mountain in the form of super middleweight co-king Lucian Bute. His relatively easy victory over Glen Johnson and Nonito Donaire losing one win from the rolling three-month ranking period was enough to boost The Charmer (hate that nickname, by the way) to the number one spot.
I suspect he may have some trouble staying there in 2012, because he's almost guaranteed to face some tougher competition. That's good for us, the fight fans of the world, as it means some quality bouts ahead at 168 pounds.
That's next year, though. For now, go grab a refresher on how these scores work if you need one, and enjoy the last list for 2011:
1. Lucian Bute - 20.89 - A fading Johnson was really no match for Bute, though as usual he gave it his all. Logic suggests that he'll be taking on the Super Six winner (Andre Ward or Carl Froch), but an all-Canadian meeting with Jean Pascal or a catchweight contest with Sergio Martinez would also be pretty sweet.
2. Nonito Donaire - 18.43 - The Filipino Flash slips one spot as one of his 2008 victories fades from the ranking period. Despite his talent, Donaire seems like he needs a spectacular first outing in 2012 to regain some of his momentum from earlier in 2011.
3. Vitali Klitschko - 18.36- Could this coming year be the end of the road for the elder Klitschko brother? It sure appears he's running out of challenges, and at age 40, hanging up the gloves for good is probably starting to sound like an okay plan.
4. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez - 18.10- Not that we were ever doubters, but Canelo looked extra impressive in pounding out Kermit Cintron. Alvarez's heavy hands were very much in evidence, and he's young enough that he can keep adding new wrinkles to cover up some of his weaknesses.
5. Amir Khan - 18.01- King Khan can still move up before our next list comes out thanks to his December 10 showdown with Lamont Peterson. He could take our top spot away from Bute with a knockout win.
6. Yuriorkis Gamboa - 16.18 - There's nothing currently scheduled for Gamboa in 2012, but you'd have to think he'll be back in the ring before too long. He'll turn 30 later this month, so the time to take advantage of his prime is right now.
7. Manny Pacquiao - 14.47- Pac-Man earned just fractions of a point in our scoring system with his bitterly disputed decision victory over archrival Juan Manuel Marquez. Will a fourth clash with JMM really push aside a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather? The heart says no, but the head says it might.
8. Sergio Martinez - 14.14- Maravilla is set for a March return, but his opponent is thus far unknown. Assuming Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. isn't ready yet (and he's not), Martinez and his team may have to look outside the middleweight division for a big money fight.
9. Wladimir Klitschko - 14.12- No one is expecting much of a struggle for Wlad when he fights Jean Marc Mormeck next week. After that, his list of challengers and his brother's will be equally barren.
10. Andre Ward - 11.85- A top candidate to carry the torch for American boxing, Ward can succeed in that mission only by generating more excitement. His soft-spoken nature means he won't be doing that with his personality, so maybe knocking out Carl Froch would do the trick.
The next seven: Robert Guerrero, Andre Berto, Timothy Bradley, Felix Sturm, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather
Get more great analysis over at Boxing Watchers.