The last boxer to win the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “Fighter of the Decade” award was Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao for the 2000-2009 decade.
The first boxer to win the “Joe Louis Fighter of the Decade” award was Roy Jones Jr. for the period of 1990-1999.
Roy Jones Jr. never won the BWAA “Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year” award in the 1990s but was widely considered one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world at the time.
Jones Jr. was in a tough class where Evander Holyfield (won FOTY 3 times), Pernell Whitaker, George Foreman, Oscar De La Hoya, James Toney, Sugar Shane Mosley, Riddick Bowe, and Lennox Lewis all won the Fighter of the Year.
The BWAA awarding Jones Jr. the Fighter of the Decade meant he dominated that era with impressive wins or accomplishments.
When Manny Pacquiao won the FOTD award for the 2000s, he was named FOTY a total of three times 2006, 2008, and 2009.
Some boxing fans made a case that Floyd Mayweather Jr. who remained undefeated deserved the FOTD award of Manny Pacquiao, and that the Pac-Man only got the award because he had become a popular superstar after defeating Oscar De La Hoya.
The BWAA Fighter of the Decade for 2010-2019 nominees are: Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez, Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Andre Ward.
This is going to be a difficult decision because you could make a great case for all the fighters listed above to win the coveted award. I will just give a brief summary of each fighters 2010 to 2019 accomplishments, you can look up the list of opponents for each fighter on Boxrec or Wikipedia to determine who you think is worthy of the award.
Manny Pacquiao is an old school type of fighter who will fight anyone and is willing to go toe to toe win, lose or draw. In his most recent fight he beat Keith Thurman to become the oldest welterweight champion in history, it was one of those huge moments in sports, when you see a legendary fighter rise from the ashes to reclaim glory even at the age of 40. Pacquiao capturing the WBA welterweight title and defeating an undefeated fighter, ten years younger in his prime deserves appreciation.
Pacquiao fought 16 times and lost 4 from 2010 to the end of 2019. Among those four losses, two were considered controversial – Timothy Bradley (Pacquiao re-matched him twice and won both) and Jeff Horn where the public cried robbery over both outcomes.
Pacquiao lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a dull fight, and got knocked out cold by his main adversary Juan Manuel Marquez.
If Pacquiao wins he would have been FOTD twice back to back and that would bump him up in the All Time Great list.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez fought 25 times in the decade and only lost once, to Floyd Mayweather Jr., he also became a world champion for the first time in this decade and achieved multi-division titles as well toward the end of the decade.
Canelo won the light middleweight, middleweight, super-middleweight, and light heavyweight championships and only has one professional defeat. He fought Gennady Golovkin twice, the first bout went to a Draw and the second went to Canelo. He has fought many names, but his most recent win in November could be the one that gives him the edge, he became the WBO light heavyweight champion by knocking out Sergey Kovalev in round 11. Canelo climbed all the way from 160 to 175 pounds and won or held titles in three divisions in under a year. The great Henry Armstrong was the only other fighter in history to hold three weight division titles at once.
Wladimir Klitschko fought 13 times in the decade and lost twice. He won the IBF heavyweight title in 2006 against Chris Byrd, and went on to defend the IBF title 18 times and collecting the WBO and WBA, lineal titles along the way before losing a decision to Tyson Fury in 2015 and then getting knocked out by Anthony Joshua in 2017. He retired in 2017, but Klitschko’s reign as a heavyweight champion was impressive, he also remained undefeated from 2004 to 2015 until meeting Fury.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought 10 times in the decade and remains undefeated. He has wins over two fellow FOTD nominees, Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez. His last two boxing matches were not impressive. He fought former welterweight champion Andre Berto in what was a farewell fight, only to come out of retirement to beat UFC fighter Conor McGregor in his pro boxing debut.
Some critics don’t count the McGregor win as a real boxing match and think it was an easy way to pad his record to get to 50-0 to defeat the American record of 49-0 set by the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.
Mayweather also avoided the young up and coming threats in the PBC stable. He didn’t fight Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. or Keith Thurman, but rather elected to fight Andre Berto and Conor McGregor after he beat Manny Pacquiao.
Andre Ward fought 11 times with zero losses in the decade. Just like Mayweather, Ward retired undefeated. He won the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament beating all the other top super-middleweights in the tournament to become the lineal champion at 168 pounds. He has an impressive resume of title defenses and the Olympic gold medalist was able to retire on top and win FOTY in 2011.
Ward went up to light heavyweight to take on the undefeated unified WBA/WBO/IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. Ward dethroned Kovalev and handed him his first professional defeat. In the rematch Ward knocked out Kovalev and then retired.
I have a feeling the BWAA “Fighter of the Decade” award will either go to Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Saul Canelo Alvarez because it’s not unusual for these type of awards to go to the most popular fighter. It is possible for them to issue two fighters as the winner so they share the award, but I’d say that is a long shot.