As British fighters hone their skill and count down to a return to the ring next month, it seems as good a time as any to identify what makes up the perfect fighter.
Interestingly, neither two of the greatest fighters of their generation, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., make my design of the ultimate fighter of the last 30 years...
Some fighters generate interest that creates millions for promoters and TV and over the past 30 years the names that immediately come to mind are Mike Tyson, Canelo Alvarez, Naseem Hamed and Manny Pacquiao but for me the one who stands above the rest is Oscar de la Hoya. A gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 set him up for an incredible career. Americans and Hispanics loved him - he had the looks and the boxing ability to live up to his Golden Boy nickname. The Hispanic and Mexican market is huge and De la Hoya milked it as well as enjoying global fame with his huge charisma.
After winning Olympic silver at just 17, Amir Khan went on to have a great professional career, winning world titles at light-welter and welterweight. He has had some big wins and emphatic defeats and a crucial element to his success has been his handspeed. Roy Jones, Joe Calzaghe and Manny Pacquiao could easily challenge for this honour but I go for Khan whose handspeed often seems out of his sync with his footwork because he is such a fast puncher.
Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins cleverly adapted their style as their careers developed to become very good defensive boxers and another who stands out for me is former World middleweight champion James Toney. But one guy who had defensive moves better than anyone else was Pernell 'Sweetpea' Whitaker. As they say in Belfast, you couldn't hit him with a bagful of rice. Whitaker could evade punches like nobody else over the past 30 years, slipping and sliding away before making an opponent pay and that style made him a multiple world champion.
It feels like the name Roy Jones comes up time and time again when examining every aspect of what makes the perfect fighter and his jab was a thing of beauty, while Andre Ward and Gennady Golovkin also had great jabs. The jab was always the punch that my amateur coach Billy McKee emphasised to me and it paid off. The amateur ranks is where you learn the fundamentals and former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis must have had a great teacher because his left lead was a real weapon - he hurt and knocked down guys with his jab, that's why he's my pick.
THIS is about being able to control the ring, dominate an opponent just by your craft and boxing intelligence. For some reason the ones who came to my mind right away were eastern Europeans - Gennady Golovkin, Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk. All three put opponents under pressure without throwing a punch but I give the edge to former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk. He's constantly manipulating a fighter into making mistakes, you can see how it drains an opponent, and then he is able to get on top and dominate them.
There are not too many fighters who have had better right hooks than ferocious hitter Julian Jackson, the former world middleweight champion. Pound for pound he will be remembered as one of the hardest hitters of all time but I think Andy Lee just pips him. Lee's right hook was the weapon that was able to get him out of trouble and ultimately take him to world level - winning the WBO middleweight title. He had absolute dynamite in his right hand.
When I think about the perfect left hook, Mike Tyson immediately comes to my mind and I'm sure it is the same for every boxing fan. He could make so many angles with his footwork and then punish opponents with single, double and triple left hooks, switching from body to head. He was just devastating with his left hook - and his right hook wasn't bad either! My mate Nonito Donaire runs Tyson close because The Flash can put people to sleep with that shot but I'm going with Iron Mike.
Former World featherweight champion Naseem Hamed was a devastating puncher and that power caused people to fear him, allowing him to get away with his unorthodox style until he ran into the class of Marco Antonio Barrera. He had a great base with really thick legs so when he unloaded his uppercut it had an explosive impact. Pound for pound he has to be one of the hardest punchers of the last 30 years and for me his uppercut stood out.
All day long I would take the right cross of former World heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. The way he can generate such amazing power in that thunderbolt right hand is staggering. I got to see it up close last year when he knocked out Luis Ortiz in Las Vegas. He can get wild at times but when Wilder lets it go properly there is no bigger punch in boxing - which leaves you wondering again how Tyson Fury managed to survive in their first fight after going down in that 12th round.
Just as when I think of a left hook Mike Tyson comes to mind, the same can be said about Vasyl Lomachenko when it comes to talking about footwork. Loma is exceptional in many ways but his footwork is what every fighter would love to have. For that, we have to thank his father who trained him and sent him to ballet so he would be able to use his feet so effectively. He just bamboozles fighters with how he can move, twisting around them, spinning into positions they don't think are possible and then punishing opponents with ease because of his footwork.
Deontay Wilder, Gennady Golovkin, Naseem Hamed, Julian Jackson and Mike Tyson are all, obviously, up there as contenders for this one but I'm going for the power of Venezuela's Edwin Valero. He tragically died at 28 after holding a record of 27 wins with 27 knockouts. He was simply an exceptional puncher and because of that record I am picking Valero who was a two-weight world champion at super-feather and lightweight and could have gone on to achieve much more.
This was one of the easiest for me to pick as without doubt over the past 30 years Wayne McCullough proved to have an incredible chin, taking the best shots from numerous world class fighters and still coming back for more - including Scott Harrison and Naseem Hamed at featherweight having started his days as a world class fighter at bantamweight. Evander Holyfield, Arturo Gatti and Gennady Golovkin also possessed rock solid chins but the Pocket Rocket is my pick.