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BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold

1) Floyd Mayweather (48-0, 26 KO)
Age:
38
Current Title: Lineal World Welterweight (2010-Present, 5 Defenses); WBC Welterweight (2011-Present, 4 Defenses); WBA “Super” Light Middleweight (2012-Present, 2 Defenses); Ring Welterweight (2013-Present, 4 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC Jr. Middleweight (2013-Present, 1 Defense); WBA “Super” Welterweight (2014-Present, 1 Defense); TBRB/WBO Welterweight (2015-Present)
Additional Lineal World Championships: World Jr. Lightweight (1998-2002, 8 Defenses); World Lightweight (2002-2004, 3 Defenses); World Welterweight (2006-08, 1 Defense)
Additional Titles:
WBC Super Featherweight (1998-2002, 8 Defenses); Ring/WBC Lightweight (2002-2004, 3 Defenses); WBC Super Lightweight (2005); IBF Welterweight (2006); Ring/WBC Welterweight (2006-08, 1 Defense); WBC Super Welterweight (2007)
Record in Title Fights: 26-0, 10 KO (Overall, including lineal vs. Shane Mosley); 22-0, 9 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Manny Pacquiao (UD12), Marcos Maidana (UD12, MD12), Saul Alvarez (MD12), Robert Guerrero (UD12), Miguel Cotto (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: He isn’t ‘the best ever’ but Mayweather’s decisive win over Pacquiao clears up any question about who the best of this era is. There can be a fascinating debate between he, Roy Jones Jr., and Pernell Whitaker about who the best fighter in boxing has been since the prime of Sugar Ray Leonard. What more can Mayweather do to win over critics at this point? The answer is probably wait for them to come around after he’s gone. In the twilight of his career, he has continued to face the better fighters around him. Of his last five opponents, he’s faced two men regarded at the time as the best available foe at Jr. Middleweight (Cotto, Alvarez) and the best at Welterweight (Pacquiao). Sure, the Pacquiao bout was five years late but they were still the two best Welterweights in the world even in 2015. It says here Mayweather has one last big feint, making the world believe he might retire if he wins in September before going for 50-0 at the opening of the new MGM Grand Arena.

2) Roman Gonzalez (43-0, 36 KO)
Age:
27
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC World Flyweight (2014-Present, 2 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses); WBA Light Flyweight (2010-14, 5 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 12-0, 8 KO (13-0, 9 KO including interim title fights); 3-0, 3 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: Edgar Sosa (TKO2), Valentin Leon (TKO3), Rocky Fuentes (TKO6), Akira Yaegashi (TKO9), Juan Purisma (TKO3)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: The king of the most exciting, and arguably best, current division in boxing is to offense what someone like Guillermo Rigondeaux is to defense. He outboxes people while he breaks them. This appears to be the best fighter in the lower weights since the era of Mark Johnson, Ricardo Lopez, and Michael Carbajal.  Edgar Sosa had one stoppage loss since 2001, set up by a nasty headbutt against Rodel Mayol in 2009. He took bombs from Giovani Segura for twelve rounds in 2013. Gonzalez went through him, showing better speed and defense than he had in some recent fights. Gonzalez seems to know when the lights are brightest. He’s at nine stoppages in a row and fourteen in his last fifteen starts. The only foe to last the distance in that stretch, Juan Francisco Estrada, did it in a classic.  It’s the rematch every fan that follows the lower classes should want to see.  A brewing showdown with 115 lb. ingénue Naoya Inoue can wait while Gonzalez completes his run against one of the more stacked Flyweight fields in recent memory.

3) Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KO)
Age:
32
Current Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight (2013-Present, 5 Defenses); WBA Super/IBF Light Heavyweight (2014-Present, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 6-0, 5 KO
Last Five Opponents: Jean Pascal (TKO 8), Bernard Hopkins (UD12), Blake Capparello (TKO2), Cedric Agnew (KO7), Ismayl Sillakh (TKO2)

Next Opponent: July 18, 2015 vs. Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KO)

The Take: Russia’s Kovalev continues to explode through the ratings much the way he explodes on foes. He passed the eye test in walking through the skilled and tricky Gabriel Campillo. The eyes weren’t lying. His win over Pascal was both exciting and potent, stopping a man who had never been stopped before and taking some fire along the way. He dominated and beat up the aged Hopkins, scoring a knockdown and nearly forcing a stoppage in the final round. While he may not be the lineal king at 175 lbs., Kovalev is the people’s champ now and he’s getting the fights to merit his place here. History’s king, Adonis Stevenson, seems ready to make it happen finally but will politics and networks keep them apart? Kovalev can also keep an eye out for Andre Ward when Ward gets back in the ring. The three belts he holds now could be powerful bait to get Ward to stay in the Light Heavyweight mix after a catchweight contest with Paul Smith in June.      

4) Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0, 10 KO)
Age:
34
Current Titles: WBA “Super” Super Bantamweight (2012-Present, 6 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBO World Jr. Featherweight (2013-Present, 3 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 7-0, 4 KO (8-0, 5 KO including interim title fights); 3-0, 1 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Hisashi Amagasa (RTD11), Sod Kokietgym (KO1), Joseph Agbeko (UD12), Nonito Donaire (UD12), Roberto Marroquin (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Rigondeuax defused the talented Nonito Donaire for most of twelve rounds to make clear his place at Jr. Featherweight. Now, the real champion of the division finds himself with plenty of challengers who don’t want to challenge him. That’s true even after Rigondeaux was dropped twice in the seventh by a gutsy Amagassa in an otherwise dominant victory. It’s a sign of the damage multiple belts can do when fighters can hide behind them and never have to chase the real king of the mountain. Rigondeuax might not draw, but no one can say they are the best at 122 lbs. without him.  Even if they did, his package of balance, defense, and punching accuracy is likely too tough for anyone to solve in the foreseeable future. His performance against Donaire wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but accusations of running were comical. He stood in front of Donaire for long tracts of the fight and outfought Donaire when he had too. The same was true in the easy outclassing of an Agbeko who would have been hailed a great win for anyone else.  Kokietgym was out of his league and Amagasa was too. 2014 was a lost year. The clock is ticking on 2015 for Rigondeaux to find a dance partner.

5) Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30 KO)
Age:
33
Current Title: WBA Middleweight (2010-Present, 14 Defenses)
Additional Titles
: None
Record in Title Fights: 14-0, 14 KO (15-0, 15 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: Willie Monroe Jr. (TKO6), Martin Murray (TKO11), Marco Antonio Rubio (KO2), Daniel Geale (TKO3), Osumanu Adama (TKO7)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: There are still plenty of questions about Golovkin. However avoided he’s been, he still doesn’t have the sort of upper echelon competition, relative to their divisions, the other men on the list do. What he lacked in Middleweight top ten foes he’s now starting to bank. His win over Murray was impressive. Monroe wasn’t one but he was a game, athletic fighter with a will to win. Golovkin is handling everyone equally: with pain. Golovkin has an evolved pressure skill set, ridiculous power, and a knockout streak now at twenty fights. Waiting for older fighters to lose enough to ignore the prime form of Golovkin needn’t go on any longer. Resume is important but is there anyone in his division, or the one’s directly above and below it, anyone thinks could beat him? That counts too. If everyone were the same size, Golovkin would be favored over all but a handful of fighters.    

6) Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KO)
Age: 36
Current Title: None
Lineal World Championships: World Flyweight (1998-99, 1 Defense); World Featherweight (2003-2005, 2 Defenses); World Jr. Lightweight (2008); World Junior Welterweight (2009-10)
Additional Titles: WBC Flyweight (1998-99, 1 Defense); IBF Jr. Featherweight (2001-03, 4 Defenses); WBC Super Featherweight (2008); WBC Lightweight (2008); Ring Jr. Welterweight (2009-10); WBO Welterweight (2009-12, 3 Defenses); WBC Super Welterweight lbs. (2010-11)
Record in Title Fights: 18-3-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (Overall); 6-2-1, 5 KO, 1 KOBY (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L12), Chris Algieri (UD12), Timothy Bradley (UD12, L12), Brandon Rios (UD12), Juan Manuel Marquez (MD12, KO by 6)

 

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: There is only so much ground to lose when defeat comes at the hands of the best fighter in the world. Pacquiao showed in spots why a Mayweather fight was craved for so long. He rocked Mayweather in the fourth and stung him a few other times. Winning three or four rounds was about the class most of Mayweather’s better foes have come up with before Mayweather solves them and shuts them down. Sometimes, the other guy is just better. Prior to Mayweather, rumors of Pacquiao’s demise were ill founded.  In the three fights after a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao shut out former titlist Brandon Rios, dominated Timothy Bradley, and then walked through current Jr. Welterweight titlist Chris Algieri.  Rios and Algieri were treated like stay busy affairs, fighters that for others are considered tough foes.  That’s the gap between a proven great and the rest of the field.  As fresher faces continue to win, Pacquiao’s place could slide as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

7) Wladimir Klitschko (64-3, 53 KO)

Age: 39

Current Titles: IBF Heavyweight (2006-Present, 18 Defenses); WBO Heavyweight (2008-Present, 14 Defenses); Lineal/Ring World Heavyweight (2009-Present, 11 Defenses); WBA ‘Super’ Heavyweight (2011-Present, 8 Defenses); TBRB Heavyweight (2013-Present, 3 Defenses)

Career Titles: WBO Heavyweight (2000-02, 5 Defenses);

Record in Title Fights: 25-2, 19 KO, 2 KOBY; 12-0, 8 KO (Lineal Title Only)

Last Five Opponents: Bryant Jennings (UD12), Kubrat Pulev (KO5), Alex Leapai (TKO5), Alexander Povetkin (UD12), Francisco Pianeta (TKO6)

 

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: The most dominant division ruler in the sport all but erased the ugly Povetkin memory with one of his best career performances against Kubrat Pulev. He was less scintillating against Jennings but still won going away. His jab, right hand, and left hook are historically impressive weapons in the Heavyweight division. His skill set and vulnerabilities (the chin remains iffy as evidenced by a Pulev jab that hurt him in their first round) haven’t necessarily translated in loftier pound-for-pound terms here before but that bears changing. He is, in literal terms, the best fighter in the world and has been for years. In most years of his current run, he fulfills the obligation of a champion and fights the best available contender at least once. The way he responds to turbulence now, as opposed to a decade ago, speaks to how far he’s come.  Can he make a run Joe Louis’s all-time consecutive defense record?  It’s not out of the realm of possibility. A showdown with Tyson Fury in the fall should be a wild promotion.

 

8) Timothy Bradley (31-1-1, 12 KO)
Age:
31
Current Title: None
Career Titles: WBC Light Welterweight (2008-09, 2 Defenses; 2011); WBO Light Welterweight (2009-2012, 4 Defenses); WBO Welterweight (2012-Present, 2 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 9-1, 1 KO, 1 NO Contest
Last Five Opponents: Diego Chaves (D12), Manny Pacquiao (L12, SD12), Juan Manuel Marquez (SD12), Ruslan Provodnikov (UD12), Joel Casamayor (TKO8)

Next Opponent: June 27, 2015 vs. Jessie Vargas (26-0, 9 KO)

The Take: The draw against Chaves appeared a win to most eyes but one wonders if Bradley might already have seen his best days. He improved his showing in the Pacquiao rematch but still came up short. That performance, and the Marquez win, keep him hanging around even as new faces emerge. After making a case as the best Jr. Welterweight in the world, Bradley skipped over a chance at outright confirmation of the claim against Amir Khan. What he did in the two fights after his controversial Pacquiao win did more to define him than anything he’d done before. In surviving a war with Provodnikov, he showed the grit, heart, and the will of a fighter. In outboxing Marquez, he showed the skill of a champion in his prime.  That he again failed to handle Pacquiao is no shame.  He lost to one of the greats.  He’s proved plenty against everyone else he’s faced. Vargas should be a good gauge of where Bradley truly is.

9) Juan Francisco Estrada (32-2, 23 KO)

Age: 25

Current Titles: WBA “Super”/WBO Flyweight (2013-Present, 3 Defenses)

Additional Titles: None

Record in Title Fights: 5-1, 3 KO

Last Five Opponents: Rommel Asenjo (TKO3), Joebert Alvarez (UD10), Giovani Segura (TKO11), Richie Mepranum (TKO10), Milan Melindo (UD12)

 

Next Opponent: TBA

 

The Take: Sometimes, a loss can be a win. It was the case for Estrada when he gave Roman Gonzalez hell in a 2012 Fight of the Year contender. Raising his stock, he got a crack at unified Flyweight titlist Brian Viloria and hasn’t looked back. Tabbed by Juan Manuel Marquez as perhaps Mexico’s finest young champion, Estrada followed his win over Viloria with a knockdown and decision over the previously undefeated Melindo. Then he took the veteran Segura apart, stopping him for only the second time and shaking off the few power shots Segura got in. It was a thorough beating full of skill and precise punching and evidence that Estrada is at full stride. His only other defeat came in an eight-round loss in 2011 where he and then-future 115 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Sanchez exchanged knockdowns. It was avenged via knockout. Further unification is possible with Gonzalez in the best Flyweight match in a long time. Estrada’s pedestrian non-title showing versus Alvarez and bottom-of-the-barrel choice of Asenjo as a challenger in his last fight leave him in place for now.   

 

10) Terrence Crawford (26-0, 18 KO)

Age: 27

Current Titles: WBO Light Welterweight (2015-Present, 0 Defenses)

Lineal Titles: World Lightweight (2014-15)

Additional Titles: WBO Lightweight (2014-15, 2 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 4-0, 2 KO; 1-0 (Lineal only)

Last Five Opponents: Thomas Dulorme (TKO6), Raymundo Beltran (UD12), Yuriorkis Gamboa (TKO9), Ricky Burns (UD12), Andrey Klimov (UD10)

 

Next Opponent: TBA

 

The Take: This spot could have as easily gone to a pair of Japanese battlers in Bantamweight Shinsuke Yamanaka or Jr. Lightweight Takashi Uchiyama. Crawford gets the edge off a Fighter of the Year-worthy run in 2014 and a sensational move to 140 lbs. in his last fight. He also appears to just be hitting his stride. Crawford is an exceptional blend of speed, skill, and has power to go with it. Against Gamboa, he showed some whiskers and will to go with it. There is a feeling looking at Crawford that this is the total package and his stock should only raise in the next few years.

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Saul Alvarez, Donnie Nietes, Adonis Stevenson, Takashi Uchiyama, Shinsuke Yamanaka

Five for the Future: Artur Beterbiev, Carl Frampton, Naoya Inoue, Vasyl Lomachenko, Nicholas Walters

As always, feel free to agree…and disagree.  This list is for entertainment purposes only and based purely on imagination, hypotheticals, and conjecture just like every other pound for pound list ever written.  Neither it nor any other such list made up of such illusory ingredients should be used to forward corporate agendas of any kind. 

That doesn’t make it any less fun to argue about.

For the latest BoxingScene Divisional Ratings: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com


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