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BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold

1) Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KO)
Age:
37
Current Title: Lineal World Welterweight (2010-Present, 4 Defenses); WBC Welterweight (2011-Present, 3 Defenses); WBA “Super” Light Middleweight (2012-Present, 2 Defenses); Ring Welterweight (2013-Present, 2 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC Jr. Middleweight (2013-Present, 1 Defense); WBA “Super” Welterweight (2014-Present, 1 Defense)
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: 25-0, 10 KO (Overall, including lineal vs. Shane Mosley); 21-0, 9 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Marcos Maidana (UD12, MD12), Saul Alvarez (MD12), Robert Guerrero (UD12), Miguel Cotto (UD12), Victor Ortiz (KO4)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: It was fun in spots, but where there could be a little doubt the first time there was none in the sequel.  Using his legs more, attacking the body earlier, and aided by a Kenny Bayless who had little interest in infighting, Mayweather ended the Marcos Maidana rivalry.  Now what?  Until he loses, there is no reason not to consider Mayweather the top fighter in the sport but there are challenges looming.  Keith Thurman is promotable and physical.  Amir Khan can offer a challenge with his speed and range.  Danny Garcia is the reigning Jr. Welterweight king.  And, of course, there is Pacquiao.  No one expects it to happen but boxing sometimes surprises.  There has been a recent outbreak of rumors about the fight coming together for 2015.  Don’t start caring until both parties announce they’ve signed an actual contract.  For now, there are no surprises when Mayweather fights.  He arrives.  He wins.

2) Roman Gonzalez (41-0, 35 KO)
Age:
27
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC World Flyweight (2014-Present, 1 Defense)
Additional Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses); WBA Light Flyweight (2010-14, 5 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 11-0, 7 KO (12-0, 8 KO including interim title fights); 2-0, 2 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: Rocky Fuentes (TKO6), Akira Yaegashi (TKO9), Juan Purisma (TKO3), Juan Kantun (TKO6), Oscar Blanquet (TKO2)

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.  Rocky Fuentes hadn’t been stopped since 2005, and had lost only one decision since 2007.  Gonzalez ran him over to make his first Flyweight defense.  That’s seven stoppages in a row.  The only foe to last the distance in his last thirteen starts, Juan Francisco Estrada, did it in a classic.  It’s the rematch every fan that follows the lower classes wants to see.  The Fuentes win follows Gonzalez handing Akira Yaegashi his first knockout loss; he has a habit of doing things like that.  It was clear there was something to watch when he walked through Yutaka Niida for his first title in 2008.  Niida had made seven straight defenses coming in and had never been stopped.  Gonzalez savaged him in four.  Former 108 lb. titlist Ramon Garcia and current unified 105 lb. titlist Francisco Rodriguez have both been stopped once apiece; Gonzalez for both.  Rodriguez, Katsunari Takayama, and Estrada all won titles after losses to Gonzalez.  Across three weight divisions, Gonzalez has been without peer.  While there was no doubt Gonzalez beat Estrada the first time, it was his toughest fight.  Estrada has done nothing but excel since.  They must fight again.

3) Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KO)
Age: 35
Current Title: WBO Welterweight (2014-Present, 1 Defense)
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: 18-2-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (Overall); 6-1-1, 5 KO, 1 KOBY (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Chris Algieri (UD12), Timothy Bradley (UD12, L12), Brandon Rios (UD12), Juan Manuel Marquez (MD12, KO by 6), Shane Mosley (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Rumors of his demise were ill founded.  In three fights since 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.  Pacquiao’s knockout numbers have waned as he ages at Welterweight, but his speed and footwork still combine with more than enough explosion to make him one of the best.  Pacquiao’s activity in 2014, and his having lost only a few rounds since the Marquez defeat, is enough to get him a bump past a Rigondeuax stuck in neutral.

 

4) Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KO)
Age:
34
Current Titles: WBA “Super” Super Bantamweight (2012-Present, 5 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBO World Jr. Featherweight (2013-Present, 2 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 6-0, 3 KO (7-0, 4 KO including interim title fights); 3-0, 1 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Sod Kokietgym (KO1), Joseph Agbeko (UD12), Nonito Donaire (UD12), Roberto Marroquin (UD12), Teon Kennedy (TKO5)

Next Opponent: December 31, 2014 vs. vs. Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19 KO)

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.  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 will be too.  2014 is a lost year.  Time will tell if 2015 gets Rigondeaux a dance partner.  

5) Timothy Bradley (31-1, 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: Manny Pacquiao (L12, SD12), Juan Manuel Marquez (SD12), Ruslan Provodnikov (UD12), Joel Casamayor (TKO8), Devon Alexander (Tech. Dec. 10)

Next Opponent: December 13, 2014 vs. Diego Chaves (23-2, 19 KO)

The Take: Does anyone think some of the barbs thrown between Bradley and Algieri in the build to the Pacquiao-Algieri fight were building something?  Let’s hope not.  Bradley deserves better.  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.  He had bigger designs.  Aiming his sights on Pacquiao, Bradley won a belt in his second weight class under a cloud of controversy.  What he did in the two fights after 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.  He’s got a potentially tough but winnable match to end the year with an uncertain 2015 developing.   

6) Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KO)
Age:
41
Current Title: None
Lineal World Championships: World Lightweight Champion (2008-12, 3 Defenses)
Additional Titles: IBF Featherweight (2003-05, 4 Defenses); WBA Featherweight (2003-05, 3 Defenses); WBC Super Featherweight (2007-08, 1 Defense); WBO/WBA Lightweight (2009-Present, 2 Defenses); WBO Jr. Welterweight (2012-13)
Record in Title Fights: 10-5-1, 4 KO (13-5-1, 6 KO including interim title fights) (Overall); 4-1-1, 3 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Mike Alvarado (UD12), Timothy Bradley (L12), Sergiy Fedchenko (UD12), Manny Pacquiao (L12, KO6), Likar Ramos (KO1)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take:  An attempt at history was denied.  Marquez attempted to become the first Mexican national to win five belts in five weight classes and fell just short in a fascinating, if not always scintillating, chess match with Timothy Bradley.  It was the sort of fight that could have been scored a number of ways but the marked face of Marquez told how hard a night it had been.  At 41, Marquez isn’t likely to continue for much longer (though who knows in this ageless era).  Despite the sting of defeat, he continues on as the man who screwed Manny Pacquiao into the floor and came off the floor in an otherwise brutal beating of Mike Alvarado.  Whenever he says he’s done, the five-year Canastota clock begins clicking to the inevitable.

7) Carl Froch (33-2, 24 KO)
Age:
37
Current Titles: IBF Super Middleweight (2012-Present, 4 Defenses); WBA “Unified” Super Middleweight (2013-Present, 2 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBC Super Middleweight (2008-10, 2 Defenses; 10-11, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 10-2, 5 KO; 0-1 (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: George Groves (TKO9, TKO8), Mikkel Kessler (UD12), Yusaf Mack (KO3), Lucian Bute (TKO5), Andre Ward (L12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: He doesn’t do a lot of things perfect but he wins anyways.  After a rousing rematch victory over Mikkel Kessler, only Andre Ward has one up on Froch.  A rematch would give Froch a chance to reverse that outcome as well, though most would see his chances as long.  Regardless, Froch deserves all the credit in the world for the way he continually challenges himself.  Dating to Jean Pascal, only Yusaf Mack would count as a stay busy affair.  Even bad asses need a breather.  He bounced right back from Ward and kept on winning.  Then came George Groves.  In a fight that looked like a brewing classic, Froch got up from a nasty first round knockdown and was down on the cards when he appeared to be turning the tide.  Referee Howard John Foster issued one of the worst stoppages since Michael Dokes-Mike Weaver I.  The heat was on Froch to make the return and, being Froch, he did.  The reward? 80,000 fans in a soccer stadium a global TV audience saw him stop Groves with a single shot in a nip/tuck affair.  

8) Sergey Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KO)
Age:
31
Current Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight (2013-Present, 4 Defenses); WBA Super/IBF Light Heavyweight (2014-Present, 0 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: Bernard Hopkins (UD12), Blake Capparello (TKO2), Cedric Agnew (KO7), Ismayl Sillakh (TKO2), Nathan Cleverly (TKO4)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Russia’s Kovalev explodes into 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.  While his overall resume is still somewhat shallow, 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.  History’s king, Adonis Stevenson, shames himself if there is no showdown in 2015. Kovalev can also keep an eye out for Andre Ward whenever Ward gets back in the ring.  The three belts he holds now could be powerful bait to get Ward out of the comfort of the Super Middleweight division.       

9) Juan Francisco Estrada (30-2, 22 KO)
Age:
24
Current Titles: WBA “Super”/WBO Flyweight (2013-Present, 3 Defenses)
Additional Titles: None
Record in Title Fights: 4-1, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: Giovani Segura (TKO11), Richie Mepranum (TKO10), Milan Melindo (UD12), Brian Viloria (SD12), Roman Gonzalez (L12)
 
Next Opponent: December 6, 2014 vs.
Joebert Alvarez (14-0-1, 6 KO)

The Take: Sometimes, a loss can be a win.  It was the case for Estrada when he gave 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.  In his last outing, 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 is an eight-round loss in 2011 where he and future 115 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Sanchez exchanged knockdowns.  Further unification is possible with Gonzalez in the best Flyweight match in a long time.  It’s as must-have as any fight in 2015.  The youngest fighter on this list, Estrada has a chance to stick around awhile.

10) Wladimir Klitschko (63-3, 53 KO)

Age: 38

Current Titles: IBF Heavyweight (2006-Present, 17 Defenses); WBO Heavyweight (2008-Present, 13 Defenses); Lineal/Ring World Heavyweight (2009-Present, 10 Defenses); WBA ‘Super’ Heavyweight (2011-Present, 7 Defenses); TBRB Heavyweight (2013-Present, 2 Defenses)

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

Record in Title Fights: 24-2, 19 KO, 2 KOBY; 11-0, 8 KO (Lineal Title Only)

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

 

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.  Kubrat Pulev was the best of the available contenders he hadn’t faced.  Four knockdowns were punctuated with a Knockout of the Year finish.  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 the first round) don’t necessarily translate in loftier pound-for-pound terms.  Who cares?  It works at Heavyweight.  He is literally the best fighter in the world and has been for years.  The way he responds to turbulence now, as opposed to a decade ago, speaks to how far he’s come.  Can he make 9 more defenses to challenge Joe Louis’s all-time consecutive defense record?  It’s not out of the realm of possibility.           

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Miguel Cotto, Danny Garcia, Gennady Golovkin, Donnie Nietes, Takashi Uchiyama

Five for the Future: Terrence Crawford, Naoya Inoue, Adonis Stevenson, Nicholas Walters, Shinsuke Yamanaka

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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