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BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold

1) Roman Gonzalez (44-0, 38 KO)
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC World Flyweight (2014-Present, 3 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses); WBA Light Flyweight (2010-14, 5 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 13-0, 9 KO (14-0, 10 KO including interim title fights); 4-0, 4 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: Brian Viloria (TKO9), Edgar Sosa (TKO2), Valentin Leon (TKO3), Rocky Fuentes (TKO6), Akira Yaegashi (TKO9)

Next Opponent: April 23, 2016 vs. McWilliams Arroyo (16-2, 14 KO)

The Take: Brian Viloria found out what everyone else has as he suffered the first knockdown, and second stoppage, of his career. Gonzalez 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. He might be more than that. We might be watching the best Flyweight since Miguel Canto or even Pascual Perez. His combination power punching has a Louis-esque quality. His subtle defense off the front foot hints at the terror of Duran. Since 2008, he’s defeated the man regarded then as tops at 105 lbs. (Yutaka Niida), three fighters who went on to unify parts of their divisions (Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez, and Katsunari Takayama), and in the last 13 months has shredded three quality veterans in one of boxing’s most talented current classes. Gonzalez seems to know when the lights are brightest, coming up big under the spotlight again against Viloria. He’s at ten stoppages in a row and fifteen in his last sixteen starts. The only foe to last the distance in that stretch, Estrada, did it in a classic.  It’s the rematch every fan that follows the lower classes should want to see; the antithesis of the awful idea of a Giovani Segura defense that floated for a moment. 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.  

2) Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO)
Current Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight (2013-Present, 7 Defenses); WBA Super/IBF Light Heavyweight (2014-Present, 3 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 8-0, 7 KO
Last Five Opponents: Jean Pascal (RTD7, TKO 8), Nadjib Mohammedi (KO3), Bernard Hopkins (UD12), Blake Capparello (TKO2), Cedric Agnew (KO7)

Next Opponent: TBA

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 first win over Pascal was both exciting and potent, stopping a man who had never been stopped and taking some fire along the way. The rematch was even more devastating, if unnecessary. Kovalev may never get the chance to capture history’s crown from Adonis Stevenson but he’s widely regarded as the better fighter and likely will remain so. He has a chance to start making some historical bones if he can be the first man to knock off Andre Ward in what may be, for serious boxing fans, the most anticipated fight of 2016.

3) Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KO)
Current Titles: None
Additional Titles:
WBC Super Middleweight (2011-13, 1 Defense); Ring Magazine (2011-15, 2 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/WBA “Super” Super Middleweight (2011-15, 2 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 7-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: Sullivan Barrera (UD12), Paul Smith (TKO9), Edwin Rodriguez (UD12), Chad Dawson (TKO10), Carl Froch (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Ward had the look of next in line to Mayweather and may well have been the obvious choice were it not for outside the ring issues. They crippled his career in the last three years but he’s fully returned now. With a growing frame and a fight with middleweight Gennady Golovkin not in the future, Ward put the super middleweight division behind him. A win over Paul Smith didn’t show us much but his decision over Barrera showed Ward is almost back to form. There may be another tune-up before the big one, but the big one is coming. A showdown with Kovalev would go a long way to restoring the shine on Ward’s career…if he can beat the devastating Russian. Kovalev looms as a greater threat than Mikkel Kessler or Carl Froch, Ward’s two best wins to date. Ward has shown he rises to a challenge. This fight can’t come soon enough.       

4) Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KO)
Age: 37
Current Title: Lineal/TBRB World Welterweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses)
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: 19-3-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (Overall); 6-2-1, 5 KO, 1 KOBY (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Timothy Bradley (UD 12, UD12, L12),Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L12), Chris Algieri (UD12), Brandon Rios (UD12), Juan Manuel Marquez (MD12, KO by 6)


Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: If this is the end for Pacquiao, he goes out with an impressive win over Bradley that was also the most demonstrative of their series. Two knockdowns showed he’s still got plenty of pop and his speed was still there when he needed it. While not the fighter he once was, being able to handle a world-class foe like Bradley even at 37 speaks to just how great a fighter he has remained. While perceptually not as dominant as Golovkin has been lately, even this Bradley remains arguably better than anyone the avoided middleweight has ever defeated. That’s enough to bump Pacquiao up the ranks one last time before what might be the end of a historic career. Pacquiao is waffling a bit on whether Bradley was his farewell but election politics in the Philippines might make cement what looks like at least an attempted exit. His retirement possibilities, and place on this list, will be reassessed for the next update. 

5) Gennady Golovkin (34-0, 31 KO)
Current Title: WBA Middleweight (2010-Present, 15 Defenses), IBF Middleweight (2015-Present, 0 Defenses)
Additional Titles
: None
Record in Title Fights: 15-0, 15 KO (16-0, 16 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: David Lemieux (TKO8), Willie Monroe Jr. (TKO6), Martin Murray (TKO11), Marco Antonio Rubio (KO2), Daniel Geale (TKO3)

Next Opponent: April 23, 2016 vs. Dominic Wade (18-0, 12 KO)

The Take: Golovkin has made clear he’s sticking at Middleweight to unify the division. He’s not fighting to be compared to the great scale crossers but to Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon, middleweight rulers who stayed put and cleaned out the field. After the Lemieux knockout, he’s halfway there. Will he get the fights he needs to complete his unification desires? Depending on how one counts his early WBA ‘regular’ title defenses, that’s not all Golovkin is fighting for. His 15 consecutive knockout title defenses is three shy of the mark Wilfredo Gomez made at 122 lbs. Bernard Hopkins’ 20 title defenses is also within reach. There are still questions about Golovkin. However avoided he’s been, he still doesn’t have the sort of upper echelon competition, relative to their divisions, some others on the list on the list do. What he lacked in middleweight top ten foes he’s now banking with authority. While he waits for Saul Alvarez and a crack at history’s crown, mandatory Dominic Wade gets to try his luck with the preeminent middleweight wrecking ball.

6) Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KO)
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/World Jr. Featherweight (2013-15, 3 Defenses)
Previous Titles:
WBA “Super” Super Bantamweight (2012-15, 6 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBO World Jr. Featherweight (2013-15, 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: Drian Francisco (UD10), Hisashi Amagasa (RTD11), Sod Kokietgym (KO1), Joseph Agbeko (UD12), Nonito Donaire (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 and management issues that made it a non-issue for most of two years. Even after a gutsy Amagassa, in an otherwise lopsided loss, dropped Rigondeaux twice in the seventh the suitors weren’t knocking. Rigondeaux was on the shelf for most of 2015 and did nothing to enhance his market value with a forgettable win on the undercard of Saul Alvarez-Miguel Cotto. Even if forgettable, he’s lost few rounds in his career and remains the man everyone hopes gets old or goes away. He’s not going to get Carl Frampton anytime soon as Frampton is set for a move to featherweight. Could Rigondeaux’s best hopes for another big fight fall on a rematch with Donaire?

7) Saul Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KO)
Age: 25
Current Titles:
Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC World Middleweight (2015-Present, 0 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBC Super Welterweight (2011-13, 6 Defenses); Ring/WBA Super Welterweight (2013)
Record in Title Fights: 8-1, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: Miguel Cotto (UD12), James Kirkland (KO3), Erislandy Lara (SD12), Alfredo Angulo (TKO10), Floyd Mayweather (L12)

Next Opponent: May 7, 2016 vs. Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KO)


The Take: He wasn’t good enough to beat Mayweather. No one else was either. Alvarez has been good enough to beat everyone else, eking by difficult talents like Trout and Lara and clearly defeating a game but outgunned Cotto. Lara and Trout point to one of the things fans like about Alvarez. He takes fights many assume he will be managed away from. He doesn’t always look elegant doing it but he has the results to mark him one of boxing’s best. A showdown with Golovkin beckons and his promoter Oscar de la Hoya says it’s a matter of when, not if. We’ll see. A win there would elevate Alvarez to another level of esteem. A loss would be something he could rebound from given his age. Will he show the world his willingness to test himself again in 2016? For now, the Cotto win was enough to move him past Estrada as Mexico’s best active fighter after a throwaway year for his smaller countryman. The fight with Khan has a sideshow air to it but it’ll be past us soon enough. 


8) Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24 KO)

Age: 25

Current Titles: WBA “Super”/WBO Flyweight (2013-Present, 5 Defenses)

Additional Titles: None

Record in Title Fights: 6-1, 5 KO

Last Five Opponents: Tyson Marquez (KO10), Rommel Asenjo (TKO3), Joebert Alvarez (UD10), Giovani Segura (TKO11), Richie Mepranum (TKO10)


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. Estrada had a pedestrian non-title showing versus Alvarez and the bottom-of-the-barrel choice of Asenjo for a title defense was uninspired. The win over Marquez showed off his offensive arsenal, but Marquez’s recent form suggested the outcome before it started. Let’s hope Estrada’s 2015 was a calm before the best storm one could ask for at 112 lbs: a 2016 rematch with Gonzalez. Estrada, who has been dealing with injuries, may be ready for that one by year’s end.      


9) Terrence Crawford (28-0, 20 KO)

Age: 28

Current Titles: WBO Light Welterweight (2015-Present, 2 Defenses)

Lineal Titles: World Lightweight (2014-15)

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

Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 3 KO; 1-0 (Lineal only)

Last Five Opponents: Hank Lundy (TKO5), Dierry Jean (TKO10), Thomas Dulorme (TKO6), Raymundo Beltran (UD12), Yuriorkis Gamboa (TKO9)


Next Opponent: TBA


The Take: Crawford had a Fighter of the Year-worthy run in 2014 and made a sensational move to 140 lbs. 2015. The opponents were just okay and 2016 starts off with the same problem. A possible showdown with Viktor Postol might not be a thriller but the skill level would present an intriguing clash. It appears a pick ‘em fight. 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 rise in the next few years if and as he continues to win (and if he gets fights that matter).


10) James DeGale (22-1, 14 KO)

Age: 30

Current Titles: IBF Super Middleweight (2015-Present, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 2-0

Last Five Opponents: Lucian Bute (UD12), Andre Dirrell (UD12), Marco Periban (TKO3), Brandon Gonzalez (TKO4), Gevorg Khatchikian (TKO11)

Next Opponent: April 30, 2016 vs. Rogelio Medina (36-6, 30 KO)

The Take: Perhaps its premature but the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist from the UK lived up to his potential in 2015. Going on the road for both of his championship starts, DeGale showed he could handle the pressure of being away from home with style. In the States, he dropped 2004 US Bronze Medalist Andre Dirrell twice en route to a decision win, outboxing a who had won three straight in a 2014 comeback of sorts. Then DeGale headed to Canada and faced a Lucian Bute who showed up better than he had in years. Showing more aggression and combination punching than he had against Dirrell, DeGale left the determined Bute with only a moral victory. Speed, skill, size and a solid boxing IQ, DeGale has everything but consistent single shot power. A lone, debatable hiccup against domestic rival George Groves is well behind him. A unification bout with resurgent Badou Jack would go a long way to reigniting the 168 lb. class. 

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Timothy Bradley, Donnie Nietes, Adonis Stevenson, Viktor Postol, 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 [email protected]

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