BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold
Floyd Mayweather (48-0, 26 KO)
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
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)
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)
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
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
3) Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KO)
Current Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight
(2013-Present, 5 Defenses); WBA Super/IBF Light Heavyweight (2014-Present, 1
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)
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
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)
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
Last Five Opponents: Willie
Monroe Jr. (TKO6), Martin Murray (TKO11), Marco Antonio Rubio (KO2), Daniel
Geale (TKO3), Osumanu Adama (TKO7)
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)
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)
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.
Klitschko (64-3, 53 KO)
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,
WBO Heavyweight (2000-02, 5 Defenses);
25-2, 19 KO, 2 KOBY; 12-0, 8 KO (Lineal Title Only)
Opponents: Bryant Jennings (UD12), Kubrat Pulev (KO5), Alex Leapai (TKO5),
Alexander Povetkin (UD12), Francisco Pianeta (TKO6)
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)
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
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)
WBA “Super”/WBO Flyweight (2013-Present, 3 Defenses)
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)
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)
WBO Light Welterweight (2015-Present, 0 Defenses)
World Lightweight (2014-15)
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)
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
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
For the latest BoxingScene Divisional
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