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BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold

1) Roman Gonzalez (45-0, 38 KO)
Age:
28
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC World Flyweight (2014-Present, 4 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses); WBA Light Flyweight (2010-14, 5 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 14-0, 9 KO (15-0, 10 KO including interim title fights); 5-0, 4 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: McWilliams Arroyo (UD12), Brian Viloria (TKO9), Edgar Sosa (TKO2), Valentin Leon (TKO3), Rocky Fuentes (TKO6)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: He got a tussle but it was another dominant victory for Gonzalez as he defeated former world amateur champion McWilliams Arroyo. It was Gonzalez’s third straight win over a consensus top ten challenger in his division, something few on this list can boast. That he fights in a division as loaded as flyweight remains is a bonus. Will he be a flyweight much longer? Gonzalez lays claim to the oldest continuous lineage in any division in the sport. Should he vacate and move up, the line that began with Miguel Canto’s reign in the 1970s will close. Gonzalez said after Arroyo that he would fight once more at 112 lbs. but it doesn’t look like the biggest fight in the class, a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada, is coming next. That could mean the expected trip to 115 lbs., potentially beginning with a crack at undefeated WBC titlist Carlos Cuadras, will come sooner than later. Gonzalez would have the chance to be the first Nicaraguan to win belts in four weight divisions. Should he face and defeat Cuadras, the drumbeat for a unification showdown with Naoya Inoue will get loud.      

2) Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO)
Age:
33
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: July 11, 2016 vs. Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 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 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)
Age:
32
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) Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32 KO)
Age:
34
Current Title: WBA Middleweight (2010-Present, 16 Defenses), IBF Middleweight (2015-Present, 1 Defense)
Additional Titles
: None
Record in Title Fights: 16-0, 16 KO (17-0, 17 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: Dominic Wade (KO2), David Lemieux (TKO8), Willie Monroe Jr. (TKO6), Martin Murray (TKO11), Marco Antonio Rubio (KO2), Daniel Geale (TKO3)

Next Opponent: TBA

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 16 consecutive knockout title defenses is two 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. Canelo Alvarez, history’s champion in terms of lineage, is the icing he needs on this middleweight run.

5) Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KO)
Age:
28
Current Titles: WBO Super Featherweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses)
Previous Titles:
WBO Featherweight (2014-16, 3 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 5-1, 3 KO
Last Five Opponents: Roman Martinez (KO5), Romulo Koasicha (KO10), Gamalier Rodriguez (KO9), Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (UD12), Gary Russell Jr. (MD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: He’d looked technically superb from the start, even in losing his second (depending on who is counting) pro fight to Orlando Salido. Against Rocky Martinez, he looked like something more. Showing killer instinct and single shot power, he iced a man whose chin and durability had served him through many wars. Lomachenko could have done what many do, fighting a dozen or so no hopers to pad his record. He skipped that part and it’s paying dividends. His combination of speed, footwork, defensive fundamentals, and power is as good as anyone possesses in boxing. The Salido loss has looked better in the time since with Salido arguably defeating two titlists at 130 lbs. only to settle for draws. Russell went on to win a title at featherweight. In terms of resume, there is more to build. In terms of the eye test, how many fighters would be favored over Lomachenko before we get to 140 lbs? Chalk this corner up as all in and this spot as a balance between resume and the eye. Lomachenko is the goods and he’s going to get better. 

6) Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KO)
Age:
35
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/World Jr. Featherweight (2013-15, 3 Defenses); WBA “Super” Super Bantamweight (2016-Present)
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: July 16, 2016 vs. James Dickens (22-1, 7 KO)

The Take: It’s now been over three years since the Cuban defensive whiz dazzled and handcuffed Nonito Donaire to show what he was capable of. Since, management issues and a lack of network interest has handcuffed Rigondeaux even worse. He’ll make only his second start in the ring since December 2014 in July and it’s not a fight anyone is going to get fired up about. Better could be coming. Bantamweight titlist Jamie McDonnell has stated some interest and Rigondeaux, now returned by the WBA to his champion’s position after Carl Frampton moved up instead of fighting him, has an intriguing mandatory. Mexico’s Moises Flores is largely unknown in the States but he can fight, has size, and he’s young and hungry. Will Rigondeuax get old though waiting for another opponent with the marquee value of Donaire?   

7) Saul Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KO)
Age: 25
Current Titles:
Lineal/TBRB/Ring/World Middleweight (2015-Present, 1 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBC Super Welterweight (2011-13, 6 Defenses); Ring/WBA Super Welterweight (2013); WBC Middleweight (2015-16, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 9-1, 5 KO
Last Five Opponents: Amir Khan (KO6), Miguel Cotto (UD12), James Kirkland (KO3), Erislandy Lara (SD12), Alfredo Angulo (TKO10)

Next Opponent: TBA

 

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 2015 for his smaller countryman. The fight with Khan was a sideshow and time will tell if Alvarez elects to take on Golovkin. It may not happen until 2017.

 

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

Age: 26

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: Estrada used a loss to Roman Gonzalez in a classic to launch a hell of a run. Wins over Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, and Giovani Segura turned heads and had luminaries like Nacho Beristain and Juan Manuel Marquez calling him Mexico’s best young fighter. Nothing has happened in the ring to change that assessment since the Segura fight in 2014….because nothing much has happened. Estrada hasn’t faced a legitimate contender in the class since Segura. Tyson Marquez was well past it and injuries kept Estrada shelved for much of the year to date. A rematch with Gonzalez would be next in a better world but rumors of a possible showdown with 108 lb. kingpin Donnie Nietes are nothing to sneeze at. Estrada needs a live foe to get back on track.       

9) Terence 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: July 23, 2016 vs. Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KO)

 

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 started off with the same problem. That gets solved this summer. While some aren’t happy about a pay-per-view price tag, the fight is what matters. Crawford will face Postol in a showdown of arguably the two best at 140 lbs. It’s Crawford’s most talented opponent since Yuriorkis Gamboa and, given his size and style, Postol should be his toughest test to date. It’s a pick ‘em fight going in.

10) Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8 KO)
Age: 23
Current Titles: WBO Super Flyweight (2014-Present, 2 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBC Light Flyweight (2014, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: David Carmona (UD12), Warlito Parrenas (TKO2), Omar Narvaez (KO2), Samartlek Kokietgym (TKO11), Adrian Hernandez (TKO6)

Next Opponent: TBA

 

The Take: If Crawford wasn’t the Fighter of the Year in 2014, it was this guy (that’s how BoxingScene voted). Like Lomachenko, he won titles in two divisions before his career is ten fights old. The ingénue won those titles in 2014 by knocking off two of the more established veterans but some injuries kept him from fully capitalizing on the wins since. Extended the distance in his May outing with Carmona, Inoue adjusted to an in-fight still showed off what makes him a potentially special talent: speed of hand and foot, sizable pop, and a frame that could see him rise a couple more divisions before he’s done. A looming showdown with Roman Gonzalez would be the biggest fight at 115 lbs. since Mijares-Darchinyan and could be the biggest global event the division has ever done.

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Timothy Bradley, Donnie Nietes, Viktor Postol, Adonis Stevenson, Shinsuke Yamanaka

Five for the Future: Artur Beterbiev, Carl Frampton, Anthony Joshua, Nicholas Walters, Oleksandr Usyk

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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