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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.  For now, there are no surprises when Mayweather fights.  He arrives.  He wins.

2) Roman Gonzalez (40-0, 34 KO)
Age:
27
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB/Ring/WBC World Flyweight (2014-Present, 0 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses); WBA Light Flyweight (2010-14, 5 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 10-0, 6 KO (11-0, 7 KO including interim title fights); 1-0, 1 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: Akira Yaegashi (TKO9), Juan Purisma (TKO3), Juan Kantun (TKO6), Oscar Blanquet (TKO2), Francisco Rodriguez (TKO7)

Next Opponent: November 22, 2014 vs. Luis Concepcion (32-3, 23 KO)

The Take: The most exciting, and arguably best, division in boxing right now has a new champion.  Scoring two knockdowns, Gonzalez stopped Yaegashi in as exciting a one-sided fight as one could ask for.  It was Yaegashi’s first defeat inside the distance.  Gonzalez 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 joins Katsunari Takayama and Juan Francisco Estrada as men who went one to win titles after losses to Gonzalez.  Across three weight divisions, Gonzalez has been without peer and now a rematch beckons to further secure his place.  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.  In the meantime, Gonzalez will settle for knockout threat Concepcion, a former WBA titlist at 112.  A thinking man’s pressure fighter, Gonzalez 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. 

3) Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KO)
Age:
30
Current Titles: WBA “Super” Super Middleweight (2009-Present, 6 Defenses); Lineal World/TBRB/Ring/Super Middleweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses)
Previous Titles: WBC Super Middleweight (2011-12, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 7-0, 1 KO; 3-0, 1 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Edwin Rodriguez (UD12), Chad Dawson (TKO10), Carl Froch (UD12), Arthur Abraham (UD12), Sakio Bika (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: In danger of exiting the top ten for inactivity, Andre Ward’s legal issues are eroding precious youth.  After lopsided wins of increasing dominance over Carl Froch and Chad Dawson, Ward looked like the best prime fighter in the game.  That’s getting to be a long time ago and, depending on how one regards the weight issues in the Dawson fight, one could argue we’re looking at three years since a win of genuine elite quality.  Gonzalez has beaten four current or former titlists in that same span, two of them going on to win unified shares of titles in their divisions after he beat them.  In the absence of a big fight, a champion who wishes to rule a single class can only beat the top ten contenders around him.  Rodriguez fit that bill.  Asking whom he could fight next is pointless for now.  Do any of these questions matter while Ward remains in a legal battle with promoter Dan Goosen?   

4) Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KO)
Age:
33
Current Title: 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: TBA

The Take: Rigondeuax defused the talented Nonito Donaire for most of twelve rounds to make clear his place at Jr. Featherweight.  The amateur pedigree is now a firmly established professionalism and while his already advancing age may not mean we get a long look at the Cuban in the paid ranks, its clear he’s everything advertised since the day he turned pro.  Rigondeuax presents a package of balance, defense, and punching accuracy that will be 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 an easy outclassing of an Agbeko who would have been hailed a great win for anyone else.  Kokietgym was out of his league.  Next up may be Chris Avalos while the other titlists claim willingness to face him and find other ways to spend their time.  

5) Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KO)
Age: 35
Current Title: WBO Welterweight (2014-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: 17-2-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (Overall); 6-1-1, 5 KO, 1 KOBY (Lineal Only)

Last Five Opponents: Timothy Bradley (UD12, L12), Brandon Rios (UD12), Juan Manuel Marquez (MD12, KO by 6), Shane Mosley (UD12), Antonio Margarito (UD12)

Next Opponent: November 22, 2014 vs. Chris Algieri (20-0, 8 KO)

The Take: Rumors of his demise were ill founded.  In two fights since a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao shut out former titlist Brandon Rios in what was for him a tune-up and then proved still more than capable of handling the very good Timothy Bradley.  Pacquiao’s power has 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.  It’s enough to know Pacquiao is back in the belted ranks at Welterweight and still not done building on his Hall of Fame credentials.  Next up is the Jr. Welterweight titlist Algieri in a fight struggling to generate excitement but featuring some interesting speed and size dynamics.   

6) 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: TBA

The Take: After making a case as the best Jr. Welterweight in the world, Bradley skipped over a chance at outright confirmation of the claim that could have come then with a fight 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.  

9) Juan Francisco Estrada (28-2, 20 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: TBA

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) Danny Garcia (29-0, 17 KO)
Age:
26
Current Titles: Lineal/TBRB Jr. Welterweight (2013-Present, 0 Defenses); Ring/WBA “Super” Jr. Welterweight (2012-Present, 3 Defenses); WBC Super Lightweight (2012-Present, 4 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 6-0, 2 KO; 1-0 (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Rod Salka (KO2), Mauricio Herrera (MD12), Lucas Matthysse (UD12), Zab Judah (UD12), Erik Morales (UD12, KO4)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: After a strong run that included wins over Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse as an underdog, a letdown was bound to come.  But was it just a letdown?  Or did Maurico Herrera lay down a blueprint for future Garcia challengers?  In a close and debated decision, Garcia retained his crown but gave reasons for skeptics to wonder about where he’s headed.  Garcia drops in comparison to the most recent performances of Estrada and Froch.  Fighting the woeful Salka, at Welterweight did nothing to advance him.  Matthysse remains fresh enough in the mind’s eye and remains an example of what Garcia is capable of.  He will have plenty of chances to rise ahead.  Will he get Mayweather down the road?  It’s possible and Garcia relishes the underdog role.    

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Miguel Cotto, Nonito Donaire, Bernard Hopkins, Wladimir Klitschko, Takashi Uchiyama

Five for the Future: Terrence Crawford, Gennady Golovkin, Naoya Inoue, Sergey Kovalev, 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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