By Andreas Hale
Andre Ward’s sudden retirement from boxing has left the door wide open for a new pound for pound king of boxing. That surprise announcement, coupled with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin’s super fight ending in a controversial split draw, has divided the boxing world when it comes to crowning boxing’s new pound for pound king.
Although the concept of pound for pound is purely fictional, being recognized as the best fighter in the world is an accomplishment that all fighters are hopeful of. After both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally relinquished their kung fu grip on the title for the past decade, the best pound for pound fighter title has shuffled around a bit. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez briefly held the top slot but was challenged for that spot when Andre Ward narrowly edged Sergey Kovalev in late 2016. Gonzalez suffered his first defeat to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai earlier this year and was usurped by Ward, who stopped Kovalev in their June rematch. Just when we thought we had a clear cut #1, Ward would announce his retirement and leave the boxing world debating who would inherit the top spot.
Currently, there are a trio of fighters who have a legitimate claim to the #1 spot and we’ll break down their pros, cons and a summary before leaving the choice up to you.
Pros: Was already recognized by many as the #2 pound for pound fighter in the world. Unbeaten in 38 fights with a streak of 23 straight knockouts that spanned from November of 2008 to March of 2017. A brutal puncher with exceptional (and underrated) boxing ability and ring generalship.
Cons: Quality of opposition has been called into question. Despite unbeaten record, some saw him as a vulnerable who began to show his decline against Kell Brook, Daniel Jacobs and Canelo. The later two opponents truly tested Golovkin with the fight against Canelo going down in the record books as a split draw.
Explanation: Many thought that Golovkin defeated Canelo when the two met on September 16th. However, the fight ended in a split draw. The biggest knock on GGG has been that he hasn’t been the same monster that he was when he rampaged through the middleweight division for nine years. However, that’s hardly a knock considering that he has risen to the occasion against Daniel Jacobs (who can arguably considered one of the most underrated boxers in the sport) and Canelo. Sure, there were times that Canelo was quicker to the draw and made the GGG look slow, but GGG applied a consistent pressure from the opening bell until the closing round that was undeniable. Also, that granite chin. With Ward gone, there is nobody on the upper tier of the pound for pound list that has faced another pound for pound fighter. A victory would have made his #1 spot clear cut. But that’s not what happened.
Pros: The undisputed junior welterweight champion that has turned back every opponent he has faced. Excelled against quality opposition (Yuriorkis Gamboa and Viktor Postal). Passes the eye test with an innate ability to switch stances, exceptional power and deft defensive ability.
Cons: Hasn’t fought a pound for pound fighter. Resume doesn’t quite stack up when compared to the upper tier of the P4P conversation.
Explanation: If the pound for pound list was based simply on potential, Crawford would likely fill the top spot. He has looked exceptional against every opponent he has faced with an absolutely stellar performance when he pitched a near shutout of the then-unbeaten Postol to win the WBC, vacant The Ring and lineal junior welterweight titles. At the age of 29, it’s only a matter of time before he sits on top of the P4P list. The only real question is whether Top Rank will do business with PBC so Crawford can challenge the top 147 pounders in the world.
Pros: Arguably the greatest amateur boxer in history who has seamlessly transitioned to the pro ranks after winning consecutive gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. Passes the eye test with flying colors. Became a world champion in his third professional fight. Forced previously unbeaten Nicholas Walters to quit on the stool after six rounds and dominated Gary Russell Jr.
Cons: Sample size is still very small. Suffered a loss in his second professional fight. Has the shortest professional career of the three fighters vouching for the top spot.
Explanation: Vasyl Lomachenko has the goods but hasn’t put together the portfolio that Crawford and Golovkin possess. Nevertheless, he’s a one-of-a-kind talent that has been utterly dominant since his first loss to Orlando Salido that was highly controversial. If he manages to upend fellow P4P fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux on December 9, it’s going to be virtually impossible to deny him the top spot.
In a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world, Gennady Golovkin and Terence Crawford will likely split votes as the top pound for pound fighter in boxing while the jury will wait until December to decide if Vasyl Lomachenko will leapfrog his way into the top spot. But lists are made for controversy and debate, so have at it.