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BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold

1) Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KO)O)
Age: 30
Current Titles: WBO Light Welterweight (2015-Present, 6 Defenses); WBC Super Lightweight (2016-Present, 3 Defenses); WBA Super Lightweight (2017-Present, 0 Defenses)
Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Lightweight (2014-15); World/TBRB/Ring Jr. Welterweight (2016-Present, 3 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBO Lightweight (2014-15, 2 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 10-0, 7 KO; 5-0, 3 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: Julius Indongo (KO3), Felix Diaz (RTD10), John Molina (TKO8), Viktor Postol (UD12), Hank Lundy (TKO5)

Next Opponent: TBA

 

The Take: Previously just behind Andre Ward and Roman Gonzalez, Crawford rises to the top spot as arguably the most complete active fighter in boxing right now. He can box from both sides effortlessly, he can punch, and he’s got an old school chip on his shoulder. Crawford had a Fighter of the Year-worthy run in 2014 and made a sensational move to 140 lbs. in 2015. The opponents were just okay and 2016 started off with the same problem. That was solved with a dominant win over Postol to declare a new king at Jr. welterweight. Crawford followed it with a one-sided thrashing of John Molina to stretch his mark to 3-0 on the year. The orthodox Crawford battled the former Olympian Diaz largely from a southpaw stance and dominated before an even more devastating blowout of Indongo to grip the 140 lb. class in an iron grip. Next stop welterweight?

2) Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KO)
Age:
35
Current Titles: WBA Middleweight (2010-Present, 19 Defenses), WBC Middleweight (2014-Present, 7 Defenses), IBF Middleweight (2015-Present, 4 Defenses)
Additional Titles
: None
Record in Title Fights: 18-0-1, 17 KO (19-0-1, 18 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: Saul Alvarez (D12), Daniel Jacobs (UD12), Kell Brook (TKO5), Dominic Wade (KO2), David Lemieux (TKO8)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Golovkin stuck around all these years at Middleweight to unify the division and get the big one. He got the latter before he could get his hands on the final belt he hasn’t snagged yet. It doesn’t get bigger for Golovkin than a showdown with Alvarez and it comes with more intrigue after his last outing. Daniel Jacobs made a solid case for the duke against Golovkin in March and lost by only the narrowest margins on all three cards. Confronted with more movement than is the norm, Golovkin had to find new ways to win. While he had to settle for a draw against Alvarez, Golovkin had a strong case for deserving the win on the night and at the very least didn’t lose. It can be argued his three best foes have come in his last three fights. No one has figured out how to beat him yet.

3) Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KO)
Age: 29
Current Titles: WBC Lightweight (2017-Present, 0 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBO Featherweight (2013); WBO Super Featherweight (2013-15, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 74-0, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: Adrien Broner (UD12), Dejan Zlaticanin (KO3), Elio Rojas (TKO5), Juan Carlos Burgos (UD12), Roman Martinez (KO8)

Next Opponent: TBA

 

The Take: Based on the form we’ve seen in 2017, it’s not unfair to think Garcia might be flirting with the top spot had he not lost over two years to inactivity. His destruction of Zlaticanin, a fighter of some proven quality, was highly impressive. The dismantling of Broner, who he moved up to face, was as much a technical masterpiece as it was a physical whooping. The stoic Garcia hasn’t lost a step since and appears even better than when he was first garnering momentum doing things like dropping Orlando Salido four times on the way to his first title.

4) Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KO; 15-1, 7 KO incl. World Series of Boxing contests)
Age:
29
Current Titles: WBO Super Featherweight (2016-Present, 3 Defenses)
Previous Titles:
WBO Featherweight (2014-16, 3 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 8-1, 6 KO
Last Five Opponents: Miguel Marriaga (RTD7), Jason Sosa (RTD9), Nicholas Walters (RTD7), Roman Martinez (KO5), Romulo Koasicha (KO10)

Next Opponent: December 9, 2017 vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO)

The Take: He’s 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. Just ask Nicholas Walters. The then-undefeated Jamaican was befuddled, dissected, and forced to surrender in as dominant a big fighter performance as the year produced. Sosa and Marriaga experienced more of the same with Lomachenko beginning to display more showmanship against the overmatched. Will he be too big for Rigondeaux or can the Cuban master knock Lomachenko off track?

5) Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 33 KO)
Age: 27
Current Titles: WBO Super Welterweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses);
Ring Middleweight (2015-Present, 1 Defense)
Lineal: 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: 10-1, 6 KO
Last Five Opponents: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (UD12), Liam Smith (KO9), Amir Khan (KO6), Miguel Cotto (UD12), James Kirkland (KO3)

Next Opponent: TBA

 

The Take: He wasn’t good enough to beat Mayweather. No one else was either. Despite taking a fairly safe road since winning history’s middleweight crown from Cotto, it’s hard to argue against the career choices of Alvarez and here he is, again, fighting a guy too many said he never would. Alvarez has been good enough to beat everyone besides Mayweather, eking by difficult talents like Trout and Lara and clearly defeating the game but outgunned Cotto. Alvarez took the Golovkin fight many thought he would not and showed real chops, opening and closing strong. In a rematch, he may be even better.

6) Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO)
Age:
37
Current Titles: WBA “Super” Super Bantamweight (2016-Present, 1 Defense))
Lineal Titles: World/TBRB Jr. Featherweight (2013-Present, 5 Defenses)
Additional Titles:
WBA “Super” Super Bantamweight (2012-15, 6 Defenses); Ring/WBO World Jr. Featherweight (2013-15, 3 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 9-0, 5 KO* (11-0, 6 KO including interim title fights); 6-0, 3 KO (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Moises Flores (NC1), James Dickens (RTD2), Drian Francisco (UD10), Hisashi Amagasa (RTD11), Sod Kokietgym (KO1)
*These numbers include fights under 122 that were not contested for any sanctioned titles based on Rigondeaux’s lineal claim.

Next Opponent: December 9, 2017 vs. Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KO)

The Take: It’s now been over four 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 fought only once in each of the last two years before 2017, neither time against an opponent of note. This year, he finally got his mandatory signed and then an errant knockout blow ended that before it started. Regardless, it was hard to remove him altogether given what we know about what he’s capable of and we haven’t seen proof of decline yet. We’ll see if his skill can match the guts of a two-division jump in the twilight of his career.

7) Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KO)
Age:
27
Current Titles: None
Previous Titles:
WBA/WBO Flyweight (2013-16, 5 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 6-1, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: Carlos Cuadras (UD12), Anuar Salas (TKO5), Raymond Tabugon (UD10), Hernan Marquez (KO10), Rommel Asenjo (TKO3)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: On the list until injuries knocked him off, Estrada reminded the boxing world just how he good he is in an excellent win over Cuadras on the “SuperFly” card. Estrada fell behind early but methodically solved Cuadras, dropping him late. Unbeaten since the competitive 2012 loss to Roman Gonzalez that put him on the map, Estrada was a unified titlist at flyweight and now stands as the mandatory contender for Sor Rungvisai. No less a luminary than Nacho Beristain pegs Estrada, and not Alvarez, as Mexico’s best active fighter. In separating him on this list from Sor Rungvisai and Inoue, his total body of work is the edge. Both loom as potentially defining rivals.  

8) Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KO)
Age:
28
Current Titles: WBA Welterweight (2013-Present, 7 Defenses), WBC Welterweight (2017-Present, 0 Defenses)
Additional Titles: None
Record in Title Fights: 4-0, 1 KO (8-0, 4 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: Danny Garcia (SD12), Shawn Porter (UD12), Luis Collazo (RTD7), Robert Guerrero (UD12), Leonard Bundu (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: While he’ll be out of the ring recovering from injuries and subsequent surgery until 2018, Thurman stands as the leader in what is probably still the deepest and highest quality division in boxing. He’s also its lone unified titlist. Thurman accomplished the feat with a solid decision over the previously unbeaten Garcia and that followed a winning war against Porter. Thurman might not always appear as refined as some of his peers but he keeps finding the victory circle. A possible rematch with Porter, or further unification with Errol Spence, gives him plenty of room to grow here.

9) Srisaket Sor Rungivisai (44-4-1, 40 KO)
Age:
30
Current Titles: WBC Super Flyweight (2017-Present, 1 Defense)
Additional Titles:
WBC Super Flyweight (2013-14, 1 Defense)
Record in Title Fights: 4-1, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: Roman Gonzalez (MD12, KO4), Oley Taladklangladsawai (TKO4), Suriya Maneephan (TKO4), Daetcharit Sitlekpet (TKO3), Ical Tobida

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: While there can still be ample debate about deserved to win their first fight, Sor Rungvisai made a statement in the rematch about the better man after 16 logged rounds. After waiting more almost three years for the title he lost in a cut shortened contest against Carlos Cuadras in 2014, Sor Rungvisai is a two-time titlist in a red hot 115 lb. class. Estrada is going to be a stiff test and, if he can pass it, a showdown of big punchers with Inoue could be mouth watering. For now, the resume still looks a little light but Gonzalez is a huge scalp and the opportunities for more are right over the horizon.

10) Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KO)

Age: 29

Current Titles: WBA Featherweight (2017-Present, 0 Defenses)

Additional Titles: IBF Bantamweight (2012-13, 3 Defenses), WBC Super Bantamweight (2013-15, 4 Defenses), WBA Featherweight (2015-16, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 12-1, 6 KO

Last Five Opponents: Carl Frampton (L12, MD12), Kiko Martinez (TKO5), Abner Mares (MD12), Jose Cayetano (UD10), Jesus Ruiz (TKO8)

 

Next Opponent: October 14, 2017 vs. Chris Avalos (27-5, 20 KO)

 

The Take: Already a titlist in three weight classes, Santa Cruz’s two fights with Carl Frampton have seen his esteem further elevated. Santa Cruz is a high volume offensive fighter who still manages to think his way through the action. He showed maturity, and the critical ability to adjust, in defeating Frampton the second time around. While a rubber match seemed logical, we’ll wait for that while a Mares rematch is built in the immediate future.    

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Roman Gonzalez, Naoya Inoue, Badou Jack, Sergey Kovalev, Donnie Nietes

Five for the Future: Jermall Charlo, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence, 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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