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BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten
By Cliff Rold

1) Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KO)
Age:
29
Current Titles: WBC super flyweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses)
Lineal Titles: World Flyweight (2014-16, 4 Defenses)
Additional Titles: WBA Minimumweight (2008-10, 3 Defenses); WBA Light Flyweight (2010-14, 5 Defenses); TBRB/Ring/WBC World Flyweight (2014-16, 4 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 15-0, 9 KO (16-0, 10 KO including interim title fights); 5-0, 4 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: Carlos Cuadras (UD12), McWilliams Arroyo (UD12), Brian Viloria (TKO9), Edgar Sosa (TKO2), Valentin Leon (TKO3)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: After eight years as the dominant force from strawweight to flyweight, Gonzalez moved up to become only the second fighter to win titles in each of the four divisions from 105 to 115. It was the toughest test of his career to date. Gonzalez got out to a strong start against Cuadras only to find himself in a dogfight in the second half. Gonzalez did enough to win but his face showed how difficult a night it was. Gonzalez lost at least four rounds, the most since his fight with Juan Francisco Estrada in 2012. He arrives at Jr. bantamweight with the division as loaded as it’s been in a decade. Of all the fighters on this list, he may the most diverse set of legitimate threats to defeat him in 2017. Mandatory and former titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has won fourteen straight with thirteen consecutive knockouts since a cut shortened loss to Cuadras. Rematches with Cuadras or former unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada would both be high drama. There is also the hardcore fan’s dream showdown with Naoya Inoue. The path to staying undefeated is bumpier than it’s ever been.  

2) Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KO)
Age:
32
Current Titles: WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses)
Lineal Titles: World Super Middleweight (2011-15, 2 Defenses)
Additional Titles:
WBC Super Middleweight (2011-13, 1 Defense); Ring Magazine (2011-15, 2 Defenses); TBRB/WBA “Super” Super Middleweight (2011-15, 2 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 8-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: Sergey Kovalev (UD12), Sullivan Barrera (UD12), Paul Smith (TKO9), Edwin Rodriguez (UD12), Chad Dawson (TKO10)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: The debate rages on about whether he deserved the nod but there is no denying that Ward-Kovalev was a close, competitive contest. Ward showed tremendous grit in coming off the floor and battling back in the second half against one of the best fighters in the world. Respecting the official decision, Ward moves up a spot; respecting what a majority of observers thought should have been the outcome keeps him away from the top spot when factoring in how little Ward had done in the last few years. It was his first fight against a consensus top ten fighter in any class in some three years and Ward showed what a shame all that lost time really was. The 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and former lineal super middleweight king is back where he wants to be but his options for future challenges are limited for the moment by a top-heavy 175 lb. field. A contract rematch clause with Kovalev should mean a settling of matters sometime in 2017 and a unification showdown with Adonis Stevenson would resolve the historical crown.

3) Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO)
Age:
33
Current Titles: None
Additional Titles: WBO Light Heavyweight (2013-16, 8 Defenses); WBA Super/IBF Light Heavyweight (2014-16, 4 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 9-1, 7 KO
Last Five Opponents: Andre Ward (L12), Isaac Chilemba (UD12), Jean Pascal (RTD7, TKO 8), Nadjib Mohammedi (KO3), Bernard Hopkins (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: It’s hard to take too much away from a guy who almost three out of four in the press saw as winning his last fight. Sergey Kovalev outboxed Andre Ward for most of the first six rounds and the second half of the fight was closely contested, including an oddly scored tenth round he appeared to control. All three judges went the other way. Sometimes, the perception of who the superior boxer is works against a guy whose boxing acumen was clearly underrated. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things Kovalev couldn’t do differently, or better, in a rematch. The same is true for Ward. Until we see it again, there isn’t going to be a definitive answer about the better man in this rivalry.

4) Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KO)
Age: 38
Current Title: WBO welterweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses)
Lineal Titles: World Flyweight (1998-99, 1 Defense); World Featherweight (2003-2005, 2 Defenses); World Jr. Lightweight (2008); World Junior Welterweight (2009-10); Lineal/TBRB World Welterweight (2016; Retired)
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: 20-3-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY (Overall); 6-2-1, 5 KO, 1 KOBY (Lineal Only)
Last Five Opponents: Jessie Vargas (UD12), Timothy Bradley (UD 12, UD12, L12), Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L12), Chris Algieri (UD12), Brandon Rios (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Manny Pacquiao rebounded from a loss to Floyd Mayweather with arguably his most dominant win over Timothy Bradley in their trilogy, scoring two knockdowns. His retirement lasted about as long as the average gap between fights for him in much of the last decade. Few walk away when they’re still goo enough to fight like he does. It’s not the same Pacquiao it was years ago but it was more than enough to put Vargas on the deck in his return bout and win another belt. At 37, Pacquiao added two one-sided wins against top ten fighters in one of boxing’s toughest classes. No one else can say the same at welterweight in 2016.    

5) Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KO)
Age:
28
Current Titles: WBO Super Featherweight (2016-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles:
WBO Featherweight (2014-16, 3 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 6-1, 4 KO
Last Five Opponents: Nicholas Walters (RTD7), Roman Martinez (KO5), Romulo Koasicha (KO10), Gamalier Rodriguez (KO9), Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (UD12)

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. 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. Lomachenko improves with every outing and it’s likely the best is still to come.

6) Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KO)
Age:
34
Current Title: WBA Middleweight (2010-Present, 16 Defenses), IBF Middleweight (2015-Present, 1 Defense)
Additional Titles
: None
Record in Title Fights: 17-0, 17 KO (18-0, 18 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: Kell Brook (TKO5), Dominic Wade (KO2), David Lemieux (TKO8), Willie Monroe Jr. (TKO6), Martin Murray (TKO11)

Next Opponent: March 18, 2017 vs. Daniel Jacobs (31-1, 29 KO)

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 was halfway there. 2016 was a bit of a lost year in that pursuit. Wade was a mis-mandatory and welterweight titlist Kell Brook simply lacked the firepower. Next year is looking up with the announcement of a showdown with Jacobs and the potential for a mega-fight with Saul Alvarez. Will Golovkin cement his legacy as the dominant middleweight of the post-Hopkins era?

7) Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KO)
Age: 29
Current Titles: WBO Light Welterweight (2015-Present, 4 Defenses); WBC Super Lightweight (2016-Present, 1 Defense)
Lineal Titles: World Lightweight (2014-15); World Jr. Welterweight (2016-Present, 1 Defense)
Additional Titles: WBO Lightweight (2014-15, 2 Defenses)
Record in Title Fights: 7-0, 4 KO; 3-0, 1 KO (Lineal only)
Last Five Opponents: John Molina (TKO8), Viktor Postol (UD12), Hank Lundy (TKO5), Dierry Jean (TKO10), Thomas Dulorme (TKO6)

Next Opponent: TBA

 

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 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. A quality boxer with a mean streak, Crawford will be hard pressed to find the opponents he needs in his current class and may soon be chasing welterweights, adding another log to that potent fire.

8) Saul Alvarez (48-1-1, 33 KO)
Age: 26
Current Titles: WBO Super Welterweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses);
TBRB/Ring/World 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: Liam Smith (KO9), Amir Khan (KO6), Miguel Cotto (UD12), James Kirkland (KO3), Erislandy Lara (SD12)

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. The delayed showdown with Golovkin hasn’t helped his reputation but when they do fight, and we should assume they will, let’s hope the wait was worth it.

9) Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KO)
Age: 29
Current Titles: WBA “Super” Featherweight (2016-Present, 0 Defenses)
Additional Titles: IBF Super Bantamweight (2014-16, 3 Defenses); WBC Super Bantamweight (2016)
Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: Leo Santa Cruz (MD12), Scott Quigg (SD12), Alejandro Gonzalez (UD12), Chris Avalos (TKO5), Kiko Martinez (UD12)

Next Opponent: January 28, 2017 vs. Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KO)

The Take: Frampton doesn’t seem bothered by the home field advantage of others. He went onto Quigg’s side of their shared UK turf and boxed smart to build a lead Quigg couldn’t erase with a strong rally in their unification match. Then he came to the States, moved up in weight, and bested Santa Cruz in one of the most entertaining fights of the year. In both fights, he showed a range of speed, guts, and boxing ability that complimented the challenges he was tackling. Now he and Santa Cruz will do it again to kick 2017 off with a bang.

10) Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO)
Age:
36
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: James Dickens (RTD2), Drian Francisco (UD10), Hisashi Amagasa (RTD11), Sod Kokietgym (KO1), Joseph Agbeko (UD12)
*These numbers include fights under 122 that were not contested for any sanctioned titles based on Rigondeaux’s lineal claim.

Next Opponent: February 25, 2017 vs. Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KO)

The Take: It’s now been almost 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, neither time against an opponent of note. Yet it’s hard to remove him altogether given what we know about what he’s capable of. Perhaps 2017 can see a change of fortune. He’s got a real opponent in February and one whose style could bring out his better arsenal. Flores has the size to make the same sort of battle for him Amagasa did. If that proves true, perhaps Rigondeaux can get more active in the year ahead. Here’s an idea: how about a showdown with longtime bantamweight kingpin Shinsuke Yamanaka, the man who came closest to replacing him in this top ten? They’re only four pounds apart.    

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Juan Francisco Estrada, Naoya Inoue, Donnie Nietes, Keith Thurman, Shinsuke Yamanaka

Five for the Future: Artur Beterbiev, Jermall Charlo, James DeGale, Anthony Joshua, 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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