With only one more big fight card remaining, here’s my final Pound for Pound list for 2014. Only Timothy Bradley has business to attend in a couple of weeks in Las Vegas. All of the others on this list have submitted their resumes for the year. Dropping out was Bernard Hopkins after his decisive loss to Sergey Kovalev. Nonito Donaire’s loss to Nicholas Walter drops him off the list too.
1. Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 Kos) – The world wants Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquiao. Negotiations are going on but it’s laden with land mines ready to explode at the slightest touch. Though Mayweather seems to be running out of marketable opponents he still wants total control of any agreement. Will he allow Team Pacquiao to dictate anything? It could be a fight that dwarfs his fight with Canelo Alvarez in terms of money.
2. Wladimir Klitschko (63-3, 53 Kos) – The big Ukrainian hasn’t lost in 10 years and just recently destroyed Kubrat Pulev in Germany. Strangely he was booed and whistled before and after his last fight. Maybe it’s time to go for broke. His fights aren’t fun to watch with all of the holding and shoving. But he wins. Can Klitschko win in America? The younger Klitschko may be on the final leg of his race. He’s one of the least lauded heavyweights in the history of the heavyweight division because of his refusal to fight in the U.S. That can be remedied by one fight.
3. Andre Ward (27-0, 14 Kos) – At one time Oakland’s Ward was a shoo-in for being tabbed the best pound for pound fighter once Mayweather retires. But the super middleweight hasn’t fought in over a year and who knows what the inactivity will do to his reflexes. His contract disputes with Goossen Promotions have gone too far. Whatever advice he’s taking has kept him from entering the boxing ring at his prime.
4. Roman Gonzalez (41-0, 35 Kos) – Nicaragua’s Gonzalez is boxing’s best kept secret. The prizefighter known as “Chocolatito” has dominated the junior flyweights and now the flyweights. Twice he fought in the U.S. and this past month knocked out Rocky Fuentes in Japan. He has speed, power and strength. Gonzalez also can take a punch. Too bad he fights at the lower weights. The Nicaraguan bomber is fun to watch.
5. Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 Kos) – The Mexico City technician wants another big fight but has slowed down recently. His victory over Mike Alvarado this past spring was well deserved. Marquez is looking for one big payday before retiring. Pacman has been chasing him but refuses to fight in Mexico City. Marquez has tired of fighting under Pacman’s conditions and is too prideful to compromise. Does he still have his precise fighting skills?
6. Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 Kos) – Speed, agility and his southpaw stance are Pacman’s greatest weapons today. You can forget about his power. He no longer possesses a knockout punch but can swarm anybody and force a stoppage with his speed. He wants Mayweather badly but may have to give up a lot to get in the boxing ring. One thing he may have to forego is implementing weight handicaps. Pacman may have to fight Mayweather straight up if they do fight.
7. Carl Froch (33-2, 24 Kos) – Outside of Europe the warrior from England gets little recognition. He can take a punch with the best and has heavy hands to go with his steel chin. A rematch with Andre Ward would be a great fight. He already avenged his loss to Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler. If Froch can convince Ward to a rematch they may have to meet at the light heavyweight division. Both are well past six-feet in height and can carry the extra weight with ease. It would pit Ward’s speed against Froch’s grit.
8. Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28 Kos) – Golovkin may be unbeatable in the middleweight division. If he dropped down to junior middleweight, which his trainer Abel Sanchez says is his natural weight class, that would enable Golovkin to join the Mayweather sweepstakes. It’s a fight that many experts would make Golovkin the favorite. But don’t count on it happening. Instead, a showdown with the winner between Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez seems a natural fit. Or a proposed bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. seems more likely. Triple G is in the chips now.
9. Tim Bradley (31-1, 12 Kos) – The Desert Storm has only one loss and that came to Pacquiao. Anyone who discounts Bradley from the top dozen pound for pound lists is making a grave mistake. Beating Juan Manuel Marquez was no fluke. He also beat Ruslan Provodnikov, Devon Alexander, Kendall Holt, and Junior Witter. How easily people forget. Bradley fights Argentina’s Diego Chaves on Dec. 13 in Las Vegas.
10. Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 Kos) – Garcia turns 27 on Dec. 15, and has been off for nearly a year but his last victories were pretty impressive. Winning a featherweight world title and a junior lightweight world title is heady stuff. Garcia has the ability to out-box opponents or lay them out. That combination makes him a tremendous force in boxing. He’s the youngest fighter on this list.
11. Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 Kos) – The Renaissance of Cotto has been remarkable but there are only certain kind of middleweights he can defeat. Now 34, the superb Puerto Rican boxer will probably fight Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a middleweight showdown that should bring big money. Should he win, Gennady Golovkin awaits him and he’s not Sergio Martinez on a gimpy leg.
12. Robert Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 Kos) – One loss to Mayweather sent Guerrero tumbling down the ratings on most other pound for pound lists. But the Northern California prizefighter only has two losses in his career and won world titles as a featherweight, and junior lightweight, then jumped up three weight divisions and handled Andre Berto at welterweight. Guerrero can be successful at welterweight and possibly even at junior middleweight. One thing he did lose was his power at the higher weights.
Honorable mention: Guillermo Rigondeaux, Danny Garcia, Sergey Kovalev, Nicholas Walter, Terence Crawford, Leo Santa Cruz, Jhonny Gonzalez, Saul Alvarez.