MY TOP DOZEN POUND FOR POUND — Most of the major fights have taken place for 2017 with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s win over Julio Cesar Chavez marking the last of the pound for pound fighters.
A couple more take place within a month’s span including England’s Kell Brook meeting with American Errol Spence Jr. But for the most part, we have a semblance of those who belong on the dozen top pound for pound fighters.
Since the last time I put up a list there have been numerous changes.
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, the pint-sized super flyweight champion, was usurped at Madison Square Garden by Thailand’s Wisaksil Wangek in a brutal and bloody 12-round affair. It was the Nicaraguan bomber’s first loss though many disputed the decision. Furthermore, he still had problems at the higher weight class in back-to-back fights. The 115-pounders seem able to meet him on equal ground.
On the same Madison Square Garden fight card, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin knocked down Daniel Jacobs and was able to win by unanimous decision. He replaces Gonzalez as the kingpin on the pound for pound list. I expected Jacobs to give him a tough fight and predicted it would result in a decision, not a knockout.
Others new to this list are Mikey Garcia who looked to be a question mark when he took more than 26 months off from getting into the prize ring. But the youngest of the famous Garcia clan seems even better and stronger than before. In a year or two he could be in the top spot or very close to it.
Newcomers on the list are Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, and Kell Brook. I was hesitant to put Ukraine’s Lomachenko on the list but he seems to have finally gotten the hang of the professional style of fighting. He still has the amateur quirks in him but it’s been dulled down. Now he seems more intent on knocking opponents out rather than trying to make opponents look silly. Fans don’t care about that. They want knockouts. He can do it.
A few of the old guard remain on the pound for pound list and they can shake things up if given an opportunity. Guys like Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao or Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley could beat a number of guys in the welterweight division that are on this list. Fans are tired of seeing them going against each other, but mix them with the new bunch of welterweights and that would be some kind of bang.
Here’s the new pound for pound list:
- Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) – Now 35, the middleweight from Kazakhstan stands primed for the biggest fight of his career in terms of money and recognition. It’s his first mega fight and will probably take place in Las Vegas. Surprisingly, Golovkin has never fought in the casino capital of the world and it’s been a long time coming. His last fight against Danny Jacobs seemed to lead folks to doubt his ability instead of showing that Jacobs is simply a very good middleweight. Still, Golovkin finally has his moment to shine come September 16 against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. It should be a good one.
- Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) – The first loss by Nicaragua’s Gonzalez, 29, that occurred last March in New York City was disputable. But his talent and grit are not. The fighter known as “Chocolatito” showed an almost super human determination against Sor Rungvisai or whatever his name is. (He changed it and may change it back). Many of the media felt Gonzalez was the sure winner. The judges did not. A rematch awaits come September.
- Saul Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) – Mexico’s favorite redhead, “Canelo,” 26, showed fellow Mexicans who indeed is the best fighter in the fight crazy country and did it with ease in his victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. But next up is “Triple G” and he poses as the biggest and most talented foe Alvarez has faced since fighting and losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Since that loss Alvarez has met and defeated Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and others. The loss to Mayweather seems to have sparked interest in gathering more technical skills than pure brute force. It will serve him well when he faces Golovkin in a middleweight showdown this coming September. Hopefully it takes place in Las Vegas.
- Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) – The Oakland prizefighter showed resilience and ring smarts in making changes during his light heavyweight showdown with Sergey Kovalev last year. Ward, 33, fought and won a razor close decision over Kovalev but though many felt he lost the fight, it was a testament to his ring smarts that it went the distance. He may not be the force he was as a super middleweight, but he knows what to do in the boxing ring to survive and win the close ones. Next month a showdown looms and we’ll see what he learned from his first clash with Kovalev.
- Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) – Russia’s “Krusher” Kovalev, 34, lost all of the light heavyweight titles to Ward in a close back and forth fight. But he gets a chance to avenge the only loss in his pro career next month in Las Vegas. He showed he’s more than just a puncher when he fought Ward in a fight many thought he won. He needs a more emphatic performance to prove he is the best light heavyweight. This time he needs to take more chances. He needs to do whatever it takes to win even if it means risking a knockout.
- Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) – The California-raised lightweight Garcia, 29, has become even more dominating at the heavier weight classes. Despite a two and a half year layoff, Garcia returned with a vengeance and showed little rust if any. He looked unbeatable in his lopsided knockout win over Dejan Zlatacanin last January and plans to move up in weight soon. A lightweight unification clash with Jorge Linares looms for the Moreno Valley prizefighter. Don’t bet against Mikey.
- Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) – The speedy Filipino superstar known as “Pacman” has not lost a step speed-wise. But at 38, he doesn’t pack the same power as he did in the past. The last person he stopped was Miguel Cotto and I doubt he could repeat that. But he knows what he knows and that means he can win. A fight against any of the current crowded bunch of top welterweights would prove it. Pacquiao still has gas in the tank. He fights Australia’s Jeff Horn in July and looks to show what he can still do.
- Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) – The skillful super lightweight from Omaha, Nebraska has shown an ability to adapt to any situation. Crawford, 29, needs a star opponent and perhaps to move up in weight to allow the world to see what he can do. There’s a ton of elite fighters in the welterweight division that he could meet. Or he can wait for someone like Mikey Garcia to move into the super lightweight division. That would be a great fight.
- Tim Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs) – The “Desert Storm” always seems to get lost in the shuffle. Bradley, 33, remains one of the most talented prizefighters in the world of boxing. Only one fighter can claim to be better and that’s Pacman who he beat once in three tries. The desert fighter still possesses blazing speed and the heart of a lion. A fight with any of the current elite welterweights like Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia would be a barn burner.
- Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) – After pleading with his boss for bigger and better fights his wishes were finally granted and he’s had a big year. Thurman, 28, fought both Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia within 12 months and separated himself as a potential super star in a star-driven weight class. A fight with Tim Bradley or a rematch with Porter would drive up his value. The boxing world knows Thurman. Now it’s time for the rest of the sports world to know about “One Time” Thurman.
- Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) – When your only loss is to a feared middleweight champion, then you can brag you belong among the top fighters pound for pound. Brook, 31, otherwise known as “Special K” has another tough one coming up against Errol Spence Jr. that shows the British welterweight has no fear. The Englishman from Sheffield doesn’t get the recognition he deserves but after wins against Shawn Porter and underrated Carson Jones, it’s about time Brook gets his due. It won’t be easy against Spence, but it can’t be tougher than facing Gennady Golovkin.
- Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs) – The Ukrainian southpaw with plus speed and plus agility usually makes his fights look easy. Even against Nicholas Walters, the former amateur superstar made the Jamaican look ordinary. Lomachenko, 29, needs visibility and that means fighting a top tier super featherweight or featherweight. Walters was a good start, now a match against Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux or a move up to lightweight against the likes of Mikey Garcia or Jorge Linares would be a near mega fight.
Danny Garcia, Oscar Valdez, Gervonta Davis, Shawn Porter, Terry Flanagan, Anthony Joshua, Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Naoya Inouye, Jermall Charlo.
Photo credit: Al Applerose
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.