It’s never been more difficult to comprise a pound for pound list than now. With stalwarts like Wladimir Klitschko, Andre Ward, and Tim Bradley retired and former place holders such as Roman Gonzalez, Sergey Kovalev and Manny Pacquiao suffering losses the list has changed dramatically.
Here’s my current list with the top the same but the rest has changed:
1. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) – The 35-year-old may have seen his last two fights end in a draw and a close unanimous decision, but he still remains undefeated. His run of 23 consecutive knockouts and 18 consecutive defenses of a middleweight world title are nothing to smirk at. Those are historic numbers. He remains number one in my estimation until someone can knock him off, not just rattle the pedestal.
2. Terence “Bud” Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) – Now 30, the Nebraska prizefighter has super fighting skills and though barely getting universal recognition has already toppled five who held world championship belts at one time or another. Crawford is looking to move up and deal with the bigger guys. That’s the kind of attitude that gets you into the hall of fame. He is in need of bigger game.
3. Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) – After knocking off a four division world champion can there be any doubt Garcia belongs among the elite? Despite two years adrift waiting for a contract to expire, Garcia, 29, returned with a vengeance and sharpness that was aimed at destroying the lightweight world champion and then the multi-champion in back-to-back fights. With three world titles in three weight divisions he’s itching to move up and invade more divisions like a modern day Genghis Khan. Can anyone stop him?
4. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) – Well, he almost knocked off the big dog. The 27-year-old showed that he’s learned a lot since meeting Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and picked up a few tricks too. That’s what it takes to bump heads with the big boys and the Mexican redhead proved he belongs. But aside from a rematch can he compete with the other middleweights? There are plenty to choose. Another tug at Triple G’s cape is in store for next year. It’s going to be good.
5. Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) – Everybody needs a break, even one of the best welterweights out there. The Florida thumper suffered an injury and is re-cooping but his willingness to fight anyone and his ability to change tactics according to styles give him an edge against most. Too bad he hasn’t fought much in the last three years. But at 28 he still has time to showcase his talent to the boxing public. The welterweights are loaded with talent and Thurman has plenty of opposition to choose from when he returns.
6. Vasyl “High Tech” Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) – The Ukrainian wizard needs an opponent of significance to prove that he’s not using tricks and mirrors. Lomachenko, 29, is finally going to get his moment when he meets Cuba’s southpaw star Guillermo Rigondeaux later this year. For the first time since meeting Orlando Salido he will be facing someone of near equal ability and speed. It’s always easy to fight an opponent that cannot match the speed and skill elements. Finally, High Tech meets a digital product and not another analog dinosaur.
7. Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) – The Texas southpaw slings combinations like a chain gun when he fights. Everything he does is smooth and automatic like well-oiled pistons on a turbine engine. Spence, 27, may not have done well as an Olympian but as a pro he’s made the transition look easy. Though he’s in the talented welterweight division, the Texas-based fighter has all of the tools, especially the coolness factor, to go all the way.
8. Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) – England’s Joshua brought down the long heavyweight reign of Wladimir Klitschko in one of the best fights that division has seen in decades. The 27-year-old showed heart, power and determination in emerging as the victor last April in a battle that will probably be the “Fight of the Year.” Joshua shows no fear in taking his trade wherever it leads and that’s not only good for the heavyweights but for the sport of boxing. He has a title defense coming up on Oct. 28 against Kubrat Pulev.
9. Naoya “Monster” Inoue (14-0, 12 KOs) – Japan’s number one prizefighter showed an American audience the tools that made him a star in his homeland. Inoue, 24, blitzed Antonio Nieves with speed, power and a star quality that had fans on the edge of their seats at the StubHub recently. The super flyweight champion is itching to clean out the talented 115-pound division and wants the world to see it. Don’t be mistaken by his boyish looks; he really is a “Monster” in the boxing ring.
10. Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) – The Cuban slickster was running out of time until getting the nod to fight Lomachenko. We’ll see what all the fuss is about when Rigondeaux meets Lomachenko on Dec. 9 in New York City. Both are not the usual crowd pleasers most boxing fans deign to see. Instead, the two highly skilled pugilists need an acquired taste to appreciate. Rigondeaux, 36, finally gets to test his skills against an equal master in Lomachenko. Don’t expect a lot of action. Expect a lot of inaction and reaction and maybe satisfaction when it’s ended.
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