Lists aren't usually my thing, but for some reason, I am in a list-y mood, so I'd like to present my own pound for pound list, the tip top top ten in the game today. These are the best and brightest of pugilists, in my humble opinion.
1) Floyd Mayweather: Nobody, I mean nobody on the planet weighing between 140 and 160 pounds beats the Floyd Mayweather (44-0) we saw on May 4th against Robert Guerrero. Getting back with dad was just what the doctor ordered, and that exhalation I heard from the Showtime offices, I do believe, was the suits happy that the trader version of Floyd has been junked, and the mover is still able to do his thing, which is: 1) don't be hit and 2) hit. My pipe dream is still Mayweather and Andre Ward meet at 160 pounds, and Floyd goes into his first fight the underdog, but I know what you're thinking there: Woods, get yourself to rehab, stat, because you're clouded. Nobody currently in that 147-154 realm wins more than a couple rounds against this Floyd, at 36 still a top-tier athlete possessing some of the best ring generalship and ring smarts you will ever see, in any era, at any weight class.
2) Andre Ward: Too bad Ward (26-0) had wing woes, because I was real curious to see what he'd do next after giving Chad Dawson the business. I do hope the injury parade comes to a halt for the Californian, so we can enjoy an uninterrupted flow of pugilistic mastery from this ace technician. I think he's got command of his style to the point where he can safely and smartly unleash volleys without worrying too much, and I think moving forward those who have whined that Ward isn't enough fun offensively will be silenced. Anyone got the word on who he fights next, by the way?
3) Bernard Hopkins: OK, start the quibbling, crew. Maybe there are one, two or more guys who "deserve" to be higher on this list. But they ain't 48 frickin years old. Damn right, I give extra credit for longevity. The nullifying job he did against Tavoris Cloud sent word to naysayers that to bet against Hopkins, this era's top sage of the squared circle, and an under-appreciated genius in the whole of the sports world, is a fool's errand. He meets Karo Murat, a virtual unknown, next. I'd rather he try and show us all we're dopes, again, by signing on to fight Ward, but I hear that Hopkins (53-6-2) himself thinks that's too high a mountain to climb. I'd like to dose him with sodium pentathol to ascertain if that is indeed the case...Because I think he'd grab a chance to climb another Everest.
4) Guillermo Rigondeaux: Mea culpa. My bad, gang. I was holding out on Rigo, waiting to see what he did against Nonito Donaire before I boarded the train. Is there room left for a late-comer? The 12-0 Cuban is serious trouble for anyone in and around his weight class, and to those who say his chin disqualifies him from being this high on the P4P list, to that I say, he might go down every now and again, and get buzzed too much for your liking, but the kid gets up, and finishes strong. Yes, the manner in which he does it doesn't appeal to the masses as much as the purists, and I'd like to see him adjust his ratio of offense to defense a bit, but this 32-year-old is an ace, a top flight ace, and I don't see who beats him in the near future.
5) Nonito Donaire: Some folks saw it coming, what Rigo did to Nonito (31-2), but most of them are in the camp of Team Rigo. The Filipino-born Cali resident wasn't as sharp as we've seen, and it emerged after his bout that his right shoulder was badly damaged going in to the NYC scrap against the Cuban. No shame on losing to the greatest amateur of all time who showed himself to be a master of the game on the inside, the outside, and every side possible. I tend to think the 30-year-old Donaire was in fact a bit burnt, and needs a good long rest, and we will again see his immense skill set in full bloom. Oh, and yes, I'd like to see how he does against Rigo with his main weapon against the lefty, his right hand, in proper working order.
6) Wladimir Klitschko: Got to give mucho credit to a guy who hasn't lost since 2004. Yes, the era in which he fights in, absent him and his big bro, is pretty putrid. But the completely dominant way in which he does his thing demands that the 37-year-old Wlad (60-3) get lauded for what he is: a superb athlete whose focus is second to none in the sport.
7) Vitali Klitschko: We're still not sure if he'd lose to little bro Wladimir, and show the world that he's the better brother, and of course, we will never settle that question. But this 41-year-old is a pugilist specialist, even if he looks slightly ungainly doing his thing. Wlad has been the busier of the brothers, with political work detracting and distracting Vitali (45-2). We hope he gives David Haye the business before he hangs them up, and starts his Hall of Fame countdown.
8) Manny Pacquiao/Juan Manuel Marquez (tied): C'mon, these two are linked for the ages, what's the problem with having them tied for eighth. Marquez (55-6-1; turns 40 in August) was having his hands full before he dropped and stopped Manny (54-5-2; turns 35 in December), and we all recall how hard a time he had when he met Floyd, so that's why he isn't higher. Manny doesn't get booted from the top ten for the Bradley "loss" or being stopped by the 39-year-old Mexican legend, but he'll get the boot if Brandon Rios beats him. Course, if that happens he'd have to seriously consider retirement, so Woodsy's Pound For Pound List would be like, third or maybe fourth on his list of woes.
9) Sergio Martinez: This is a tough one for me. Perhaps I let a personal fondness for this class act influence me unduly. Or perhaps I am over-compensating for the fact that my personal fondness could be influencing me. That said, his late hiccup against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and his difficulty with non-superstar Martin Murray means Sergio (51-2-2) has something to prove in his next fight, and that his return to the P4P top five is by no means a given. He's 38, injuries have been pesky and we admit we hope he can rest up, heal up, and show us that he belongs up there with the Floyd and the Wards.
10) Mikey Garcia/Abner Mares (tied): Points, again, for not having lost. Mikey is 31-0 and could well end up a few notches higher on this list by the end of the year, though his next foe, Juan Manuel Lopez, is seen in many circles as damaged goods, so a win over JuanMa won't likely elevate Mikey that much, though the JuanMa name is a good one to have on the resume. Garcia is so solid, so composed, and I look forward to see him do his thing for many more years; he's only 25 years old, and there's room to blossom even more. As for Mares, again, being undefeated means something to me. Mares is 26-0, and has built up a solid resume against solid foes. He sent word that he isn't the mauling brawler who strafed Joseph Agbeko's groin every chance he could with his takeout of Ponce De Leon on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard, and grew his buzz in a big way. Who would you like to see him fight next, if you are one who thinks No. 7 is too high for this 27-year-old, and you think we need more proof to give him such a lofty slot? Maybe he should be 10a and Mikey should be 10b? Discuss in the Forum.
Just Missed: Roman Gonzalez: Life ain't fair, this we know. If the light fly division were more high profile, this guy would be a bigger name, and would get more credit for being 34-0.; Timothy Bradley: You would not get an argument from me if you think Provodnikov deserved the W over Bradley, so Bradley's not in my top ten. Beat Marquez and he will vault.;Canelo Alvarez: He hasn't tasted loss, but the margin of victory over Austin Trout keeps him out of the top ten.; Lamont Peterson: He'll get top ten consideration, bigtime, with a great showing over Lucas Matthysse Saturday.; Adrien Broner: Get past Malignaggi, and we'll talk, Mr. HBO.; Danny Garcia: I'm sold on the Philly boxer, but I need him to beat a prime 140 pounder before he slides into top ten territory. Chris John: 48-0 friends. That deserves consideration. But until this man demands the best competition, I'm afraid he won't get the love and attention his record suggests it merits.
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?