Seven months into 2014 most of the top prizefighters on my last Pound for Pound list took to the ring and a number of significant changes took place to shake up the rankings. Here they are.
1. Floyd Mayweather (46-0, 26 Kos) – Now 37, Mayweather had a rough outing against Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. At the conclusion boxing’s top boxer had more welts and bruises than all of his previous fights combined. A rematch may be looming between Maidana and Mayweather who still commands hefty paydays and was found to be the highest paid athlete in the world surpassing $100 last year.
2. Andre Ward (27-0, 14 Kos) – Oakland’s Ward fought only one time last year and has yet to fight in 2014. Twice Ward attempted to break his contract with Goossen-Tutor Promotions and each time suffered defeat by the California State Athletic Commission that ruled against him. Inside the boxing ring Ward has proven unbeatable in the super middleweight division. The big money for Ward will be in the light heavyweight division where competitive bouts against the likes of Adonis Stevenson, Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins could bring major paydays.
3. Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 Kos) – When Philadelphia’s Hopkins fought Tito Trinidad for the middleweight titles back in 2001 they were calling him old. Now 49, Hopkins turns 50 this coming January and could be waiting for one last major payday. In his last fight against Beibut Shumenov he bewildered the WBA and IBA light heavyweight champion and took his titles to add to his own IBF version. Hopkins is proving to be one the greatest master boxers in the last 50 years. Has he finally convinced you?
4. Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 Kos) – Manny is back. The Filipino superstar always had the speed, agility and had been adding boxing skills to his repertoire over the years. Back-to-back losses to Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez made Pacquiao and Freddie Roach re-assess their game plan and suddenly you have a revamped Pacman. And he’s pretty incredible. Pacquiao, 38, has dispensed with trying to knock out opponents and now looks to dazzle them with speed and agility. He looks unbeatable again. Now that the “cold war” between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions seems to be over, look for great match ups to form this year for Pacquiao. Imagine Pacman and Keith Thurman.
5. Wladimir Klitschko (62-3, 52 Kos) – Now with his brother Vitali Klitschko officially retired the Ukrainian heavyweight seeks to be the undisputed champion. Klitschko, 38, said recently he’s gunning for new WBC titlist Bermane Stiverne who captured the vacant WBC title by knockout over Chris Arreola. This past decade has seen Klitschko run over every opponent, but age could be a factor against the new crop of heavyweights coming up like Deontay Wilder, Bryant Jennings and Stiverne.
6. Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 Kos) – Puerto Rico’s Cotto packed his bags and moved to Southern California to train under vaunted trainer Freddie Roach a year ago. Boy did that prove to be the right decision. Cotto dominated middleweight champion Sergio Martinez from the start and seemed the stronger and better-prepared fighter earlier this month at Madison Square Garden. Stopping the Argentina speedster was shocking. Cotto, 33, now has the WBC middleweight title to go along with his junior middle weight, welterweight and junior welterweight titles. Don’t expect Cotto to fight Gennady Golovkin who he sparred with a little several years ago in Big Bear.
7. Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 Kos) – The 40-year-old master boxer from Mexico City put on a show with his win over tough Mike Alvarado at the Inglewood Forum this past May. Fans were in awe of Marquez’s ability to handle the taller and stronger fighter from Denver. Marquez has hinted that he may retire. Though many fans would love to see a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, he doesn’t seem as interested. Marquez wants to maintain his legacy as one of the greatest Mexican boxers.
8. Carl Froch (33-2, 24 Kos) – The super middleweight champion from Nottingham, England may not show pretty boxing form but anyone who stands in front of him usually ends up down on the seat of their pants. Froch, 36, is a virtual human tank and runs over opponents in the ring dare they try to use power against power. He’s simply too strong and resilient for anyone in the 168-pound weight class. Froch’s back-to-back knockout victories against George Groves prove that the only one capable of standing up to him may be Andre Ward who defeated him in 2011. But that was three years ago.
9. Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26 Kos) - The baby-face WBA middleweight champion may be the hardest hitter in professional boxing. At first skeptics bellowed that he was over-rated but in the last two years Golovkin has snuffed out all criticism by destroying the competition and scaring away middleweight contenders. No opponent has survived to hear the final bell since 2008 when Amar Amari lost by unanimous decision. Since that fight 16 fighters were stopped or knocked out by the Kazakhstani walloper. Golovkin trains in Big Bear under Abel Sanchez and needs name opposition to nail down his reputation.
10. Tim Bradley (31-1, 12 Kos) – After remaining undefeated for several years Bradley lost by decision to Manny Pacquiao last April in Las Vegas. Once again he suffered a leg injury as he banged legs while pivoting away from the southpaw. It was a freak injury but just may be one of those unavoidable quirky effects of fighting Pacquiao. Bradley, 30, remains one of the fastest boxers in the world and has repeatedly shown he can beat the elite fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez and Pacquiao. Look for the speedster from the Palm Springs desert to be in the middle of some monster match ups.
11. Danny Garcia (28-0, 16 Kos) – The Philadelphia junior welterweight champion nearly lost his title to Riverside’s Mauricio Herrera this past March in Puerto Rico. Many claim he did lose to Herrera who basically out-boxed Garcia over 12 rounds. Still, Garcia, 26, remains a very talented fighter who can box, bang or use his speed to win fights. His greatest victory came against Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse in September of last year. He will be fighting in Brooklyn this coming August facing Rod Salka. Many say Garcia will be moving up to welterweight where its very crowded and very competitive.
12. Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 Kos) – In two years Garcia, 26, has blown out world champions Roman Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido to win the featherweight and junior lightweight world titles. Two years ago fans and boxing experts were calling Garcia a talented but boring fighter. Now the Moreno Valley-based fighter has captured the eye of boxing fans everywhere. His perfect blend of defense and timing make him very difficult to beat. When opponents blink an eye at the wrong time, it’s over.
Robert Guerrero, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Roman Gonzalez, Nonito Donaire, Saul Alvarez, Marcos Maidana, Terence Crawford and Leo Santa Cruz.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?