TOP ‘POUND FOR POUND’ BOXERS A LIVELY DEBATE
Andre Ward Beats Arthur Abraham
“DOE IN THE HEADLIGHTS” & “LAMPS” ON BOXING’S BEST
Los Angeles, CA- HBO talking heads Jim “Bang Bang” Lampley and Max “The Doe” Kellerman had a discussion about the best ‘pound for pound’ fighters in the world on a recent edition of Lampley’s show “The Fight Game.” While the two made decent cases for the fighters on their lists, I took issue with a few of the picks.
TOP OF LIST NO REAL ARGUEMENT
Lampley listed Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0, 26 KO) at the top spot with Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) at number 2, Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6, 40 KO) at number 3, Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51 KO) at 4, and Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) holding the number 5 spot. Kellerman agreed with Lampley for the first two picks, but had Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) at number 3, recent Rigondeaux boxing student Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) at number 4, and did not mention who he would list at number 5.
WHAT ABOUT THE KLITSCHKO BROS?
I am in agreement with the two of them on number one and two. Those are the obvious choices in my opinion, and any list that does not have Floyd at the top is not credible. I disagree with the choice to add Vitali Klitschko. While I respect what the Ukranian has done, he has been on the decline for years, and I would favor his brother Wladimir in a head to head matchup at this period in their respective careers.
VITALI HAD THE METTLE & WLAD HAS BAD CHIN
Prime for prime, I believe the toughness of Vitali would prevail over the supect chin of his younger brother. At this point, I feel Wladimir is the better fighter, and I do not believe in having two fighters from the same weight class in the top 5. Because of his extended reign at heavyweight that continues to this day, Wladimir deserves to be in the top 5 pound for pound.
MAN WHO PUT CONGRESSMAN MANNY PACQUIAO TO SLEEP!
Marquez is one of my favorite fighters but I do not see how he could be considered top 5 material. There are a lot of fighter at or around his weight class that I feel would give him trouble, and I honestly do not know if he can get the W against Tim Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) in October. I see the faster Bradley taking a competitive decision against the Mexican great. From a stylistic point of view, bad move for Marquez.
DONAIRE “NOT WORTHY” OF TOP TEN LISTING!
When it comes to Kellerman’s list, I find his inclusion of Nonito Donaire absurd. Nonito is a solid fighter, and I think he may be worthy of the top 25 pound for poound, but certainly does not belong in the top 5. I said before the Rigondeaux fight that Nonito would lose to the Cuban, and he did so in embarrassing fashion. Max
WENT OVERBOARD ON DONAIRE’S CUBAN SLAYER
Rigondeaux himself is an outstanding boxer, but with only 12 professional fights under his belt, I do not feel that the sample size is large enough to include him in the same category as Floyd, Ward, and Wladimir. Donaire was his first real test, and although he passed with flying colors, there are others out there who could challenge “El Chacal”.
EXPLAINING THE MINDSET OF “THE Z-MAN”
For my list, I considered a myriad of factors when selecting fighters to be included. I ask myself the question “Can I see anyone at or near their current weight class beating them?”. If the answer to that question is “yes”, they are not among the elite. Second, I consider the longevity of their dominance. A true top fighter should be dominating their competition for years. Of course, simply winning several fights consecutively is not enough to earn pound for pound recognition. The quality of opponents and the manner in which they are defeated is also extremely significant. With all of these aspects in mind and more, I compiled this list:
1) FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
“Money” has been on top of the boxing world for so long, it’s easy to forget just how he got there. The man has beaten nearly all of the top contenders out there and beaten them easily. Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) was long-considered the greatest threat to Floyd’s undefeated record, but he would be no match for the defensive wizardry of Jr. Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez (42-0-1, 31 KOa), who will share the ring with Mayweather on September 14th, will just be the latest victim on a hit list that stretches back to 1996.
2) ANDRE WARD
You know you are a great fighter when the only real matches conceivably left for you are rematches with people you’ve already beaten. Ward came into the Showtime Super Six Middleweight Tournament as a relatively unknown albeit skilled boxer. The 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist shocked many by emerging as the clear winner of the tournament, besting veterans like Carl Froch (31-2, 22 KOs) and Mikkel Kessler (49-3, 35 KOs). Ward has been largely inactive since the tournament, but his resume has spoken for itself. Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) and Adonis Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs) are likely the most competitive fights out there for Andre, and the fact that both men fight in different divisions from “S.O.G.” speaks volume about what the 29-year-old has accomplished at 168.
3) WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
I expect this pick to be a bit controversial, but you can not argue with dominance, and Klitschko has dominated the heavyweight division for years. David Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) was seen by many as the only man to give him a run for his money, and though “Hayemaker” managed to last the full 12 rounds against “Dr. Steelhammer,” he was humiliated by the Ukranian. Klitschko has beaten every worthy adversary at this point, and has not lost a fight since being stopped by Lamon Brewster (35-6, 30 KOs) in 2004. Klitschko avenged that defeat three years later by stopping Brewster in the 6th round of their rematch.
4) TIMOTHY BRADLEY
Did I say Wlad was controversial? Well this should be even worse. I am among the few who actually believe Bradley (30-0, 12 KO) won that fight against Manny Pacquiao. When I saw it live, I honestly had it as a draw but expected Manny to get the decision. I was as shocked as everyone else when Bradley was announced as the winner. After re-watching in the fight several times, I feel Bradley did enough to win the fight. I saw “Pac Man” fighting in spots and fading in the late rounds. Bradley has taken on tough competition and beaten them all. He took Devon Alexander (26-1, 14 KO) and Lamont Peterson’s (31-2-1, 16 KOs) undefeated records away from them. He out-brawled a great brawler in Ruslan Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KO). His win over Miguel Vazquez (33-3, 13 KOs) looks even better now that Vazquez is undeniably one of the top fighters at lightweight. In potential matchups with everyone from Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) to Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs), I favor “Desert Storm” Bradley. What he lacks in power he makes up for in speed, aggression, and pure heart. I put him at number 4 expecting him to beat Juan Manuel Marquez in October, and if Marquez pulls off the victory he could very easily be in this spot. Until then, I have to give it to the Palm Springs native.
5) ABNER MARES
Mares (26-0-1, 14 KO) flies under the radar of a lot of people. The 27-year-old is undefeated in 27 contests with his lone blemish coming in the form of a draw against Yonnhy Perez (20-2-1) in a fight many believed Mares won. Abner notched two victories against Joseph Agbeko (29-4, 22 KO), pitched a near shutout against Eric Morel (46-4, 23 KO), and crushed the very tough Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-5, 35 KOs) in 9 frames on the undercard of Mayweather-Guerrero. His most impressive win, however, came against highly skilled Panamanian Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KO). I really debated putting Guillermo Rigondeaux in this spot, but Mares currently has the more impressive professional record of the two. When Rigo reels off some more wins, as he undoubtedly will, I could easily see him surpassing Mares. “El Chacal” defeted Mares 17-7 when they met in the amateurs, but the pro game is different, and as of right now, Mares is the more established pro.
NOW YOU KNOW THE MINDSET OF ZAK
I certainly do not expect everyone to agree with my list. In fact, I expect most people to disagree with numbers 3-5. Please keep in mind that pound-for-pound lists reflect the CURRENT state of each division. There is not a clear guy on top of the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, so I chose not to include fighters from those divisions in the top 5. With that being said, I can confidently say that these 5 fighters deserve to be listed as the best in the world at wheat they do at this moment. That may change by the end of the year, but for now, I feel comfortable with these picks.
ON THE CUSP OF GREATNESS
The fighters listed below are some I believe will break into the top 5 one day but are not quite there.
Guillermo Rigondeaux, Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs), Mikey Garcia (32-0, 27 KO), and Lucas Matthysse. Most of these men are not even in the top 10 yet, but I expect them to break out in the next couple of years. Marquez could also ascend with a win over Bradley, just as Canelo could with a win over Floyd. Mayweather and Klitschko represent the old guard that is on its way out of boxing, and I see some of these young hungry lions coming up taking their spots once they retire. Other honorable mentions include Carl Froch, Leo Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KO), and Terrence Crawford (21-0, 16 KO).
I put my list up. What is yours?