TOP ‘POUND FOR POUND’ BOXERS A LIVELY DEBATE

July 14th, 2013 By Zachory Young

Andre Ward Beats Arthur Abraham

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?
Zak Young

COMMENTS

  1. I don’t agree with putting any heavyweight fighters on the P4P list. The list was specifically made for Robinson to bring recognition to the lighter classes because being the heavyweight champ ment you where the baddest man in the planet.

    PJ on July 15th, 2013 at 11:49 AM
  2. Where is Sergio Martinez? I agree with your list but the 160 lb champ has been more dominant and more avoided than just about anybody. the fact that his last fight showed a little wear in no way should tarnish his body of work.

    Bender on July 15th, 2013 at 12:47 PM
  3. No Klitschko in the P4P. You’ve got to be a REAL special heavyweight to make that list, and both of those guys have feasted on overweight tomato cans for the bulk of their reigns. If they were so talented, they’d be ending fighters in 1-2 rounds, not throwing jabs and 1-2s until their opponents eventually fold. I’d go Floyd, SoG, Rigondeaux (due to taking the previous #3 to school), Mares (not particularly skilled, but relentless with an IRON jaw…the dude walked through everything Darchinyan threw at him). #5′s difficult. I could say Martinez, but he’s been taking 9-10 rounds to put away fighters I’ve never even heard of, nearly blew the Chavez fight, and should have lost his last fight. I guess Tim Bradley, in that he’s undefeated although lacking in much technique. Or maybe Marquez, even though he’s shopworn, he’s still got terrific skills if he’s not fighting Mayweather.

    Keith on July 15th, 2013 at 8:12 PM
  4. Martinez is not an avoided fighter, it is Martinez doing the avoiding

    PJ on July 15th, 2013 at 8:46 PM
  5. Rigo passes the eye test, and he schooled Donaire who was favored. Mares has beaten more good fighters, but has been favored in every bout he’s been in. He barely got by Agbeko(a fight I think he lost), drew with Perez and was dropped against Darchinyan, and he fades late in fights. He beat De Leon, but De Leon isn’t a great fighter.His resume is better but Rigo is a better fighter, and no one at 122 could really up his profile much in my view. I won’t consider any one from GoldenBoy as potential opponents.

    KP on July 16th, 2013 at 7:58 AM
  6. Pedro scored the Bradley vs. Pacquiao fight a draw, but is “among the few who actually believe that Bradley won”. How does that work?

    Emilio on July 16th, 2013 at 11:52 AM
  7. No Emilio, but Pac didn’t fight enough in enough rounds!

    Pedro Fernandez on July 16th, 2013 at 4:09 PM
  8. Agree with Wlad @ #3. They say that Wlad’s opponents are weak but Wlad has fought the very best out there and never ducked anybody. It’s not his fault the division is not that strong. Wlad has the size and skill to be good in any era.

    desmond on July 16th, 2013 at 4:59 PM
  9. A few years ago, I had Maravilla at number 3. Now, I don’t think I could put him that high based on his last few performances. Not just Murray. He didn’t look that great against Barker either and almost got KO’d by Jr. Still a great fighter, but these other guys have shown me more. If Martinez beat Golo, he could easily climb back into the top 5. Right now I just don’t see him as that great.

    As far as Wlad, I think he is skilled enough to succeed in any era. He has a great jab and a lethal straight right, not to mention his natural size advantage. Pound for pound is about skill, though, and he has plenty of that.

    Rigo will be in the top 5 shortly. I just think his resume is a bit thin for now. I would love to see a Mares-Rigo fight, but that won’t happen. Damn promoter war

    Zak on July 16th, 2013 at 8:45 PM
  10. Zak: Mares vs Rigo would be a GREAT fight! Mares has NO IDEA how to be in a boring fight (good thing). You have a good list and good points.

    I feel in fights, and this is largly based on speculation on fighters in and around the weight class a fighter fights in and who would win, I have
    1)Ward 2)Mayweather 3)Golovkin 4)Rigo/Mikey Garcia(tossup) 5)Matheysse(may have trouble once he moves up to the stacked 147 div.

    1200 Techs on July 16th, 2013 at 10:18 PM
  11. Vlads been fighting bums. Doesn’t deserve to be # for pound. He was stopped basically by three journeyman in his career as well. I know people base his ranking off his more current body of work, but it stinks. His opponents are garbage. When you put him in there with anyone halfway decent he goes 12 and fights scared. I’d put Vitali there before him. A least Vitali’s losses are to world championship level heavyweights, both fights that he lead on the scorecards.I agree with PJ 100%. Heavyweights don’t belong on pound for pound lists. Only way I’d consider it is if was one that moved up in weight, not two guys who tower over every foe and win fights mainly on size and a jab and grab technique.

    KP on July 17th, 2013 at 7:57 AM
  12. I think the Klitschko Bros are criminally underrated in the UK and US and that they should be in the upper part of any ATG top 10, and Wlad I`d put on current p4p lists. I have no problem with Lampley ranking them both. They’ve dominated their division for 10 years and have no other division to go into to take over. If the p4p list is a rating of how good someone is for their size – well how many other 6″7-6″9 fighters have shown the skills, athleticism and speed these guys have? Vitali and Wlad on p4p lists EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

    Roland on July 17th, 2013 at 1:19 PM
  13. Roland…lie I said before, if you look at Vlads opposition during his title reign it’s pathetic. Vitali is the better fighter. I mean Vlad went twelve with the likes of an overrated David Haye (a guy who was blasted out at cruiserweight by Carl Thompson), a terrible fighter in Ibragimov, dropped by an average Devarly Williamson. Dropped three times by Sam Peter, and stopped three times by journeyman level fighters. This makes him one of the best fighters of all time? Jeez, the bar has just dropped too low nowadays. The division is weak! He is a beneficiary. Pound for Pound my ass! Vitali is the better one, and I will give him a pass on the Chisora fight because he just needs to retire. Vlads opponents have been pathetic…not to say it’s his fault because the division stinks, but to give him pound for pound and all-time great status for beating bums isn’t fair either. A very good champion in a weak division. Nothing more or less. You could argue nine or ten, but he doesn’t merit anything higher. His skill set is pretty basic too. Jab, jab, jab, jab, grab, jab, an occasional hook and right hand. You see I forgot to add a body shot in there? The guy is so scared to engage guys that he normally has a physical advantage over. I think he gets crapped on too much by fans, but the reason is because some media give him too much credit. He is a good champion in a league of fat out of shape fighters. Not his fault, but I have to factor in his shortcomings that were exposed by mediocre fighters.

    KP on July 18th, 2013 at 11:11 AM
  14. Would be crazy for Wlad not to be in the P4P ranking. The man is dominating a weak division, granted, but he also easily beat what most people had considered the biggest and only threat to him. Wlad deserves it.

    HW is weak compared to former eras but in todays boxing the HW is one of the best divisions. The problem with Wlad’s competition is that most top 10 fighters simply refuse to fight him. They’d rather wait for him to retire than risk their careers now.

    Anyway Wlad fully deserved to be ranked, he has beaten clearly a lot of good fighters as big as him.

    Kasper on July 18th, 2013 at 5:28 PM
  15. Pedro time to get those eyes checked, maybe buy a pair of glasses so that you can see better. Bradley beat Paquiao ?? I always respect your opinion, but this time you are out to lunch.

    TheSwede on July 20th, 2013 at 9:59 AM

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