Pound-For-Pound Top 20 Boxers Update, 2/10

Right when I think I’ve got my pound-for-pound criteria down pat, along comes a situation like Shane Mosley being out of action for a year — which normally would trigger his removal for inactivity — and I’m having trouble justifying removing him. This wasn’t like a situation with Winky Wright or Israel Vazquez where there’s a prolonged stretch of inactivity and no real prospects for him returning. So I’m going to do what a couple other people do with this rankings, and say that because a boxer (in this case Mosley) has another fight scheduled, he gets to stay on the list.

So, just to revisit here: The main criteria for placement on my pound-for-pound list is record against top opposition, especially most recent wins, although other factors — like the “eyeball test,” for example — can factor in. Being inactive for a year can result in removal from the list unless a boxer has another fight scheduled, and lackluster accomplishments over the span of a year can result in a slight demotion. The list gets updated every two months.

I still don’t think it’s gotten to the point of being an unwieldy set of rules, but there you have it. If you want another perspective on the top 20, Scott’s recent list is here. There’s not a lot of movement on mine from the last update because so few top fighters were active in the first two months.

1. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight

The reigning king’s tenure might be threatened by Joshua Clottey on March 13, but the fight also might solidify his stranglehold from the danger to his tenure posed by the impending May meeting between the two men below him.

2. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight

3. Shane Mosley, welterweight

He was going to fight Andre Berto in January, which could have hurt or help his standing, but Berto pulled out because of the tragedy in his native Haiti.

4. Paul Williams, middleweight

It doesn’t look like Williams will be doing anything until May, when there’s a likely fight with Kermit Cintron, and a win could possibly move him up; so could the result of Mayweather-Mosley. I think Cintron’s a dangerous opponent for Williams, though, so we can’t ignore the possibility he’ll be falling further down the list two updates from now.

5. Chad Dawson, light heavyweight

Dawson will be sitting on his hands until around June, with a potential Jean Pascal fight offering him a good chance to move up or (you guessed it) down.

6. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight

An April 4 win over Roy Jones, Jr. will do nothing, repeat, nothing, for Hopkins on this list. He’s cruising for a demotion; wins over Enrique Ornelas and, hypothetically, Jones, are worthless. Problem is, there’s nobody beneath him that’s much cruising for that big a promotion, either. Maybe Mr. #11 or Mr. #13?

7. Juan Manuel Marquez, lightweight

Marquez has nothing scheduled and nothing in the works. He and/or his team have gotten all picky about opponents all a sudden, turning down Amir Khan for May.

8. Juan Manuel Lopez, featherweight

Hey, look, it’s an actual change from the last update! Lopez knocked out the #1 ranked featherweight, Steven Luevano, in his debut in the division in January, and it wasn’t even close. This was the best win of his career.

9. Miguel Cotto, welterweight

Maybe I have him overrated. A June win over junior middleweight Yuri Foreman, though, really only can solidify his spot. I don’t see how he climbs off that win.

10. Ivan Calderon, junior flyweight

Calderon is another fighter I may have too high, and as such his next expected opponent, inexperienced mandatory title challenger Jhonreil Casimero, is only legit enough to justify his standing or endanger it.

11. Chris John, featherweight

John, like some of the people just above him, probably won’t be here very long because he doesn’t have a fight scheduled and there is some activity in the next couple months just beneath him.

12. Arthur Abraham, super middleweight

On March 27, Abraham takes on Andre Dirrell. It feels like Abraham has fought people like this his whole career — legitimate, quality opponents who don’t rise to the level of elite. As such, he keeps inching up my list, never quite busting all the way through. He’ll inch again if he beats Dirrell.

13. Nonito Donaire, junior bantamweight

Donaire was one of the few pound-for-pound guys who fought in the first two months of 2010, a win over strawweight Manuel Vargas, but his opponent was so wildly overmatched as to do zilch for his ranking. It gets more galling with each and every fight that Donaire isn’t fighting as high-level opposition as he could or should be. The best hope he has is a Vic Darchinyan rematch in, like, August.

14. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight

Klitschko, whom I arguably had overrated for a while and now arguably have underrated, is due for a big bump if he beats Eddie Chambers on March 20. Chambers is ranked #3 at heavy. Depending on how the fight goes, I could see throwing Klitschko as high as #6.

15. Timothy Bradley, junior welterweight

Part of me thinks I have Bradley underrated. As far as recent momentum goes, he’s way ahead of some people above him. But his best wins still aren’t as good as those above him. It’s too bad he doesn’t have a fight scheduled and can’t seem to get anyone to sign on the dotted line. A nice win anytime soon would really make it easy for me to act on my instinct that he’s underrated.

16. Kelly Pavlik, middleweight

Pavlik may return to the top 10 with a win over Sergio Martinez April 17. Plenty of people think Martinez already should be in the top 20. I don’t think he does — his best win is over Alex Bunema, and everything else is an “almost” win (and an “almost” win over Cintron, while something he clearly deserved, wouldn’t be enough to get him on my list either). If he beats Pavlik, though, he’ll crack my top 20.

17. Tomasz Adamek, heavyweight

Adamek fought Jason Estrada in February, an unranked if pretty good heavyweight. It wasn’t enough to improve his pound-for-pound stock. An April 24 win over Chris Arreola could do him a tiny favor, but Arreola’s probably going to be the favorite to win that fight.

18. Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight

Klitschko’s obviously a better heavyweight than Adamek, but Adamek’s accomplishments as a cruiserweight give him an edge. Who’s better — O’Neil Bell and Steve Cunningham, or Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola? Exactly. Klitschko beating the likes of Odlanier Solis May 29 would have him do some inching, maybe past Adamek, maybe not.

19. Celestino Caballero, junior featherweight

Caballero’s got nothing scheduled and he hasn’t done anything worth much of a damn since knocking out Steve Molitor in November of 2008. Think about it. How’s this guy in anyone’s top 10, pound-for-pound? A possible summer showdown with Yuriorkis Gamboa could do wonders for either man.

20. Hozumi Hasegawa, bantamweight

His best win is still in 2005, and all he’s beaten since for the most part are fringe top-10 types that he ought to look good against. He’s just rated way too high on some lists. He won’t be fighting Fernando Montiel, apparently, or John, either, so he’s stuck on the periphery.

Honorable mentions: Darchinyan; David Haye; Andre Ward; Lucian Bute; Roman Gonzalez; Sergio Martinez; Yonnhy Perez; Clottey; Edwin Valero; Yuriorkis Gamboa; Joseph Agbeko

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.