The downside of updating one’s pound-for-pound list of the best boxers in the world every month or two is that sometimes there’s very little movement, or even a prospect for movement. Seven different boxers in our pound-for-pound top 20 saw no action in the last two months and won’t for the next two months. Among those who were active since the last update, only one did wonders for his stock.
So the list is pretty static since last time. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t visit with what people have been up to and/or are about to be up to. Even if nothing happened, something might happen.
As usual, the chief standard for my pound-for-pound list is record against top competition, especially of the recent vintage. Other factors — activity level, the eyeball test, etc. — are secondary, but contributory.
1. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
2. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., welterweight
3. Paul Williams, junior middleweight
Williams’ May win over Kermit Cintron was so fluky as to have virtually no impact on his ranking, not that he’s really even close to overtaking Mayweather or Pacquiao. He appeared vulnerable for the second fight in a row, though, before Cintron catapulted out of the ring, prompting a halt to the fight and giving Williams the three-round abridged decision on the scorecards. That vulnerability could affect his rankings, because…
4. Chad Dawson, light heavyweight
…Dawson is poised to fight for the lineal light heavyweight championship of the world in August against Jean Pascal, and an impressive win could lead to Dawson overtaking Williams here. A loss, though, and Dawson obviously drops, perhaps heavily.
5. Shane Mosley, welterweight
6. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
7. Juan Manuel Marquez, lightweight
In a rematch of two fighters coming off losses, Marquez puts his lightweight championship on the line in July against Juan Diaz in a do-over of what many considered the best fight of 2009. Diaz’ stock has really dropped, and it’s unclear how much Marquez has left, so beating Diaz probably only keeps Marquez from slipping.
8. Sergio Martinez, middleweight
9. Timothy Bradley, junior welterweight
Luis Carlos Abregu, Bradley’s July opponent, isn’t the most skilled, but he is bigger and can punch. Bradley would deserve some kudos for beating a quality opponent in a a division above his best, but not very many kudos. Let’s say three. Three kudos. But probably not enough to move him up the top-10 list. If only Bradley had got his hands on original opponent Marcos Maidana and won — we might be talking top-5 status.
10. Andre Ward, super middleweight
Ward is the only significant climber of the last two months, leaping from #19 to the top 10. Ward is the top man in what I consider the top weight class in the sport, having beaten another divisional top-10 foe in Allan Green last weekend with ease. The other big win on his resume is over Mikkel Kessler, who I had in my top 20 pound-for-pound at the time. Less resume-related, Ward simply looks like one of the best fighters in the world to me. Showtime’s Super Six tournament will offer an abundance of opportunities to prove himself further, or prove his backers wrong.
11. Miguel Cotto, junior middleweight
Ward’s jump means Cotto stays put numerically, but he advances above fellow Puerto Rican Juan Manuel Lopez with an impressive stoppage performance against Yuri Foreman this month. There are varying degrees of confidence out there about whether Cotto is his “old self,” but I’m inclined to think he is, and besides, conquering a top opponent in a new division is nothing to sneeze at. I simply remained more impressed by the recent body of work of the men right above him.
12. Juan Manuel Lopez, featherweight
In fighting Bernabe Concepcion in July, Lopez is taking on another top-10 featherweight. But beating Concepcion won’t get Lopez much from TQBR. Concepcion’s most recent fight was a win over Mario Santiago, a decent notch on his belt, but in the fight before, Concepcion lost to Steven Luevano — the man Lopez beat in his last fight. This is a step down in competition, in other words.
13. Ivan Calderon, junior flyweight
On the negative side, struggling this month with fringe contender Jesus Iribe early — even getting dropped — hurts Calderon’s pound-for-pound status. On the positive side, he got his act together quickly and demonstrated beautiful skills as the fight went on. So he stays in the approximate order he was in before the Iribe win, with the caveat that his vulnerability means he’s prone to being overtaken.
14. Chris John, featherweight
John does battle in July with Fernando David Saucedo, who has fought more in bouts scheduled for 10 rounds or more just twice since 2006. Basically, it’s a “welcome home to Indonesia” fight, and it is worth nothing to John’s pound-for-pound standings.
15. Nonito Donaire, junior bantamweight
Apparently Donaire simply will never again fight anyone worthwhile. Things were lined up pretty well for an August rematch with Vic Darchinyan, which would have done the trick. His next opponent in August is instead Hernan Marquez, a flyweight moving up a division after getting beaten by a Filipino prospect — and Donaire’s supposed to be a pound-for-pound guy. Even if he wins, I might downgrade Donaire, since his opposition for the last year will have been a terrible trio of Marquez, Manuel Vargas and Rafael Concepcion, the last one that would even be a decent win and only because Concepcion came in so much overweight. I’m not sure I could be any more ticked off about the course of Donaire’s career, honestly.
16. Celestino Caballero, featherweight
17. Tomasz Adamek, heavyweight
18. Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight
In May, Klitschko took 10 rounds to knock out Albert Sosnowski, who once almost got knocked out by zero-knockout Zuri Lawrence. Either Sosnowski had the fight of his life or Klitschko is slowing down. Either way, the win gets Klitschko zippy in the pound-for-pound standings.
19. Vic Darchinyan, junior bantamweight
Darchinyan won a wide decision over journeyman Eric Barcelona at bantamweight in May. He fought with a broken left hand, but even with that taken into account, most thought Darchinyan showed signs of being on the decline. He stays put, then, unless #20 catches him next month.
20. Fernando Montiel, bantamweight
Fresh off the best victory of his career, Montiel faces Eric Morel, a top-10 fighter in one of the best divisions in the sport, in July. A win could do him favors on this list. Perhaps he’s underrated, coming off a win over Hozumi Hasegawa, whom some had in their pound-for-pound top 10, although I didn’t.
Here are some people not on my list that you might find elsewhere, and why they aren’t, in alphabetical order…
Lucian Bute: His best win is over Librado Andrade. I like me some Andrade, but it can’t be ignored that Andrade lacks talent and got where he got via hard work, and he nearly knocked Bute out the first time. Same deal with Sakio Bika, Bute’s second-best win. The rest of Bute’s wins are over fringe contenders. That’s not a pound-for-pound resume for me, but Bute is a very good fighter and he might crack the list with one more good win.
Bernard Hopkins: I dropped him after his lackluster win over Roy Jones, Jr., who’d been KO’d by far less accomplished fighters than Hopkins. He also struggled with Enrique Ornelas early in that fight, and Ornelas is a hard work/low talent fighter like his relative Andrade. Hopkins is going on two years since a quality win, over Pavlik, and he was 2-3 in fights before that. He needs a win over a top opponent, and he could very well be back in the top 10.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: He beat Koki Kameda, who looked (and still looks) like a nice young talent, but the only person Kameda had beaten of great note was Daisuke Naito, and Pongsakek is 0-1-1 against Naito in the last three years. Wonjongkam may have clinched a bid for the Hall of Fame by beating Kameda combined with his longevity, but that’s by far his best win over the last three years and it’s not enough to put him on my list by itself, since I emphasize recent wins.
David Haye: He might be closest. His cruiserweight resume isn’t much worse than Adamek’s, and his heavyweight resume is a touch better. He suffers primarily because he took a long hiatus from the ring and I had to drop him from the list. He’s been clawing his way back up since.
Honorable mentions: Lucian Bute, Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, David Haye, Hozumi Hasegawa, Kelly Pavlik, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Devon Alexander, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam