We’re doing these updates every two months, but there are no more fights on the agenda between now and the end of June that could affect pound-for-pound rankings, so might as well kill this noise right now.
One person — Jean Pascal — is off the list, following his loss to Bernard Hopkins. Others got shuffled around because of good wins they notched in May and June. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. remains off the list despite announcing a fight for September, since he has been inactive for more than a year, the period of time that excludes one from consideration for this particular top 20.
The usual note on criteria: Quality wins, especially of recent vintage, are the most important factor in deciding pound-for-pound placement. Career achievement is also important; so are competitive showings in losses against top opposition as long as they are counterbalanced by some wins, too; so is the “eyeball test” of how much a fighter merely looks like one of the top boxers in the world. But actual achievement is worth more than perceived excellence, since perception can be so quickly erased when a boxer who looks good faces the best competition of his life and comes up short.
(The previous update is here.)
1. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
His win in May over Shane Mosley does virtually nothing for him, as not only did we know coming in that the 39-year-old Mosley had very little left, but once he stepped between the ropes he had even less than that. Of course, he doesn’t need to do much these days to retain his pound-for-pound crown, as he’s built up a very big resume while those beneath him aren’t quite yet in striking distance. He doesn’t fight again until November, against old rival Juan Manuel Marquez, but he should be safe until then even with Mayweather’s return, since Mayweather’s low activity level hurts him.
2. Sergio Martinez, middleweight
Nothing’s changed for Martinez since the previous update, and he doesn’t have a fight scheduled until October, and he doesn’t even have an opponent for that date yet. It’s hard to imagine anyone he could face, short of a move up to super middleweight, who could help him leap over Pacquiao anytime soon.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez, lightweight
Marquez is due to face Likar Ramos in July, but Ramos is strictly a warm-up opponent for a coveted third meeting with Pacquiao. His spot should be secure for a couple more months, in other words.
4. Nonito Donaire, bantamweight
Donaire remains in limbo, sadly, due to the legal dispute over his promotional agreement between rivals Top Rank and Golden Boy. Donaire is a guy who could move up with very little effort, since his division is loaded with quality opponents, but you have to fight the fights to get the p4p cache.
5. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight
Beating Pascal last month — who was in the top 20 in the last update — and becoming the oldest boxing champion ever had me contemplating putting Hopkins as high as #3. Ultimately I settled here because Marquez and Donaire have beaten either better fighters or more good fighters of late. It’s kind of comforting, though, to see Hopkins back in the top 5. He’s spent most of the past decade or so there, and his hiatuses have usually been due to inactivity or a lack of quality opponents. He won’t fight again until the fall, when he’ll likely meet Chad Dawson in meaningful bout.
6. Carl Froch, super middleweight
I get the impression people are finally coming around to the idea of putting Froch in their top 10, which I think is long overdue. Naturally, I’ll have him higher than most, but I think he deserves it. His win over Glen Johnson this month caps off a stretch of him beating Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham, and nearly beating Mikkel Kessler. That is a freaking gauntlet. I’ll go one better and say he should be the #1 super middleweight, but it was good to see Ring Magazine move him up to #2, over Lucian Bute.
7. Andre Ward, super middleweight
Ward probably beats Froch when they meet in the fall, but I think Froch’s record is deeper, which is why I now rank Froch above Ward. Ward beat Kessler pretty easily while Froch struggled, but Froch also beat Abraham more easily than Ward did in May. And that’s not criticizing what Ward did; Abraham was a bit revitalized against the young American. It was the kind of performance that reaffirmed Ward could some day be the pound-for-pound king.
8. Timothy Bradley, junior welterweight
Bradley could be on the bench for a while. He wants to get away from his promoter, Gary Shaw, and he wants a lot more money than he deserves to make any fights. Everyone who offers him his biggest, most important fights — Pacquiao, Mayweather, Amir Khan — is busy for the indefinite future, and I really do wonder whether Bradley has made a huge mistake in passing up the Khan fight, since all his targets might keep looking elsewhere.
9. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
Klitschko’s been steadily dropping on this list because others have been beating better competition than he has, but that all could change in July, when he’s scheduled for the biggest fight of his career, against David Haye. I’ll have to see how he looks against Haye before deciding, but a win could get him back into the top 5. This is one of the best fights in boxing, and part of me still doesn’t believe it’s happening. But when I think about it, I get shivers.
10. Giovani Segura, junior flyweight
There’s not much on Segura’s agenda right now. You know he wants any good fighter he can get his hands on, but the question is whether he can get his hands on anyone. BoxRec lists him as fighting “TBA” on June 18. If it happens, whoever the opponent is, I can’t imagine him being the kind who would do anything for Segura’s ranking.
11. Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight
A win over Tomasz Adamek would be big for his ranking, but we’ll be waiting for it until September.
12. Miguel Cotto, junior middleweight
And Cotto will be inactive for even longer, probably fighting Antonio Margarito in a rematch in December.
13. Chad Dawson, light heavyweight
The win over Adrian Diaconu last month vaulted him up a couple spots, but not much. But getting back on the winning track against a top-10 175-pounder was worth something.
14. Paul Williams, junior middleweight
Williams finally has an opponent for July, when he’ll face Erislandy Lara. These guys are kind of made for each other — Lara is a counterpuncher who can snipe sloppy fighters like Williams sometimes is, and Williams can overwhelm conservative punchers like Lara. Williams could climb a little with a W.
15. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, flyweight
Hey, check it out, our boy Pong is taking a fight in July someone with more than four pro fights! He’s breaking a streak there. I don’t see much on Takuya Kogawa’s record that suggests he’s a major threat or a p4p resume-booster, but at least he has a pulse.
16. Yuriorkis Gamboa, featherweight
Gamboa made news for an alleged domestic assault case over the most recent covered period. You hope it gets worked out for the best. There’s been virtually no talk about Gamboa’s next opponent.
17. Amir Khan, junior welterweight
With a win over Judah in July, Khan would distinguish himself from this pack of fighters from Gamboa to Bute with solid resumes but who are here in large measure based on perception of talent. It’s a good match-up, and with a win, Khan might even make an argument for #1 junior welter.
18. Lucian Bute, super middleweight
Beating Jean-Paul Mendy next month just wouldn’t be enough to move him at all. Mendy’s not bad or anything, it’s just that we know Bute can beat any sub-elite super middle he faces. It’s about the only kind of opponent he’s ever faced. I’m eager for that to change. Impatient, even.
19. Fernando Montiel, bantamweight
Montiel’s really just here because, as I said last time, it’s not like there are any other obvious candidates for this spot. He’s trying to wrangle a bout with Tishiaki Nishioka, which would be a good win, even if I’m not sure why Nishioka is in Dan Rafael’s pound-for-pound list for ESPN.
20. David Haye, heavyweight
For forever, Haye and Adamek have been separated by a hair on this list — two former cruiser champs with thin-ish resumes at heavy. As time goes on, Haye’s best wins at heavy are closer in the rear-view mirror than Adamek’s best wins. Beating champ Klitschko? Probably p4p top 10, afterward.
Honorable mentions: Floyd Mayweather, Tomasz Adamek, Juan Manuel Lopez, Abner Mares, Joseph Agbeko, Chris John, Mikkel Kessler