Pound-For-Pound Top 20 Boxers Update, 8/11

Couple things:

1. I’ve been quiet this week because I apparently broke a bone in my wrist. (No, I didn’t punch anyone. I just fell off a bicycle. When I got up, a fellow approached me and advised me, “Hey, man, you gotta stay up on that bike.” Just a terrific bit of wisdom to pass along to someone bleeding all over the place. At that moment, I THOUGHT about punching someone.) My hand is in a big, cumbersome splint and it’s uncomfortable to type; I’ll find out next week whether it’s actually broken, since x-rays were inconclusive. Because I type up a storm in the ol’ day job, too, I’ve been trying to conserve my typing energy for that. I’ll still be posting during my convalescence, mind you, just a bit less than usual.

2. This is a ratings update post, as you can see form the headline. On the side, I’m expanding my ratings-things repertoire: I’ve joined the Ring Ratings Panel, where I’ll be contributing my opinion on regular weekly divisional rankings for the magazine. I’ve criticized the magazine’s decisions on rankings here and there, but ultimately I’ve concluded without reservation that they are the best rankings in the business. The panel is an extra layer of protection against those rankings being corrupted, so it’s a good thing to have the panel at all. And I figured, why not try to influence the rankings from the get-go with my recommendations as a member of the panel? I might still disagree with the ultimate decisions, but this gives me a chance to try and steer them the way I think they ought to be.

OK. On to the update of the best fighters in boxing, regardless of weight class. Two fighters have exited this installment: David Haye, coming off his loss to Wladimir Klitschko; and Paul Williams, coming off the de facto loss he suffered against Erislandy Lara, even if the judges didn’t see it that way. I’ll leave it a mystery for now who is entering the rankings in their place. For the rest of the rankings, there was some movement because some boxers scored meaningful wins, and in a three cases, there was some movement because of things a boxer’s past opponents did since the last update. But as usual, the highest standard for a boxer’s pound-for-pound placement is this: quality wins, especially of recent vintage.

1. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight

Things still haven’t changed with Manny, and don’t really stand a chance to until November. Floyd Mayweather returns in September, sure, but even if he beats Victor Ortiz, I still won’t install him ahead of Pac. Manny’s level of competition of late has been less than optimal, but he’s still fighting and beating good enough opponents that, combined with his overall body of work, keeps him as the best fighter in the world.

2. Sergio Martinez, middleweight

He won’t fight again until October, against Darren Barker, but with Mayweather’s return and a thin division in which Martinez fights, Martinez’ #2 status could be threatened real soon and if not, before long thereafter. There’s not much separating these men at the top of this pound-for-pound list.

3. Nonito Donaire, bantamweight

Here’s a switch that’s happening because of what a past opponent of Donaire’s has been up to. The man Donaire last fought and straight merked, Fernando Montiel, was thought by some to potentially have been over-the-hill prior to the loss. I didn’t agree, but I was concerned enough to hold Donaire back a little. Now, with Montiel getting two quality wins since the last update, I’m setting aside that reservation. Like I said, there’s not much separating the people at the top from one another right now. Donaire will be back in the ring some time in the fall.

4. Juan Manuel Marquez, lightweight

Marquez got a win over Likar Ramos since the last update, but it meant absolutely nothing. When you beat someone whose name subsequently becomes synonymous with “finding a punch you think you can sell to the audience as a knockout blow and pretending to go to sleep,” that win is functionally worthless. The Pacquiao trilogy fight in November should bump him down further.

5. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight

He’s not fighting until October, either — against a very formidable opponent in Chad Dawson, though. Until then: Next.

6. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight

Klitschko had dropped to #9, but the big win over Haye vaulted him upward a bit more. Other than his brother, it was the best opponent Klitschko could possibly beat. Unfortunately for Klitschko, it just so happens that everyone above him has fought and beaten better opponents than Haye, and have the opportunity to continually do so. This will permanently cripple his chances of keeping stride.

7. Carl Froch, super middleweight

October’s gonna be a busy month for the tip-top pound-for-pounders. That’s when Froch faces Ward…

8. Andre Ward, super middleweight

…who has recently faced a couple different challenges to his considerable poise, be it Froch giving him a “bump” during a news conference or an entertainingly zany interviewer who won’t stop telling him how gorgeous he is.

9. Timothy Bradley, junior welterweight

Bradley has F’d his career in the A by turning down fights and trying to separate himself from promoter Gary Shaw. He’s going to keep moving down this list due to inactivity, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s ejected entirely due to a year of having not fought come January.

10. Giovani Segura, junior flyweight

Segura had a stay-busy fight in June against an opponent with a record of 7-5-1. It did nothing for or against his status. Despite talks of a fight with Julio Cesar Miranda or Brian Viloria, neither are happening either ever (Segura went from wanting to fight him a ton to suddenly deciding he wasn’t interested) or anytime soon (Segura will fight against a yet-unnamed opponent in September, then go after Viloria next).

11. Amir Khan, junior welterweight

Khan’s advancement is based on his dominant victory over Zab Judah, where looked like “scary good work in progress” Khan rather than how he looked in his last fight, “what the hell happened to Khan” Khan. I contemplated putting him in the top 10, but decided that Segura’s wins over Ivan Calderon and a few other top divisional contenders still exceeded Khan’s wins over a similar list of top divisional contenders. And while I see the argument for Khan being #1 at junior welter, I still think Bradley has the longer and better resume at 140.

12. Yuriorkis Gamboa, featherweight

YURIORKIS GAMBOA! is one of the three men who advanced even though he didn’t do anything. But Orlando Salido, a chap Gamboa beat last year, did pick up another win. Arguably I should’ve moved Gamboa up after Salido upset Juan Manuel Lopez earlier this year. But I thought there was a chance that was a fluke, with Lopez’ apparent lack of conditioning to blame. The more I see Salido, though, the more I admire him. I used to think he was rudimentary. He looks a little funky in there, sure, but he knows how to fight. Anyway, Gamboa will likely be booked for a spot in the top 10 should he beat Daniel Ponce De Leon in September, near the bottom of said top 10.

13. Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight

Vitali, too, could join his brother in the top 10 soon. He’s fighting the same night as Gamboa, against Tomasz Adamek, the next best heavy behind the Klitschkos with Haye now deposed.

14. Lucian Bute, super middleweight

I moved Bute up some after his win over Jean-Paul Mendy since the last update not because I was so impressed by the opponent, but because Bute’s list of guys like this — bottom top-10 super middles, borderline contenders — keeps growing, and he beats them all so impressively. It’s a little like the Arthur Abraham effect; Abraham at middleweight never had anything like a signature win over a world-class opponent, but he beat a ton of decent-to-good fighters. Bute’s fight with Glen Johnson in November is a step up from his recent competition, although still short of world-class.

15. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, flyweight

Pong got a win over a modestly credible opponent in July and a not-credible one in August. But he’s mainly moving up because the last man to give Pong trouble, Suriyan Rungvisai, just proved himself to be more than a fluky near-miss with a win over Tomas Rojas. Next, Pong can do himself a big favor by beating Edgar Sosa, but that’s not until October.

16. Miguel Cotto, junior middleweight

Through no fault of his own — well, other than not fighting much or against anyone very good — Cotto has been inching downward. I actually like him here a bit better. I think I probably had him too high.

17. Chad Dawson, light heavyweight

See Hopkins, above.

18. Fernando Montiel, junior featherweight

Beating Nehomar Cermeno and Alvaro Perez in the last couple months isn’t in and of itself wildly impressive. But Cermeno and Perez are at least good enough to have theoretically shown us whether Montiel was a shadow of himself. Instead, he stopped both men in the third round in a move up in weight. I feel better now about having left him in my top 20 after the Donaire loss. What’s next on his schedule is unclear. He wants the winner of Toshiaki Nishioka-Rafael Marquez, but Donaire will probably get that fight instead.

19. Abner Mares, bantamweight

Maybe Mares only ever wins by the skin of his teeth, but he did beat Joseph Agbeko and Vic Darchinyan, and pretty much everyone thinks he beat Yonnhy Perez in a fight scored a draw. But beating three men who are top-5 talents in your division is a good start to a pound-for-pound resume. You don’t do it if you suck.

20. Brandon Rios, lightweight

I talked a good deal about Rios as an unconventional choice in the alternate universe pound-for-pound list. But he’s built himself a very nice resume, too: Miguel Acosta, Urbano Antillon and Anthony Peterson were all top-10 lightweights, and the win over fellow prospect Jorge Teron is worth a little something as well. He’s up against “TBA” in November.

Honorable mentions: Floyd Mayweather,Tomasz Adamek, Mikkel Kessler, Juan Manuel Lopez, Victor Ortiz, David Haye, Erislandy Lara, Paul Williams, Chris John, Robert Guerrero, Marcos Maidana, Joseph Agbeko, Orlando Salido, Andre Dirrell

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.