BANG! BANG! BANG! Rating Boxing’s Hardest Punchers (Volume IV)

Who hates the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board? Julio Ceja. Julio Ceja hates the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, that’s who. For under its former guise and back when The Queensberry Rules’ annual guide to the hardest punchers in boxing relied solely upon the rankings of Ring Magazine in order to separate the sport’s swatters from its slapsies, Mexican bantamweight Ceja would have landed himself top of the pops with a teeth-jangling 90.48 kayo-to-fight percentage.

Times they are a-changin’ around these parts, though, pilgrims. We’re all fully-fledged disciples of the TBRB around here and unfortunately for Senor Ceja, the think tank behind the independent ratings just don’t care for him as highly as the fellas over at Ring (and if you aren’t world ranked with TBRB, you no longer figure).

The rest of the criteria remain the same: Knockout percentage is based on concussion-to-fight ratio for reasons best explained here. In event of a tie-break, the fighter with more total knockouts ranks highest.

1. Lucas Matthysse (Junior Welterweight)

Matthysse (pictured above) has bludgeoned another four opponents into mush since our last update. Judges must rock up at ringside for the Argentinean’s bouts wondering whether to bother pulling out a pen (which could actually explain those two iffy-looking decision losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander on his record to date).

Only six men have managed to last longer than five rounds with the Buenos Aires bomber, who hunts his opponents down mercilessly behind a hellacious left hook, debilitating body attack and a straight-as-a-die right hand that he blasts through the middle. His neighbour Marcos Maidana may have exited our power list (for the time being at least) but a prospective civil war between the two mullet sporting, tattooed badasses remains one of the most mouth-watering in world boxing.

Kayo to fight percentage: 88.24

2. Hugo Ruiz (Bantamweight)

Ruiz, Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, clocked up 15 opening round knockouts in his first eighteen starts and he debuts here after a trio of stoppage wins dished out on his home patch. After engaging in an absolute humdinger with local rival Francisco Arce (kid brother to the more celebrated Jorge) in May 2011 (a punch-out that featured both men hitting the deck twice apiece — including Arce being punched through the ropes in the 11th round), Ruiz, a hunkering pressure fighter first time around, switched to a more methodical counter-punching style for the re-run. The switch paid off. Ruiz zapped “Panchito” with a beautifully timed counter uppercut in round 3 and a series of follow-up raids led to an apoplectic Arce being yanked out by his corner in the very next round.

Ruiz subsequently made light work of Venezuelan Yonfrez Parejo and Nicaraguan Jean Sampson, yet he’ll have his hands full with the Japanese Koki Kameda next time out.

Kayo to fight percentage: 87.50 (28 KOs)

3. Gennady Golovkin (Middleweight)

Golovkin sent tremors through the middleweight ranks back in September when he ravaged the useful Pole, Grzegorz Proksa. The Stuttgart-based Kazak is well-balanced, measured and has horseshoes in his gloves.

“Triple G” is perfectly placed to become the star so many have pegged him to become. Explosive encounters against the likes of Sergio Martinez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Dmitry Pirog can be made at 160 lbs., while the likes of Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez are but a plate of Besbarmak or two away. Next up could be Fernando Guerrero or Gabriel Rosado. Don’t bet on either being around to hear the final bell.

Kayo to fight percentage: 87.50 (21 KOs)

4. Vitali Klitschko (Heavyweight)

Britain’s Dereck Chisora cost Klitschko his top spot in extending the 41-year-old Ukrainian the full route back in February for only the fourth time in his career. Truly heavy-handed, Klitschko is remarkably well-preserved for his age, despite signs that he may be starting to rust.

Slipping in the polls here, Vitali’s UDAR party also missed out in the recent Ukrainian parliamentary elections, yet a political career could still lure him away from knocking people out. With the political landscape in his homeland uncertain, a decision on whether to take on long-time thorn in his ass David Haye has still to be made.

Kayo to fight percentage: 87.23

5. Mikey Garcia (Featherweight)

Garcia (real name Miguel Angel) is an oddity – a knockout artist with the patience of Job. Trained by older brother Robert, Garcia dismantles his opponents piece by piece, unhurried, unflappable and unstoppable thus far. A graduate of the Ventura Police Academy, Garcia is aiming to pick up the sheriff’s badge at 126 lbs. when he shakes down the division’s top man, Orlando “Siri” Salido, early in the New Year.

Garcia has a beautiful right cross yet exhibited an equally sweet left hook in his eight round win over Jonathon Barros a couple of weeks back. With a piercing jab and high-handed defence, opponents are left with very little to exploit. And while they’re pondering over their predicament, Garcia is already lining them up for the finisher. It’ll take a whirling dervish to break his composure.

Kayo to fight percentage: 86.67

6. David Haye (Heavyweight)

A mere bit-part fighter these days, well, more bit-part than he already was, Haye remains once of boxing’s more explosive punchers. With only a single appearance since our last update — a highlight-reel smack down of fellow rude boy Dereck Chisora — Haye nudged his numbers up a few decimals and little more.

Despite vowing he would never fight again unless a Klitschko brother throws him a knotted rope, Haye is as fond of a pound note as the next man. He’s also keen on the limelight (hence his current stint on a reality TV show), and it wouldn’t be an astonishing turn of events to see him piggyback onto an anticipated David Price-Tyson Fury media frenzy, perhaps next year, trash-talking his way into taking on the winner. Price, by the way, only needs to crack the heavyweight top ten (with another kayo) in order to leapfrog Haye here.

Kayo to fight percentage: 85.71

7. Juan Manuel Lopez (Featherweight)

Lopez has been a stalwart on this chart since the get-go.  “Juanma,” though, has been the recipient of more dizzy spells than those he has meted out in recent years. Lopez has never quite lived up the promise he showed in offing Daniel Ponce De Leon back in 2008. The Puerto Rican struck with the suddenness of a cattle gun and the panache of a matador that night yet hasn’t been able to soar as high since.

Rogers Mtagwa, Bernabe Concepcion, Rafael Marquez and Orlando Salido have all shown Lopez the black lights, Salido stopping him twice (his only two defeats to date). A mooted match-up with Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. appears to have gone for a Burton with the feuding pair unable to agree on a weight, so Lopez may head north into junior lightweight, where a couple of easy ones wouldn’t go amiss.

Kayo to fight percentage: 84.85

8. Carlos Cuadras (Junior Bantamweight)

I’ll wager I wasn’t the only one unfamiliar with the work of Carlos Roberto Cuadras Quiroa. “Principe” (Prince) hasn’t fought at the same level as his counterparts here and in fact punked a debutant in his nineteenth outing (predictably doing away with poor Sakchai Sor Tanapinvo within a couple of minutes). This could be a brief pit-stop then, should the Mexican elect to move up in class.
Only compatriot Alberto Chuc has had the temerity face Cuadras twice and, after lasting the full eight round trip first time around, he was soundly thumped in a rematch. Trained by Nacho Beristain, Cuadras commits to the body as though felling a tree and uses the momentum gained to set up his pet punch, a scorching right uppercut. As an amateur, Carlos took gold at the 2007 Pan-American Games, yet lost out to Manchester’s Joe Murray at the World Championships that very same year.
Kayo to fight percentage: 84.62

9. James Kirkland (Junior Middleweight)

Broadcaster Clive James famously remarked that Arnold Schwarzenegger resembled “a brown condom full of walnuts”, and I’m reminded of that wisecrack whenever I see Kirkland. The very definition of brawn, it’s easy to see where his power emanates from although he’s brittle with it (a bit like a brown condom full of walnuts).

“The Mandingo Warrior” had to swallow a disqualification win last time out against Carlos Molina which cost him a top three berth (the Mexican was thrown out in round 10 after one of his seconds entered the ring while he was being administered with a standing count). He may fall behind, get out-boxed, even knocked down in fights, yet Kirkland will remain dangerous while he’s still falling. There isn’t much not to like in a guy like that.

Kayo to fight percentage: 84.38

10. Roman Gonzalez (Junior Flyweight)

Gonzalez dropped the ball this past weekend when he found himself faced with tougher-than-expected competition in the shape of unheralded Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada. Not that it prevented the baby-faced Nicaraguan from attempting to steamroller Estrada in his inimitable style (Gonzalez, unbeaten in 34, had to settle for a unanimous decision).

Always enthralling, Gonzalez is proof positive that sizeism remains alive and kicking in boxing in 2012. As Larry Holmes, covering the Estrada bout from ringside, clumsily summed up: “Guys like that don’t look like they can punch, but they’d knock your brains out.” It’s the looking like they can’t punch bit that stymies their exposure and, ultimately, their earning potential. Maybe Gonzalez, with his relentless pressing and thunderous rib-punching, can change all that but he’ll need to keep knocking them into the stalls to even stand a chance.

Kayo to fight percentage: 82.35

About Tim Starks

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