(Juan Francisco Estrada)
There's some tricky business to deal with in the latest update period, not that there is a whole lot of change afoot in this list of top 20 boxers on the planet, regardless of their weight.
One issue was that two fighters in the top 10 are approaching one year of inactivity, the usual period where they're dumped from the list unless they have a fight scheduled. One was Vitali Klitschko, who has already been dumped from the list because we know he won't be fighting until the first quarter of 2014 at the earliest, and he might not ever fight again as he considers a presidential bid in the Ukraine. The second remains on the list for reasons stated.
The other was what to do with Abner Mares coming off his 1st round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez, and, for that matter, what to do with Gonzalez. Losing by knockout usually isn't grounds for eviction, as Manny Pacquiao's continued place on the list shows. And, in Gonzalez's case, beating a pound-for-pound fighter is often grounds for inclusion on the list. But Pacquiao lost by knockout to someone with his own p4p credentials, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Mares, while he lost to a quality featherweight contender, nonetheless lost to a big underdog with no p4p standing. Now, where p4p is about overall achievement, this might be the rare case where you could still have Mares on the list on the strength of his wins in other divisions, but not Gonzalez. I just have a problem with ranking someone above someone who just beat them; it doesn't feel right. So, for now, one of them is barely in — read on for which.
Here's the good news, at least for our purposes: Mares is going to exercise his rematch clause immediately. (It is bold as shit for his purposes, and maybe foolish, too.) There should be no doubt about who belongs after that. Also, a million things could happen between now and the next update in October — as you'll see when we describe the plans of a strong number of men in the top 20 — so maybe one more or both of them will be on or off the list by then.
As always, the main standard for inclusion is "quality wins, especially of recent vintage," with a small side of the "eyeball test," a.k.a. whether they look like they're any good to me.
1. Floyd Mayweather, junior middleweight
As much as I'm worried about his September opponent Canelo Alvarez having trouble making the 152-pound limit, Mayweather is flirting with matching history if he wins, as a victory would tie him with Pacquiao's record for four lineal titles in four divisions. And he's the unchallenged p4p king right now.
2. Juan Manuel Marquez, welterweight
Marquez is one spot higher on my list than most, but it's because of that whole "quality wins" thing. If he beats fellow top-10 p4per Timothy Bradley in October, combined with the consensus #2 being inactive for so long, maybe Marquez will overtake the "consensus #2" spot.
3. Andre Ward, super middleweight
Per Sam Sheppard yesterday, Ward will be inactive for a year as of Sept. 8. He still tentatively has a fight booked for November, however, even though he's having trouble securing an opponent that's to both his liking and HBO's. If he doesn't have anyone signed by the end of October, expect him not to be in the next update.
4. Carl Froch, super middleweight
I genuinely remember Lucian Bute being in some top fives before Froch beat him, and Froch since has added another win over Mikkel Kessler, but he still struggles to crack some top 10 lists. There is no more underappreciated p4p resume than Froch's. Doubt a win over George Groves in November changes that.
5. Sergio Martinez, middleweight
Nothing doing for the middleweight champion, who's still sitting on the sidelines convalescing. As stated previously, he no longer has the air of a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter, but on resume, he still belongs, and only a year-plus absence is likely to boot him in the near future from the top 10.
6. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
Whatever you think of Brandon Rios, he very likely is the kind of fighter who will be a litmus test in November for whether Pacquiao has anything left. Rios is going to be all up in Pacquiao's business, which might work to Manny's advantage style-wise, but if Pac is done, Rios' pressure could expose that fact.
7. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
You have to go back to 2011, when Wlad squared off with David Haye, to find a more qualified opponent than Alexander Povetkin, who Klitschko is facing in October. Conditions are ripe, finally, for him to move into my top 5 if he wins impressively, as I expect he will.
8. Timothy Bradley, welterweight
Marquez-Bradley in October is an underrated little fight, and I think we'd be talking about it a lot more if it wasn't on pay-per-view, sandwiched between Mayweather-Alvarez and Pacquiao-Rios. Bradley, obviously, can prove a great deal with a win over my #2.
9. Guillermo Rigondeaux, junior featherweight
My contention is that Rigo has one really nice win, over the man just beneath him, and some OK wins besides. And Rigo didn't win all that easily on the scorecards in that one. The p4p talent is there, and the resume is getting there. But I'm not convinced he's top 10, and only the recent evictions have landed him here.
10. Nonito Donaire, junior featherweight
At least Donaire is in the mix for a fight, unlike Rigo, who's unhappy with his promoter and the options presented to him. It sounds like Donaire wants to go up to featherweight and bring Vic Darchinyan with him, probably in November, and because I'm not sure Donaire is even a real 122-pounder, I'm not thrilled about him jumping again.
11. Roman Gonzalez, junior flyweight
My Transnational Boxing Rankings Board colleagues just voted Gonzalez into the top 10, and it's getting harder to argue with them; he moves up a couple spots with departures and Juan Francisco Estrada's ascent. (See below.)
12. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight
Karo Murat is an authentic 175-pound contender, but I think B-Hop beating him is a foregone conclusion, as it would be for most any other 175-pound contender. An October victory over Murat does little for him.
13. Adrien Broner, welterweight
Broner is on track for his PPV debut against Marcos Maidana in November, which I think is a harder fight for Broner than most people do. A win could move him up some, if not much.
14. Mikey Garcia, featherweight
It could be a double bill for Garcia and Donaire, with Garcia going up to 130 pounds to face Rocky Martinez. That's another very nice notch on Garcia's belt, if he can get that win.
15. Lucas Matthysse, junior welterweight
Matthysse or the man just beneath him could be sitting in the top 10 by the next update because they're facing each other in September for the right to be called THE new 140-pound champion.
16. Danny Garcia, junior welterweight
See "Matthysse," above.
17. Juan Francisco Estrada, flyweight
In July, Estrada beat another top flyweight, Milan Melindo. It made his former conqueror, Gonzalez, look all the better, and Estrada is now making his p4p debut with that victory, the Brian Viloria win and Gonzalez showing.
18. Saul Alvarez, junior middleweight
It almost goes without saying that if Alvarez beats Mayweather next month, it will be huge for his p4p stock. Super huge. Monumental huge.
19. Gennady Golovkin, middleweight
We'll have to wait until November to savor Golovkin's tasty power again, when he meets up with Curtis Stevens. Golovkin is, admittedly, here mainly on the strength of how he fares in the eyeball test.
20. Jhonny Gonzalez, featherweight
It came down to two men who scored quick KOs of pound-for-pounders, Gonzalez and Adonis Stevenson, but Gonzalez's prior wins and losses were better than Stevenson's, and Gonzalez beat the better p4p guy.
Honorable mentions: Adonis Stevenson; Abner Mares; Vitali Klitschko (inactivity); Chad Dawson; Mikkel Kessler; Brian Vioria; Anselmo Moreno; Austin Trout; Devon Alexander; David Haye; Chris John