(Roman Gonzalez, left; Akira Yaegashi, right)
At last, some movement. Since our last update of the best boxers in the world, regardless of weight, some of them have, actually, you know, fought. And in some meaningful fights, too.
There are two new entrants to the top 10 (hint: one of them is in the picture), and a whole new entry into the top 20. And there are options for a rejiggering of the top 10 before year’s end, too, so that’s not such a bad thing. It’s no poor measurement of the sport’s health when those considered to be the best in the sport are taking fights that could enhance or reduce their stock.
As always, the standard for this particular p4p list is as follows: Quality wins, especially of recent vintage; followed by, everything else. It’s why you’ll see fighters who look great below fighters whose wins are great.
1. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight
Mayweather coasted more easily to a rematch win over Marcos Maidana in September, despite his legs still looking a touch beyond their prime and some referee help, thus extra-solidifying his undisputed p4p king status.
2. Andre Ward, super middleweight
By the next update of this list in December, Ward almost certainly will be off the list entirely thanks to one year of inactivity, or else lower thanks to what #3 has been doing. The sad, premature death of the promoter he battled is another question mark.
3. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
Were Pacquiao to beat Chris Algieri in November, it would be no big accomplishment. But so narrow is the gap between Pacquiao and the inactive Ward that he might take the spot even if Ward fights again by December’s end.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez, welterweight
TBRB found cause to move Roman Gonzalez this high on its p4p list; I disagree. He looks terrific, but his record — even his recent record — pales in comparison to Marquez’s, and certainly to JMM’s overall record. Nothing in the works, alas.
5. Carl Froch, super middleweight
Likewise, Froch never will pass the “eyeball test” the way Gonzalez does, or almost anyone. But he just keeps winning, over and over, against the best. Another top-10 168-pounder, James DeGale, is likely next in early 2016.
6. Roman Gonzalez, flyweight
Gonzalez’s win over flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi in September was the dam-breaker on Gonzalez as indisputable p4p top 10. It’s only a question of where. One more huge win (possibly in Nov.?) could, however, put him in the top four.
7. Timothy Bradley, welterweight
Bradley’s loss to Pacquiao and his do-nothingness since has hurt him. The Marquez win and close(ish) first Pacquiao fight and his overall resume are only worth so much when others are doing sexier things. Next is likely so-so.
8. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
The heavyweight champ might’ve had one of the better wins of his career over Kubrat Pulev in September if not for an injury, and the kind that might’ve moved him up this list, even. Now the fight is booked for November.
9. Guillermo Rigondeaux, junior featherweight
The junior featherweight champ knocked out Sod Kokietgym in July with a cheap shot, doing absolutely nothing for himself in any single way. What’s next is a total mystery, now that he’s free of promoter Top Rank.
10. Juan Francisco Estrada, flyweight
Estrada dominated Giovani Segura in September, and between that, his close fight with Gonzalez and his beatdown of top- 10ish Brian Viloria, this spot is very, very deserved. Gonzalez-Estrada II might be the best fight in the sport.
11. Danny Garcia, junior welterweight
The junior welterweight champ has been wasting everyone’s time for a while, even if the close Mauricio Herrera fight has aged well. He’s talked Pacquiao, Lucas Matthysse, etc. but there’s no sign of actual competition in his future.
12. Gennady Golovkin, middleweight
Golovkin slaughtered Daniel Geale in August for his best career win, and he’s the clear best middleweight sans the lineal championship. By the “eyeball test,” there might be no one better right now.
13. Miguel Cotto, middleweight
Cotto has Golovkin nipping at the notion that he deserves to be true middleweight champ, and is doing nothing in the ring to contradict that. He might not even fight until next year.
14. Adonis Stevenson, light heavyweight
Stevenson, too, belongs on the list of champions who aren’t behaving like he should. He is expected to fight in December, but not against anyone all that worthy.
15. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight
Absent Gonzalez-Estrada II in 2014, Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev in November is the best fight on the ledger. It’s so ballsy for a 50-year-old man. Hopkins #2 p4p if he beats Kovalev? Not absurd. (Advanced testing would be nice, though.)
16. Nonito Donaire, featherweight
If Donaire isn’t honoring his word about a Simpiwe Vetyeka rematch, at least he’s taking on consecutive tough opponents, with Nicholas Walters up in October. It could be his path back to the top 10.
17. Mikey Garcia, junior lightweight
Mikey’s wheels just keep spinning, as he deals with a lawsuit against his promoter Top Rank. And the more they spin, the less vital he is on lists of the world’s best.
18. Jhonny Gonzalez, featherweight
Jhonny is bhoxing this weekend, and that’s always a good thing. Will a win over Jorge Arce be enough to advance him in the top 20? Almost certainly not.
19. Shinsuke Yamanaka, bantamweight
Now this is a man set to increase his p4p stock. Yamanaka, already on one of the most underrated hot streaks in the sport, is due in October against Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
20. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight
His win over Erislandy Lara in August was far from clear, or otherwise demonstrative. But it was a top win nonetheless — enough to push out Abner Mares, who lost to Jhonny and hasn’t impressed since.
Honorable mentions, in no particular order: Abner Mares; Terence Crawford; Marco Huck; Sergey Kovalev; Lucas Matthysse; Erislandy Lara; Takashi Uchiyama; Vasyl Lomachenko; Leo Santa Cruz; Carl Frampton