(Terence Crawford; Tom Pennington, Getty Sports)
This is our first pound-for-pound update of 2015, and as such there are some major modifications. It made sense to wait this long after January and February produced negligible potential changes. It also made sense to wait until Mayweather vs Pacquiao, which would determine the p4p crown.
As always, the standard is quality wins, especially of recent vintage. The “eyeball test” is secondary when determining the best fighters in the world regardless of weight. A year of inactivity equals dismissal.
1. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight
There should be no doubt. He took out the #2 man and he did it fairly easily. You don’t have to love it, and you won’t be alone if you don’t. Even at age 38, he’s far and away the best in the sport today. He’ll be back in September.
2. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
Pacquiao wasn’t at his best, clearly, and he could’ve fought a smarter fight. Nonetheless, he hurt Mayweather at times and had his moments. It’s not enough to dock him from the #2 spot. His return is uncertain.
3. Roman Gonzalez, flyweight
Eyeball test, he looks as good as anyone these days. His best win is still over Juan Francisco Estrada and he hasn’t contested anyone close to Mayweather, as Pac did. A win two weeks from now vs. Edgar Sosa could narrow the gap.
4. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
Interestingly, he’s shown more vulnerability in his last two fights (including Bryant Jennings in April) than he’s shown since his days of getting KO’d all over the place. Yet his p4p competition hasn’t really been active. Tyson Fury next?
5. Juan Manuel Marquez, welterweight
Marquez falls because he hasn’t done anything for nearly a whole year, not because his resume is worse than, say, Klitschko’s. If he doesn’t schedule a fight this month, he’ll be gone entirely.
6. Carl Froch, super middleweight
Likewise, Froch, whose resume is criminally underrated, isn’t behaving like a guy who wants to continue his boxing career at all. He’ll be gone by next update without a fight scheduled this month.
7. Timothy Bradley, welterweight
Bradley hasn’t done much since his 2013 Fighter of the Year campaign, but unlike the two men above him, at least he’s done something. He’s vulnerable to being passed. A victory over Jessie Vargas next might not be enough.
8. Guillermo Rigondeaux, junior featherweight
The king at 122 hasn’t done much in a while, and his last win, in December, was about staying busy. He’s angling for Scott Quigg next, which he might get if Quigg and Carl Frampton keep feuding over a huge U.K. showdown.
9. Juan Francisco Estrada, flyweight
We keep waiting for his rematch with Gonzalez, and it keeps not happening. Estrada took a stay busy fight in March and FFS, let’s get the Gonzalez-Estrada rematch done already.
10. Sergey Kovalev, light heavyweight
Kovalev had some difficulty vs. Jean Pascal. He only elevated his stock by overcoming and stopping him. He’ll take on Nadjib Mohammedi next, part of a seemingly deliberate campaign to make everyone like him less.
11. Terence Crawford, junior welterweight
More than almost anyone, Crawford has the look of the future p4p king, after stepping up in weight and demolishing top 10 contender Thomas Dulorme. If he faces Lucas Matthysse next and wins, he’s due for a big jump.
12. Gennady Golovkin, middleweight
GGG is part of a series of dudes here who have that look of “next” alongside Estrada, Kovalev, etc. The Martin Murray win in 2015 was big. The Willie Monroe, Jr. fight next might tell us how he deals with pure boxers.
13. Naoya Inoue, junior bantamweight
Inoue had a 2014 Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign, stopping Omar Narvaez and beating some other contenders at lower weights. Carlos Cuadras or Gonzalez could be soon. Please, by all means.
14. Danny Garcia, junior welterweight
Garcia beat Lamont Peterson in April, but not definitively. He’s clearly just always going to struggle with anyone very good at all. He could, somehow, be next for Mayweather, but Adrien Broner is more winnable.
15. Miguel Cotto, middleweight
It’s a bummer he won’t defend his championship against GGG, but at least he’s facing a top middleweight in Daniel Geale next. And at least the Canelo Alvarez fight will happen in late 2015, probably, if Mayweather doesn’t knock.
16. Adonis Stevenson, light heavyweight
His water-treading continued with a win over Sakio Bika. At least his team made a stab at facing Kovalev, putting the more popular guy in the defensive. Could top youngster Artur Beterbiev be next? If so, that would be a nice back-up.
17. Shinsuke Yamanaka, bantamweight
His resume is the next-most underrated beyond Froch, yet he, too, is treading water right now. He had a win in April but it’s time for him to step it up.
18. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight
A win over James Kirkland this coming weekend may or may not do anything for Alvarez’s p4p stock. It certainly will fortify his position.
19. Nicholas Walters, featherweight
Whether he’s the best featherweight on paper — it’s a damn good division — he’s the best featherweight by resume. A win over Vasyl Lomachenko, himself borderline top 20, would be very nice for his positioning.
20. Marco Huck, cruiserweight
Surprising, maybe, but Huck, a la Froch, has a deep resume and a style that doesn’t suggest greatness. His next move is unclear — Roy Jones? Tony Bellew? — but he’s very vulnerable at this spot if someone else is more ambitious.
Honorable mentions: Vasyl Lomachenko, Carl Frampton, Amnat Ruenroeng, Takashi Uchiyama, Erislandy Lara, Lucas Matthysse, Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward, Nonito Donaire