Pound-For-Pound Top 20 Boxers Update, 8/15

(Andre Ward after beating Paul Smith on June 20; Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images)

Activity. Inactivity. They can have an effect on who deserves to be ranked among the best fighters in the world, regardless of weight.

This month’s update brings the return of a fighter long off the scene, and the departure of two fighters who haven’t fought in a long, long time. One of the two departed — Carl Froch — officially retired. Another — Juan Manuel Marquez — might soon. As a result of Froch’s removal from boxing entirely, and as a result of Marquez’s effective removal, both are out of the top 20. We’ll talk about the returning fighter soon enough.

Here’s the most recent update for comparison’s sake, and, as usual, the predominant standard is “quality wins,” especially of recent vintage (when you’re inactive, you can’t do much of “recent vintage”). Secondary standards figure in, too, like the “eyeball test” of who just looks too damn awesome to ignore.

1. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight

How do you cap the richest and best win of your career? By fighting Andre freaking Berto in September, duh. Retirement might be next, but if he sticks around, he’s not vulnerable to losing his p4p throne at all.

2. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight

Pacquiao continues to rehab his injured shoulder, although word from his promoter is that he isn’t trying very hard. Bob Arum clearly wants to feed Pacquiao’s fading star to rising Terence Crawford, but resume alone keeps Pac here for now.

3. Roman Gonzalez, flyweight

It’s frustrating that the rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada hasn’t happened yet, but he’s due to fight in October on an HBO Pay-Per-View undercard and if it’s vs the erratic-but-talented Brian Viloria, he could jump over Pacquiao.

4. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight

Klitschko is signed to face one of the more qualified opponents of his career at a time when he might be on a physical decline. If he beats Tyson Fury in October, he’s got an argument to move up one or two spots.

5. Timothy Bradley, welterweight

By hook or by crook, Bradley keeps winning. He was shaky — again! — against Jessie Vargas this time, but still pulled it out in the end. If anything, though, he’s due to be bumped down because of his relative competition and performances.

6. Andre Ward, super middleweight

Lord he’s fussy, but as he showed against Paul Smith in June after a long layoff, he’s a complete, elite boxer. There is a lot of barking about Gennady Glolovkin or Sergey Kovalev in the future, but let’s see if fussy pants can actually muster either.

7. Guillermo Rigondeaux, junior featherweight

He’s far from the greatest boxer alive (those types don’t get routinely dropped by journeymen) but he’s awfully good and a Vasyl Lomachenko bout would be a terrific exhibition of Olympic greats. As with all things Rigo, don’t count on it happening.

8. Juan Francisco Estrada, flyweight

What’s Estrada up to next? Search me. You go type his name into Google News and see if you find out anything about what’s he’s doing. There’s a hint about what he SHOULD be doing if you scan up to #3.

9. Sergey Kovalev, light heavyweight

Kovalev blasted the hopeless mandatory challenger to his light heavyweight belt, Nadjib Mohammedi, in July, rather than face division king Adonis Stevenson. There are still people who say the belts are good for boxing. Really.

10. Terence Crawford, junior welterweight

Crawford has a date in October but no dance partner. Dierry Jean has volunteered. Mauricio Herrera’s name is in the mix. Both are very viable as Crawford, the former lightweight king, completes his transformation into a full 140-pounder.

11. Gennady Golovkin, middleweight

It’s a bummer that Golovkin’s team doesn’t seem to want Ward, but Golovkin-David Lemieux is a pretty potent bummer cure in October. A win might be enough to put him over Crawford, depending on Crawford’s opposition that same month.

12. Naoya Inoue, junior bantamweight

Multiple choice question, echoes of Mayweather: What is the best way to capitalize on a Fighter of the Year-caliber campaign? What is the worst? Inoue doesn’t have a fight booked this year yet. Choose your own adventure on where Inoue is on the best/worst follow-up regimen.

13. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight

We’re in a holding pattern for Alvarez vs Miguel Cotto in the fall — one of the best fights in boxing by measure of money, action, rivalry and quality — over a rematch clause. It’s always something with this fucking sport. (The James Kirkland win in May wasn’t quite enough to move up.)

14. Danny Garcia, welterweight

Garcia looked as good as he has in a while stomping over-the-hill Paulie Malignaggi this month, and he didn’t look all that great, which tells you too much. This is sort of the “hard to get enthused about what’s been going on with them” quadrant of the list.

15. Miguel Cotto, middleweight

Let’s be clear. Nobody on either side is opposed to a rematch clause for Canelo vs Cotto. They just disagree on the purse split for said rematch. This is inane shit.

16. Adonis Stevenson, light heavyweight

The unjustifiable Stevenson vs Tommy Karpency in September is arguably a step up from Kovalev-Mohammedi, however tiny. But ultimately, both of these dudes, Stevenson and Kovalev, have been super-annoying in their not-fighting-each-otherness.

17. Shinsuke Yamanaka, bantamweight

After building up an underestimated resume, Yamanaka started treading water, but now he’s taking on his best opponent ever in Anselmo Moreno in September. A win could be worth many, many spots. Fans of pure boxing, this one should make your shorts become uncomfortable.

18. Nicholas Walters, featherweight

Whether he’s a featherweight or junior lightweight — the latter of which he accidentally was in June, after missing weight — he hits hard and boxes well enough and has a good enough resume that he stays put right around here, attrition aside.

19. Marco Huck, cruiserweight

Huck is ending a long layoff in his American debut next weekend. It’s hard to tell from his opposition whether undefeated Krzysztof Glowacki will provide any kind of challenge.

20. Amnat Ruenroeng, flyweight

His foul-filled performance against John Riel Casimero in June doesn’t do anything to keep him from entering Ruenroeng from entering the top 20; one way or another, Ruenroeng is beating top competition, and it adds up.

Honorable mentions: Vasyl Lomachenko, Carl Frampton, Takashi Uchiyama, Erislandy Lara, Lucas Matthysse, Bernard Hopkins, Nonito Donaire, Juan Manuel Marquez

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.

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