(Timothy Bradley, at left, after fighting Manny Paquiao, at right)
What to do, what to do with the whole crazy Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao decision, rankings-wise? That was the big dilemma for this update of the pound-for-pound rankings of the best boxers in the world, regardless of weight.
I think it boils down to what kind of rankings you’re talking about here. At welterweight, I think Bradley should be above Pacquiao, something Ring Magazine contemplated doing. Unfortunately, that magazine has taken to frequently ignoring official results, something that was once a rarity in those pages (based on my survey of 13 past controversial decisions, dating back to the 1940s, Ring favored the official winner in 11 of those cases). No other sport that I know of — no matter how ambiguously that sport is scored, or how controverial was some sort of judicial/official/referee call — ignores official results. If you win, you win, period. And if you beat somebody in divisional rankings, I think you should be ranked ahead of that person.
But that’s a longer debate, and one that’s not terribly relevant to pound-for-pound rankings. Now, me, more often than not, I’ve honored the official decisions. I thought Juan Manuel Marquez beat Pacquiao in each of their last two fights, but have left Pacquiao ahead of Marquez. And when Chad Dawson was briefly awarded a controverial win over Bernard Hopkins, I ranked Dawson above Hopkins. But all of these cases are different than this one. All of them were debatable. While there have been some who have looked anew at the Bradley-Pacquiao decision and seen it as somewhat close, I have not. Pound-for-pound rankings are more nebulous than divisional rankings, and while many of the same standards should apply, not all of them can or should. And I cannot say that Bradley is better than Pacquiao in a pound-for-pound sense.
With that out of the way, let’s see where everyone settled in after a decently busy two months. We have a new top-10 entrant, one top-20 exit and one new top-20 entrant, and that means some movement all around. As usual, the most important standard for P4P consideration is quality wins, especially of recent vintage, but things like the “eyeball test” and career achievement and a few other smaller things factor into the rankings.
1. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight
If nothing else, Pacquiao’s loss cemented Mayweather’s status as the top man. Look at how the voting went in the Yahoo pound-for-pound poll for evidence. He’s in jail for a while longer, though, so the king rules behind bars for the time being and won’t be back in action until November at the earliest.
2. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
Pacquiao stays put at #2, but his position is weaker as one of the two top men in the sport than ever. If he rematches with Bradley, Marquez or even Cotto next, it’s increasingly easier to imagine him losing in his return to the ring in November. Pacquiao was by turns pretty good and pretty mediocre against Bradley, though, so his slow slide appears to be in full effect.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez, junior welterweight
It’s just a tune-up for a potential fourth Pacquiao meeting that Marquez has in mind next, with a July fight having gone from a potential Brandon Rios match-up to… Al Sabaupan. At least right now. It’s changed a lot, what Marquez will do next. Sabaupan is said to be something like a mini-Pacquiao, so it makes sense in that regard.
4. Andre Ward, super middleweight
We won’t hear from Ward again until September, when the 168-pound champ faces the 175-pound champ, Chad Dawson. It’s a fight where the winner could supplant Marquez or even Pacquiao — Yahoo’s Kevin Iole already ranks Ward above Pacquiao. Important fight, probably not a fun one, but I’m very interested.
5. Sergio Martinez, middleweight
Holy shit, it seems like Martinez’ dream fight is going to happen. Days ago, I got a news release announcing an international media tour that begins July 10 for the Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. bout. It’ll go down in September, though, the fight itself, if it actually happens. Until then, Martinez and Chavez are going to say bad things about one another, and there’s s still a chance the fight culd be moved to a different date.
6. Nonito Donaire, junior featherweight
Donaire is one of the few guys on this list in meaningful competition during the next two months, as he’s facing Jeffrey Mathebula this coming weekend, a rare opponent who’s taller than Donaire. A win probably won’t affect his pound-for-pound stock, but it sure won’t hurt. We’ll have a full preview of the Mathebula fight later this week.
7. Carl Froch, super middleweight
In May, Froch beat a man who was on a lot of top-10 P4P lists. I don’t think Lucian Bute belonged there, but he was certainly top-20 and Froch still has one of the best resumes in boxing over the last few years even without it. So he belongs pretty high here. Next fight won’t be til fall, possibly against Mikkel Kessler.
8. Chad Dawson, light heavyweight
See Ward, above. I have Dawson a couple spots ahead of most lists, but he’s an undeniable talent, and beating Hopkins the way he did in that rematch was very impressive to me. I might wish we were getting a rematch with Jean Pascal instead of Ward, but Ward helps him more in a pound-for-pound sense.
9. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
Most folk have Wlad a few spots higher than me, too, but other than David Haye he’s not beaten a soul who could even conceivably have cracked the P4P top 20. Everyone else above him has at least one sure-fire top-10 or top-20 listee, often several. A Tony Thompson rematch this wekeend changes nothing.
10. Timothy Bradley, welterweight
I moved Bradley up ahead of Vitali Klitschko, by virtue of a decent showing against Pacquiao and the official win on his record. But I couldn’t move him up much more than that. I actually wanted to. But I didn’t see his resume even with that on it as better than the men ahead of him. One wonders whether the leg injuries hurt his chances of winning against Pacquiao legit.
11. Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight
You can’t knock a guy for taking a showcase fight as his retirement bout. It’s hard to sell a September bout against Manuel Charr as much more than that, I’m afraid.
12. Abner Mares, junior featherweight
Mares might’ve been in action in August against Christian Esquivel, but suffered an injury and won’t. Maybe he can go straight to Donaire now , or fight any actual junior featherweight since moving up from bantamweight, as he just keeps targeting blown-up 118-pounders.
13. Anselmo Moreno, bantamweight
Since an easy win on a Showtime doubleheader in April, there’s been virtually no talk at all about what Moreno’s next fight, as Mares has turned his attention elsewhere and Moreno is probably very far down the list of people Donaire wants to face.
14. Miguel Cotto, junior middleweight
Cotto is reportedly talking about fighting in December, but I bet if he gets the call to fight Pacquiao, he’ll suddenly be willing to fight in November. If he insists on a fight above welterweight, I give him a very good chance in that bout. At welter, he’s got less of a chance but still a decent one.
15. Yuriorkis Gamboa, featherweight
Freedom! Gamboa can now resume his boxing career after reportedly reaching a settlement with Top Rank, the promotional company with which he’d been feuding. Specifics on what YURIORKIS GAMBOA! might do next fight-wise are in very short supply, however.
16. Brian Viloria, flyweight
There’s been talk of Viloria facing Hernan Marquez in September or October, and it’s a fight that would do a lot for his P4P status. Not to mention, it would probably be a stone classic.
17. Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight
Hopkins recently said he was looking at a bout with Beibut Shumenov, but Shumenov’s team has said it isn’t interested. Hopkins coul still be back in the fall, though.
18. Brandon Rios, junior welterweight
Whether he was actually injured or just fat, Rios’ plans to be back in action this coming weekend were delayed when the Mauricio Herrera bout was called off. Hurry back, Rios, and try to get in shape, either way. You’re too much fun to be away from the ring, especially for a dumb reason.
19. Roman Gonzalez, junior flyweight
Donnie Nietes and strawweight Denver Cuello have both recently said they want to face Gonzalez, so there are some good-to-passable options for him out there. Nothing solid appears to be in the works, is all.
20. Mikkel Kessler, super middleweight
Kessler’s win over Froch looks better with the passage of time, and his huge knockout of Allan Green in May, along with a deep resume prior to a long layoff, were enough for Kessler to re-enter the top 20. He replaces the man Froch beat, Bute.
Honorable mentions: Lucian Bute; Amir Khan; Lamont Peterson; Giovani Segura; Andre Dirrell; Orlando Salido; Juan Manuel Lopez; Erislandy Lara; Chris John; Robert Guerrero; Toshiaki Nishiok; Devon Alexander; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam