(Nov. 8, Atlantic City; Sergey Kovalev celebrates his win over Bernard Hopkins after their bout at Boardwalk Hall. Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Just about all the 2014 business is finished for the best boxers in the world across every weight division, with only Adonis Stevenson and Guillermo Rigondeaux on this list yet to have their final fights of the year. Stevenson’s will happen this weekend, Rigo’s on New Year’s Eve. Both should be a cakewalk. So, reserving the right to boot them entirely in an update or two should they lose fights they ought not lose, let’s wrap up the pound-for-pound tally for a down period on the calendar for boxing.
When I say “down period on the calendar,” I mean the year total. Since our last update, it’s actually been fairly eventful. We’ve got three new names on this list. The top 10 has some movement. Neato.
As always, the first standard for p4p contention standing is quality wins, especially of recent vintage, although other standards, such as the “eyeball test,” also factor in. Also, if you’ve been inactive for a year with no fights scheduled, you get kicked out. (See ya when you actually box again, if you ever do, Andre Ward.)
1. Floyd Mayweather, welterweight
The pound-for-pound king is fronting like he’ll fight our new #2; don’t count on it. However, after Amir Khan’s strong performance last weekend, the Brit is looking like the next best option, probably in May.
2. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
The Pacman benefits from Ward’s inactivity and a win over undeserving Chris Algieri in November. Pacquiao isn’t what he once was, but he beat Timothy Bradley in 2014, too, so he’s in the Fighter of the Year discussion.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez, welterweight
Three p4p fighters in a row that are welterweights, and four in the top 10. Marquez doesn’t have anything cooking and recently suffered a knee injury, which means it could be a while before the cooking starts.
4. Roman Gonzalez, flyweight
A November stoppage of Rocky Fuentes pushes him one spot higher. I get the sentiment for him at #3, but Marquez still has a win over Pacquiao atop his very, very, very long (read: longer) resume of greatness.
5. Carl Froch, super middleweight
This isn’t about being stubborn for the sake of it. Forget about how Froch sometimes looks wobbly in the ring and just compare his resume, and competition, to the man beneath. Up next: Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in ’15?
6. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
The November Kubrat Pulev win was one of his best performances and wins. Still, how good was Pulev, really? He’s here for dominance, as his best wins aren’t as impressive as others’. Next, maybe: spring, Bryant Jennings.
7. Timothy Bradley, welterweight
Bradley keeps slipping as others climb above him. Forget about the Diego Chaves bullshit draw. He’s still a top fighter, still a handful. He just needs elite competition not named “Pacquiao” again.
8. Guillermo Rigondeaux, junior featherweight
Rigo is heading to Asia for a fight against Hisashi Amagasa, who’s tougher than Stevenson’s competition, anyway. It’s been a wasted year for one of the sport’s purest boxers.
9. Juan Francisco Estrada, flyweight
This month, Estrada beat Joebert Alvarez in something of a stay-busy fight. Gods be good, we’ll land the much-anticipated, oft-talked about rematch between Gonzalez and Estrada in 2015.
10. Sergey Kovalev, light heavyweight
A few names could’ve contended for this spot. Kovalev has the best overall win among them, a November domination of Bernard Hopkins that made him a Fighter of the Year option. He booked Jean Pascal for March.
11. Danny Garcia, junior welterweight
Garcia wasted his year, too, but has a lot of good possible dates for 2015: Pacquiao, Lamont Peterson, Terence Crawford, Adrien Broner, Viktor Postol and Ruslan Provodnikov are all potential opponents.
12. Terence Crawford, lightweight
Speaking of — Crawford’s taking of the lightweight championship of the world helps put him here, and he, too, is a Fighter of the Year contender. He’s looking to move up in weight next.
13. Gennady Golovkin, middleweight
We’ll get an early 2015 highlight when Golovkin gets back in the ring in February, and against arguably his best opponent to date, Martin Murray.
14. Miguel Cotto, middleweight
Cotto talked about fighting in the fall or winter, but skipped it. If he doesn’t fight Canelo Alvarez or Golovkin next, he is going to make people frown.
15. Adonis Stevenson, light heavyweight
The division champ keeps getting sonned by Kovalev, losing out on fights against Hopkins and Pascal both. Instead he’s fighting… Dmitry Sukhotsky. Fail.
16. Mikey Garcia, junior lightweight
Fails abound. Garcia is one month away from getting kicked out of this list for inactivity, and all his talk of moving up to 135 or 140 is just talk until he stops fighting with his promoter Top Rank.
17. Shinsuke Yamanaka, bantamweight
With a win over Suriyan Sor Rungvisai in October, Yamanaka moves up one spot. He remains one of the sport’s most underrated fighters. You just wish he’d get in there with Anselmo Moreno.
18. Johnny Gonzalez, featherweight
He’s mostly a one-win fighter as pound-for-pound goes, and did almost nothing in 2014, some of which was Abner Mares’ (that one win) fault. He’s very vulnerable to getting passed by almost anyone.
19. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight
An injury (or “injury”) put off a late-2014 fight nobody really wanted, vs. Joshua Clottey. A fight with Cotto in 2015 is one of the biggest and best in all of boxing.
20. Nicholas Walters, featherweight
Walters stopped a pound-for-pound fighter who’d never been stopped, Nonito Donaire. Vasyl Lomachenko is the pick among featherweights on all-around skills, but Walters has the much, much better victory.
Honorable mentions, in no particular order: Vasyl Lomachenko, Bernard Hopkins, Nonito Donaire, Marco Huck, Carl Frampton, Erislandy Lara, Takashi Uchiyama, Lucas Matthysse, Andre Ward