Floyd Mayweather is gone, again, and who knows how long he’ll be retired for this time. His departure leaves a vacancy atop the pound-for-pound throne.
So who’s the new “The Man?” That was determined by the usual main standard, which is quality wins of recent vintage (with overall resume and the “eyeball test” secondary factors; one year of inactivity equals disqualification). Here’s the most recent list, for comparison’s sake.
Remember that is the standard of this list, and you won’t hyperventilate at how long it takes you to get to, say, Gennady Golovkin.
1. Roman Gonzalez, flyweight
The new pound-for-pound king has wins over two fighters with top-10 pound-for-pound ability neither of whom had the status when he beat them, and one with pound-for-pound top 20. But the win over a fully operational Brian Viloria this weekend showed off his “special,” which is profound.
2. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight
Scoff if you will, but he’s still just one year removed from beating Timothy Bradley, and last time somebody asked Mayweather, he picked Pacquiao for the top spot — admittedly a self-serving gesture, given that it glorified Floyd to do so. He has nothing in the works, so no chance of topping Gonzalez anytime soon.
3. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight
In a world where sustained dominance over mostly-awful competition counts for a great deal, Klitschko is higher. As it is, it’s kinda remarkable he’s this high at all, given that he’s beaten, at most, one guy with top-20 p4p status. But in the current p4p picture, he’s where he belongs, with a chance to move up once he fights Tyson Fury.
4. Timothy Bradley, welterweight
To be sure, Bradley is shaky win after shaky win — but with the exception of the first Pacquiao win, all of them are legit. A November win with Brandon Rios with a new trainer could solidify his currently shaky position, but it’s not enough for him to advance.
5. Andre Ward, super middleweight
On resume and ability, Ward is a contender for the #1 spot. Unfortunately his last elite win was in 2012, and he’s only fought twice since then. He might appear on the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez undercard, but mainly he and his team have sniped with Golovkin’s team over not making a fight, rather than forcing Golovkin’s hand.
6. Juan Francisco Estrada, flyweight
His win over Hernan Marquez last month was a good one, even though he showed some vulnerability. Some consideration can be given to the fact that Marquez, if nothing else, can punch. Too bad Estrada doesn’t seem to be on HBO’s radar for a Gonzalez rematch.
7. Guillermo Rigondeaux, junior featherweight
The junior featherweight champ isn’t fighting, and when he does fight it’s against nobody. He’s falling fast and should; he only has one big win, over Nonito Donaire, and that was in 2012. He’s been poorly promoted and he’s Case Study A in how alphabet belts don’t equal a big career boost.
8. Sergey Kovalev, light heavyweight
Kovalev isn’t fighting until 2016 and he’s targeting Ward. That’s a blockbuster fight that could stand to rocket the winner to #1 or damn near it. Color me skeptical that it happens. (By the way, Kovalev is the main person on this list who feels too low. But he arrived at the spot chronologically and we’re not going to arbitrarily re-orient.)
9. Gennady Golovkin, middleweight
GGG’s dominant performance over a fellow top middleweight is enough to vault him one spot over Terence Crawford, who hasn’t beaten anyone so obviously better than David Lemieux by resume. Others above him definitely have. On overall skill set and eyeball test, though, he’s top 5, maybe top 2.
10. Terence Crawford, junior welterweight
Due to fight Dierry Jean next weekend, Crawford has tread a little bit of water while orienting himself at 140 pounds after his Fighter of the Year campaign. Jean is a dangerous foe if Crawford isn’t really a junior welter. But all signs point to him being just that.
11. Naoya Inoue, junior bantamweight
Only depth of resume keeps Inoue this low, and he’s still not fought in 2015. He’s clearly HBO’s favorite for Gonzalez next, which means he has a huge chance to advance or a chance to drop sometime in the future.
12. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight
Next month, Alvarez gets the biggest fight of his career next to Mayweather, and the winner between he and Cotto could make a huge leap.
13. Danny Garcia, welterweight
What’s Garcia doing? Basically nothing. Amir Khan is calling him out for a rematch, and I guess that might do a little something for Garcia, but no, basically, still, nothing.
14. Miguel Cotto, middleweight
On resume, again, Cotto is top-10 worthy. Based on what he’s done since winning the middleweight championship and squatting on it, not much. But Cotto-Canelo is a great fight at any weight.
15. Shinsuke Yamanaka, bantamweight
If not for some favorable judging, Yamanaka might not be in the top 20 at all. But he got the nod over Anselmo Moreno in a good, tough fight last month.
16. Adonis Stevenson, light heavyweight
Few careers have been as flustering as Stevenson’s, who had one outstanding year and has not built upon it — although some of his subsequent wins are not atrociously bad, per se, like Tommy Karpency last month.
17. Nicholas Walters, featherweight
It looks like he’ll be moving up officially to junior lightweight in December, but against whom is not clear. Also, that division is freaking terrible and barren.
18. Amnat Ruenroeng, flyweight
He’s in a quality division. But who will give him a big fight? He’s in serially ugly bouts and has nothing on his schedule, apparently.
19. Takashi Uchiyama, junior lightweight
Drastically overrated by many, Uchiyama hasn’t fought anyone worth half a damn in a years in a sorry division. His last anytime-top-10 was in 2012, but not at the time. Sustained dominance is why he’s here at all.
20. Vasyl Lomachenko, featherweight
Lomachenko is the opposite of the “sustained dominance” model — he’s all eyeball test, with a side of decent competition in his short pro career. Romulo Koasicha (who?) is next in November.
Honorable mentions: Floyd Mayweather; Bernard Hopkins; Juan Manuel Marquez; Erislandy Lara; Carl Frampton; Nonito Donaire; Kell Brook; Keith Thurman; Scott Quigg; Anselmo Moreno; Hekkie Budler