Pound for Pound Rankings – Who’s the best of 2016?
With the year coming down to an end and 2017 just around the corner, now is a good time to give my view on who I believe are currently the cream of Boxing’s crop. There are some ‘big’ fights still remaining in the year, but none of them will have an impact on who rules the roost as the best lb for lb Boxer’s in the world. Anthony Joshua fights Eric Molina this weekend, defending his IBF crown and will inch closer to a showdown with Wladimir Klitschko should he, as expected prevail, but in all honesty, the undercard heavyweight fight between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora is a more entertaining bout. There’s also the farewell fight of the legendary Bernard Hopkins the following week, Hopkins is a true great of the sport, at 51 and still fighting at an elite level he is the perfect role model for young upcoming fighters, proving if you take care of your body and watch what you eat, nothing is impossible and age is not a barrier. Hard work and Discipline has kept Hopkins at the top for decades. None of these fights however, alter my lb for lb rankings. I’m basing my rankings not just on ring craft but also cross over appeal – the ability to appeal to casual fans and become sporting stars not just in the world of Boxing so without further ado, lets get down to business…
1. Manny Pacquio
With Floyd Mayweather Jnr retired for over a year, he drops out of the rankings for Boxing’s finest and the man who shared the ring with him in Boxing’s richest bout takes over. Yes I know he has barely fought but still, with his background and pedigree he remains the best until someone else can knock him off the top spot. Pac-man looked good albeit not the usual high standard we expect of him in his victory over Jessie Vargas last month, but that was still more than good enough to show there is unlikely anyone else in the Welterweight division who would beat him. I expect a big fight involving Pacquio and another big name in the coming year….
2. Andre Ward
OK so his last victory, by the skin of his teeth has left a bitter taste in the mouth’s of many Boxing fan’s, but the fact remains, he moved up a division to Light Heavyweight and dethroned the previously unbeaten Champion, Russian Sergey Kovalev. This is not to be underestimated, and the match up between the two was probably Boxing’s best match up since Mayweather Jnr battled Manny Pacquio back in 2015, two undefeated World Champions going at it, exactly more of what Boxing needs to see, and Ward prevailed, he beat a Boxer in Kovalev who is also one of the best lb for lb in the sport, there isn’t any other boxer who done that this year so Ward deserves his place here, I could even argue he is now the World’s best lb for lb Boxer, his slick skills and ability to adapt and shut down his opponent cements his place as a true technician of the game…..looking forward to the rematch!
3. Gennady Golovkin
Some may argue he doesn’t have the resume to rank so high in the list, but Golovkin is the most avoided Boxer on the planet and with good reason too, there isn’t a more feared puncher in the sport and Golovkin’s ratio of 33 KO’s in 36 fights is amongst the greatest Boxing has ever seen and his 91% KO percentage is the highest in middleweight history. Golovkin’s predatory style is a blessing for Boxing fans and his Knock out power will draw in the casual fans, at 34 Golovkin will want 2017 to be a big year for him fighting big names before the inevitable signs of age creep up on him, which leads me nicely to the number 4 position….
4. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
We’re all waiting for him and the Golden Boy team to quit hoping age catches up with Golovkin and just get on with it and take on Triple G in 2017, the time is right for the fight to be a mega sporting and money making event but all things aside, say what you want about Alvarez, but the man is the biggest draw in Boxing and is at the top of his game, at almost 27yrs of age he is entering his peak. Despite his young age, Canelo has already amassed 50 fights having turned pro at just 15 and has wins over such notable names as Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto, his only loss coming against Floyd Mayweather Jnr. Canelo’s power and body shots make him a fearsome opponent for anyone, let’s hope we get to see his long awaited match with Gennady Golovkin sometime next year.
5. Roman Gonzalez
Make no mistake, he may only be 5’3 but Gonzalez is a massive talent in the Boxing world, 29yrs old, unbeaten in 46 professional bouts, 38 by Knock out, already a four weight world champion, the Nicaraguan fighter would be a household name if he was fighting at a heavier weight but the current champion at Super Flyweight is yet to become the crossover star that the heavier fighters can become. Gonzalez isn’t known by the casual fans for this reason, but his ring ability has placed him at no.1 on many lb for lb lists. A proficient mover with beautiful balance and silky smooth moves, Gonzalez can throw over 1000 punches in a fight. Look for more big things and big wins for him in the upcoming year.
6. Guillermo Rigondeaux
No one wants to fight Rigondeaux, sure you can say it is because he isn’t involved in ‘exciting’ fights, possessing a style many fans do not appreciate, but Rigo is one of the games most talented fighters and that’s the real reason many Boxer’s don’t want to step into the ring with him. The downside is that Rigondeaux is already 36yrs old, having defected from Cuba and turned pro in 2009, still undefeated in 17 fights, the Super Bantamweight champion excels at counter punching and being elusive in the ring, possessing sublime footwork. It is unlikely ‘The Jackal’ will ever become a household name which is a shame because he is arguably the most talented Boxer in this list.
7. Vasyl Lomachenko
Loma has had just a handful of fights, under 10 but the fact he’s making a name for himself so early into his pro career outlines his outrageous talent. Already he has become a two weight world champion, becoming World Champion in just his third fight. Arguably the greatest Amateur Boxer in history having lost just once(and he avenged his only loss twice) in 397 fights, Loma can do it all, fight in any stance and move, punch at any angle, there isn’t a Boxer in the world who has better footwork than Lomachenko. His recent demolition of Nicholas Walters has put his name on the map with potential fights with Manny Pacquio being discussed. Most likely this wont take place, Loma is too small to fight Pacquio but like Roman Gonzalez, had he been fighting in a higher weight class you’d would have already heard of him, expect this junior lightweight champion to move up everyone’s lb for lb rankings next year and the scary thing is, at 28yrs old he will only get better….
And that’s where I will end my list, the list really takes into account not just ability but star appeal too, Boxing ability combined with the ability to appeal to those outside the sport as well. If it was just Boxing ability, numbers 5, 6, and 7 would certainly be much higher up. If I was to round out the list with a few more names I would include Sergey Kovalev, the former Light Heavyweight champion who only recently suffered his first career loss against Andre ward, and also Terence Crawford, the up and coming Light Welterweight is beginning to make headlines in Boxing and will possibly crack the top five in most lb for lbs lists if he can come up with some big name fights in 2017, to finish off the top 10 I would include Tyson Fury, the list just wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from a Heavyweight, he may currently be on a temporary sabbatical from the sport, but any man who knocked off the reigning champion of almost 10 years deserves his place amongst the top fighters of the game.