Boxing Pound for Pound

By Cain Bradley on January 19, 2017
Boxing Pound for Pound
Ward’s narrow defeat of light heavyweight king Sergey Kovalev was controversial. (AP)

Boxing was treated to its first display of top quality action this weekend and there is so much more to come…

Boxing was treated to its first display of top quality action this weekend and there is so much more to come. At the early stage of 2017, these are top 30 pound for pound boxers operating worldwide.

1. Andre Ward
Andre Ward dominated the super middleweight division, winning the Super Six which saw him beat Kessler, Abraham and Froch. That was impressive enough form before his narrow defeat of light heavyweight king Sergey Kovalev. It was controversial but he probably did enough.

2. Roman Gonzalez
The Nicaraguan star is underrated purely because of his size. A four weight world champion he is not only fun to watch but sheer class. Estrada, Yaegashi, Sosa, Viloria and Cuadras have all been dispatched over the years.

3. Sergey Kovalev
A loser in his most recent bout—yes. However, that did come against Andre Ward, the man ranked number one. Many feel that Kovalev was robbed in that fight and it is unfair to drop him many places in the rankings after he tore through the light heavyweight division.

4. Vasyl Lomachenko
After only nine fights not many boxers crack pound for pound lists. An early loss to Salido has been offset by wins over Russell and moving up to defeat Roman Martinez. Then in his showcase, he dominated Nicholas Walters in a unification belt. It was not just the victory but a thorough embarrassment of a highly rated opponent.

5. Saul Alvarez
Probably controversial but at only 26 this man has done so much. He dominated a light middleweight division with a win over Erislandy Lara. Other impressive names on his résumé include Amir Khan, James Kirkland, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout and a rejuvenated Miguel Cotto. His quality of wins and impressive performances see him ranked here.

6. Guillermo Rigondeaux
Another incredible amateur, the Cuban was also making pound for pound lists after less than ten fights. His quality is supreme and the level he reached when besting Nonito Donaire is rarely attained by boxers. Unfortunately no one wants to fight him and amongst such quality that hurts him here. I really hope someone takes a risk by attempting to beat Rigondeaux

7. Terence Crawford
Crawford has at this point dominated two divisions beating the top ranked opponent during his time comfortably. It was Burns, Beltran and Gamboa at lightweight before beating Postol at light welterweight. He is a superb switch hitter who looks like he is capable of moving up to the welterweight division and causing everyone there real troubles

8. Gennady Golovkin
Many people have the dominant middleweight higher. I just cannot on strength of wins. Danny Jacobs will be comfortably his best win if he defeats him next time out. At the moment his best win is Lemieux who is a middle of the road fighter and Kell Brook who stepped up two weight classes to fight Golovkin.

9. Naoya Inoue
I have waxed lyrical about Inoue before.  The way he tore through Navarez was frightening and last time out he stopped Kohei Kono. Kono has fought bangers and is nicknamed tough boy having never been previously stopped. For me Inoue is the most powerful pound for pound puncher in the world and that means if the rumored fight with Gonzalez ever gets made, he has a serious chance.

10. Danny Garcia
Maybe the biggest reach so far but I think this man is so talented. He really can do it all and I believe he has the beating of any welterweight. We will see what happens when he takes on Thurman, he will be hoping to add his name to those of Khan, Malignaggi, Peterson, Matthysse and Guerrero as defeated foes.

11. Carl Frampton
Cazares and Martinez were the headline wins as he became champion. He has proved his quality by winning bouts against two world champions. He overcome Scott Quigg in a strange bout and then after moving up a weight it was unbeaten Leo Santa Cruz who he defeated in a classic. The rematch later this month will be his chance to prove it was no fluke.

12. Shinsuke Yamanaka
Two draws early in his career stop the Japanese bantamweight from having a perfect record. He has been champion for over five years and has names such as Darchinyan, Solis and Moreno on his resume. The Moreno bout was one of the fights of last year and perhaps a fight with Tapales will be even better.

13. Kell Brook
His 2016 in terms of results was not a successful one. He lost his big bout, to Golovkin. It enhanced his reputation as he outboxed Golovkin at times and even hurt his bigger opponent. He also gets credit for the way he defeated Shawn Porter to become world champion.

14. Keith Thurman
Slightly less impressive in his win over Porter, Thurman is also a welterweight world champion. He also has wins over Guerrero, Collazo and Bundu. I have a feeling his reputation is better than his actual level right now, but he will get a chance to prove just how good he is when taking on Danny Garcia.

15. Oleksandr Usyk
Another man with quality amateur pedigree who successfully transitioned to the professional game quickly. Bout ten was his world title bout and he comfortably took apart Krzysztof Glowacki. He then followed it up by beating Mchunu. Usyk looks like he will rule this division and maybe even move up to challenge at heavyweight.

16. Manny Pacquiao
The start of this comeback has not enthralled me. He defeated the weakest world champion in Jesse Vargas and now looks set to take on Jeff Horn. The comeback would not have him ranked here but it is not long ago that he beat Timothy Bradley for the second time. The quality of opponent needs to keep up for him to maintain his place here.

17. Erislandy Lara
Lara has four blotches on his résumé. All were extremely disputable—two were draws and two were losses to dominant boxers in the division. Paul Williams and Canelo Alvarez both arguably lost to Lara. The tricky Cuban is a matchup nightmare which makes him avoided.

18. Donnie Nietes
The Filipino first won a world title in 2007. He first stepped up to dominate the light flyweight division where he became The Ring champion having beat Moises Fuentes. He stepped up to flyweight, beating Edgar Sosa who has only lost to the best since 2010 last time out and will look for titles in a strong division.

19. Jezreel Corrales
Corrales was the breakout boxer of 2016. He had won an interim title to end 2015 but was heavy underdog against Takashi Uchiyama. He beats his twice in 2016, the first time stopping him in round two. The second time he proved it was no fluke with a decision victory .

20/21. James DeGale/Badou Jack
I will take the unique step of grouping just because they are in very similar positions. Both have wins over good opponents for world titles in Andre Dirrell and George Groves. They fought each other to an epic draw where both were knocked down and could believe they deserved the victory. It would be brilliant if they did it again but Jack seemed determined to move up to light heavyweight. A bout with Adonis Stevenson was talked about and it is an intriguing one. For DeGale that would mean he would take on domestic rival Callum Smith. I have DeGale ranked one higher as he was more decisive against Bute and although I scored a draw I felt DeGale had the bigger claim to have won.

22. Jorge Linares
The three weight world champion looked as good as he probably ever had when defeating Anthony Crolla last year. They will be fight a rematch in March. Gamaliel Diaz, Kevin Mitchell and Rocky Juarez are perhaps his other standout wins. He is always exciting and if he beats Crolla again, expect him to look for a big bout.

23. Leo Santa Cruz
Another three weight world champion who I believe to be somewhat underrated. His signature win came over Abner Mares who franked the form by regaining a world title in his next bout. Last year Santa Cruz lost a majority decision to Carl Frampton but he has a chance to avenge that at the end of this month .

24. Carlos Cuadras
Cuadras won his world title in 2014 defeating Wisaksil Wangek—the man who fights Roman Gonzalez next. He held the title up until this year with victories including Luis Concepcion. His loss came against number two, Roman Gonzalez who he gave one of his toughest bouts yet.

25. Tim Bradley
I am a huge Bradley fan but like Pacquaio earlier I think he is more likely to go down than up this list. His last fight was the loss to Manny and unless you count Vargas his last big win was Marquez in 2013. There are fights out there for Bradley so let’s see where he ends up next.

26. Gervonta Davis
I knew Davis has potential but to be that good already was scary. He is 22, two days younger than I am! The commentators referenced Nas but he is more orthodox than that. He took apart Pedraza with speed and accuracy. The uppercut was the best shot and the shots he took Pedraza out with were terrifying. Pedraza is his only top level victory but the skill and potential he showed in doing it was incredible. The super featherweight division is sensational before adding the potential of boxers moving up from featherweight.

27. Adonis Stevenson
Adonis Stevenson at one point looked just as impressive as Kovalev and on track for a collision with him. The last couple of years he has not impressed against mediocre opposition and avoided Kovalev. Wins over Dawson, Cloud, Bellew and Fonfara are all impressive but he needs to do something to maintain relevancy. The division is stronger than it has been for a while, let’s hope it brings Stevenson a challenge that he can rise to.

28. Juan Francisco Estrada
Two men have done well against Roman Gonzales. One was Cuadras and this is the other man. He lost a decision to him at light flyweight before moving up to dominate the flyweight division. Viloria, Segura and Marquez were dispatched easily. He has now moved to super flyweight a division with six really good boxers. Let’s hope he gets it on with at least one of those.

29. Kazuta Ioka
Ioka was a brilliant amateur, long and powerful. He beat Oleydong Sithsamerchai to win a strawweight world title in his seventh bout. He scored a decision victory over domestic rival Akira Yaegashi. He moved up to light flyweight and became champion before losing a split decision to Amnat Ruenroeng. He won a world title back defeating Juan Carlos Recevo.

30. Mikey Garcia
At one point Garcia would have edging towards the top ten on this list. Concepcion, Barros, Salido, Lopez and Martinez were all dispatched before a fall out with his promoter which kept him out of action for over a year. He returned to stop Elio Rojas but a win next time out over impressive division rival Dejan Zlaticanin would see him climb the rankings.

Just missed out: Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, Terry Flanagan, Nicholas Walters and Chayaphoon Moonsaari
Will be here soon: Errol Spence, Oscar Valdez, Anthony Joshua, Luis Nery and Oleksandr Gvozdyk

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  1. Cain Bradley 03:15am, 02/09/2017

    Burgos, Barros and Lopez for me are not quality wins. Those are all gatekeeper level fighters. His amateur career has been completely disregarded but he is one of few boxers to have had 7 world title fights. Most people with 7 world title fights have had over 20 fights so comparing his lack of fights is only a credit to him. He beat Martinez more impressively than anyone then made Walters - who everyone thought was legit - literally quit. In his second bout he lost a thin decision to Salido. I made money on him losing that day as I believed Salido would be too experienced and clever. That was the difference and I think now Lomachenko could defeat it. You say he avoids but none of us know how these negotiations go. When you are being mentioned in connection with Manny Pacquaio, I would wait for that fight. Does the Salido fight sell? Not like a Pacman one! Boxing is subjective so for me to disregard the result is very hard for me. It has to be an awful decision with 90% disagreeing with the result. Things like Ward v Kovalev are not robberies and there is no right result, just opinions. I had Gonzalez winning two tight fights and once again it’s about money.

  2. tetumbo 04:51pm, 02/08/2017

    “The use of the word proven is the one getting me. Garcia has three good wins; Salido, Martinez and Zlaticanin” you forgot to mention Barros, Salido, Lopez, Martinez, and Burgos, occurred in consecutive order, followed by a tenacious TD v. the Bobfather, which is above and beyond anything and EVERYthing Lomachenko has barely accomplished. especially defeating a post-Garcia and Salido Martinez. also, at 7-1, Lomachenko is STILL in the early stages of his pro-career. his amateur career is irrelevant to this pro-boxing fight-fan and i certainly don’t believe he predictably defeats Salido. if that were the case, he wouldn’t be stalling for three years and counting to confirm the long-deferred rematch.  his win against Gary “QUITTER” Russell is weak, i.e., you have to believe that neither Santa Cruz, Mares, Salido, Vargas, Berchelt, Frampton, or Davis would concede in equally feeble fashion. Gonzalez barely defeated Estrada (who he never rematched despite demand for one) and got a gift-decision v.  Cuadras who he is now BLATANTLY Ducking despite promising an immediate rematch that Cuadras was preparing for and which he is now claiming Gonzalez ducked out of fear.that alone DQs Gonzalez from consideration among the top-10 and definitely any ranking above Cuadras.

    Btw and for the record, i don’t honor “official scorecards” and i routinely disregard the biased and boxing-ignorant pap of shills, promoters, and self-declared “experts”, e.g., Cuadras defeated Gonzalez and nothing will convince me that Gonzalez is better than Cuadras . . . other than a rematch win.

  3. Cain Bradley 05:35am, 02/01/2017

    The use of the word proven is the one getting me. Garcia has three good wins; Salido, Martinez and Zlaticanin. Lomachenko also beat Martinez (more impressively). He did lose to Salido but that was early in his career and you have to feel he beats him now. His win against Gary Russell is just as strong. Then beating Walters a top 20 p4p boxer is better than Zlaticanin, the fourth best lightweight? Gonzalez has beaten Cuadras and Estrada, two very impressive wins!

  4. Kid 05:55pm, 01/31/2017

    Rigo at six is stunning.

  5. tetumbo 05:30pm, 01/31/2017

    Garcia is Top-10. you simply caN’T rank UNproven and UNtested promotional darlings like Lomachenko and Rigondeaux above Mikey and consider this list to be credible. Golovkin’s ring-resume is also paltry and Gonzalez took a hit to his credibility by blatantly avoiding the red-hot and eagerly-anticipated rematch v. Cuadras who is a top-15 fighter above the likes of Lomachenko, Gonzalez, and especially “The Annual” Rigondeaux who only fights once a year and milked his d four-year old win v. Donaire dry two years ago. the results of last Saturday’s bouts exposed this list as being so far off, that i suggest a red. otherwise, this list simply doesn’t jibe with reality.

  6. Cain Bradley 06:19am, 01/31/2017

    Mikey Garcia would no longer be ranked at 30. He is in my top 15 now. It is hard when he has not beat a meaningful opponent for a few years. His talent level is top ten! Lomachenko has gone from strength to strength since then. He stepped up a weight and has beat two guys that were probably on this list at the time!

  7. tetumbo 04:29pm, 01/30/2017

    I believe last Saturday’s fight-night exposes this list as completely CLUELESS about the current and accurate status of today’s best fighters, e.g., Santa Cruz is no top-20 behind Golovkin, Rigondeaux, Lomachenko, and Gonzalez and Mikey Garcia is definitely not #30. until Lomachenko rematches and defeats Salido, he must be ranked lower than Salido and a LOT lower than Garcia who decked Salido four times in eight rounds before a headbutt put a merciful end to that bout and he did this a full year before Salido took Lomachenko to after-school for his “W”.

  8. Koolz 05:06pm, 01/25/2017

    Great your another who has GGG fought…

    that’s getting old.

    wasn’t impressed with Gonzalez’s last fight I think he got the Sh#$%T beat out of him.  After the fight he could barely see he had rest in bed as his eyes were swollen shut.

    I thought it was way to close to call Gonzalez winning it.

  9. Kid 09:13am, 01/23/2017

    For me, dominance is a key—as in Donnie Nietes or Chocolatito.

  10. Cain Bradley 06:09am, 01/23/2017

    I would probably also make Inoue slight favourite but Gonzalez has the better resume. He has impressively dominated three divisions - now champ in another - including some wins I would call great. I love Inoue, as you can see by my writing on him. (Shingo’s Monster) Ward dominated one of the toughest divisions in boxing and then after a break beat a top 5 p4p opponent. No one has a win better than Kovalev. I think he will if he has some of the dream matchups that are around his division at the moment. I did originally which I think is an eye test thing. But his resume just does not impress me. Three losses to not great opposition and his two best wins are Crolla and Juarez - not top talents. DeGale probably he has always been too hittable, Jack I disagree. I am an admitted Danny fan. He has also dominated a division, clearing it out whereas Frampton is stuck at 2/3 for me.
    - Criteria is always hard with rankings. An impressive resume is the most important. Strong opponents will always boost your ranking.
    - Not discounted - at welterweight Thurman is probably favourite. The hype has never met expectation for me. I had Porter 1 up on him. Cannot wait for the Garcia fight. Deontay Wilder who has beat nobodies. Same with Joshua; there are 10 heavyweights out there who would be either mans most impressive win. Tyson Fury would have been here if not for the drugs. Thurman or Garcia winner will be top 8, maybe top 5 if impressive. Frampton will move into top 10 while if Santa Cruz wins they will swap places. Daniel Jacobs was on the edge.  One super impressive win over Quillin but I am not sure how good Quillin is. In hindsight he probably should be here. 
    - Let’s never forget how sensational Rigo is because no one fights him. Win over a top 10 p4p Donaire that was dominant is better than any Golovkin win. A few Asian mega fights are definitely in play. Stylistic thing with Usyk, right opponent he will look incredible, wrong opponent he just wins and looks average. I think he will dominate the division like Haye did at one point before moving up for some huge heavyweight clashes. I don’t think 10 is enough and when I was doing 20, I wrote down 34 names. Thought a 30 list would be easier at one point, I even looked at doing 40.
    - Nothing wrong with a tight decision over one of the best in the world. I had them 2 and 3 before the fight and people seem to now not rate either as high as they previously were. Gonzalez has been on US shows which helps. Maybe he can main event next time out with Inoue on his undercard to build the fight. It may not get the attention it deserves but it gets watched. They way he dominated Walters had me in awe but I just cannot put him one just because of that win.
    - They arguably won their showdowns, yes! If they got comfortably beat they probably would struggle to make the list. The closeness is put into perspective. But Frampton would have already been ahead of Santa Cruz. I am a much bigger Santa Cruz fan that anyone I know but Frampton had the stronger ‘best win’ and Santa Cruz had largely been uninspiring at that level except for a win over Mares. Cuadras dropped in my ranking without being in the ring. His best win - Luis Concepcion - was discredited when Yafai utterly dominated him. Maybe Yafai is a star but that was a bad look for me. Also does anybody really think he beat Gonzalez?

  11. Trumpster 07:46am, 01/20/2017

    “..the likes of UNtested and UNproven promotional-darlings like Rigondeaux and Lomachenko or Gonzalez ...”

    Now that’s real ignorance!!!!!!!!!

  12. tetumbo 02:02pm, 01/19/2017

    any list that relegates the likes of Santa Cruz and Cuadras to 23 and 24 smacks of intense boxing-ignorance. both arguably won their showdowns and there is simply no credible rationale that elevates the likes of UNtested and UNproven promotional-darlings like Rigondeaux and Lomachenko or Gonzalez (who is currently ducking the rematch v. Cuadras) above them. consequently, this list reads like that of a casual mainstream fan not serious fight-fan.

  13. Koolz 06:07am, 01/19/2017

    you have that backwards Nicolas.

    Is it Bias?  Inoue is waiting on Gonzalez and it is Gonzalez that will only take the fight for more money.  That Money is not going to be offered and Inoue is not going to wait around for Gonzalez team to make the choice of fighting him.
    Instead it will be Inoue moving up.  Gonzalez still needs to do two rematches.
    As for Ward he also wants more money to fight Kovalev for the rematch.  He wants more then 5 million dollars.  That not going to happen.  I don’t know if this fight will happen.  Kovalev is getting sick of waiting.
    30 under P4P?  Just went into Orbit past the Moon!

  14. nicolas 12:17pm, 01/18/2017

    At one time I would have had Ward even above Mayweather, but his inactivity, and having been pretty marked up in two of his last three fights, and with the controversial decision, I can’t have him at number one, though I feel, if he does fight Kovalev again, he will win convincingly. Gonzalez I think is perhaps the greatest fighter to have fought as a flyweight or below since the 1970’s. This area of boxing has been watered down thanks to the inclusion of the two weight classes below the flyweight division, and the addition of two more boxing organizations. While people hope for a unification with Inoue, I question whether the Japanese promoters would want it, and would there be enough interest in the USA for such a fight that Inoue would be tempted by a lot of money to take that risk? Still can’t have him at number one. For Lomachenko might be that man at number one, after his two dominating performances.

  15. Moon-man 08:10am, 01/18/2017

    Chayaphoon Moonsaari? The Moon-man digs that name.

  16. Kid 07:26pm, 01/17/2017

    Rigo over GGG, I don’t think so. But I like it that you have Kazuta Ioka in the mix.

    Gonzalez, Nietes Inoue—somewhere in this is a n Asian Mega fight.

    Oleksandr Usyk is overrated. He looked terrible against that midget he fought.

    Doing a 30-fighter list is begging for a beat down. Ten is difficult enough but 30 is a dart game.

  17. Kid 07:18pm, 01/17/2017

    don from prove has the beat

  18. JJ Austin 02:06pm, 01/17/2017

    Crawford hasn’t beat anyone truly his size or with a big punch yet. He can’t be in the top 10. And to not have Deontay Wilder on Any Top 12 pound for pound list let alone top 30 is a joke. The Thurman - Garcia winner should be top 5 as well as the Frampton - Santa Cruz 2 winner.. And where is Daniel Jacobs??

  19. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:58pm, 01/17/2017

    I see Thurman discounted here….not sure that Danny Garcia even survives a Porter that smells blood in the later rounds. Brook did not hurt GGG, otherwise well thought out compilation here.

  20. don from prov 11:44am, 01/17/2017

    Criteria dictates a lot, but on pure eye test, I like Lomachenko a lot.

  21. Kid 08:02am, 01/17/2017


  22. Koolz 07:54am, 01/17/2017

    Roman Gonzalez would be destroyed by Inoue!  I mean he would be beat worse then any fight he has ever had if it went to the later rounds.  Inoue is bigger, hits harder then anyone Gonzalez has ever fought.

    Ward?  Really?  Whahaha!  ok….NOT!  Nope not happening.  Ward Fraud.

    I feel it will be Lomachenko being the No.1 P4P in these coming years.

    I would put Linares up there a lot higher.

    You do realize that if GGG was fighting Jack or Degale that fight would have ended before the seventh round.

    I would put little Danny a lot lower then Frampton.

    Thoughts to ponder…

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