Predicting When Each Undefeated Boxing Star Will Lose His First Fight

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2013

Predicting When Each Undefeated Boxing Star Will Lose His First Fight

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    In boxing, almost everybody loses eventually. The fighters routinely mentioned in debates about the all-time, pound-for-pound greatest boxer all had multiple losses on their records.

    Of the handful of fighters to hang up the gloves without a loss, only Rocky Marciano, Joe Calzaghe and Ricardo Lopez are viewed as Hall of Fame-level guys. But Marciano and Calzaghe both receive legitimate scrutiny for the quality of their resumes, and Lopez hammered out his record of dominance at the minimum weight of 105 pounds. Fair or not, a guy that size is never going to get full consideration from writers or fans. 

    The fighters who have achieved the greatest glory in the ring have all had to drink from the bitter cup of defeat. So it shouldn't be surprising that whenever an undefeated boxing phenom arises on the scene, fans start to speculate on how much longer he can retain the zero in the loss column. 

    Disregarding Chris John, I view 13 undefeated fighter as within or very close to the active pound-for-pound top 25. I am excluding John because I don't have enough insight into his career to cover him in this article.

    I read and write about the other 13 weekly. I've seen their most recent fights and signature performances. If I don't know whom they are fighting next, I at least have a good hunch. I have a good idea of who is most likely to threaten their perfection.

    None of these guys are prospects anymore. Even the youngest on the list has world champion status. And sooner or later, most of them are going to lose.  

Peter Quillin, WBO Middleweight Champion, 29-0 with 21 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Quillin has been impressive, especially in his last two fights. His physical tools are undeniable. He captured his belt by knocking down fellow unbeaten contender Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam six times. In April, he TKO'd once-beaten Fernando Guerrero on the Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah undercard. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Not very close, although he did lose a lot of rounds to N'Dam on my card. Still, he knocked the guy down six times, so you can't view it as a close fight.


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    With Sergio Martinez recovering from surgery for the rest of the year, the time is right for Quillin to step forward and assert his claim as the man at 160 pounds. But that will require taking risks, and I'm not sure Quillin would come through unscathed.

    In an ideal world, Peter Quillin would fight a unification bout with either IBF champion Daniel Geale or WBA champ Gennady Golovkin.Those are the fights he needs now to be recognized as a true world champion and not just an alphabet beltholder. 

    But if he fights Golovkin, I think he will lose.   

Gennady Golovkin, WBA Middleweight Champion, 26-0 with 23 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Golovkin has only beaten one top-10 middleweight, Grzegorz Proksa. But he pulverized him inside of five rounds. 

    In my view, Golovkin's undefeated record has been as impressive as the rest of the division has allowed it to be. The WBA elevated Felix Sturm to "super" champion status so it could keep promoting fights with him as the world champion in Germany without forcing him to fight Golovkin, whom they allowed to fight for the vacant "regular" crown.

    After Sturm dropped his belt to Daniel Geale, the WBA gave Geale 60 days to sign for a unification fight with Golovkin. He chose to vacate and return to Australia to face Anthony Mundine. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    "GGG" hasn't come close to losing. He's only had three fights even go the distance—all eight-rounders that he won by wide scores. 


    When is He Likely to Lose?

    I don't see anybody at middleweight that can beat him. Based on how he performed against Martin Murray in April, that includes Sergio Martinez. 

    As long as he can keep on track against the tough Matthew Macklin in June, Golovkin should emerge as the No. 1 middleweight in the eyes of fans. The other top guys will have to fight him or live in his shadow. 

    I think Golovkin will move up to 168 eventually. In another year or two, a fight with Andre Ward would be among the most anticipated fights of the year. I'd make Ward the favorite there, but I wouldn't say Golovkin had no chance. 

Yuriorkis Gamboa, 22-0 with 16 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    It's pretty impressive. He has one-sided victories over high-quality opponents like Orlando Salido, Jorge Solis and Daniel Ponce de Leon. 

    But then he was inactive for more than a year while he went through contract disputes. He came back on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV card and looked less than spectacular against Michael Farenas. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Gamboa has never had a close fight, but he's been knocked down multiple times. He got knocked down by Farenas in his last fight. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    I feel like Gamboa's undefeated record is living on borrowed time. Gamboa is not getting any younger and fights with an athletic style that isn't likely to age well.

    I think featherweight champion Miguel Ángel García Cortez has the perfect style to beat him. 

Danny Garcia, WBA and WBC Junior Welterweight Champion, 26-0 with 16 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Last year, Danny Garcia beat future Hall of Famer Erik Morales twice, once by sensational KO. Sandwiched in between those performances, he TKO'd Amir Khan.

    Garcia's record is impressive. Most recently, he held off former world champion Zab Judah on a night when the veteran southpaw looked rejuvenated. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Garcia came away with a split decision to Kendall Holt in October 2011, but I don't think that fight was very close. Two of the three judges agreed with me, scoring the fight 117-111.

    Garcia had an earlier split decision against British fighter Ashley Theophane in 2010. I didn't see that fight, but all three judges had extremely close cards. Still, Garcia has come a long way since then. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    Garcia is a world champion in one of boxing's most competitive divisions, so he takes a legitimate risk every time he gets in the ring. But since beating Khan, he has rematched with an over-the-hill Morales and fought Zab Judah, who is still good but has seen better days. 

    Boxing fans are expecting Garcia to fight the winner of Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse sometime next fall. I think that will be Matthysse, and I don't think Garcia will beat him.

Timothy Bradley, WBO Welterweight Champion, 30-0 with 12 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Bradley's resume is as impressive as almost any fighter in the sport. The list of big-name fighters who have lost to him include Manny Pacquiao, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Luis Abregu and Ruslan Provodnikov.

    Bradley has been fighting at the championship level for half a decade. He may not knock a lot of guys out or be flashy, but he has stayed on top in an unforgiving sport for a long time.


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Every boxing fan in the world knows the answer to this one. Bradley's June 2012 split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao was one of the most controversial decisions in years. 

    Bradley's most recent fight was a classic war against the tough Provodnikov. While Bradley deserved to win, he was nearly knocked out on more than one occasion during the fight. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose

    Bradley is fighting Juan Manuel Marquez in September. Most people have already penciled this in as the night Bradley's zero goes. 

    To some degree, fans are selling him short. Bradley is physically stronger than Marquez and has the kind of awkward but technically difficult style that will make it hard for the counterpunching dynamo Marquez to land solid shots. 

    Still, even at age 39, Marquez will be in a class slightly above Bradley. 

Miguel Ángel García Cortez, WBO Featherweight Champion, 31-0 with 26 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Garcia beat a respectable run of opponents while working his way up to his first title fight. He recorded stoppages of fellow contenders like Matthew Remillard and Jonathan Barros, among others.

    But he made his reputation in earnest last January, when he knocked down world champion Orlando Salido four times en route to a one-sided technical decision. Nobody had beaten the tough, hard-traveled Mexican warrior so badly in more than a decade.


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Garcia has never come close to losing in his career. Only a handful of his fights have gone the distance, and he won all of those by  wide margin.


    When is He Likely to Lose?

    No time soon. Garcia's next fight will be with hard-punching Juan Manuel Lopez in June. Lopez is an exciting fighter, so many fans are pumped for this one, but I don't think Lopez has enough craft to hang with Garcia.

    I see Garcia as a potential top-five pound-for-pound star. But that doesn't mean he could never lose.

    Garcia called out Gamboa in his post-fight interview after beating Salido. I think he'd win that fight, but it would be dangerous.

    I also believe Garcia vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux is inevitable. I'm not prepared to pick a winner in that one just yet, but as "Rigo" demonstrated against Nonito Donaire in April, he is a technical wizard. It would be a tough fight for Garcia to survive with his perfect record intact.   

Adrien Broner, 26-0 with 22 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Broner has already won world titles in two divisions. His victories at super featherweight include Jason Litzau and Daniel Ponce de Leon. He moved to lightweight and debuted by TKO'ing world champion Antonio DeMarco in Round 8.

    Broner has already established himself as the sort of brash fighter that a lot of fans love to hate. Among the critiques leveled at him is that he hasn't fought anybody. But for a 23-year-old, his resume is more than respectable.


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Daniel Ponce de Leon went the distance with Broner, losing a relatively competitive decision. I've seen some people try to argue that Ponce De Leon got robbed in that fight, but I disagree.

    In his ninth pro fight, Broner escaped with an eight-round majority decision against Fernando Quintero.


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    It's tough to say, but I don't see it happening against Paulie Malignaggi in June. Still, that fight will tell us a lot about how easily Broner will transition up to welterweight.

    If Broner can walk down Malignaggi and pound him out the way he has almost everybody else, it will demonstrate he is a serious threat at 147 pounds. That division is loaded with big-time talent, so Broner managing to survive there without a loss for year after year is difficult to imagine.

    If he gets by Malignaggi, I expect him to fight Robert Guerrero in the spring. I need to see how he performs against "The Magic Man" before I can feel confident predicting how he will do against other top welterweights.

Saul Alvarez, WBC and WBA Junior Middleweight Champion, 42-0-1 with 30 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    There's a steady rap against Alvarez that he hasn't fought anybody. But he's only 22 and has had 43 professional fights. And they weren't all against a bunch of patsies. 

    Ryan Rhodes was a legitimate 154-pound contender, Kermit Cintron is a former world titleholder and Shane Mosley is going into the Hall of Fame in the future. Sure, Mosley was past his prime when Alvarez beat him, but the way Alvarez took him apart was remarkable nonetheless.

    His last time out, Alvarez beat then-undefeated champion Austin Trout in a unification fight. Trout was clearly the other top guy in the division, so I would argue Alvarez's resume is impressive for a 22-year-old fighter. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Canelo drew in his fifth fight against Jorge Juarez, but he hasn't stumbled since. The fight with Trout was close, and some observers scored it for Trout. But Trout was willing to accept the defeat, so it can't be classified as a controversial decision. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    I think Alvarez is going to be a star for years, but he'll lose a fight before too long. If he fights Floyd Mayweather in September, like some think he will, I believe he will lose then. 

    Trout did a terrific job of taking away Alvarez's best weapon, the left hook to the body. I scored the fight for Alvarez and would pick him in a rematch. But Trout would have a good shot at winning. 

    When Alvarez moves up to middleweight, he will find the competition much steeper. I am not sure I would pick him over Peter Quillin, and no way would I pick him to beat Gennady Golovkin. 

Guillermo Rigondeaux, WBO and WBA Super Bantamweight Champion, 12-0 with 8 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Guillermo Rigondeaux has the most impressive 12-0 record that the boxing world has ever seen. His easy stoppages of contenders like Rico Ramos and Teon Kennedy were stellar, but he made his name for real last April when he outclassed Nonito Donaire. 

    At the time, Donaire was ranked between three and five on every pound-for-pound list. He was coming off a 2012 year when many viewed him as the Fighter of the Year. Rigondeaux gave him a boxing lesson. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Rigondeaux squeaked out a split decision against Ricardo Cordoba in 2010. At the time, it was a fight between a guy with more than 40 professional fights and a guy with six. 

    Since then, he has made the necessary adjustments for fighting in the professional ranks and has walked through everybody in his path. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    Maybe never. He took a dangerous fighter in Donaire and completely neutralized him. I'd rank him right behind Floyd Mayweather as the best technical boxer on the planet. 

    Still, a move up to featherweight to battle fellow undefeated champion Mikey Garcia could be risky. Garcia might have the length and movement to present real problems for Rigondeaux. 

    But I wouldn't be surprised to see Rigondeaux retire unbeaten. 

Roman Gonzalez, WBA Light Flyweight Champion, 34-0 with 28 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Roman Gonzalez is the terror of the lowest weight classes, a brutal finisher with a devastating right hook to the body/right uppercut to the head combination. 

    In April 2012, Gonzalez recorded a Round 4 KO of Ramon Hirales. Hirales went the distance against Donnie Nietes and recorded a split-decision victory over John Riel Casimero. 

    In November, Gonzalez won a relatively easy unanimous decision over Juan Francisco Estrada. Last April, Estrada jumped to 112 and beat WBO champion Brian Viloria, who was previously viewed as the top flyweight in the world. 

    Gonzalez's perfect record earns him top-10 pound-for-pound consideration at this point. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Gonzalez won a majority decision in 2009 against journeyman Francisco Rosas. He's steamrolled everybody else. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    Frankly, we could be looking at the second coming of Ricardo Lopez here. Prior to Viloria's loss to Estrada, I was hopeful for an exciting showdown between Viloria and Gonzalez. 

    Estrada fights fellow 112-pound beltholder Milan Melindo later this year. A win would push Melindo to 30-0. It would be a perfect time for Gonzalez to step up in weight for a classic "somebody's zero has got to go" showdown. 

    But I wouldn't bet against Gonzalez. 

Abner Mares, WBC Featherweight Champion, 26-0 with 14 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Mares has fought as tough a lineup as anybody in the sport in recent years. In his last five fights coming into 2013, he beat Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko twice, Eric Morel and Anselmo Moreno. 

    It was enough to push him into a lot of pound-for-pound top-10 lists. In April, he took things up a notch on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero undercard when he moved to featherweight to take on Daniel Ponce de Leon. 

    Writers and fans seemed pretty split on how that fight was going to turn out. A lot of people picked Ponce de Leon. 

    Instead, Mares mixed in more boxing craft than he's displayed in years and put on his best professional performance to date, beating Ponce de Leon by TKO in Round 9. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    Mares has been in some tough scraps. In May 2010, he drew with Yonnhy Perez, and his victory over Darchinyan later that year was a split decision. His first fight with Agbeko was a majority decision. 

    Still, so far he has remained a guy who just doesn't lose. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    Mares is signed with Golden Boy, and the fighters who would be the biggest threat to him are all with Top Rank: Rigondeaux, Donaire and Mikey Garcia. Mares is unlikely to fight any of them soon. 

    Of guys he's likely to fight, I could see Gary Russel Jr. being a threat in the near future. But the undefeated prospect looks too defensively suspect to my eyes to have a serious chance against Mares. 

    But Mares seems like the kind of tough, confident fighter who will keep climbing weight classes and chasing belts. So I can imagine him running into somebody who is just too big at 130 or 135. 

Andre Ward, World Super Middleweight Champion, 26-0 with 14 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    Ward has beat everybody who matters at 168 over the past several years. Last year, light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson dropped down to challenge Ward and was stopped in 10 rounds. 

    Andre Ward has had the most impressive record in the sport in recent years. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    He hasn't. Nobody in the professional ranks has seriously pushed Ward. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist hasn't lost a boxing match since grade school. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    I'm not sure Ward is ever going to lose. I don't see anybody on the horizon who is likely to beat him, and he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who is going to mismanage his money and be forced to fight past his prime. 

    The biggest threat I see is Golovkin, who will probably move up to challenge him eventually. By the time that fight happens, it should be a major event for the sport. As much as I like GGG, right now I'd be inclined to pick Ward.

Floyd Mayweather, World Welterweight Champion, 44-0 with 26 KO

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    How Impressive Is His Undefeated Record?

    There is plenty of room to criticize Mayweather's record, since he claims to be the greatest fighter of all time. He didn't beat Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley when they were at their best. He never fought Antonio Margarito or Paul Williams, let alone Manny Pacquiao. 

    But by any objective standard, Mayweather's record is also highly impressive. He's been fighting in world title fights since last century, and he's met 44 men and defeated them all. 


    Closest He's Come to Losing

    On April 20, 2002, Mayweather escaped with a hard-fought unanimous decision against Jose Luis Castillo. Expect to see a lot of argument in the comments section over whether or not Mayweather deserved to win that night. 

    Mayweather beat Oscar De La Hoya by split decision in May 2007. But to my mind, that wasn't a very close fight. 


    When Is He Likely to Lose?

    At this point, I don't think Mayweather is going to lose. As talented as the welterweight division is, I don't see anybody who stands a chance against Mayweather—Pacquaio included. 

    Mayweather could push the envelope and go after a monster at middleweight like Golovkin. But Mayweather walks around at about 150 pounds. 

    Mayweather is prepared to retire from boxing with his brain uninjured and tens of millions of dollars stashed away. For a guy who grew up in the sport and knows the business side as well as he does the game in the ring, I don't anticipate him taking any kind of serious risk at this point. 

    I don't see why he should. 

    Mayweather will be 39 by the end of his present deal with Showtime. At 39, maybe a young gun like Broner or Keith Thurman will be in a position to knock him off. 

    But what I expect that Mayweather will play out the string without blemishing his perfect scorecard.