The best fighters in the world are just that for a couple of reasons—they’re incredibly talented and have few weaknesses. They’re either exceptionally fast, dangerous punchers or ridiculously hard to hit.
But as great as the top 10 fighters in the world are, nobody is perfect. Everyone has a weakness, and we’ll look to identify the flaws in each of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters.
As for the list, there are some omissions. Canelo Alvarez is absent, as is Timothy Bradley. Alvarez is close to the top ten and will certainly be there for a long time once cracks it, but he's not there yet.
As for Bradley, his stock dropped after the Pacquiao fight, and going life and death with Ruslan Provodnikov certainly didn't help his case.
"The Problem" (26-0, 22 KOs) has been just that for everybody who has faced him. At 23, he's been dominant as of late, combining fantastic hand speed with excellent power to overwhelm his foes.
Broner seems destined to one day rule the top of the pound-for-pound list, but he's yet to face an elite opponent. The inexperience at the top level means he can't climb any higher than the No. 10 spot for now, and he is sometimes aggressive to a fault.
He has improved a great deal since his iffy decision win over Daniel Ponce de Leon two years ago. But he takes unnecessary punches for having such freakish hand and foot speed.
Still, this guy is all upside from here.
Abner Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs) just steamrolled past Daniel Ponce de Leon, confirming his status as one of the best in the world. He throws punches at a furious pace and is a fantastic body puncher.
But Mares is there to be hit, and he can be bothered by a high work rate. He has faded down the stretch in the past, mainly in his first fight with Joseph Agbeko. His other issue is that he has a tendency to punch low. Really, really low.
He's below Donaire on this list because I would favor Donaire to beat him. I hope someday to be proved right or wrong. That's a can't-miss fight.
Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) is a nightmare for nearly every opponent because of his size, hand speed and home-run punching power. He can end a fight with one punch from either hand.
However, that power sometimes gets Donaire into trouble. He relies too much on it at times, looking for one perfect shot instead of using his excellent boxing skills. He also goes into autopilot mode for long stretches and unnecessarily loses rounds.
Before he fought Guillermo Rigondeaux, he was rarely tested. But Rigondeaux took him to school, befuddling Donaire with his hand and foot speed. Donaire was often left hitting only air when he threw punches.
Still, Donaire did hurt Rigondeaux in the fight, and he probably would have defeated anybody else on that night.
It's absurd that a fighter with only 12 wins is in the top 10, but that's where Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) belongs. That will happen when you take apart a fighter as good as Nonito Donaire.
The Cuban has brilliant defensive skills and blistering hand speed. His agility allows him to bounce around the ring untouched while whacking his opponent with counters whenever he feels like it.
His biggest issue is that if he were any more conservative with his punches, he would be asleep. At the very least, his audience would be. He does not fight with any urgency, which may cost him down the road when he's in a close fight.
Even his fight with Donaire didn't have to be as close as it was. He coasted for stretches, allowing his opponent back into the fight.
The other weakness? We're still not convinced about his chin. Nevertheless, he won't have to worry about it if he doesn't get hit, and hitting him has proved to be a difficult task.
Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) has been at the top of the sport for years. He throws lightning-fast punches from bizarre angles and has vicious power. He was brutally knocked out in his last outing against Juan Manuel Marquez, but he had Marquez reeling before that perfect counter shot.
He easily defeated Tim Bradley even if the judges butchered the decision last June.
Pacquiao's biggest weakness (aside from a Marquez right hand) is that he is easy to hit, despite having solid footwork and agility. Ordinarily, he counters that by being so offensively gifted that no one can mount an effective attack on him, but he does take punishment.
He's also coming off a horrific KO. What will that do mentally or physically to him?
One also has to question his motivation at this point. He has a political career in the Philippines, and he hasn't fought with the same intensity we came to expect from him. Is he fighting for the love of the sport, or is he fighting because he has to fight?
He's still on this list, mostly because he's steamrolled everybody he's faced for nearly a decade—other than Marquez, who is at worst the No. 3 fighter in the world. We'll have a clearer picture of exactly what Pacquiao has left in the tank in November after his fight with Brandon Rios.
The enormous Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51 KOs) has cleaned out the heavyweight division, batted around the order and then cleaned it out again.
He uses a stiff, accurate jab to set up his man and then launches his killer straight right to end matters early. His resume is startling. He has 51 knockouts and has defended his heavyweight belt 14 consecutive times. His last loss was nearly 10 years ago.
So why isn't he higher on the list? Well the names on his stat sheet don't exactly send shivers down the spine. The horrid competition isn't his fault, and he hasn't showed any kinks in the armor in years but there are still some question marks about him.
The chin issues haven't been brought up in years, mainly because he so rarely gets touched, but they're still there. Can he take a clean, hard punch and compose himself?
Also, he's 37 years old. Eventually, his body will start to show signs of aging. He is somewhat one-dimensional, relying on his massive size and one-two punch to win the day.
Hopefully at some point he'll face a worthy challenger, one who isn't terrified to be in the ring with him. Then we'll see what he can do.
The 38-year-old Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) is the middleweight champion of the world. He is whip-fast and agile and has deceptive punching power to go with his unorthodox style.
Despite his agility, he has been tagged more and more frequently over the years, and he looked downright abysmal for long stretches in April against Martin Murray. We can chalk that up to jitters and injuries, but Martinez is slowing down.
He has an unquestionable heart and work ethic, but he hits the canvas too much for an elite fighter. That doesn't appear to be something that will go away as he creeps closer to 40, so we can probably expect more instances of him rising off the deck in fights.
He'll also be on the shelf until next year, and at this point in his career, ring rust may start to show more than in previous years.
The Mexican legend Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) continues to defy Father Time. At 39, he's never been more popular than he is now, and he's never looked better.
Marquez has forgotten more about boxing than most will ever learn, and his recuperative skills put him in superhero territory. He's one of the deadliest counterpunchers of all time.
But if Marquez isn't counterpunching—that is, if he isn't allowed to—he can look ordinary. Floyd Mayweather gave him no openings, and Marquez couldn't get off any offense. Before he finally caught up with Joel Casamayor in 2008, he was having a difficult time landing on him while eating punches in the process.
His other issues are that he is easy to hit and is often hit quite hard. Michael Katsidis leveled Marquez, and Juan Diaz had him on the ropes in their first fight.
Plus, he does this.
Before he finally scored revenge on his nemesis Manny Pacquiao, he seemed destined to fall short of victory each time. Hopefully, we'll get to see a fifth tilt before they call it a day.
Before Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) gave Chad Dawson the beating of his life last year, the only knock on Ward was the dreaded "boring" label. He seems to have torn that label away for good.
Ward is a jack-of-all-trades type of boxer. He does everything very well, but he's not flashy. He doesn't possess the ridiculous hand speed, power or flashy charisma of some of his fellow pound-for-pounders.
He just wins fights. He's kind of like Bernard Hopkins, only 20 years younger.
Ward has few weaknesses, but he doesn't possess home-run power or the type of quickness that can freeze opponents. His biggest issue to date has been that he seems somewhat injury prone. He has injured his hands on several occasions and has suffered ailments to his shoulder and knee.
If he can stay away from the injury bug, he'll be on this list for a long time.
It's a difficult task to find a weakness in the best fighter on the planet.
Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) has remained undefeated through 44 fights for a reason: He's unbelievably good at what he does. Speed, quickness, reflexes, agility, defense—you name it, and he has it in abundance.
If there are any knocks on Mayweather, they are related to his offense. He doesn't have great power. And at 36, he no longer puts together those dazzling combinations from his earlier years.
Before his fight with Robert Guerrero, we surmised that his footwork had lapsed due to age. It turns out he just needed some fine-tuning from his father.
He is hit so infrequently that it's rarely an issue, but Mayweather may have something of a suspect chin. DeMarcus Corley bothered him years ago.
Since then, Shane Mosley is the only other fighter to connect cleanly to his head, and Mayweather did not take the punch well. He recovered and dominated the rest of the fight, but the seed may have been planted there.
The question is, will he slow down enough that someone will test that beard again, or will the best fighter in the world get out of the game before that can happen?