Boxing Champions Facing the Least Competition in Their Division
Floyd Mayweather and Wladimir Klitschko haven't had a close fight in years. And the chances are pretty good that both men will retire without seeing another one.
In boxing, nothing is guaranteed at the championship level. An extremely determined opponent with a perfectly executed game plan, on a good night, can can force a war on almost any champ.
But of all of the champions in all of the sport's weight classes, the No. 1 dogs in these seven divisions are least likely to get their bones taken away.
Roman Gonzalez at Junior Flyweight
While fighting at strawweight and junior flyweight, Nicaraguan sensation Roman Gonzalez has run his record to a perfect 37-0 with 31 KOs. He's not only beat everybody available below 112, but he also beat WBO and WBA flyweight champion Juan Estrada by an easy decision.
The most exciting possible fight for Gonzalez right now would be against Giovani Segura. Segura is coming off of an exciting Round 12 KO of former flyweight champion Hernan Marquez and was once in the position Gonzalez is in now, as a dominant 108-pound champ.
Guillermo Rigondeaux at Super Bantamweight
Last April, Guillermo Rigondeaux beat the obvious top fighter in the division at 122 pounds, Nonito Donaire. Donaire entered their showdown as a pound-for-pound star.
But Rigondeaux used his superior control of distance and range to stay away from Donaire's heavy artillery while battering him in return.
Most of the potential rivals for Rigo at 122 are signed with Golden Boy, while Rigondeaux is promoted by Top Rank. So we probably won't get to see Rigondeaux vs. Abner Mares or Leo Santa Cruz.
The best available 122-pound fighter not signed by Golden Boy is Carl Frampton, the undefeated rising contender from Northern Ireland. He already has a TKO victory over WBA interim champion Kiko Martinez.
Danny Garcia at Light Welterweight
In a perfect boxing world, there would be no feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy and it would be possible to see a fight at 140 pounds between WBO champ Ruslan Provodnikov and WBA and WBC champ Danny Garcia.
But as far as fighters he can realistically be expected to defend against go, Garcia has cleaned out the weight class. In 2012, he captured the WBC belt against Erik Morales and unified it with the WBA strap when he TKOd Amir Khan in Round 4.
This year, he has successfully defended against Zab Judah and red-hot Lucas Matthysse. By rights, Garcia should be viewed as the IBF champ, because Matthysse blasted IBF champ Lamont Peterson by Round 3 TKO last May.
Floyd Mayweather at Welterweight
The fight everybody still wants to see, after all these years, is Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao at welterweight. I'm way past thinking that fight could ever get made. After all this time, I just don't see Bob Arum and Floyd Mayweather sitting down to do business together.
That means the other top possible fight for Mayweather, Timothy Bradley, is also unlikely.
Even if the fights could be made, Mayweather would be a significant favorite over either fighter. Of available Golden Boy fighters at welterweight, inexperienced stars like Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman are probably the best options available.
Floyd Mayweather at Light Middleweight
It's possible Floyd Mayweather could face a little bit more competition at light middleweight than he faces at welterweight. The fighters are bigger there, after all, and Mayweather isn't even a large fighter by welterweight standards.
Still, Mayweather has been as dominant there as he has in his more natural, lower weight class. In May 2012, he easily handled Miguel Cotto, and this past September, I had him wining nearly every round against Saul Alvarez.
Of the fighters left at 154, I think Erislandy Lara is best equipped to give Mayweather a tough fight.
Andre Ward at Super Middleweight
Andre Ward cleaned out the super middleweight division in 2010 and 2011, when he was winning the Showtime Super Six Super Middleweight tournament. After acing the field at 168, he beat light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson by Round 10 TKO in 2012.
Ward returned to action this past November and easily battered Edwin Rodriguez, the most likely tough contender to have emerged for him this year.
The other top young fighter to emerge at 168 in 2013 was George Groves, who looked very good against Carl Froch in November, before losing on a stoppage. Froch, of course, lost by a wide unanimous decision to Ward in 2011.
So there really isn't much likely competition out there at this point for Andre Ward at 168 pounds.
Wladimir Klitschko at Heavyweight
With Wladimir's older brother Vitali vacating his WBC title to become more involved in the Ukrainian political situation, it paves the way for a new belt holder in the division. The WBC has announced that Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola will fight a rematch for the vacant belt.
It might be interesting to see Wladimir face the winner, for the purpose of unifying his brother's old belt with all of his own. But I would not expect a fight between Wladimir Klitschko and either Stiverne or Arreola to be very competitive.
Of the available fights for Klitschko, only Kubrat Pulev or Mike Perez seem remotely dangerous.