10 Bouts Between Golden Boy and Top Rank Fighters Boxing Fans Would Love to See
I rarely go a week without mentioning a potentially exciting and meaningful fight that will probably never happen because of the promotional friction between Golden Boy and Top Rank. Whether it's a light welterweight unification bout between Danny Garcia and Ruslan Provodnikov or the long-desired Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather showdown, the feud between the two biggest promoters in North America is a continuing blight on the sport.
There are plenty of great fights that can be made, regardless of whether or not the big two want to do business together. But there is also no question that boxing would be stronger if Top Rank and Golden Boy would sit down together and make some deals.
10. Deontay Wilder vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.
This heavyweight fight lags far behind the rest of this list when it comes to generating fan interest. But knockout machine Deontay Wilder is the top heavyweight on the Golden Boy roster and Andy Ruiz Jr. is the best big man Top Rank has at the moment. They are both undefeated, rising contenders, and a fight between them would be relevant.
And it's possible at some point in the future a fight between the two could be necessary to clarify the heavyweight scene. He hardly has the body type one would associate with pugilistic greatness, but the rotund Ruiz has definite boxing skill and punching power.
I'd be picking Wilder by KO if this fight ever happened. But I also think it would be a tougher bout than he's ever faced.
9. Terence Crawford vs. Omar Figueroa Jr.
Terence Crawford and Omar Figueroa are both undefeated, lightweight champions. Crawford went to Scotland last year and took the WBO 135-pound belt from tough veteran Ricky Burns.
Figueroa doesn't have any wins to compare with that one, but Al Haymon has been able to maneuver him into the vacant WBC strap, nonetheless. Both these young fighters look like future stars and in a perfect world, boxing fans would already be talking about a potential showdown between the two.
But in this far-from-perfect world, Crawford is signed with Top Rank and Figueroa with Golden Boy. So fans know they can write off this one, even before their enthusiasm gets any chance to build.
8. Abner Mares vs. Nonito Donaire
A year ago today, this fight would have been near the very top of this list. Nonito Donaire was still a week away from losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux and universally viewed as a pound-for-pound top-five fighter. Abner Mares was still undefeated and a two-division world champion.
Donaire went down to Rigondeaux and Mares suffered a shocking Round 1 knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez last August. But this fight would still be a showdown that boxing fans would love to see.
Donaire and Mares have spent the past few years shoring up various belts in the bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions. Stylistically, the monster-puncher Donaire and the high-volume and versatile Mares have all the ingredients to stage a Fight of the Year together.
Mares-Donaire should be one of this generation's top boxing rivalries. Instead, it's just another fight we'll never get the chance to see.
7. Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Leo Santa Cruz
Guillermo Rigondeaux may be suffering more from the Golden Boy-Top Rank feud than any other fighter in the sport. After schooling Nonito Donaire a year ago, the super bantamweight champion has yet to find a suitable rival.
Golden Boy's Leo Santa Cruz would provide the most compelling potential matchup out there. The unbeaten Santa Cruz would face a daunting challenge against the technical wizard from Cuba. But Santa Cruz's high-volume, relentless style would likely give Rigo more trouble than Donaire was able to provide.
Rigondeaux is a special talent, but without the proper opponents, fans will continue to overlook him.
6. Mike Alvarado vs. Marcos Maidana
Marcos Maidana and Mike Alvarado both have major fights lined up for the first part of this year against future Hall of Famers. Alvarado will face Juan Manuel Marquez on May 17, two weeks after Marcos Maidana meets Floyd Mayweather on pay-per-view.
These are great opportunities for both men, but in both cases, history would suggest that they will be outclassed by far more skilled opponents. Marquez and Mayweather are expert counter punchers who thrive against aggressive fighters like Alvarado and Maidana.
Alvarado vs. Maidana would be a far better fight than either of those two matchups. Both guys can box a little bit but are brawlers at heart. A fight between them would provide non-stop action.
5. Brandon Rios vs. Adrien Broner
I'm not normally a fan of trash talk at the press conference, but I think the entertainment value of Adrien Broner jawing with Brandon Rios would surpass anything the WWE could ever script. The animosity and tension would rise every time these two got close to each other during the pre-fight buildup.
Stylistically, this has the potential to be a classic. Rios would be a perfect opponent to see what kind of adjustments Broner has made since getting beat down by the relentless Marcos Maidana.
Unfortunately, this is ultimately just another fight we'll never get to see because of the Top Rank and Golden Boy feud.
4. Timothy Bradley vs. Robert Guerrero
Timothy Bradley and Robert Guerrero are among the top welterweights in the world and longtime, multiple division champions. They are also two of the most versatile and intelligent fighters in the game.
A fight between Bradley and Guerrero would likely feature skilled boxing on the outside and awkward brawling at close range. Seeing how both men adjusted to each other and transitioned in the shifting terrain would be extremely compelling for boxing junkies.
Of all the Top Rank boxers, Bradley is the one I can imagine pushing hardest for a fight with a Golden Boy opponent, if that was what would move him forward in his career. However, I don't think that opponent would be Guerrero.
But if Bradley can get by Manny Pacquiao in their rematch on April 12, expect him to push much harder than Pacman ever did for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Keith Thurman
I've been bullish on Keith Thurman for a long time now. Of all the current young stars in the welterweight division, he's the one that I think has the most potential to be a next-level superstar.
I've also been a longtime admirer of Juan Manuel Marquez. I think he should have gotten the nod over Manny Pacquiao when they fought in 2008. I'm one of the few writers I'm aware of who picked him to win their third fight in 2011, and I had him winning that fight on my own card.
A Thurman-Marquez fight would be a classic showdown between a young lion and an old king. How would Marquez respond to Thurman's power and youth? How would Thurman adjust to Marquez's expert counter punching and guile?
Sadly, we will never know.
2. Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Danny Garcia or Lucas Matthysse
The light welterweight division has been one of the hottest in the sport the past few years. Nevertheless, it could have been much better, if not for the Golden Boy and Top Rank feud.
Danny Garcia's impressive performance against Lucas Matthsse shored up his status as the top fighter in the world at 140 pounds. He currently holds the WBA, WBC and lineal championships there. I thought he lost to Mauricio Herrera last month in Puerto Rico, but it was a close fight and a case can be made for Garcia winning.
So he's still the man at light welterweight. Except for the fact that the indomitable Ruslan Provodnikov reigns as the WBO champion at 140. But one fight could provide instant clarity in the division.
And we'll never see it.
I've mentioned Lucas Matthysse here, too, because even though Garcia beat him decisively, Matthysse and Provodnikov has the potential to be a legendary fight. But again, we'll never actually know.
1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather
While Floyd Mayweather is officially his own promoter, he has worked exclusively with Golden Boy since leaving Top Rank in 2006. No unmade fight symbolizes the bad promotional blood that is tainting the sport more dramatically than Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
Fans have been clamoring for this bout since the early days of Barack Obama's first term. It would generate more income than any fight in history.
And yet, year after year, it has gone unmade.
You could fill a set of encyclopedias with all the words that have been spent on this never-to-be fight. I've written, read and listened to more of those words than I ever wanted to and have become thoroughly convinced that both sides are to blame for the fight not happening.
And while I think that Floyd Mayweather would win, I think his legacy is tarnished by the fact that it has never taken place. When the two biggest stars of a generation never fight each other, it can only ultimately be bad for the sport.