Top 25 Pound-for-Pound Boxers After Cotto vs. Alvarez
Canelo Alvarez defeated Miguel Cotto on Saturday night in Las Vegas in the latest edition of boxing's historic Mexico and Puerto Rico rivalry. Alvarez used his strength and speed to punch his way to a unanimous decision victory.
At age 25, Alvarez looked better than ever. But did he move up on Bleacher Report's top-25 pound-for-pound list? And how do the other 24 fighters stack up against one another, including the vanquished Cotto?
Bleacher Report presents the top 25 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. As always, fighters are ranked according to the opposition they've faced as well as their perceived willingness to face elite competition. Special emphasis is placed on how fighters have performed over the last calendar year
Ins and Outs
Out: Lucas Matthysse, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather
Matthysse was dropped and stopped by Viktor Postol in his last fight. Either Postol is exceptional or Matthysse was overrated. Either way, Matthysse exits the top 25 after the loss.
Hopkins and Mayweather, meanwhile, took the easier way off the list. Hopkins has been inactive for over a year, and Mayweather is now retired.
In: Rances Barthelemy, Viktor Postol and Shinsuke Yamanaka
With the three departures, Barthelemy, Postol and Yamanaka all make their way into the rankings for the first time. Other fighters who were considered for inclusion were Alexander Povetkin, Carl Frampton, Donnie Nietes and Shawn Porter.
Notable Absences Explained
The most glaringly obvious fighters absent from this list are Andre Ward and Vasyl Lomachenko. While both fighters appear to be two of the best fighters in the sport, neither has proved it over the last calendar year.
Ward has only fought twice since 2012, the last being a Round 9 stoppage of Paul Smith, a journeyman with no hope of being competitive, in June 2015.
While Ward is probably one of the top two or three pound-for-pound talents in the sport, Bleacher Report’s ranking system does not allow for his inclusion until he actually proves it in the ring as he did a few years bakc. Once he faces and defeats a fighter of note, or at least stays active as a fighter, Ward will leapfrog his way back into the top section of the rankings.
As for Lomachenko, the undefeated 27-year-old looks like he’ll be a pound-for-pound star someday soon, but he hasn’t really beaten any notable fighters yet. In fact, in his only real step up against proven world-class opposition, he lost. Orlando Salido took the decision win over Lomachenko in 2014. While Lomachenko has since won a world title belt, he hasn’t really taken on anyone of note except Gary Russell Jr., whom he faced over a year ago.
Finally, some folks might consider Amir Khan a shoo-in for the top 25. While he’s talented and has defeated a few credible opponents, Khan has yet to show he’s actually as good as he and his supporters believe him to be, especially recently. If Khan lands a fight against Manny Pacquiao or even if he accepts a bout against welterweight titleholder Kell Brook, he’ll certainly have an opportunity to prove he belongs in these rankings.
25. Rances Barthelemy (23-0, 13 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Lanky, smooth and athletic, Barthelemy is going to be a tough out for anybody between 130 and 140 pounds. The Cuban is well-versed in the stab-and-move style of Cuba, but he’s also adept at throwing punches in bunches from odd angles. The former IBF world junior lightweight titleholder is now plying his trade at lightweight and junior welterweight, divisions full of other good fighters he can test himself against.
Previous Ranking: N/A
Last Fight: 10-round unanimous decision (UD) win over Antonio DeMarco
Who He Should Fight Next: Barthelemy faces Denis Shafikov for the vacant IBF lightweight title on December 18, 2015. An intriguing future bout would be against the talented Adrien Broner at 140 pounds. It would feature two talented junior welterweights fighting for relevancy.
24. Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Postol’s coming-out party was his 10-round destruction of longtime junior welterweight star Matthysse. In that fight, fans saw a complete package. Postol is tall, tough, skilled and fleet-footed. While he might not possess one-punch knockout (KO) power, his Round 10 KO of Matthysse showed his ability to do the same through an accumulation of strong punches.
Previous Ranking: N/A
Last Fight: Round 10 knockout win against Matthysse
Who He Should Fight Next: While it probably won’t happen any time soon, there’s really no better potential fight right now at 140 pounds than Postol vs. Terence Crawford. Both are promoted by Top Rank, and that's a solid main event for an HBO card.
23. Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Cruz is a whirlwind of activity when the bell rings, and his decision win over Abner Mares showed he’s as good as his undefeated record indicates. Santa Cruz wins fights through punch volume and aggression, and he’s incredibly fun to watch. Against Mares, he also showed his ability as a boxer.
Previous Ranking: 25
Last Fight: 12-round majority decision (MD) win over Abner Mares
Who He Should Fight Next: A bout versus fellow PBC fighter Gary Russell Jr. would start the process of sifting through which featherweight in Al Haymon’s stable of fighters is truly his best commodity.
22. Shinsuke Yamanaka (24-0-2, 17 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Yamanaka has been the WBC bantamweight champion since 2011. He’s defended his title nine times and beaten a slew of good fighters in the process. A split-decision win over Anselmo Moreno kept the 33-year-old southpaw undefeated. He probably should have already been in these rankings.
Previous Ranking: N/A
Last Fight: 12-round split decision (SD) win over Anselmo Moreno
Who He Should Fight Next: Juan Carlos Payano is incredibly gifted and also undefeated. A bout against the 31-year-old WBA champion would also crown the lineal bantamweight champion of the world, per Ring Magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
21. Amnat Ruenroeng (16-0, 5 KOs)
Why He’s Here: The 35-year-old IBF flyweight champion from Thailand overcame three stints in jail and drug addiction to become one of boxing’s better redemption stories. He’s a clever, unorthodox fighter who might not be exceedingly appealing to the watch when he fights but remains effective nonetheless. Ruenroeng's best work is done from a distance, and he's good at keeping the action there.
Previous Ranking: 24
Last Fight: 12-round UD win over John Riel Casimero.
Who He Should Fight Next: Unification bouts with either Juan Francisco Estrada or Roman Gonzalez are all that’s left for Ruenroeng’s storybook ending. He’d likely be the underdog in both fights, but each would be important and intriguing.
20. Adonis Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Already 38 years old, Stevenson is the lineal champion at light heavyweight and one of PBC’s most well-known fighters. The southpaw might be the hardest one-punch knockout machine in the sport, and he’s a good boxer who knows how to keep opponents at the end of his punches. Stevenson has a good jab and a better left behind it that usually separates his opponents from their senses.
Previous Ranking: 23
Last Fight: Round 3 KO win against Tommy Karpency
Who He Should Fight Next: If we give up on the Sergey Kovalev fight ever happening, then the most intriguing and makeable fight for Stevenson right now is against undefeated phenom Artur Beterbiev. Barring that unlikely matchup, a rematch against Andrzej Fonfara would be good, too.
19. Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Hard-hitting Japanese junior lightweight Uchiayama is the WBA champion at 130 pounds, a title he’s held since 2010. A fighting champion, Uchiayama has stopped eight of the 10 challengers he’s faced over the last five years. Nicknamed KO Dynamite, Uchiayama is an aggressive puncher with serious power.
Previous Ranking: 22
Last Fight: Round 2 technical knockout (TKO) win against Jomthong Chuwatana
Who He Should Fight Next: Uchiyama is scheduled to face Oliver Flores on December 31 in Japan.
18. Erislandy Lara (21-2-2, 12 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Lara is a brilliant boxer with long arms and enough power to keep his foes honest. Employing the defense-first Cuban style hasn’t won him many fans, but it’s won him plenty of professional prizefights. Lara is excellent at timing his opponents from the outside, and his jab is what he works his offense off of best.
Previous Ranking: 21
Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Delvin Rodriguez
Who He Should Fight Next: Lara squares off against Jan Zaveck on November 25 in Miami. He’s due for a big fight but hasn’t been able to procure one since losing a controversial split decision to Canelo Alvarez in 2014. A bout against Demetrius Andrade would help clear up the 154-pound picture.
17. Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Thurman is a good boxer with great power. He’s athletically gifted and well-schooled in delivering punches at optimal power from various angles and distances. Thurman might be a future superstar in the sport. He's that good. He appears to have all the tools to become one of the best fighters in boxing, but there's no way to be sure until he faces elite-level opponents.
Previous Ranking: 18
Last Fight: Round 7 KO win against Luis Collazo
Who He Should Fight Next: PBC has plenty of solid welterweights to match Thurman up against including Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Robert Guerrero. As reported by ESPN's Dan Rafael, a rumored bout against Porter never panned out for 2015, but Thurman needs a solid bout like that to take his career to the next level.
16. Nonito Donaire (35-3, 21 KOs)
Why He’s Here: After suffering a setback at featherweight against Nicholas Walters, Donaire moved back down to the junior featherweight division, a weight class in which he once held the lineal championship of the world. Donaire is a great counterpuncher with serious power. He’s quick and able to react to his opponents' moves blazingly fast. He's won two straight bouts by KO.
Previous Ranking: 17
Last Fight: Round 2 TKO win against Anthony Settoul
Who He Should Fight Next: Donaire faces Cesar Juarez on December 11. After that, he should be ready for a higher-level opponent. Any of the top junior featherweights would do. Donaire vs. Rigondeaux 2 perhaps?
15. Kell Brook (35-0, 24 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Brook might be the best welterweight in the world right now. He's unbeaten, holds an alphabet belt at the weight and has some of the more impressive physical tools in boxing. He has long arms, good power, fast hands and quick enough feet to make many folks believe he can be a star someday soon. But Brook needs better fights against elite opposition to prove it.
Previous Ranking: 16
Last Fight: Round 6 TKO win against Frankie Gavin
Who He Should Fight Next: Brook would be the ideal fight for Khan. The bout would be huge in the UK, and the winner would find himself in position to command bigger fights against the likes of Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
14. Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Cotto is one of the best fighters of his generation. He's won world titles in four different weight classes, and he's defeated some notable names over the years. Cotto is a fantastic boxer with a great jab and an even better left hook to the body. Cotto will likely go down in history as one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters ever.
Previous Ranking: 8
Last Fight: 12-round loss to Canelo Alvarez
Who He Should Fight Next: Cotto was never really a middleweight, so now that Alvarez has taken the championship away from him, Cotto should look for options at 154 pounds and below. Cotto versus Tim Bradley would be intriguing.
13. Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Inoue is a wrecking ball. Nicknamed Little Monster, he’s already a two-division titleholder at the tender age of 22 with some huge fights ahead of him should he continue excelling at such a torrid pace. Inoue is ruthlessly aggressive, and he has the great speed and power necessary for his destructive style to work.
Previous Ranking: 14
Last Fight: Round 2 KO win against Omar Narvaez
Who He Should Fight Next: Inoue faces Warlito Parrenas on December 29 in Japan. Should he prevail, there is no better fight in boxing right now than Inoue vs. Roman Gonzalez.
12. Nicholas Walters (26-0, 21 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Walters is a knockout artist, but he’s becoming an excellent boxer, too. He’s seemingly grown out of the featherweight division, but he’ll probably stick around at a catchweight probably for as long as he can. Walters knocked out Donaire in 2014, his career-defining win to date. He's strong and a good counterpuncher.
Previous Ranking: 13
Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Miguel Marriaga
Who He Should Fight Next: Walters faces Jason Sosa on December 19, but a future bout against Lomachenko would be sensational to see next year.
11. Danny Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs)
Why He’s Here: The former lineal junior welterweight champion is now fighting at 147 pounds. Garcia is a counterpuncher. He’s at his best when his opponent comes to him and allows him throw his powerful hooks and uppercuts as responses. But Garcia is a good boxer, too. He is one of the more accomplished under-30 fighters in boxing today, and he has real potential to move all the way to the top of this list before he finishes his career.
Previous Ranking: 11
Last Fight: Round 9 TKO win over Paulie Malignaggi
Who He Should Fight Next: Garcia should be in line to face any notable PBC name next. How about Garcia vs. Broner in 2015?
10. Terence Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs)
Why He’s Here: If there’s one fighter on this list whom you had to bet on moving up to the No. 1 spot someday, it would be Crawford. He’s held titles in two different divisions and looks good enough to do it again in at least one more weight class. Crawford is one of the better athletes in boxing, and his boxing IQ is off the charts. He’s a hard puncher, and he appears as competitive as any fighter ever.
Previous Ranking: 10
Last Fight: Round 10 TKO win over Dierry Jean
Who He Should Fight Next: The best fight that could be made at 140 is Crawford vs. Postol. Both are promoted by Top Rank, so it shouldn’t be too hard of a fight to make next year.
9. Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24 KOs)
Why He’s Here: If you’ve never seen Estrada fight, you’re missing out. He’s probably the best-kept secret in boxing. He’s an excellent boxer who has proven himself against top-notch competition at flyweight and below. He’s a good puncher, capable of hurting any fighter he steps into the ring against.
Previous Ranking: 9
Last Fight: Round 10 KO win over Herman Marquez
Who He Should Fight Next: Estrada lost a decision to Gonzalez in 2012 at junior flyweight. It’s time for the two to meet again, this time for the lineal flyweight championship.
8. Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Rigondeaux has the ability to be on the very top of this list, but he hasn’t been nearly active enough to warrant it. Still, the slick southpaw boxer with excellent power is one of the best fighters in the sport. He’s the lineal champion at junior featherweight and will hopefully be in the ring much more in 2016. He's fast, a good puncher and elusive, though he didn't appear at his best against Drio Francisco.
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Fight: 12-round decision win over Francisco
Who He Should Fight Next: Rigondeaux vs. Lomachenko is a purist’s dream fight. Let’s hope it happens in 2016. If anyone can make Rigondeaux fight in an entertaining way, it's Lomachenko.
7. Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Alvarez is just 25 years old, and he's already been in superfights against Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. He's a good combination puncher, and his defense is vastly underrated. Alvarez has great power and seems willing to accept challenges from almost every reasonable opponent. That bodes well for the future of the young star, and he should only get better over the next few years, too.
Previous Ranking: 12
Last Fight: 12-round decision win over Miguel Cotto
Who He Should Fight Next: As the lineal middleweight champion, Alvarez should face unified champion Gennady Golovkin. The two men are two of boxing's biggest and best stars, and the fight would be outstanding.
6. Sergey Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Kovalev is the meanest puncher in boxing, and that's a good thing. Not only does he have bricks in his fists, but he seems to sincerely enjoy inflicting pain on his opponents. A unified light heavyweight champion, Kovalev also has great footwork and is a highly skilled boxer. It’s hard to envision anyone defeating him anytime soon.
Previous Ranking: 7
Last Fight: Round 3 KO win over Nadjib Mohammedi
Who He Should Fight Next: Kovalev knocked out Jean Pascal in March, and the fight was more competitive (and entertaining) than expected. He’ll rematch Pascal on January 30, 2016. That's a solid fight, but hopefully it leads to Kovalev facing former super middleweight king Ward sometime next year.
5. Timothy Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Now under the tutelage of the renowned Teddy Atlas, Bradley looked brilliant in his last fight. He was already one of the top fighters in the sport, but Atlas appears to have improved Bradley's focus and his commitment to fighting his type of fight. Bradley can do many different things well, but he’s best when he boxes up on his toes and uses movement to keep his opponents guessing. That version of Bradley is almost impossible to defeat. Ask Juan Manuel Marquez, who suffered a loss to Bradley in 2013.
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Fight: Round 9 TKO win against Brandon Rios
Who He Should Fight Next: Bradley should face Sadam Ali next. It’s an intriguing fight and one that would test both fighters to their limits. However, no one could blame Bradley if he ended up getting and taking a third fight against Pacquiao.
4. Gennady Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs)
Why He’s Here: A unified middleweight champion, Golovkin is an aggressive stalker who systematically breaks down his opponents before annihilating them. He’s knocked out 21 straight, 12 of them within just three rounds. His jab is like a battering ram, and opponents looks like they got hit with bowling balls every time he lands a punch. He's an accurate puncher and also lands clean shots.
Previous Ranking: 5
Last Fight: Round 8 KO win against David Lemieux
Who He Should Fight Next: Golovkin’s quest to unify the middleweight titles necessitates him facing the winner of Cotto-Canelo and the winner of Andy Lee vs. Billy Joe Saunders. Either of those fights make sense next.
3. Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs)
Why He’s Here: Pacquiao is incredibly accomplished. He’s devastatingly fast and has one of the hardest styles to prepare for in the sport of boxing. Pacquiao lost a decision to Mayweather, but he still ranks among the top fighters in boxing today. After dealing with an injured shoulder, Pacquiao should be back in action next year. But at age 36, how much longer can he stay elite?
Previous Ranking: 3
Last Fight: 12-round UD loss to Mayweather
Who He Should Fight Next: The only two fights that make sense for Pacquiao at this point are rematches with either Mayweather or Marquez. Neither is likely to happen, so why not a fun slugfest with Ruslan Provodnikov instead?
2. Wladimir Klitschko (64-3, 53 KOs)
Why He’s Here: The longtime king of the heavyweight division might not entertain many people with his one-two punch style or his frequent defensive holding, but Klitschko is one of the most effective fighters in boxing. Klitschko has great power, one of the better jabs in the history of heavyweight boxing and an incredible work ethic that keeps him ready to fight year-round. Klitschko is one of the most accomplished heavyweight champions ever.
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Bryant Jennings
Who He Should Fight Next: Klitschko is set to fight Tyson Fury on November 28 in a highly anticipated heavyweight throwdown. Should he prevail, a bout against WBC champion Deontay Wilder would seem appropriate.
1. Roman Gonzalez (42-0, 38 KOs)
Why He’s Here: He’s the best boxing has to offer. Gonzalez has won titles in three different weight classes. He’s the best pressure fighter in the sport, and he appears to be at the peak of his powers. Let’s put it this way: Gonzalez is great enough to put the flyweight division on the map again in the United States. The 28-year-old is fast becoming a fan favorite, and he's the best overall fighter in the sport.
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Fight: Round 9 TKO win against Brian Viloria
Who He Should Fight Next: Gonzalez should aim for either Inoue or a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada. Both are excellent fights of the highest order, and both would make great main events on HBO.