Top 25 Pound-for-Pound Boxers After Pacquiao vs. Bradley

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2016

Top 25 Pound-for-Pound Boxers After Pacquiao vs. Bradley

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    Who's the best fighter in the world after Pacquiao-Bradley III?
    Who's the best fighter in the world after Pacquiao-Bradley III?John Locher/Associated Press

    Manny Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. All three judges at ringside scored the bout 116-110 for Pacquiao, who earned the vacant lineal welterweight championship.

    In what might be his final fight, Pacquiao made history by becoming the first professional fighter to win five lineal championships in a career and the third to capture one in at least three of boxing’s original eight divisions.

    But did he do enough to take over the No. 1 spot in the world on Bleacher Report’s Top 25? And where is Bradley ranked after the loss?

    Bleacher Report presents boxing's top pound-for-pound fighters. As with all pound-for-pound lists, fighters are ranked on the fairly subjective criteria of the opposition they've faced as well as their willingness (as perceived) to face elite competition. Special emphasis is placed on how fighters have performed over the last calendar year, though historical accomplishments are also a factor.

Ins and Outs

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Out: Wladimir Klitschko

    Klitschko was ranked No. 2 in the last Top 25 list but dropped out of the Top 10 in the next iteration after his 12-round decision (UD) loss to Tyson Fury. As noted then, he also was set to fall out of the Top 25 altogether, which is reflected here.

    In: Andre Ward

    Ward wasn’t in the pound-for-pound rankings at Bleacher Report because of inactivity. However, he has fought twice in less than a year now and looked just as great as ever in moving up to light heavyweight to dominate the previously undefeated Sullivan Barrera. Ward is now ranked in the Top 10, keeping Danny Garcia still stuck at No. 11. 

25. Rances Barthelemy (24-0, 13 KOs)

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    John Gurzinski/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: Barthelemy is adept at punching from any angle. He uses the Cuban style of defense and movement, but tends to be more aggressive than his contemporaries. His lanky arms and ring generalship make him tough competition for anyone his size, and the 24-year-old has already won world titles in two different weight classes.

    Previous Ranking: 25

    Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Denis Shafikov

    Who He Should Fight Next: A showdown with fellow Cuban defector Yuriorkis Gamboa would be an exciting matchup between two fighters from the tiny island nation famous for the sweet science. Does it get any better than that?

24. Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs)

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Postol shocked Lucas Matthysse last year to announce his arrival to the boxing world in dramatic fashion. He doesn’t possess one-punch knockout power, but he hits hard enough, and his punches wear opponents down. He is an aggressive puncher and has proved himself to be one of the best fighters in the world today.

    Previous Ranking: 24

    Last Fight: Round 10 knockout (KO) win against Lucas Matthysse

    Who He Should Fight Next: Postol’s best fight would be versus Terence Crawford. The winner of that bout would be the best 140-pounder in the world today, and their styles match up in a way that might produce high drama.

23. Shinsuke Yamanaka (25-0-2, 17 KOs)

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    JIJI PRESS/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Though we Americans hardly ever see them, some of the best boxers on the planet hail from Japan. Yamanaka is such a case, an excellent bantamweight most folks never see fight. The southpaw may have had a few scorecards go his way that maybe should not have, but he consistently fights at a high level against really solid competition.

    Previous Ranking: 22

    Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Liborio Solis

    Who He Should Fight Next: Some people think Anselmo Moreno deserved the nod against Yamanaka last year. How about a rematch to settle the dispute once and for all?

22. Amnat Ruenroeng (17-0, 5 KOs)

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    DALE DE LA REY/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Ruenroeng is that awkward fighter you always think should lose but never does. He’s crafty, off-putting and a good enough puncher to keep his opponents at bay. He’s also hard to hit, a product of his herky-jerky movements and high level of skill.  

    Previous Ranking: 21

    Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Myung Ho Lee

    Who He Should Fight Next: Ruenroeng faces John Riel Casimero on May 25 in Beijing. Fellow flyweights Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Naoya Inoue should be on top of the 36-year-old’s 2016 list.

21. Adonis Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs)

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: He’s the lineal light heavyweight champion, a boxer-puncher whose Sunday punch truly knocks his opponents into next week. What he needs are good opponents. His last few fights have left much to be desired, but on the horizon are some huge fights for the 38-year-old.

    Previous Ranking: 20

    Last Fight: Round 3 KO win against Tommy Karpency

    Who He Should Fight Next: Fellow Canadian Jean Pascal would be a good fit, as would rising light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev, who appears to be of the same ilk as Sergey Kovalev. Oh, and there’s always that long-awaited fight, too, should either side ever be willing to actually make it happen.

20. Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs)

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: After a bit of a lull, Cruz may finally be living up to his vast potential. No, he’s not otherworldly skilled like Guillermo Rigondeaux. But he makes up for it with aggression and willpower. Plus, Cruz is actually fun to watch as a fighter, something that will make him a ton of money in his career.

    Previous Ranking: 23

    Last Fight: Round 5 TKO win over Kiko Martinez

    Who He Should Fight Next: Cruz just needs to stay active over good competition. A return bout with Abner Mares, whom he defeated last year, would be good TV. As would action against Gary Russell Jr. or Lee Selby.

19. Takashi Uchiyama (24-0-1, 20 KOs)

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    TORU YAMANAKA/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: He’s already 36, but Uchiyama is a good boxer and powerful puncher with a claim to being the best junior lightweight in the world today. Nicknamed KO Dynamite, Uchiyama has never ventured outside of Japan for a professional prizefight. Will U.S. fight fans get a chance to see him before he retires?

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Last Fight: Round 3 TKO win against Oliver Flores

    Who He Should Fight Next: Jezreel Corrales is Uchiyama’s April 27 opponent. A win would set up a nice showdown with undefeated Mexican Francisco Vargas for the lineal championship.

18. Erislandy Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs)

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    Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    Why He’s Here: Lara is either too good or too passive for his own good. Maybe both. He’s a crafty southpaw who is usually content to jab-cross his way to 12-round decisions. Because he doesn’t press the action, Lara has few fans and therefore is too risky an opponent for the trouble to other fighters.

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Last Fight: Round 3 TKO against Jan Zaveck

    Who He Should Fight Next: Since Lara seems forever stuck in his ways, his handlers should focus on feeding him aggressive stalkers he can look good against. James Kirkland comes to mind, especially if he comes into the fight trained by Ann Wolfe.

17. Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs)

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Thurman is a much better boxer than he’s given credit for being. He moves well and varies the speed and power of his punches as well as anyone in the sport. His power overshadows his other assets, but he should have ample opportunities to prove his worth over the next year or so.

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Last Fight: Round 7 KO win against Luis Collazo

    Who He Should Fight Next: Thurman faces Shawn Porter on June 25. A win over Porter would make Thurman vs. Danny Garcia an intriguing possibility, probably the best PBC fight that could be made in 2016.

16. Nonito Donaire (36-3, 23 KOs)

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    ANTHONY WALLACE/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: At age 33, Donaire might be on the downslope of his career. It’s hard to tell. The flashily fast and powerful puncher was too small for the featherweight division, so he moved back down to junior featherweight. He’s won three fights since, but he found himself in a shootout with rugged Cesar Juarez in his last fight.

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Last Fight: 12-round UD against Cesar Juarez

    Who He Should Fight Next: Donaire faces Zsolt Bedak on April 23 in the Philippines. Should he prevail as expected, he should focus on signing a revenge match against Guillermo Rigondeaux, who defeated Donaire in 2013 for the lineal championship.

15. Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs)

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Brook really might be the best welterweight in the world right now. The shame of it is that he hasn’t been able to prove it. He’s a good boxer-puncher with nice athleticism and educated technique.

    Previous Ranking: 15                                                                          

    Last Fight: Round 2 TKO win against Kevin Bizier

    Who He Should Fight Next: Any other top welterweight will due. One with another one of the alphabet world titles such as Keith Thurman, Jessie Vargas or Danny Garcia would make the most sense.

14. Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs)

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    JOHN GURZINSKI/Getty Images

    14. Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs)

    Why He’s Here: Cotto has been one of the better fighters in the sport for over a decade now. His recent run at middleweight was outstanding, but he figures more into the 154-poiund picture at present. Cotto, age 35, looked older than he ever had against Canelo Alvarez, but that may have just been a case of Alvarez’s size advantage.

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Last Fight: 12-round UD loss to Canelo Alvarez

    Who He Should Fight Next: If Cotto’s matchmakers are smart, they will find him guys like Brandon Rios to pound on until another megafight comes his way. Rios is a name opponent, but he never looked worse than he did in his last fight—a KO loss to Timothy Bradley.

13. Naoya Inoue (9-0, 8 KOs)

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    Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: The Little Monster is a terror at flyweight and junior bantam. He’s a hard puncher who overwhelms his opponents with the force of his will. He’s probably the best Japanese fighter in the world today, and he might someday soon prove he deserves that accolade for the rest of the world as well. The crazy part? He’s only 22 years old.

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Last Fight: Round 2 TKO win over Warlito Parrenas

    Who He Should Fight Next: Inoue faces David Carmona on May 8 in Tokyo. At his young age, he should probably be building up his resume and deciding whether he wants to take his act across the shores to the Americas is search of superfights at flyweight.

12. Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs)

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    Kin Cheung/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: Walters is a pure power puncher. He’s at his best when he lures his opponents into trading with him. When he hits people, they usually fall down. Maybe that’s why they call him the Axe Man? His opponents are the trees.

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Last Fight: 12-round draw with Jason Sosa

    Who He Should Fight Next: Walters’ draw with Sosa looked more like a clear win to most observers, so that shouldn’t keep him from getting a bout against someone like Vasyl Lomachenko or Takashi Uchiyama.

11. Danny Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: Garcia was the lineal junior welterweight champ before he moved up to welterweight. Now, he’s biding his time against decent 147-pound competition before, hopefully, taking on the likes of Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter. Garcia is a wonderful counterpuncher, and he performs well under pressure.

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Last Fight: 12-round UD win versus Robert Guerrero

    Who He Should Fight Next: A rematch against Lamont Peterson, whom Garcia defeated by majority decision last year, would be a good way to wait for the winner of Thurman-Porter.

10. Terence Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs)

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Crawford receives a lot of credit for his lineal lightweight championship, his apparent talent and his willingness to stay active against solid competition. He’s a great fighter, one who is as good at fighting southpaws as he is orthodox punchers.

    Previous Ranking: 9                                                                            

    Last Fight: Round 5 TKO win over Hank Lundy

    Who He Should Fight Next: Hopefully, Lundy will take on Viktor Postol next. Bouts against guys like Lundy aren’t going to do anything for his career other than stall it. In a perfect world, he'd fight Pacquiao or Bradley next. 

9. Timothy Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs)

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: Bradley is elite. He might not ever be able to beat Pacquiao, at least legitimately anyway, but there's no shame in that. Bradley has much of his career ahead of him and will figure into the mix of pound-for-pound lists for years to come. 

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Last Fight: 12-round UD loss to Manny Pacquiao

    Who He Should Fight Next: A rematch with Jessie Vargas or Ruslan Provodnikov would be ideal. Both are winnable—but interesting—fights.

8. Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs)

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: Rigondeaux is the most frustrating talent in boxing. He might be the greatest amateur fighter ever, but his professional career has been basically worthless since he defeated Nonito Donaire in 2013.

    Last Fight: 10-round UD win over Drian Francisco.

    Who He Should Fight Next: He should seriously consider fighting his manager, his promoter or both. Seriously, will Rigo ever face an interesting opponent again? If so, will he throw enough punches for it to matter?

7. Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs)

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    JOHN GURZINSKI/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Admittedly, Alvarez might be ranked too high. He is ranked No. 7 for his excellent wins over Lara and Cotto, especially the latter. And he really might live up to the expectations hoards of fight fans have for him, but only time will tell. He’s one of the better combination punchers in boxing.

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Last Fight: 12-round UD win versus Miguel Cotto

    Who He Should Fight Next: Alvarez is taking a page straight out of the Floyd Mayweather book by facing a fighter he will probably be a heavy favorite against instead of the absolute best competition. Khan isn’t a middleweight. He’s not even a junior middleweight. Alvarez shouldn’t be fighting a welterweight next. Right?

6. Juan Francisco Estrada (33-2, 24 KOs)

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    AFP/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: Estrada is the kind of fighter who makes the flyweight division probably the deepest in the sport. He’s an exceptional fighter—tough, smart and aggressive. A return match with Roman Gonzalez, who defeated Estrada in 2012, would give him an opportunity to ascend toward the very top of this list. He’s won seven straight since his last lost.

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Last Fight: Round 10 KO win over Hernan Marquez

    Who He Should Fight Next: The aforementioned rematch with Gonzalez, or a showdown with Naoya Inoue, should be Estrada’s focus right now.

5. Gennady Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs)

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    Why He’s Here: Fans seem to gravitate toward Golovkin, and for good reason. He’s simply exceptional. His punches are short, powerful and compact, and he is an unrelenting and aggressive stalker who has the amateur background and skill set to be on top of the boxing world.

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Last Fight: Round 8 KO win against David Lemieux

    Who He Should Fight Next: Golovkin is set to take on undefeated Dominic Wade on April 23. It’s decent competition but unspectacular—especially for a fighter HBO seems intent on telling us has all-time great potential. Let’s see it. Throw Golovkin in with another elite fighter already.

4. Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs)

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    Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

    Why He’s Here: One could make a very good argument that Kovalev should rank higher on this list, maybe even No. 1. His power in both hands sets him apart from other light heavyweights, and his great footwork and mean temperament make him one of the scariest fighters in boxing.

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Last Fight: Round 7 KO win over Jean Pascal

    Who He Should Fight Next: Kovalev should have his targets set on two other fighters right now: lineal champion Adonis Stevenson and former super middleweight king Andre Ward. Either one will do. 

3. Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    3. Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs)

    Why He’s Here: Ward is the most complete fighter in boxing. He’s adept at all facets of the sport and is righteously competitive. While his boxing style might not appeal to everyone who watches the sport, he is probably the only fighter today who’s inside-the-ring attributes compare to the recently retired Floyd Mayweather.

    Previous Ranking: N/A

    Last Fight: 12-round UD win over Sullivan Barrera

    Who He Should Fight Next: The Barrera fight proved Ward could not only compete but excel at 175 pounds. HBO seems intent on getting Ward in the ring with Kovalev, and that’s the all-around best fight on paper that could be made this year. Let's hope it's not all smoke and mirrors. 

2. Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs)

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Why He’s Here: There's no doubt about it—Pacquiao is historically great. He's a rare breed, as fast as he is powerful. He's a volume power puncher—something just about nobody else does. His trainer, Freddie Roach, helped hone his natural aggression to become nearly an unbeatable fighter. At his best, Pacquiao is still one of boxing's top fighters. 

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Last Fight: 12-round UD over Timothy Bradley

    Who He Should Fight Next: Pacquiao has had a great career. Why not go out on a high note? If his head is truly in the place he claims it is, it's time for Pacquiao to retire. Ride off in the sunset, Pacquiao.

1. Roman Gonzalez (44-0, 38 KOs)

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    Why He’s Here: If he weighed 50 pounds more, Gonzalez would be the biggest star in the sport. He’s as skilled as he is accomplished and is arguably the best pressure fighter in boxing. As it stands, though, Gonzalez will have to be content being the best fighter in the world, if not the most popular. Drawing paychecks from HBO probably makes it easier than it would be otherwise.

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Last Fight: Round 9 TKO win against Brian Viloria

    Who He Should Fight Next: Gonzalez will face McWilliams Arroyo on April 23 on HBO, a fight that will keep him in the limelight while HBO figures out how best to use him. Hopefully, he faces Inoue or Estrada by the end of 2016.