I remember the prettiest girl in school.
She was popular and wore the best clothes. She came from a family with money and always got a lot of attention. She also walked around, like her certain something didn’t stink.
Then there were the quiet ones, who spoke loudly in deeds, who still made you do a double take. Some wore glasses or had on a pair of braces. Maybe some wore baggy clothes to hide a knockout figure.
The fight game, and those regarded at the top, can sometimes be determined more by a popularity contest- than one based on merit.
Take Floyd Mayweather for example, and let’s say in a figurative sense that he’s the prettiest girl in the sport of boxing. He’s well accomplished and supremely talented yes. But he’s only fought 6 times since 2007, which includes an “unbelievable” 2 occassions this year. For perspective, “GGG” fought 4 times this year and will fight again in early 2014. He was actually held back from fighting 5 times this year.
This raises two issues: level of activity and quality of opposition.
It’s these two critical areas that become paramount when discussing “who’s who”, and “what’s what”, in the pecking order of who might be consider among the best of the best. This, along with experience at the highest levels, actual performance and skills displayed. There’s also the matter where they’re headed- and against whom potentially. All due respect to RING Magazine, I see things just a little differently. These guys represent who I think are the 10 very best fighters in the world today.
10. Wladimir Klitschko, WBO/WBA/IBF Heavyweight Champion, 61-3, 51 KO’s
Klitschko is one of the most dominant heavyweight champions of all-time. That in and of itself doesn’t get him on this list, but he is head and shoulders above any heavyweight, right now, and can find a way to beat any heavyweight of any shape or style. Always immaculately conditioned and a true ambassador of the sport, Klitschko’s decade long reign of dominance cannot be ignored, and he’ll remain a force. Things have however, gotten interesting with the emergence of Mike Perez and Deontay Wilder.
9. Juan Francisco Estrada, WBA/WBO Flyweight Champion, 25-2, 18KO’s
The little guys don’t get enough respect. I think Juan Francisco Estrada is a “great” fighter, and cemented his presence on this list with a sterling win over proud Filipino warrior Brian Viloria. Then he turned around and spanked the very dangerous and hard-punching Milan Medina at the Venetian Resort and Casino in Macao, China on July 27th. I think he beats Roman Gonzalez in a rematch, and this time won’t be affected by weight drain. I thought about putting Tim Bradley here, but he’s better than Bradley.
8. Mikey Garcia, WBO Super Featherweight Champion, 33-0, 28 KO’s
Outside of Floyd Mayweather, you won’t find a more “perfect” fighter in the sport than Mikey Garcia. His game is flawless, and there isn’t a fighter between 130 or 135lbs that could beat him. I think that might even include 140. He’s that good. What he should not do, is try to face Manny Pacquiao right now (there’s talk of it). He’d lose. But before its all said and done, Garcia is going to the Hall of Fame, and will be regarded as one of the greatest fighters in the history of Mexico. It’ll take a high profile KO over a known commodity, and Yuriokis Gamboa will certainly help with that.
7. Manny Pacquiao, Welterweight, 54-5-2, 38KO’s
The Filipino icon, an eight-time world champion and eight division titlist, can simply go to congress and write laws for the rest of his life while remaining a boxing legend. And that is without fighting “you-know-who”. Pacquiao has nothing to prove after carrying the sport for years. After being robbed in your living room and those across the world by Timothy Bradley, he suffered a power outage to say the least against Juan Manuel Marquez. But he looked great prior to that, and showed the stuff that made him great against Brandon Rios the other night in China. He probably gets Bradley II, Marquez V., or perhaps even Provodnikov (though Freddie Roach is heavily against this fight). I won’t even mention some guy whose name rhymes with “avoid”.
6. Danny Garcia, WBA/WBC Super Lightweight Champion, 27-0, 16KO’s
“Swift”, just might be the Rodney Dangerfield of the sport. This guy can’t get any respect at all. Count me among those who gave him no chance to survive Lucas Matthysse for an entire 12 rounds. I still can’t get over the sledgehammer right-hand he took that sent his mouthpiece flying all the way back to Philadelphia from Lucas late in the fight. All he does is display an array of skills and guts over solid competition every time he gets in the ring. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in there with Mayweather – and wouldn’t count him out either – that won’t happen to me again with this guy. It’s better than a fight with Amir Khan for Christ’s sake.
5. Adrien Broner, WBA Welterweight Champion, 26-0, 22KO’s
Broner may have a lot to learn outside of the ring, but there’s not much more polishing he needs inside it save for tougher fights. They’re coming, and he wants them. A stylistic replica of Mayweather in many ways, Broner is more offensive minded (and just as defensive) in the pocket. At 24, he should only get better, and I thought he deserved more credit than he received for bludgeoning Paulie Malignaggi to capture the WBA Welterweight title. He should do the same to Marcos Maidana in a few weeks.
4. Guillermo Rigondeaux, WBA/WBO Jr. Featherweight Champion, 12-0, 8KO’s
Rigondeaux’s paint job on Nonito Donaire was so complete, that I can’t even find space for him on this list anymore. The Cuban stylist is one of the greatest pure boxers of all-time. I would’ve love to see him take on Abner Mares in an action fight, before he folded, and what a fight him and rising star Leo Santa Cruz would be. Too bad Mikey Garcia is a little out of his range, because Mikey would give him all he can handle. For now, we can at least look forward to his upcoming bout with Joseph Agbeko.
3. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, IBO/WBA Middleweight Champion, 28-0, 25KO’s
The Russian born and Kazakhstan assassin, and the latest star unveiled by HBO, makes every opponent play his brand of roulette. He has a two-fisted seek and destroy attack, and reminds you of a hybrid Kostya Tsyzu/Julio Cesar Chavez (Uh, not Jr. either). He’s called out Mayweather at 154lbs.(with no response) while bombing out Matthew Macklin, and recently gave the fast and elite power puncher Curtis Stevens a comprehensive beating. The extremely active middleweight boss has potential fights with the son of Chavez, Sergio Martinez, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or Andre Ward directly in front of him. He’s this close to being the best fighter in the world.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr., WBC Welterweight Champion, 45-0, 26KO’s
Now here’s where things get dicey. No one can deny the mastery of Mayweather. But what we know is that he’s not doing what he needs to do against who we think he’s capable of. While Ward has been removed from the sport due to injury, Floyd has taken 2 extended vacations from the sport for nearly 2 years each time. I can think of a few fighters who could have made the pedestrian Robert Guerrero look, well, pedestrian. And since he said “catchweight fights don’t count”, I’m going to agree with him and pull his card for the Canelo fight. Floyd Mayweather is the most talented fighter in all of boxing. And he just might be – the most technically skilled and most proficient fighter to ever where a pair of gloves. I rank Floyd as the very best defensive fighter of all-time. But avoiding punches – and opponents- are two different things. We can “guess” what he would’ve done against Antonio Margarito, Kostya Tsyzu, Vivian Harris, Sergio Martinez or Paul Williams. We should not “HAVE TO GUESS” about Manny Pacquiao. Floyd needs to lose Amir Khan’s number, and call Pacquiao (since we know he knows it). The world’s best fighter is not supposed to look for safe challenges, “Money” be damned. I’d even consider him #1 were he to beat Adrien Broner in a fight that can be easily made. But he needs to stop playing games with himself and his legacy.
1. Andre Ward, WBC Super-Middleweight Champion, 26-0, 14KO’s
It’s not Andre’s fault that he was on the shelf for nearly a year and a half. He also can’t do anything about the nonsense with the WBC that followed. The 168lb. “RING” marvel is not only its champion, but everyone elses too. Andre Ward is the world’s best fighter, and he’d make any fighter within reach of him understand this in a scientifically destructive way. After cleaning out and systematically dismantling all opposition during the Super 6 tournament and then burying Chad Dawson, Ward returned recently to turn Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez into more like “La Bum-ba”. Ward is the ring equivalent of the NBA’s Tim Duncan in his prime, just “fundamentalling” your ass to death. Because of this, the “Son of God” must broaden his horizons, and it would be a good idea to go “international” to test his mantle. He can easily go to Germany and snatch a belt from WBO super middleweight champ Robert Stieglitz (which he may do next), and then settle a grudge match with IBF/WBA champ Carl Froch in the UK. Of course, there looms Adonis “Superman” Stevenson and Sergei Kovalev hovering above him, and a potential superfight with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin staring at him from below. For Andre Ward, the view from the top is anything but safe, and that’s just the way he likes it.