What Makes a Pound 4 Pound Fighter?
By Danni Rocket: Due to the back to back defeats of Nicaraguan Super Flyweight Roman Gonzalez, the controversial draw between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and the recent retirement of consensus P4P King Andre “SOG” Ward, the Pound for Pound rankings of boxing’s most famous websites, magazines and organizations have suffered a major shake-up this year.
For the first time since at least 2013, the No1 on the lists of the Ring Magazine and The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board are not the same man. In fact, the TBRB was only formed in late 2012, and only published its first P4P list in 2013, and one would assume both they, and The Ring, would have had Floyd “Money” Mayweather atop their lists since he came out of his first “retirement” in September 2009.
This had me thinking; what actually makes a Pound for Pound fighter? is it opponents he has faced and beaten? Is it the way he has defeated those opponents? Or is it the raw talents he possesses, and has demonstrated, even against weaker opponents? The answer to this question is extremely important when writing a P4P list, as it can massively alter the positions of the warriors on one’s list.
Let us start by considering the first sub-question; is it the opponents the fighter has faced?
Among the current crop of fighters still active today, it is difficult to find a more impressive looking resume than that of Canelo Alvarez. The list includes 14 former or current champions, some of which have held titles in multiple divisions. He has defeat names such as Shane Mosley, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. His records only blemishes are a draw in his 5 fights as a 15-year-old boy, a draw to Gennady Golovkin (The Ring Magazines current No1 P4P), and a loss to one of the greatest fighters of all time, Floyd Mayweather. Surely then, Canelo should be P4P No1.
Not quite. A closer look at these fights and one quickly sees problems with this system of choosing a P4P king. Shane Mosely was 40 and well past it. The Lara fight was incredibly close, and some feel should have gone the way of the Cuban. Against Miguel Cotto he came in the ring 20 pounds heavier than his opponent, who still gave him a hell of a fight. Amir Khan is a Welterweight and known for his glass jaw. Julio Cesar Chavez was weight drained so heavily he could barely throw a punch, and had already been exposed many times. The Mayweather fight was completely one sided, despite judge C J Ross unbelievable scoring it a draw. And the Golovkin fight, whilst still being a lot closer than some would have you believe, should have gone to GGG by at least 115-113.
Maybe it’s the way a fighter defeats his opponents then?
Between November 2008 until March of this year GGG went on an incredible 23 fight knockout spree. He was the most feared man in the sport, until Kell Brook (a Welterweight) managed to land a few good uppercuts on him and show the world he was only human. As the most feared man however, he was also the most avoided. He has only recently been able to fight decent fighters, and currently the only guaranteed Hall of Famer on his resume is Canelo, with whom he fought to a draw with, at least officially.
And now the level of competition has stepped up for GGG, he hasn’t looked anywhere near as dominant as he once did. It took the Kazakhstani 11 rounds to stop Martin Murray. Willie Monroe Jr and Kell Brook (again, a Welterweight) had periods of success and won rounds against him. The Daniel Jacobs fight was extremely close, I had Golovkin winning only by 114-113, the one point coming from the 4th round knockdown. And Canelo did have a lot of success with his counter punching, and in my opinion let the fight end a draw by not throwing enough shots and sitting on the ropes.
So, is it the apparent ability of a fighter then that entitles him to be crowned atop this mythical list?
For me the two most freakishly talented fighters today are scheduled to face off on December the 9th. Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux have 2 Olympic Gold Medals each, and are widely considered in the top 10 amateur fighters of all time. As professionals, the have both shown incredible ability. Rigondeaux is arguably the greatest defensive fight today, and Lomachenko is probably the greatest offensive fighter. However, the offense of Rigo, and defence of Vasyl are also excellent. These two then, surely will be competing for the P4P crown on December 9th.
But what about the other talents? Very hot on the heels of Rigo and Vasyl in the race of the most talented boxers are Terrence Crawford (the TBRBs current No1 P4P) and Mikey Garcia. Not only are these two fantastic boxers, they both have better resumes that the Cuban and Ukrainian. Lomachenko has beaten Gary Russell Jr, a ring rusty Nicolas Walters and lost to Orlando Salido (41-12 at the time). And Rigondeaux has beaten Nonito Donaire, getting knocked down in the 10th, and a past it Joseph Agbeko in an incredibly dull fight. In their defence, Lomachenko’s showing against Gary Russell Jr was very impressive, as was Rigondeaux against Donaire. Mikey Garcia on the other hand has won world titles in 3 weight classes, and defeated Adrien Broner in his first fight at 140lbs, while Crawford 5 has world titles in 2 weight classes, including a fully unified few days at Light Welterweight.
So, what is the conclusion? Predictably it is a combination of all of these factors. Currently I see the Pound for Pound list as follows:
• Terrence Crawford
• Gennady Golovkin
• Vasyl Lomachenko
• Guillermo Rigondeaux
• Mikey Garcia
• Canelo Alvarez
• Errol Spence Jr
• Keith Thurman
• Oleksandr Usyk
• Naoya Inoue
I feel it is important to now add that this is just a P4P list for men’s boxing. If it was both male and female combined, then I would place Unified Women’s Welterweight Champion Cecilia Brækhus at number 7.
Obviously, this is just my opinion, and there are many other fighters that could make and argument for being included. For me the most important qualities that a fighter must possess to be included on my P4P list is in order: Talent/Ability, the way he defeats his opponents, and then the level of opponents.
How does the readers Pound for Pound list look? What is the most important consideration? And who, if anyone, would you add into the men’s list from the female boxing world? I look forward to reading your comments.