Who is The Best in the World?
Published: October 07, 2017
The last few months have been interesting in the sport of boxing with the amount of retirements that have taken place. Most notably, the retirement of former Super Middleweight (168) and Light Heavyweight (175) champion Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs). Before announcing his retirement, Ward was rated by many publications as the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound. The discussion surrounding the pound-for-pound status of boxing’s elite has always been a headlining talking point. Now that the Mayweather-Pacquiao era is over and with Ward’s retirement, many fans are left wondering who is the best in the world.
Last month, the former short-lived pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) was officially pushed off his perch near the top of the elite by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs). Rungvisai who hails from Thailand scored an emphatic fourth-round knockout over Gonzalez in a rematch that put an end to any doubt that their first meeting provided. Gonzalez had many skeptics during his most recent run that started on HBO with his second round dismantling of Edgar Sosa in May 2015. It is unfortunate that many fans were not able to witness Gonzalez in his prime when he fought at 105, 108 and most of his run at 112 pounds. The Nicaragua native was the only fighter from his country to win titles in four weight divisions and fought the best each division had to offer. For Gonzalez, the work to get into the hall-of-fame was already solidified before a broader audience on HBO viewed him.
The pound-for-pound discussion as of today is a back and forth between two fighters. The first being current middleweight (160) champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs). The Kazakhstani puncher is coming off of the most financially successful year of his career having faced his best competition to date in Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs). Golovkin won a close unanimous decision over Jacobs in March of this year and settled for a controversial draw with Alvarez in September. Including the draw with Alvarez, Golovkin has now made 19 straight title defenses of his middleweight title winning 17 of them by knockout. For those who believe that Golovkin should sit atop of the pound-for-pound rankings, they will point to his underrated defense, his tremendous chin and that he may have the best jab in the sport. Credible publications such as ESPN and Ring Magazine have Golovkin at the number one spot pound-for-pound currently. At 35 years of age, many feel that Golovkin has already seen his best days and is in a slight decline from his form just a few years ago.
20 years ago a similar in some respects pound-for-pound debate took place in boxing with Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker (40-4-1, 17 KOs) and Roy Jones Jr. (65-9, 47 KOs). Whitaker in 1997 may have had the best resume in the sport and was coming off a controversial loss to a prime Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs). Many felt he could have got the decision. At the time Whitaker only had two controversial losses on his record thus leading many to still rank him as the number one fighter in the sport. However, it was clear by then that Whitaker was no longer in his prime. Jones by 1997 was in his absolute prime and avenged the only loss of his career with a first-round knockout over Montell Griffin. In the 1990’s there were few on the level of Jones who would go on to become the fighter of the decade. In this era, those who do not rank Golovkin as the number one fighter pound-for-pound have two-division world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) at the top of their lists.
Crawford at 30 years of age is in his prime and as of late has put in some of the best performances of his career. Most recently, Crawford became only the second man to own all four major titles in a division when he stopped Julius Indongo (22-1, 11 KOs) in the third round to become the undisputed champion at 140-pounds. The Omaha native finished the then-undefeated Indongo with a fantastic body shot that made a statement to the rest of the sport. Crawford’s ability to seamlessly fight in the orthodox and southpaw stances gives him an advantage over nearly every opponent. He also has the mental state to turn up the ferocity of his attack when needed.
There is also the feeling with Crawford that the best is yet to come from the Nebraska native. After conquering the lightweight (135) and super lightweight (140) divisions, Crawford has stated that he will be moving up to the welterweight division (147). Potential fights with the likes of Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) and Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) at welterweight will only make the argument for Crawford as the best fighter in the world stronger should he come out victorious against either man. The Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) already has Crawford ranked as the best in the world pound-for-pound.
Whether you have Golovkin or Crawford at the top of your list of boxing’s elite, there will always be others chasing the crown. Two of boxing’s best technicians Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) meet this upcoming December in a battle of two-time Olympic gold medalists. Depending if the winner has a dominant enough performance there will be many who rank Lomachenko or Rigondeaux at the top spot.
The most prominent star currently in the sport cannot be forgotten as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez may have the best resume of any active fighter in the sport sans Manny Pacquiao. Alvarez is ranked in the number one spot pound-for-pound on boxing website boxrec.com currently.
The claim to being the best in boxing changes and evolves along with the fighters and fans that watch. The pound-for-pound debate will always be a part of the boxing discussion and landscape.
Who do you feel is currently the best in the sport of boxing? Let us know below.
(Feature Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)