“Are you serious? Guys, listen, c’mon I am champion. I will fight anyone. Peter Quillin. Canelo. Floyd. Ward… It doesn’t matter. I respect Miguel Cotto, but this is a really nice fight for me. I am here. Ready to face ANYONE.”
#1, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, undisputed middleweight boss and best fighter on the planet
I don’t know about you, but this is how I want the best fighter in the world to sound like. I don’t want him talking about PPV numbers or his nickname. I don’t want him creating “TBE” titles to bestow on himself, or make the headlines for the wrong reasons all the time.
I don’t want him DUCKING the greatest challenges that the sport has to offer.
This is not the list of the sacred cow, where what you’ve done has a whole lot to do with what you’re likely to do. It is also not a list where popularity trumps merit. RING Magazine comes to mind here and I’ll give you an example. If it wasn’t for Miguel Cotto exposing Sergio Martinez’s “ridiculous” #3 rating heading into that bout – hell he still might be there.
Guillermo Rigondeaux, Timothy Bradley and Juan Manual Marquez are great fighters (and arguably, all of them all-time greats or will be), but I have problems with them for different reasons. In Tim’s case, he never really beat #2 Manny Pacquiao, and more or less survived Ruslan Provodnikov. Rigondeaux didn’t exactly thrill us in derailing Nonito Donaire in April 2013, and has been dreadful since then (we just can’t count his recent win over Sod Kokietgym).
He needs a signature win over a rising beast like Nicholas Walters, Vasyl Lomachenko, or Leo Santa Cruz. Bottom line he’s now 34, and needs to justify his justifiable defection from Cuba. NOW.
Juan Manual doesn’t want to fight Pacquiao again, and I think this is smart. Why? After electrocuting the Filipino icon (which is probably a poster on the wall of #3 Floyd Mayweather), the Mexican legend looked ordinary against Bradley, and showed real signs of slippage against Mike Alvarado in thrilling victory.
Now beyond 40, I really want Juan to retire and join a broadcasting team at ringside somewhere.
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But back to the best.
In Golovkin, we have a fighter who almost demands to be active (7 fights in less than 2 years, and 4 since #4 Andre Ward last fought), and a fighter who has challenged the very best from 154 to 168lbs.
He’s already penciled in for a February 2015 clash with a very tough Martin Murray in Monaco, and he’ll put a demo job on him too. For the detractors of my selection I’ll just say this…
If we were in any other era of boxing prior to this one, Golovkin has probably already stopped Sergio Martinez, Peter Quillin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or even Floyd Mayweather. He has called out ALL OF THEM. Instead of Marco Antonio Rubio a few weeks back, he’s probably just mauled Miguel Cotto, and is facing maybe #7 Carl Froch next February.
Froch, who doesn’t know how to do anything except be brutally honest, told the world that “Golovkin should be avoided like the plague” and he probably f*cking means it. In the case of “GGG”, who is re-writing middleweight championship history, its not about who he hasn’t fought – its about who won’t fight him.
Pacquiao has acquitted himself well since having his plug pulled by Marquez. I didn’t think he lost to Bradley in 2012, and was beating the hell out of what many believe was a tainted and steroid riddled Marquez (myself included). All 3 opponents Pacquiao has beaten in his “comeback” were picked by many to beat him, so the fact that he soundly defeated Rios, Bradley and Algieri has to vault him near the top.
I’ll deal with Floyd in a separate article, but his avoidance of Pacquiao – along with his continued, and childish use of Instagram like a teenage girl, drops him on the list.
#5 Wladimir Klitschko just may be the least respected of any heavyweight champion since Primo Carnera for Christ’s sake. But he’s been the epitome of class and utterly dominate. His desecration of Kubrat Pulev to record a 17th defense is a testament to greatness. Many have been down on #10 Saul Canelo Alvarez, but I think he’s learned a lot since Mayweather painted him with crayons in September 2013. He’s still talented with plenty of upside, and I think he’ll beat Miguel Cotto next year.
The same goes for #9 Danny Garcia. Sure, he looked bad against Mauricio Herrera last year, but Herrera is a bad style match-up for anyone. He rebounded nicely with a spectacular KO of Rod Salka, plus he still gets points for what he did to Lucas Matthysse. He’s bound for a big 2015.
And lastly, if you’ve never heard of #6 Roman Gonzalez and #8 Juan Franciso Estrada I won’t hold it against you. Because they reside at flyweight they are easily overlooked, but they have greatness all over them. Gonzalez is perhaps the most complete fighter in the game and in possession of the best left hook in the sport. While Estrada is the ultimate grinder and workhorse, capable of dismantling anyone – including Gonzalez. Hopefully we’ll see a rematch between them in 2015, and it’ll be a bonafide superfight.
So anyway here’s my hardcore list, and who gives a sh*t if you don’t like it.
1. Gennady Golovkin: After a tough fight with Murray, “GGG” should get a mega-fight with Andre Ward.
2. Manny Pacquiao: The Foot Locker spoof on Mayweather before and after Algieri was classic. Stop ducking Floyd.
3. Floyd Mayweather: The last time Floyd was universally considered behind Pacquiao, he unretired. Will “Money” be enough to face him?
4. Andre Ward: Inactivity is killing Ward’s career and his reputation, but my sense is he’ll rebuild both. He should rematch Carl Froch.
5. Wladimir Klitschko: Just a consistently dominating force and one of the best heavyweight champions in history
6. Roman Gonzalez: Already an all-time great, Gonzalez is the most complete fighter in all of boxing
7. Carl Froch: Tougher than any $2 steak, Froch sealed 2013 with a ridiculous one punch KO of George Groves.
8. Juan Franciso Estrada: The Mexican boasts an iron will and immaculate conditioning. A total warrior with a non-stop motor.
9.Danny Garcia: “Swift”is better than he showed against Mauricio Herrera and not as good as he was against Rod Salka. A baller.
10. Saul Canelo Alvarez: “Canelo” didn’t get another look at HBO for nothing, and he’ll prove that by beating Miguel Cotto in 2015.
Of course, this is a completely subjective list that is open to interpretation, rebuttal, or downright rebuke; and in any case, I’ll understand. Lets just hope that after a great 2013, we don’t have a 2015 like 2014. The best fighters in the world – on your list or mine – are all within striking distance of each other. Let’s hope the fight Gods take us back to the 80’s, where fighters fought to find out who was the better man, not who had better PPV numbers.
Lets hope the best fighters in the world strike the distance between them – and each other.
UP NEXT… Floyd Mayweather: “The Duck Dynasty”