It goes without saying: a lot changes in a year. In boxing that holds true more than in most sports. Although consistency and longevity are two greatly respected traits in the business, like many other sports, when you’re dealing with boxing, as volatile ans fickle sport as any, in which one’s entire world can change with a perfectly delivered punch there is absolutely no guarantees. See: Victor Ortiz/Josesito Lopez or any planned future opponent of Canelo Alvarez’ fight before the “big one” with Canelo.
When we did this list last January, our first annual Pound for Pound list, the boxing world seemed to be a lot clearer. Putting together our P4P was far from a tough task with the same stalwarts as always, Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather, ranked 1 and 2 as they were without fail on almost every list put out. Even the final three to round out the list were fairly simple to rank.
Not so this year. A lot of thought, consideration and deliberation led to it. We’re sure this leads to a lot of debate. You may think we got it all wrong. That’s the point of these lists isn’t it? They certainly hold no true power in any sort of manner other than what the fans believe, popular and not so popular opinion being determining factors.
Many fighters we champion, such as Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, may never be on a P4P list. But they entertain us none the less. In boxing, it takes all sorts. So, without further ado:
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.:
With Manny Pacquaio’s shocking KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, it was rather simple to pick number one. In fact it was the one placement on this list that was easiest to pick. Mayweather is one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time. His aloof style, with the best shoulder roll since Pernell Whittaker, is a thing of beauty but not the sort of thing to attract fans in the way a balls to the wall fighter does.
He showed an entirely different side of himself when meeting Miguel Cotto this past May though. “Money” had to dig deeper than he has in a long time. And he still prevailed. The gutsy performance won him a number of new fans that didn’t think Floyd could be that type of cat. In showing a different dimension of himself he cemented his spot as number one.
Last Year: Second
2. Juan Manuel Marquez:
His deserved spot. Marquez has been one of the most exquisite purveyors of the sweet science for years now, dominant first in the Featherweight and then Lightweight divisions. His emphatic KO victory came at welterweight. That sort of dominance surely screams P4P best doesn’t it?
While Mayweather and Pacquaio have long hogged the spotlight at the top of the sport, in Mexico they’ve known all along about the quality of Marquez. Now the world does. His rise to the top of the sport didn’t come courtesy of an attention grabbing personality or the power of the Top Rank marketing department. It came through exhibitions of slick skill and counter punching. He earned it the hard way.
Last Year: Not Ranked
3. Andre Ward:
Andre Ward completely dominated the Super Six tournament. He defeated many of the best fighters his division had to offer and in particular his fight with Carl Froch in the tournament final showed the gap in class between Ward and his contemporaries. Because of this he also has a lack of entertaining fights on offer as he’s not a big KO power puncher. He just does a every facet of the fight game right.
In 2012 he met Chad Dawson, breaking him down over 10 rounds for a TKO victory. He may not have been the most active but he’s already taken out the top men in his division. The story of his 2013, once recovered from a shoulder injury, will be where does he go from here?
Last Year: Third
4. Nonito Donaire:
This might be one that causes some consternation. But Donaire moved up in weight class to begin the year, fought 4 times, collected every title of note in his new weight class and became the only professional athlete committed to VADA testing.
He doesn’t have laurels to rest on yet, as he’s still building what is sure to become his legend. But he’s shown a willingness to fight the best in any weight class he contests in, the only thing preventing the biggest fights being the stubbornness of the Top Rank/Golden Boy cold war. We said last year he’d move up if he defeated Nishioka. He totally outclassed him.
In him there is an obvious parallel to Manny Pacquiao, much as young Adrien Broner’s flashy style outside of the ring brings comparisons to Mayweather. He could very well head the top of the P4P lists for years to come in his time.
Last Year: Fifth
5. Sergio Martinez:
Whether it’s his opponets reluctance to take the challenge or his desire to start taking bigger paydays as he nears an age where he knows he won’t be able to physically perform at the highest level, Martinez had his biggest year fame wise and a mediocre one inside the ring.
Matthew Macklin gave him a hit of a push in their St. Patricks Day showdown but one had to know that Martinez would soon figure out the timing of his opponet. He did, and it wasn’t long before it was over once he cracked that code.
His showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr wasn’t ever going to be the toughest of his career. But everyone knew it’d be the biggest payday for him thus far. Chavez was never the opponet he was made out to be, as many fans were aware, but when he dug deep and knocked down Martinez in the 12th round one couldn’t help but remember Meldrick Taylor’s unfortunate loss to the senior Chavez.
Rumors already abound regarding a second Chavez fight, which is a smart business decision, but in terms of what moves him up this list? We’d love to see a fight against Daniel Geale, Felix Sturm or (especially) Gennady Golovkin. Any one reasserts his authority.
Last Year: Fourth