Rarely should events occurring outside of the ring contribute to ranking the best fighters in the world. The core function of any boxing best-of list should concern itself with the results in the squared circle, shunning the vagaries of innuendo and boxing politics that can so often cloud judgment. However, there are specific occasions when factors extraneous from in-ring performance must be considered in properly ranking fighters. Two of them are inactivity and ducking – one boxer refusing or avoiding a fight with a natural rival. Fighter inactivity is essentially self-explanatory: a fighter must stay active in order to keep his high ranking. The second (ducking) is even more prejudicial to the concept of greatness. A boxer shouldn't remain highly ranked if he's unwilling to fight other suitable top talents in the sport. The recent exploits of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez fall into this latter category.
Per the WBC, a condition for Cotto-Alvarez to take place in the fall of 2015 was that the winner had to fight Gennady Golovkin for his next bout. After defeating Cotto, Canelo then successfully negotiated with all parties for interim bouts before he and Golovkin had to face each other. The interim fights were completed earlier this month and instead of agreeing to the WBC's mandatory timeline for a Golovkin bout, Alvarez relinquished the organization's belt.
Although Canelo is the lineal 160-lb. champion, Golovkin has been considered the best fighter in the division for a number of years. From a pound-for-pound perspective, ranking them had been a coin flip for me: Canelo had the better competition, Golovkin the dominance. I previously had Canelo one spot above Golovkin due to his strong performances against better names (Cotto, Lara and Trout) – Golovkin has struggled throughout his career to get top fighters in the ring with him, a theme that continues.
With the events of the last few weeks, I no longer believe that the placement of the two fighters could be interchangeable. Let's be honest: if Alvarez was truly confident in defeating Golovkin, he would've already signed to fight him. And this isn't the story of a champion throwing away a belt to avoid a useless fight against an underserving mandatory challenger. Golovkin, a unified titleholder, has quickly become one of the most popular fighters in the sport. A win over Golovkin would do a lot for Canelo's popularity, marketability and legacy in the sport.
Some will defend Alvarez for dropping his belt – that his stance is a negotiating tactic to guarantee more money and advantages in the potential matchup. Maybe that's true. But Canelo's actions aren't reflective of a fighter who wants to get in the ring with Golovkin. And because of this, he shouldn't be ranked ahead of his rival. In the latest Rankings, I have flipped Golovkin and Canelo. Golovkin is now six while Alvarez drops to seven.
There is one additional change in the Saturday Night Boxing Rankings this month: longtime 130-lb. titleholder Takashi Uchiyama (formerly ranked #16) exits after he was demolished in two rounds by Jezreel Corrales, a relatively unheralded boxer from Panama. All other fighters who ranked below Uchiyama move up a spot and Leo Santa Cruz reenters the list at #20. The complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for Pound list is below:
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
1. Roman Gonzalez
2. Manny Pacquiao
3. Andre Ward
4. Sergey Kovalev
5. Juan Estrada
6. Gennady Golovkin
7. Saul Alvarez
8. Tim Bradley
9. Guillermo Rigondeaux
10. Naoya Inoue
11. Adonis Stevenson
12. Tyson Fury
13. Wladimir Klitschko
14. Miguel Cotto
15. Danny Garcia
16. Terence Crawford
17. Donnie Nietes
18. Shinsuke Yamanaka
19. Nicholas Walters
20. Leo Santa Cruz
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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