Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pound-for-Pound Update 3-29-17

Let's start at the top: Earlier this month, Roman Gonzalez lost a controversial majority decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Overcoming a first-round knockdown and some nasty cuts, Gonzalez hurt Srisaket at many points in the bout. However, as the fight progressed, the challenger continued to land blistering left crosses and right hooks, helping to slow Gonzalez's ferocious attack. In a memorable 12th round, Gonzalez reversed course and unleashed a blistering assault on Srisaket, who had to survive to make it to the final bell. 

I scored the fight a draw – 113-113. One judge had it the same as I did while two saw Srisaket winning by two points (114-112). HBO's Harold Lederman had Gonzalez edging the fight and many on social media saw the bout more widely in favor of Roman. 

Ultimately, how one views the Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai decision determines the ranking of the top fighters in the sport. If you are of the belief that the judges' scorecards weren't legitimate summations of the ring action, that Gonzalez was robbed, then it would be perfectly reasonable to place Gonzalez at or near the very top of the current pound-for-pound list. However, if one looks at the scorecards as defensible, meaning, that they are conceivable given how the fight played out, then I don't see how Gonzalez can remain at #1 in the pound-for-pound list or how Srisaket could be ignored in the same rankings of the best fighters in boxing. 

I fall in the second camp. Although I had Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai a draw, I could certainly see a round I gave to Roman that could've gone the other way (the second). Again, I'm not saying that I necessarily agreed with the decision, but I understand how the judges could've arrived at their final scores in a legitimate fashion. 

In that I don't believe a robbery took place, I accept the judges' verdict. Thus, I can no longer have Gonzalez as the top fighter on my pound-for-pound list. Srisaket is certainly a very good fighter, but no one had him as an elite talent coming into the Gonzalez fight. Furthermore, in Gonzalez's previous bout against Carlos Cuadras, I thought that Gonzalez only eked out a draw. I didn't penalize Gonzalez after that fight in my Rankings. However, it's time to make an adjustment. It's one thing fighting Sergey Kovalev on even terms; it's another thing going life-and-death with perceived lesser fighters in your own division. 

Perhaps Cuadras and Srisaket had been underrated prior to their fights with Gonzalez. That could certainly be true. But no one had them on Sergey Kovalev's or Manny Pacquiao's level heading into their matchups with Roman. And although both Srisaket and Cuadras are very talented fighters, few would make the case that they among the best two or three fighters in the sport.  

I have Srisaket entering the Rankings at #5 and I've moved Gonzalez down to #6. As a result of this activity, Andre Ward becomes my new pound-for-pound king. And although Ward's fight with Kovalev could've gone either way, I feel much more comfortable with a guy sitting at the top of the Rankings eking out a win against a truly elite fighter vs. one struggling with boxers who haven't consistently proven to be at the top level of the sport.

In other news, Gennady Golovkin headlined the card that featured Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai. He won a close decision over Daniel Jacobs in a performance that was far from dominant. I essentially kept Golovkin in place after his victory. Because of Srisaket's rise, I moved him down one spot to #7. 

At the beginning of the month, Keith Thurman defeated Danny Garcia by split decision. I thought that Thurman was a clear winner in the fight and that Garcia was the recipient of a very generous scorecard. Thurman, still undefeated, has two excellent wins over Shawn Porter and Garcia in the welterweight division. I moved him up in the Rankings from #20 to #10. Had Garcia given a better account of himself, I would have kept him in my top-20. However, his Thurman performance wasn't just an off-night or an outlier. Garcia has also been the recipient of two questionable close decision wins in the last few years. Factoring in these performances, I'm convinced that he's no longer an elite fighter. He exits the pound-for-pound list. 

In a final move, Shinsuke Yamanaka returns to the Top-20. Earlier in March, the longtime bantamweight champ knocked out Carlos Carlson to make his 12th title defense. Now, Yamanaka may have been given a gift very favorable decision against Anselmo Moreno in 2015 but he was able to avenge that performance in a rematch last year. Yamanaka re-enters the Rankings at #20. Even though Carlos Cuadras won his fight against David Carmona earlier this month, it wasn't an impressive performance and I believe that Yamanaka's body of work might be a smidge better. Cuadras exits the Rankings. 

The Complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List is as follows:

1.   Andre Ward
2.   Sergey Kovalev
3.   Manny Pacquiao
4.   Terence Crawford
5.   Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
6.   Roman Gonzalez
7.   Gennady Golovkin
8.   Saul Alvarez
9.   Naoya Inoue
10. Keith Thurman
11. Juan Estrada
12. Tim Bradley
13. Guillermo Rigondeaux
14. Vasyl Lomachenko
15. Adonis Stevenson
16. Donnie Nietes
17. Leo Santa Cruz
18. Carl Frampton
19. Mikey Garcia
20. Shinsuke Yamanaka 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.

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