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The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

This thread is dedicated to Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016). Rest in peace, champ.

Like all sports, boxing goes through cycles of greatness, and we are currently at the end of one. Even as boxing bids farewell to an older generation of premiere fighters, many of whom have carried the sport in some fashion for ten years or more, the sport for some time will be haunted by the legacies of those aging greats. It will be a while, for example, before I can start a boxing thread without mention to Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, who we all know have at least one rematch waiting between them. It will probably be another decade until we stop comparing up-and-comers to their successes and accomplishments. In the meantime, even dominant, talented and personable boxers will have trouble breaking out to a general audience fatigued of endless pay-per-view buildups for overhyped matches.

Last year made it fairly obvious that the public, if it ever cared about boxing outside of two fighters, has gone back to indifference. No PPV event came close to breaking 1 million PPV buys, and only Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can claim to have cleared half a million. Boxers that would be called exceptional in any era, like Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, are today struggling to capture public interest. Even a quality match between undefeated fighters Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Andre “SOG” Ward failed to drum up significant buzz outside of the boxing community. The general public simply didn’t take notice.

The challenge for boxers in 2017 and onwards is not how to replicate the successes of Mayweather and Pacquiao. It’s how to tell their own stories and get their name out there to the public. Even before Floyd Mayweather was busting out pay-per-views, he had most of his up-and-coming fights televised in some form or another, and it definitely helped people take notice of his talents. And Manny Pacquiao, besides having an affable personality and blazing style in the ring, forced people to notice him by carving through weight class after weight class on his way to international fame. Now, not every fighter today can be Canelo Alvarez, who had his entire pro career broadcasted to an entire country, but a lot of guys could be Terence Crawford, who has built up a massive following in his hometown of Omaha simply by holding his big fights there.

Boxing will be big again when we have some fighters who can not only hang in there, but also bring in some new fans themselves. In the meantime, let’s just hope we get more of the good fights that keep us watching.


2016 Year End Awards

Fighter of the Year:
Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (23-0, 14 KO)

I really had to think hard about this award, probably harder than I’ve thought about any FOTY award in recent years. I even ended up rewriting it a few times as I went back and forth on my selection. I’ll make my case for the runner-up, Terence Crawford, further in this post. For now I’ll say that what decided this award for me was where these two guys were before and then after they began this year. Crawford largely stayed the course; Frampton took a huge step up, and in my opinion secured the more impressive wins.

Whereas a lot of U.K. fighters experienced good fanfare on their way up the ranks, “The Jackal” came up relatively unheralded. Frampton acquired a good record as an Irish amatuer fighter, but certainly didn’t have an Olympic background to bring him international attention. Even after Frampton won his first world title against Kiko Martinez in 2014, the general sentiment among many fans was that he was just another titleholder at 122 lb too scared to fight the real man in that division, Guillermo Rigondeaux. Indeed, Frampton even said last August he wanted no part of a Rigondeaux fight.

Rest assured, Frampton’s year was full of challenges. He first fought a unification match against Scott Quigg, a fellow undefeated UK fighter and a press rival. The fight lacked in sustained action, at least until the end, but Frampton’s early pace scored him enough of the first half of the fight to win a split decision over Quigg. Following that fight, Frampton resolved to look for the biggest fights out there, and found one in the featherweight (126 lb) division. Leo Santa Cruz was also an undefeated fighter, known for his overwhelming punch output and pressuring style, and arguably the best fighter at featherweight. Together, Santa Cruz and Frampton put on a tense and action-packed twelve-round fight which saw many close but competitive rounds. Both fighters landed the same number of punches, but in the end it was Frampton’s accuracy and defense that won the day, taking the fight by majority decision and winning a world title in a second weight class.

There is no longer any question that Carl Frampton is one of the best fighters in the world. His wins over Quigg and Santa Cruz have proven that to everyone, though both wins were by close scorecards. Frampton will have a chance to put a stamp on one of them this weekend when he fights Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, but whether he wins or loses, it’s unlikely he’ll be slept on any time soon. Frampton’s tricky movement, high accuracy, and ability to shift gears in a fight will keep him competitive against anyone he faces at the top level.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Terence Crawford picked up a fantastic win against Viktor Postol, the clear #2 of the jr. welterweight (140 lb) division, making for the second back-to-back division Crawford has decisively cleared out. I think this win alone gives Crawford a strong argument for Fighter of the Year, but I also feel Frampton beat a comparable quality opponent in Santa Cruz, and in the end I liked Frampton’s year better. Even with a three-fight schedule for the year, Crawford sometimes just makes it look a little too easy.
  • Vasyl Lomachenko knocked out Rocky Martinez and caused Nicholas Walters to quit what was believed to be a very competitive professional fight. In terms of sheer dominance, nobody had the kind of year Lomachenko did.
  • Manny Pacquiao firmly ended any lingering doubts about where he stands with Tim Bradley, and closed the year by dominating a young titleholder in Jesse Vargas. It’s not the most inspiring year this aging Senator has ever had, but it’s a lot better than a lot of fighters’ 2016 years have been, and it shows Manny is still among the sport’s elite.
  • Andre Ward picked up perhaps the biggest win of the year against Sergey Kovalev, but the win is controversial enough that it’s hard to give him full accolades. We’ll have to hope for a more decisive rematch to happen in 2017.
  • Joe Smith Jr. scored arguably the two biggest upsets this year against Andrezj Fonfara and the living legend Bernard Hopkins. I can’t call these two wins the most relevant in boxing this year, but they were certainly viewed as surprises and took Smith from boxing obscurity to world notoriety in just one year. Besides, there were plenty of other year-end awards to give to Smith.

Fight of the Year:
Francisco Vargas vs Orlando Salido
- WBC Super Featherweight (126 lb) title fight

In a battle that resembled a Fight Night game more than any typical boxing contest, Mexican action superstars Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido started off at a fast pace and never slowed down. The two fighters combined threw 2,123 punches total, setting a new CompuBox record with 1593 recorded power punches across twelve rounds, and the majority of those shots were fired at close range. Even on paper it was set to be a classic. Francisco Vargas, the younger of the two fighters, had plenty of experience in action fights, including his participation in my own pick for 2015’s Fight of the Year against Takashi Miura, and was fighting one of Mexico’s most prodigious road warriors in Orlando Salido, a veteran who had made his name by fighting all comers and pulling off some significant upsets. From the opening bell both men were eager to put their stamp on the fight. Salido’s relentless pressure was at first answered by Vargas’ more technical boxing style, which was quickly abandoned as Vargas felt compelled to answer Salido back with pressure of his own. Both fighters asserted their power, staggering each other several times, but the action never let up. It was an incredible, instant action classic that honored the passing of Muhammad Ali just one night previous. The fight ending in a draw was also somewhat fitting; there were no losers in this one.

Honorable Mention: Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter put on a fantastic clash of styles in the welterweight (147 lb) division. Porter gave the undefeated Thurman everything he had, turning up the pressure and forcing Thurman to rise to the occasion and defend his undefeated record. This fight had a lot of drama and plenty of action.

Knockout of the Year:
Joe Smith Jr. TKO8 Bernard Hopkins

I had a hard time thinking of anything more memorable than one of the sport’s legendary figures, with a legacy that may place him into all-time-great middleweight discussions, getting blitzed clean out of the ring in a staggering combo of power shots. Joe Smith Jr. was already giving Hopkins everything the old man could handle and more in a very tough match, but in the eighth round he put a stamp on the older fighter’s career that nobody had expected for Hopkins. Backing up Hopkins against the ropes, Smith unleashed a set of punches that blitzed Hopkins, finishing him off by sending him flying through the ropes. Hopkins was unable to beat the 20-count, reportedly sprained his ankle and immediately lost the fight by TKO as what may go down as the final moment of his career.

Honorable Mention: Canelo Alvarez’ pulverization of Amir Khan’s fragile chin in May was a somewhat expected conclusion, but it was no less spectacular for it. Khan had found limited success with his hand speed in earlier rounds, but in the sixth a monster right hand sent him flying back, crashing him into the canvas straight into unconsciousness.

Event of the Year:
Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev

Casual fans may not have captured onto the significance of this fight, but for the rest of us this was a treat of a PPV event to get at the end of the year: a showdown between two undefeated champions both considered among the ten best in the sport, pound-for-pound. Even better, this event was groundbreaking for being a match where both men came in on relatively even ground, and in the prime of their careers. Sergey Kovalev, a Russian knockout artist nicknamed “Krusher,” had the size advantage, having spent most of his career competing in the light heavyweight (175 lb) division where he held three world titles. Olympic gold medalist Andre “S.O.G.” Ward was coming up from the super middleweight division (168 lb), which he had cleared out a few years ago, and took a few tune-up fights at light heavyweight to prepare for Kovalev to ensure he would have no excuses about weight on fight night. Kovalev and Ward even had nearly identical fight records: both undefeated, Ward with 30 fights and Kovalev with 31. If there was any separation between the two fighters coming into the ring, it was in legacy. Ward had previously cleared out an entire division of quality fighters, including Carl Froch, whereas Kovalev had been unsuccessful in securing what would have been a signature match with the division’s current champion (and champ at ducking) Adonis Stevenson.

On paper the fight looked like it would be a highly skilled, tactical contest for pound-for-pound supremacy that could go either way, and in practice it was exactly that. Sergey Kovalev’s size advantage was apparent throughout, and he made great use of it early by walking down Ward and pressuring him with long shots that the American fighter was not quite ready for. This was made apparent in the second round, where a mistimed punch from Ward gave Kovalev the opening to hit him with a sharp punch that sent Ward collapsing briefly to the canvas. Ward was more respectful of Kovalev’s power from then on, and for the most part managed to avoid Kovalev’s surging pressure. In the middle rounds, Andre Ward began to find a rhythm for himself, landing shots on Kovalev as the bigger man came in and making him miss more often. Ward was not above using rough tactics in these middle rounds, such as getting in close on Kovalev and tying him up. Ward’s commitment to body punching also seemed to get to Kovalev a little, although the Krusher was still plenty effective. In the later rounds Kovalev picked up the pace a little, placing more pressure on Ward and generally asserting himself a little more on the match.

Ward’s victory here is very controversial and I personally feel it’s a bit suspicious the judges all somehow landed on identical scores for this match. On my first watch I had the fight for Ward, and on a rewatch I still do, but a big part of that comes down to how people prefer to score fights, and what they look for in terms of fight dominance. For me, when rounds are close I generally give them to who I feel was busier and more accurate. I try not to score based on power if the punching power doesn’t seem to be greatly affecting course of the fight; while Kovalev landed plenty of effective shots, I’m not convinced they were extra effective compared to the shots Ward landed. But there’s a lot to be said for Kovalev’s consistent pressure, even if not all of it was effective. Kovalev kept Ward moving and working all night to keep the bigger man off him, and did a good amount of damage along the way.

Regardless of how we may have scored the fight, at the end of the day someone had to win, and it was Ward by a hair. But there truly was almost nothing separating Ward and Kovalev, both before and during this magnificent match. Even if the PPV wasn’t a huge business success, in terms of significance this fight is unmatched by any other match in recent memory. This is the kind of fight in boxing that could begin the next great boxing trilogy, where two boxers are such great foils for each other that they cannot help but be defined by their rivalry.

Upset of the Year:
Joe Smith Jr. KO1 Andrezj Fonfara

Andrezj Fonfara had a hot 2015, with big wins over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (infamously making Junior quit) and Nathan Cleverly, and was beginning to look like one of the more dangerous competitors in the light heavyweight (175 lb) division. Joe Smith Jr., by contrast, was a club fighter who had mostly fought out of the US northeast, never having fought farther west than New York. What was intended to be a showcase for Fonfara’s Polish fans in Chicago very quickly turned into a fiery, shocking stoppage that came in the first round. Joe Smith went right after Fonfara, putting heavy pressure on him and at times pushing him across the ring. Both men exchanged frequently on the inside, and it appeared as though Fonfara was finding a handle on his opponent’s pressure. Feeling he had an opportunity, Fonfara tried to catch Smith up against the ropes with a hard combination. But a perfectly timed right hand from Smith caught Fonfara mid-combination, sending him down to the canvas. Fonfara rose quickly but was clearly disoriented and off-balance from the shot he took, and Smith capitalized on his opponent’s state, beating him up with a fierce combination that put Fonfara down once again and caused the ref to step in and stop the fight.

Worst Robbery of 2016:
Maurice Hooker SD Darleys Perez

This was a sour note on the Ward-Kovalev undercard and in some ways it may have set the tone for the crowd’s reaction to the main event. Maurice Hooker came into this match as the house fighter, signed to Roc Nation and touted as a potential blue chip prospect. Hooker was tall, lanky, and had a build reminiscent of Tommy Hearns, but his fighting skills were anything but comparable to an all-time great. Hooker never seemed to find a rhythm or even a target in this fight, flailing his punches out against Darleys Perez and usually missing. Perez meanwhile wasted no time in this fight as he laid down considerable pressure on Hooker. This was a classic example of a greenhorn in way over his head against a battle-tested veteran, and it played out like an absolute schooling. When I was watching I actually felt embarrassed for Hooker, it was such a poor showing.

The final scores were atrocious, and yet another reminder of how boxing as a sport has been compromised from top to bottom. But it’s important to keep in mind why these decisions happen. For every young fighter, the status of being undefeated (if only on paper) has so much value that even a single loss can set back a fighter’s career for years, or lock them out of contention forever. For a fighter like Perez, who has already lost twice, a win over Maurice Hooker would be nice but not career-changing. For a developing fighter like Maurice Hooker, a loss like this would be a huge setback. So a draw decision, even if it’s a blatantly corrupt one, preserves the record of a developing prospect and at least keeps the opponent from eating an undeserved loss. We may not like it and it certainly tarnishes (what’s left of) the integrity of the sport, but there’s an argument to be made that young fighters deserve at least one second chance after a bad night.

From Zero to Hero: Most Improved:
Joe Smith Jr.

Frankly this one was easy. Going from an absolute nobody, with absolutely no profile among boxing fans at the world level, to beating a living legend and all-time great on an HBO main event in front of a million viewers, in just one year, is a HUGE achievement and a great story. Up until his stunning upset stoppage of light heavyweight (175 lb) contender Andrezj Fonfara, Smith had primarily been a club fighter content to compete in regional matches around New York. When he was announced as a main event opponent for Fonfara, many fans viewed him as a tomato can opponent just brought in to keep Fonfara busy and prepare for a Stevenson rematch. But Smith Jr. made the night all about him and blew out Fonfara in quick fashion, immediately raising his profile to that of the world stage. Not as many were grumbling when he was selected as an opponent for Bernard Hopkins’ retirement fight, though once again Smith was viewed as the underdog, Once again Smith flipped the script on Hopkins, turning what was supposed to be one last victory lap for the Executioner into a one-sided rout of a faded legend. I don’t know if Joe Smith Jr. will ever go on to be light heavyweight champion, or even to challenge for the title, but by defeating Hopkins in what may be the future Hall of Famer’s last professional fight, Smith has secured a name for himself in boxing history.

From Hero to Zero: Biggest Downslide:
Tyson Fury

As drastic as Joe Smith’s rise was this year, Tyson Fury’s decline was even more so. Jesus Christ, I almost don’t even know where to begin. At the end of 2015, after defeating longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, who indeed had ruled the division with an iron fist for the past decade, Tyson Fury had won for himself the most prestigious title in all of the sport. He was officially the Baddest Man on the Planet, and likely would be for some time, at least as long as he could beat Klitschko in a rematch anticipated for early 2016. But as the rematch was being negotiated, Fury seemed determined to squander any sort of goodwill he may have won for himself by upsetting the former champion.

Almost immediately after winning his title, and with more than just the boxing press taking interest in him, Fury expressed some, err, unique opinions on various topics such as the role of women inside and outside of the sport of boxing and his religious outlook on homosexuality. These comments drew immediate and swift backlash from an outraged public who demanded the British Board of Boxing take sanctions against him. As questions loomed over whether Fury would be stripped of some or all of his titles, even more questions loomed about Fury’s commitment to a rematch with Klitschko, a fight that he said repeatedly he didn’t care much about. That fight was eventually negotiated for the summer, but during training Fury suffered a sprained ankle and the fight was postponed for later in the year. But the postponement was then canceled as it became apparent Fury was not mentally prepared for any sort of rematch. In October it came out that Fury had tested positive for cocaine, and the boxer readily admitted that he had been using the drug to cope with depression. Stripped of his titles, Fury announced that he would be retiring from boxing, at least for now.

Honestly, though I disagree with pretty much every opinion that Fury has ever expressed, I’ve always been a fan of him as a fighter because of how honest and open he is about his own personal shortcomings. It’s tough to admit to mental illness, especially in a sport where so much emphasis is placed on physical strength. It’s also exceptionally hard to stay focused and goal-driven when fighting depression. Fury at least had the goal throughout most of his career to become heavyweight champion; once he realized that goal it’s understandable that he may have lost a lot of his drive. I’m personally hoping Tyson Fury can find some stability in his life and learn to cope with the fame that comes with being a notable sports personality, because if he can I think he has the potential to build a great legacy for himself in boxing.

The Floyd Mayweather Finest Cherries In The Basket Award:
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez

This award is new to the list, and perhaps was badly needed. Canelo is currently the biggest name in boxing right now as measured by PPV buys (even beating out Manny Pacquiao) but his choices for opponents in 2016 were so weak that I think even Mayweather would feel ashamed to sell them. I don’t want to say there was no suspense whatsoever in the Amir Khan fight, as it looked briefly like Khan might find some kind of rhythm on the outside, but to say that the fight played out exactly as expected would be an understatement. If there was an opposite award for “biggest upset” then that fight would be the handy winner. Everyone knew that Khan would be faster than Canelo; everyone knew Khan was too chinny to go the distance. The fight was a big mismatch on paper, nothing was at stake in the fight, and really the only question to answer was which round Khan would fall in. Probably worst of all was that this fight was promoted as a “middleweight (160 lb) championship” despite being contested at the Caneloweight of 155 lb.

Canelo’s fight with undefeated titleholder Liam Smith was if anything an even less interesting fight, having almost nothing else going for it besides another time to see Canelo in the ring. This time Canelo’s “middleweight” championship wasn’t even at stake, although Smith’s super welterweight (154 lb) title was up for Canelo to win, effectively letting Alvarez dodge any negative consequences that might come from losing. I cannot remember anyone giving Smith the slightest chance in this match, but to be fair I also can’t remember anyone talking much about this fight at all. Liam Smtih lived up to his reputation of being tough and scrappy, making for an entertaining and somewhat competitive fight and showing the grit and skill that had gotten him to the world title level. But he was simply a class below Canelo, who has been fighting on that level for half a decade now.

Look, boxing is all about making money and it’s great that Canelo can do it so consistently. I can’t begrudge anyone for wanting to spend their youth collecting easy paychecks with relatively low risk bouts. Canelo is a special talent, and there’s clearly demand for people to see him in the ring. I personally held fight parties for both these events, and thought both main events were entertaining enough to justify what I spent on their cards. But at the same time, I recognize that I’m essentially paying for Canelo’s exhibition matches. Fine, he’s looking great. Let’s see him in the ring against someone who poses an actual threat.

Mike Jones “Who?” Inactivity Award:
Lamont Peterson

Every boxer’s career has its ups and downs, which is why in researching boxers who had missed all of 2016 I was very surprised to discover Lamont Peterson among them. Peterson had a notable 2015 fight with Danny Garcia, in which he appeared to rally late and take over what had been a relatively even fight in earlier rounds, though he ultimately failed to impress the judges in the way he’d impressed a lot of fight fans. He closed that year off with an official, albeit controversially wide, win over undefeated Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz Jr., an accomplishment that probably should have earned Peterson some push for 2016.
So it’s a mystery to me why Peterson didn’t manage to get a fight onto the calendar. In fact it’s hard to find any news about what the fighter was doing in 2016 at all. Aside from the occasional rumor that Peterson might be on Cotto’s shortlist of opponents, news about the fighter has been scarce. It’s possibly the worst example I can think of in boxing for a fighter to have completely squandered a year for no apparent reason.

Dumbest Businessman Award:
Al Haymon & The PBC

I cannot claim to know what the operational accounting of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions might look like. For all I know Haymon could be making quite a profit for himself, or maybe any losses accruing are just expected and part of Building the Brand. But as an outside observer, I’m left scratching my head at what appears to me like a huge squandering of potential. Honestly, I’m not sure what the problem is. With a stable like the one at Haymon’s disposal, I would think there’d be no shortage of good matches to brew up. Instead, Haymon kept most of his fighters sidelined through the year for reasons that go beyond me. Maybe there weren’t enough dates, but then that raises the question of why so many PBC dates went to unheralded, disposable matches and not to Haymon’s great stable of talent.

By my reckoning, the following PBC fighters had only one fight in 2016: Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Jermell Charlo, Andre Dirrell, Amir Khan, Gary Russell Jr., and Adrien Broner. I’m sure I am missing some more big names on that list. Again, I’m not involved in the boxing business in any way, but I would think the best way to grow a fighter’s notoriety would be to make sure he ends up on TV, all the time. Instead TV dates have dwindled; as it stands the PBC has only two network TV fights scheduled, having taken several of their fights to Showtime instead.

The word is that Haymon plans for a big 2017 with all of his best fighting each other. Seeing Thurman-Garcia signed and on free TV is an encouraging sign of that; having Daniel Jacobs fight Gennady Golovkin on an HBO PPV card is another. But it doesn’t change that 2016 felt like a squandered year of potential for PBC, which needed to hit the ground running and build some real momentum behind its fighters. At the moment it doesn’t feel like any of PBC’s fighters have significant momentum or buzz behind them, which is a real problem for anyone rooting for boxing to gain a foothold in network programming.


The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Notable Upcoming Fights
Please be aware that many of these fights are either still being negotiated, or just speculation on my part as to what we may get in 2017. Don’t be surprised if many of these fights don’t come off.

Carl "The Jackal" Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz 2 - WBA featherweight (126 lb) title fight
If you’re reading this, then I got this thread out just in time for this one. In a rematch of what was a strong contender for Fight of the Year, Carl “The Jackal” Frampton is looking to defend the featherweight (126 lb) title he won by majority decision, but knows he will need to survive Leo Santa Cruz’ endless pressure and punch volume. If there was a difference between the two in the last fight, it was Frampton’s accuracy over Santa Cruz’ sheer output. To win the rematch Frampton may want to consider stepping up his activity rate. Santa Cruz will try to adjust to Frampton’s movement and sharp counters, and if he’s successful it could be a very difficult night for the UK fighter. I have a feeling that Frampton will once again prove too sharp for Santa Cruz, who hasn’t really fought a boxer who can deflect his pressure like Frampton can, but regardless of who wins we should be in for a very busy, active fight.
Fight Status: Confirmed for January 28th, 2017 on Showtime, probably an hour after this gets posted.

Miguel Cotto vs James Kirkland - super welterweight catchweight (153 lb)
This fight is included here mainly because it’s a PPV fight with a Big Name, and not because it’s especially relevant. But maybe people will be interested to see how Cotto, after a year’s absence from the ring, fares against Kirkland who has been out of the ring for almost two years now. Neither man has fought since losing to Canelo, so again it’s hard to put much weight on this fight in terms of its relevance. But perhaps it could be an interesting, entertaining action fight. Miguel Cotto has by far the better technique between the two fighters, but he’s also crumpled to pressure a few times in his career, and Kirkland certainly knows how to bring the pressure. It will be on an aging Cotto to figure out how to keep away from Kirkland’s power, but I don’t think it will be too hard. Cotto’s still a great boxer-puncher with good movement and enough power to make Kirkland work for any shots he may try to land. Kirkland’s knockout power should generate enough tension to make this one worth watching, if not necessarily worth paying for.
Fight Status: Confirmed for February 25th on HBO PPV, possibly because they didn’t have the budget to pay Cotto and Kirkland otherwise.

Gennady "GGG" Golovkin vs Daniel "Miracle Man" Jacobs - WBA, WBC, IBF middleweight (160 lb) title fight
Just as Mike Tyson made an entire division of heavyweight fighters look like hapless bums, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s list of Good Boys looks softer in hindsight than many of those fights perhaps did at the time they were signed. And despite Jacobs being either the #2 or #3 man at middleweight (depending on whether you rank Canelo), this could easily go down as one of those fights. Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs may have beaten cancer, but before that he was stopped by Dmitry Pirog, which raises questions about how his chin will survive a GGG power punch. But if Jacobs can take a punch from Golovkin, then he can certainly deliver them. Golovkin’s knockout streak is by now famous, but Jacobs is similarly known as a knockout artist with the crowning achievement of stopping Peter Quillin in the first round, and there’s a fair chance he could get through Golovkin’s less than exceptional defense to land some hard, fight-changing shots.
Fight Status: Confirmed for March 18th, 2017 on HBO PPV.

Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir "Dr. Steelhammer" Klitschko - WBA & IBF heavyweight (200+ lb) title fight
As a replacement fight for the twice-scrapped Fury-Klitschko rematch, this fight has a lot to like. Anthony Joshua has rapidly climbed the heavyweight ranks after turning pro, and it says a lot about him and his team that they were confident enough to challenge for the heavyweight championship so quickly in his career. AJ certainly seems to pass the eye test, but in terms of professional tests he’s faced nothing close to the likes of Klitschko. Wladimir is a veteran of championship fights and has seen every style in the book, but he seems to struggle with fighters like Tyson Fury who can match his outside boxing range. Physically Joshua matches well with Klitschko, and he certainly seems to have the talent necessary to compete. So it remains to be seen whether he can compete with the experience of Klitschko.
Fight Status: Confirmed for April 29th, 2017 on Sky PPV. Negotiations ongoing for TV rights in the US.

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. - catchweight (164.5 lb)
This fight comes a few years too late to be truly relevant to the sport, when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. were on similar career paths. In those years, Canelo Alvarez has established himself as a PPV frontrunner and arguably the biggest name in boxing, while Chavez Jr. has struggled with promotional issues, dedication issues, weight issues, and public humiliations. Two weight classes officially separate these fighters, and there are big question marks as to whether Chavez Jr. can even make weight for this fight, which is set at the bizarre catchweight of 164.5 lb. If he actually can make that weight, then perhaps he’ll come into this fight with some kind of size and power advantage. But maybe he’ll just be really weight drained. And probably he doesn’t make weight. Either way I think Canelo by some kind of stoppage is the safe bet, but if you’re feeling risky you could always bet on a surprise monster hook from Julio.
Fight Status: Confirmed for May 6th, 2017 on HBO PPV.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at Jan 29, 2017 around 15:13

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Champions and Titleholders in Boxing
The following list comprises all current lineal champions, as recognized by Ring Magazine:

Strawweight (105 lb: Vacant
Junior flyweight (108 lb): Vacant
Flyweight (112 lb): Vacant
Junior bantamweight (115 lb): Vacant
Bantamweight (118 lb): Shinsuke Yamanaka (JPN) as of September 16th, 2016
Junior Featherweight (122 lb): Vacant
Featherweight (126 lb): Vacant
Junior Lightweight (130 lb): Vacant
Lightweight (135 lb): Jorge Linares (VEN) as of September 24th, 2016
Junior Welterweight (140 lb): Terence Crawford (USA) as of July 23rd, 2016
Welterweight (147 lb): Vacant
Junior Middleweight (154 lb): Vacant
Middleweight (160 lb): Saúl Álvarez (MEX) as of November 21, 2015
Super middleweight (168 lb): Vacant
Light Heavyweight (175 lb): Vacant
Cruiserweight (200 lb): Vacant
Heavyweight (201+ lb): Tyson Fury (UK) as of November 28, 2015

As you can see, there aren’t a lot of current champions right now, according to The Ring. There are some fighters with arguments to lineal championships that aren’t recognized currently by The Ring, such as Adonis Stevenson in the light heavyweight division, or Guillermo Rigondeaux in the junior featherweight / super bantamweight division. In general though, if a division is missing a champion here, it’s because there is some dispute about who the best fighter in the division really is.

If there are so few champions in the sport, why do so many fighters call themselves world champions? In the sport of boxing there are four competitive sanctioning bodies, or entities that provide a recognized world title and ranking for every division. Fighters need to pay fees to compete for these titles, but once they have won they become a “world champion” of the WBC or whatever other organization they won. These fighters should be thought of as titleholders; they hold a small claim on a prize in the division, if not necessarily the authority to call themselves the de-facto best in their weight class.

A lineal champion, on the other hand, is a fighter who either made it to the top of his division and then beat the consensus best contender, or who fought and beat the previous lineal champion. It’s “the man who beat the man” who can call himself the champion of a division. When a lineal champion retires or vacates their division, the title becomes up for grabs and it’s up to the two consensus best (or perhaps the first and third best) to fight each other for the title.

Boxing’s Pound-For-Pound Best
Updated 2-16-2017

In boxing, the concept of “pound for pound” rankings stems from the natural desire to compare the talents and accomplishments of fighters who compete in radically different weight divisions and would otherwise never have an opportunity to fight each other. A pound-for-pound comparison of fighters takes size out of the picture. Roman Gonzalez will never be big enough to challenge Wladimir Klitschko, but pound-for-pound many fans feel he is currently the better fighter.

What makes a boxer considered among the top pound-for-pound? Accomplishment, skills, and style. Boxers in any pound-for-pound discussion should be competitive against all other fighters in their division, and a serious threat to fighters in neighboring divisions. These fighters have often dominated one or more weight divisions before arriving at their current weight. Top p4p fighters are those who have beaten tough competition and looked great doing it. In this sport it is a very rare and exciting event when two boxers ranked among the top 10 pound for pound actually get in the ring with each other.

The following list represents my opinion of the top twenty best active fighters in boxing. In making my rankings I’ve tried to arrange fighters first on their legacy or record of tangible accomplishments in the ring, then on their boxing skill or apparent ability to execute a winning fight plan, and lastly on their style or excitement factor. Please keep in mind that I’m not the most hardcore of fans and often miss out on fights between foreign fighters in lower weight classes. I’m sure there are plenty of quality fighters with great careers that I’ve omitted.

Honorable Mentions: It’s too early to weigh in on Errol Spence Jr. imo, but he could be a major threat to any other welterweight (147 lb) on this list. I had Danny Jacobs ranked last time, but I’m not sure he’ll survive his showdown with GGG. Badou Jack’s last two fights have been controversial draws that many feel he should have won, making him perhaps the best active super middleweight (168 lb). His last opponent James DeGale shouldn’t be ranked far behind him. Jermell Charlo is building up a good legacy for himself at super welterweight (154 lb) and could turn out to be the goods. Adonis Stevenson has been treading water in recent fights but could conceivably bust his way back into the rankings with a big win over Kovalev or Ward. Anthony Joshua is fighting for the heavyweight (200+ lb) title and if he wins he’ll surely be ranked. I still can’t say I know anything about bantamweight (118 lb) Shinsuke Yamanaka but many consider him among top 10 pound-for-pound. I have seen some of the thrashings that super flyweight (115 lb) Naoya Inoue is dishing out, and the 23-year-old is still very early in his career.

20. Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia (36-0, 30 KO) - WBC lightweight (135 lb) titleholder
This is more of a legacy / memory ranking than anything, but I needed someone for the 20th spot. Mikey Garcia’s promotional issues finally seem to be over, so it’s now just a matter of time before the talented fighter shakes off lingering ring rust and goes looking for big fights. Mikey’s elite level of skill is by now unquestionable; his footwork is among the finest in the sport, allowing him to set up long jabs and power shots and keeping him away from significant damage. Now that he’s back on the scene, we can only hope he pursues the challenges that will truly put those skills to the test.
Next Opponent: None yet. Garcia is fresh off a knockout win, holds a lightweight (135 lb) title, and says he’s looking to stay active and unify the belts in his division. It looks like Jorge Linares is at the top of his list.

19. Jermall “Hitman” Charlo (25-0, 19 KO) - IBF super welterweight (154 lb) titleholder
The more powerful of the two Charlo brothers, Jermell gets the nod from me for what I think is one of the best records at super welterweight (154 lb). Boasting great performances over division stalwart Austin Trout and the highly touted prospect Julian “J-Rock” Williams, Charlo may very well be the best active fighter in his division apart from Canelo Alvarez. Though he may not have the flashy style that characterizes other pound-for-pound fighters, Charlo makes up for it with solid boxing fundamentals and fight-changing punches that could very well keep him at the top of the division for a while.
Next Opponent: None yet. Charlo’s options for big fights at 154 are slim (his brother Jermell, Erislandy Lara who is also trained by Ronnie Shields, and Canelo) so it sounds like he’ll be vacating his title and moving up to middleweight (160 lb).

18. Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (37-0, 36 KO) - WBC heavyweight (200+ lb) titleholder
It’s hard to ignore the potential of an American heavyweight (200+ lb) titleholder with an undefeated record and all but one of his fights ending by stoppage. Yet I remain skeptical of Deontay Wilder, who despite beating a very good fighter in Bermane Stiverne to win his title, still lacks a performance that could settle how he’d fare against opponents with similar physical gifts. Wilder is big and hits hard, but it’s tough to estimate where his boxing talent sits. We won’t know just how good he is until he gets in the ring with top heavyweights like Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua.
Next Opponent: Gerald Washington on February 25th. I don’t know much about Washington, he’s an undefeated PBC fighter with a clear win over Eddie Chambers and a more disputed one over Amir Mansour.

17. Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-0, 19 KO) - welterweight (147 lb)
I’ve never been a great fan of Danny “Swift” Garcia as a fighter, but I have to give him respect for his career accomplishments. The undefeated Garcia has had a few bad nights, controversial wins, and cherry-picked opponents in his past, but he’s also fought a rogues’ gallery of current and past names around the jr. welterweight (140 lb) and welterweight (147 lb) divisions, and boasts more than one upset win. The counterpunching Garcia may not be as fast as his nickname implies, but he makes up for it with exceptional timing and ring generalship and always finds a way to win, at least so far.
Next Opponent: Keith Thurman on March 4th. Garcia will probably be coming in as the underdog, but anything can happen in a big fight like this. Danny’s boxing ability has been underestimated before.

16. Kell “Special K” Brook (36-1, 25 KO) - IBF welterweight (147 lb) titleholder
In a welterweight (147 lb) division already overloaded with talent, Kell Brook has been somewhat desperate to make a distinction for himself. After fruitlessly chasing an Amir Khan fight, Brook instead tried to mimic Amir Khan’s feat of jumping up to the middleweight (160 lb) division and challenged The Man at that weight, Gennady Golovkin. And unlike Khan, Brook can at least claim he survived the endeavor without losing consciousness. Brook’s stock may have actually risen in the Golovkin fight, where he showed solid boxing skills and landed some significant shots against the middleweight titleholder, even as he took his first career loss. To be taken seriousl, Brook still needs to find and beat a signature opponent, whether it’s Khan or someone else.
Next Opponent: Errol Spence Jr. in May, either on the 20th or 27th. It’s a dangerous match for Brook and probably not the payday he was hoping for with Khan. He’ll need to survive the young, hyped challenger to stay in the mix for a big fight.

15. Keith “One Time” Thurman (27-0, 22 KO) - WBA welterweight (147 lb) titleholder
Possibly better than this rank indicates, but his placement here reflects my thoughts on how he would fare against other welterweights (147 lb) I’ve ranked. I’m not sure that Thurman’s record is better than Tim Bradley’s, for example, and I also personally think Bradley would be able to outhustle and frustrate Thurman. I also think Thurman is missing the special something that many other fighters on this list have. He’s a solid boxer with substantial if often overstated power, but there’s also a nervous quality to his fighting style, and I get the sense he lacks the ring composure of fighters who have proven themselves at the elite level. Again, maybe I’m just underestimating Thurman. The dude is undefeated and is taking on good opponents, and there’s a fair chance that come next year I’ll be ranking him much higher.
Next Opponent: Danny Garcia on March 4th. Thurman could use a big performance here to build his name, especially if he wants to lure the likes of Mayweather, Pacquiao or Canelo into superfights. I don’t know if he can KO Garcia though.

14. Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KO) - welterweight (147 lb)
Despite three attempts and a whole lot of preparation, Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley failed to acquire a clear career-defining win over Manny Pacquiao, and that failure may signal an approaching end to the fighter’s long professional career. But even still, it’s hard to think of anyone at welterweight more accomplished than Bradley, whose record boasts the scalps of several undefeated fighters, many of whom went on to win world titles after losing to him. As a fighter without any exceptional physical attributes, Bradley’s great success comes from his overall well-roundedness as a fighter. He has great footwork, can box well on the inside or outside, and even slug it out in the trenches if needed. Combined with a tenacity to win at all costs, Bradley makes for an incredible challenge for anyone he faces. I’d still pick him over Keith Thurman and most other fighters in the welterweight division, but it remains to be seen if Bradley is even interested in fighting on.
Next Opponent: None yet. With James Kirkland dropping out of Cotto’s PPV event due to injury, it’s possible that Tim Bradley could step up to fight Cotto at a later date in the year. That’s pure speculation on my part, though.

13. Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO) - heavyweight (200+ lb)
More of a respect ranking than anything, but come on. Wladimir Klitschko had an iron grip on the most dangerous boxing division of all for nearly a decade; one loss doesn’t bump him out of p4p consideration. Against Fury, Klitschko found his match in size and length, and perhaps had trouble adjusting to a more pressuring, active style the fight required of him. But surely we would all expect Klitschko to put on a stronger performance in the rematch, deploying his power more effectively behind some aggression. Wladimir’s biggest criticism in recent years has been his utter cautiousness, and that may have also been his undoing against Fury. But maybe he’s learned some lessons from that loss and can bring them to bear against challenger Anthony Joshua. Either way, I’m not counting Wlad out just yet.
Next Opponent: Anthony Joshua on April 29th. Wlad looked very vulnerable against Tyson Fury, who matched his physical range and had the advantages of youth. He’ll need to use every ounce of his experience as a world champion to hold off Joshua.

12. Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (23-1, 14 KO)- featherweight (126 lb)
As this post is going up late, after the rematch between Carl “The Jackal” Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz has unfurled, I’m going to take advantage of that hindsight in my assessment of Frampton. But honestly not much has changed about my feelings toward the fighter. Frampton is still world-class in my eyes, even if he came a hair short of the level displayed by Santa Cruz. The Jackal clearly feels more comfortable fending off pressure from the outside than he does applying pressure himself, and will likely need to make some adjustments on the front foot in preparation for a rubber match. We may have just seen Frampton on an off-night though, caught off guard by a tactical approach that hadn’t really been expected from Santa Cruz. The third time around it’ll be up to Frampton to make adjustments for Leo’s longer reach and accurate counters.
Next Opponent: None yet. From what I’ve heard Frampton is desperate to get on with a trilogy fight, but it wouldn’t be the first time in boxing that a big rematch gets put off for a while. Hopefully we’ll see it sooner than later.

11. Leo “El Teremoto” Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KO) - WBA featherweight (126 lb) titleholder
I never thought much of Leo Santa Cruz’ title reign, which for a few years comprised fighters at cab-driver levels in the sport, brought in as cans for him to knock over. It’s apparent now that I haven’t given him enough credit. In avenging his first career loss to Carl Frampton, Santa Cruz defied any characterization of being a simple brawler and displayed facets of his game that he hasn’t often needed to rely on. With a natural inclination to come forward and scrap, Santa Cruz instead stuck to outside boxing, forcing the smaller Frampton to choose between fighting with a range handicap on the outside or risk eating shots on the inside. Leo’s sharp counters and accurate jab controlled the fight at both distances, often coming in combinations. For Santa Cruz to take such a drastic approach in game plans for this rematch speaks to his confidence in his own skills, which may be an encouraging sign for his prospects in a trilogy match.
Next Opponent: None yet. Both Santa Cruz and Frampton seemed game for an immediate trilogy fight, but that plan may be in jeopardy as apparently Abner Mares is Santa Cruz’ mandatory for the WBA belt.

10. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KO) - WBO super welterweight (154 lb) titleholder, middleweight (160 lb) world champion
Possibly better than this rank indicates, but for me it’s becoming an issue of: how is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez pushing a case for himself as the best fighter in boxing? At the moment it feels like he isn’t. A big knockout win over Amir Khan didn’t impress anybody, and if anything showed that a quick and less chinny boxer could probably lead Canelo around the ring. And Liam Smith was basically a non-entity on the world level who did nothing for his legacy. I personally have a high opinion of Canelo’s talents, but it’s hard for me to boost this guy up over other fighters who are unifying titles, cleaning out weight classes, and angling for bigger fights. He spent 2016 treading water, and his upcoming match with Chavez doesn’t move the needle on that front. If Alvarez wants to be taken seriously, he needs to take on Gennady Golovkin sooner than later.
Next Opponent: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6th. This fight is being held at a 164.5 lb catchweight, and it’s unlikely Chavez Jr. makes that weight in good condition. I expect a tense but comfortable win for Canelo.

9. Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KO) - WBO super featherweight (130 lb) titleholder
It’s very hard to rank a fighter like Vasyl Lomachenko, whose quality as a fighter is so immediately apparent that it makes up for shortcomings of his sparse professional record. Lomachenko may not have the record of a Manny Pacquiao yet, but in potential alone he could very well be the best fighter in the sport. And certainly dominating fighters like Nicholas Walters doesn’t hurt his standing. Probably the greatest among Loma’s many strengths as a fighter is his footwork and ring awareness. The lanky Lomachenko always somehow manages to be at the perfect distance to launch his accurate shots, but more than that, he always somehow seems to account for the punches coming back at him, as or even before they are being thrown. His reflexes are unparalleled, and he has the hand speed to make full use of his quick reactions. At 28 years old, the Ukranian amatuer legend still has a lot of professional development to go, and hopefully some truly defining challenges ahead of him. We could be witnessing a future all-time-great with this guy.
Next Opponent: Jason Sosa on April 8th. Sosa holds the WBA super featherweight (130 lb) title which he won against Javier Fortuna, so this is a unification fight. I don’t know much about Sosa otherwise.

8. Terence “Bud” Crawford (30-0, 21 KO) - WBC, WBO, & lineal super welterweight (140 lb) world champion
I have a feeling Terence “Bud” Crawford will be ranked higher than this the next time I make my lists. I think there’s no limit for this guy’s successes, especially when he inevitably moves to the deeply talented welterweight (147 lb) division. Fresh off clearing out the best at jr. welterweight (140 lb), the Omaha resident’s budding star already shines bright. Like many other elite fighters, Crawford makes what he does in the ring look easy. His quick hands and defensive posturing immediately draw comparisons to Mayweather, but where Floyd was largely defensively minded, Bud’s mindset is decidedly more aggressive. Crawford is a true ambidextrous fighter, capable of competing in an orthodox or southpaw stance, and will frequently change stances in fights to search for openings. When he finds them, Crawford can ratchet up fights to an extreme pace, with powerful and accurate combinations that tend to finish the fighters he lands them on. Whether he finds someone managing of taking and then returning his punishment remains to be seen, but what is certain is that bigger challenges await Crawford as he climbs to bigger divisions.
Next Opponent: None yet. Crawford is set to return in Omaha on May 20th, and will likely be defending his world titles against either Antonio Orozco or Felix Diaz. Pacquiao may be in the cards for the fall.

7. Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO) - WBA & lineal super bantamweight (122 lb) world champion
This is beginning to feel a lot like a sympathy ranking. A Cuban fighter once heralded as the greatest amatuer boxer to ever live, Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux’s professional career has not been as well received by fans. Rigondeaux’s style is what some would describe as “pure boxing” and others would describe as “boring.” Relying on movement and almost exclusively on accurate counters, Rigondeaux’s offensive output often leaves something to be desired, to say the least. His outside boxing skills are a cut above the rest, and he’s nearly impossible to hit cleanly, or at all. But this style is facilitated by a cautiousness so extreme that it can be frustrating to observe. Rigo has almost no killer instinct and instead focuses exclusively on avoiding punishment, to where it can seem like he is outright running at times, and he almost never leads an engagement, instead preferring to stare at his (often outclassed) opponent and wait for them to push the fight. At this point I don’t blame top fighters for avoiding him, he’s the ultimate fight spoiler who will drain the excitement out of a match even in victory. But at 36 years old Rigondeaux isn’t getting any younger, and he may go down in history as one of the most avoided talents of all time.
Next Opponent: Was going to be Moises Flores on Feb 25th, on Cotto-Kirkland’s undercard. But last I heard that fight was scrapped with the rest of the card. Flores is undefeated and Rigo’s mandatory challenger so I’d imagine this fight will get rescheduled sometime soon.

6. Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury (25-0, 18 KO) - lineal heavyweight (200+ lb) world champion
I debated whether Fury should even be ranked, considering he has been out of the ring for over a year and suggested he may retire permanently. As I think he’ll probably return for 2017, I’ll rank him anyway and happily be proven wrong for the next time around. As it stands, I don’t think Fury ever got the credit he deserved for climbing the heavyweight (200+ lb) ranks and defeating the division’s decade-long champion Wladimir Klitschko. Indeed, his distracting and often offensive personality outside of the ring has gotten far more attention than his accomplishments within it. Let’s not forget that Fury dethroned a fighter who was approaching the Joe Louis record for heavyweight championship defenses, in a match where he entered as the underdog. I also personally think Fury would be a tough fight and my personal favorite against anyone else in the division. His tall stance and outside movement will be a hard obstacle for any heavyweight fighter to overcome, provided Fury can get his life together and still wants to pursue a career in boxing.
Next Opponent: None. Ostensibly Fury is retired, although his team has begun making noise about a potential return in 2017.

5. Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KO) - WBO welterweight (147 lb) titleholder
Honestly I’m still somewhat amazed that I have an argument for ranking Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao so high on the pound-for-pound list in 2017. It certainly didn’t look that way back in 2012, when Manny suffered a brutal knockout loss at the hands of longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez. But since then, through careful matchmaking Pacquiao has built up a record that stands with what anyone else has done in a similar period of time. On top of that, I simply think there’s nobody at welterweight that I could comfortably pick to beat Manny Pacquiao. Even at 38 years old, the Pac-Man still has his speed, power, and technique. This current iteration is more stationary and cautious than the energetic Manny of the late 2000s, with the youthful recklessness replaced with a veteran’s assured approach that makes him incredibly hard to faze in the ring. He’s still the complete package, and in my opinion it will take a fighter with more than just youth to overcome him.
Next Opponent: None yet. The Crawford fight sounds like it’s off the table for now, but there are plenty of other guys that would love to fight Manny. Supposedly will be fighting in Dubai next.

4. Gennady “GGG (Triple G)” Golovkin (36-0, 33 KO) - WBA, WBC & IBF middleweight (160 lb) titleholder
Still hunting for a career-elevating showdown with lineal middleweight (160 lb) champ Saul Alvarez, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin meanwhile continues his quest of unifying the division’s scattered titles. It’s beginning to look like nobody short of Alvarez will have any sort of chance at stopping his momentum. At twenty-three knockouts in a row, Golovkin hasn’t heard a scorecard read out loud since 2008. Triple G’s power is immediately apparent, and he carries himself in the ring as if he knows he could end fights at the time of his choosing. As Kell Brook showed, there may be some holes in Golovkin’s defense that a capable fighter like Canelo Alvarez could exploit. But that may just reflect his tendency to play with his food. In some fights it seems to me that Golovkin, bored by how easy a time he’s having, invites his opponents to take some easy swings back at him, possibly to boost their confidence and encourage more openings. In other words, I believe him when he’s said in the past that he draws fights out to put on more of a show.
Next Opponent: Danny Jacobs on March 18th. Jacobs holds “regular” WBA belt and can be considered the #3 guy in the middleweight division if we’re counting Canelo as a middleweight. Jacobs and Golovkin have thirty-five consecutive knockouts between them.

3. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KO) - WBC super flyweight (115 lb) titleholder
The best little fighter in the sport, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez has brought new interest to divisions that are typically ignored altogether by all but the most hardcore of boxing fans. Currently a super flyweight (115 lb), Gonzalez is the first and only Nicaraguan fighter to win titles across four weight classes, clearing out entire divisions full of talent along the way. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge where Gonzalez’ legacy truly rates, as he’s beaten several quality fighters who, because of their weight, would be unknown to most fans. But there’s no debate that he’s easily one of the best fighters active today, if not the very best. Chocolatito’s style is that of the platonic pressure fighter, with fantastic footwork that allows him to pursue opponents and unload punches in bunches from all sorts of angles without taking much in return. This style has allowed Gonzalez to dominate nearly everyone he has fought with his overwhelming pace and blurring speed. It will take a special fighter to match his pace, and even then they’ll have to somehow find Chocolatito long enough to hit him. In the meantime, the sky’s the limit for Gonzalez, who continues to turn heads with his exciting, high-energy approach to boxing.
Next Opponent: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on March 18th. Rungivsai is Gonzalez’ mandatory challenger but probably isn’t expected to give Chocolatito problems. With his former opponent Carlos Cuadras on the same fight card there could be potential for a rematch between the two later this year.

2. Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO) - light heavyweight (175 lb)
Regardless of whether you feel Sergey Kovalev should have won against Ward, the fact remains that he fought one of the world’s most skilled fighters and gave the other man everything he had. Even before coming into the Ward fight, Kovalev was already regarded as one of the best in the sport, picking up three of the four titles at light heavyweight (175) and attempting fruitlessly to secure a fight with its lineal champion, Adonis Stevenson. It’s not surprising that Stevenson wasn’t eager to fight Kovalev. Nicknamed “Krusher,” the Russian fighter’s relentless come-forward style and devastating mid-range power helped him build up a reputation as a knockout artist. Unlike many “sluggers” in the sport who rely on lucky inside shots, Kovalev’s patient style relies on cutting off the ring behind a sturdy jab that keeps his opponent at distance, where his power can effectively wear them down. As soon as Kovalev senses an opening, he steps up the pace and lays into his foes to produce the finish.
Next Opponent: None yet. Kovalev is naturally chasing Ward for the rematch but has claimed to get nothing but radio silence from Andre’s camp. If these two fight again we can expect it to be later in the year.

1. Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (31-0, 15 KO) - WBA, IBF & WBO light heavyweight (175 lb) titleholder
I said a while ago that the winner of Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev would be the de-facto #1 guy in the sport in my eyes. And that winner, both officially and on my card, was Andre Ward. The Olympic gold medalist based out of Oakland, CA has conquered every challenge of his professional career, clearing out one division full of talented fighters and beating the consensus champion of a second. Yet it seems unlikely that Ward will ever truly break out and attract the notice of the mainstream sports media the way Mayweather and Pacquiao did. Ward’s chippy style of fighting, relying heavily on movement, potshots and the occasional dirty inside tactic, simply lacks the clean artistry of Mayweather’s counters or Pacquiao’s combos. Indeed, Ward’s very game plan in the ring is often simply to frustrate what his opponent is trying to do. That may not make him an exciting fighter who can generate huge buzz among the casual crowd, but it keeps him winning against top opposition. Ward is one of the hardest opponents in boxing to prepare for, with a skillset diverse enough to let him bring anything to the ring, and a boxing mind tuned to use any and all of those skills as needed..
Next Opponent: None yet. Ward seems reluctant to get back in the ring with Kovalev and the way he’s been talking he may not return to the ring at all unless the money is right. But we’ll see.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at Feb 16, 2017 around 21:24

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Links and Info
Please let me know if any of these links are no longer working!

News and Articles:
FightNews - All kinds of boxing news as it comes, with short summaries for each.
BoxingScene - Boxing news and occasional views with headlined links leading to stories
Bad Left Hook - The best boxing blog around, with news summaries, fight previews and a lot of opinion pieces.
FightHype - Some news, a lot of opinion articles and a fair amount of fighter interviews, especially with Floyd Mayweather.
MaxBoxing - Mostly articles, usually fairly detailed and well-written

Fight News Rankings - rankings for every division for the four major sanctioning bodies, plus FightNews’ own rankings
The Ring Ratigs - The Ring’s own ratings for pound-for-pound and each division

Schedule / Upcoming Fights:
Bad Left Hook’s boxing schedule - The schedule I use. AFAIK it’s the most up to date anywhere

Videos & Misc Links:
Premiere Boxing Champions - Al Haymon's Youtube channel does a nice job of featuring full fights from the PBC broadcasts. They also have good highlight videos.
Gorilla Porductions - Youtube channel with boxing highlight reels that are so professionally done it's a wonder this guy hasn't been scooped up by HBO yet.
Dwyer Sports Betting on Youtube - Gives fight breakdowns and gambling tips. A lot of people don't like Dwyer but I think he's one of the better guys at breaking down a fight. Just take his gambling tips with a grain of salt.
Queensberry Rules Radio - Good radio program if listening to guys talk about boxing is your thing.
Tha Boxing Voice Radio Show - One of my favorite boxing shows. Good hosts with differing viewpoints and they frequently take callers.
BoxingScene's Non Stop Boxing forum - Boxing talk all the time. There are a lot of really dumb opinions here and to me that's part of the charm.

How can I watch boxing?

For the most part, the biggest fights in boxing are found on the premium channels HBO who still invests a lot of money into fights they think will draw a lot of viewers. As far as cable TV goes, NBC, CBS, and FOX are now in the boxing game under Al Haymon's PBC banner, which means FREE BOXING on network television, and some pretty good fights to boot. ESPN is also getting into the fight game along with Spike and truTV.

The best way to watch fights online is probably youtube. Most classic fights and plenty of recent ones can be found uploaded on youtube if you search diligently enough. I’m sure there are plenty of torrent sites that archive boxing videos too. I’m not sure how kosher streaming is to talk about, I’ll simply say that boxing streams are pretty common and easy to find. HBO also has fights on demand, and Al Haymon's PBC broadcasts usually get up on youtube pretty quickly.

I’m new to boxing, where’s a good place to start watching?

Boxing is definitely a sport that is easier to appreciate with prior knowledge about its active fighters and their situations. Honestly the best way to pick up that knowledge is just to watch a lot of fights! If you see a boxer that has a style you particularly like, you’ll probably also enjoy watching his other fights, and along the way you might run into some other quality boxers he fought whose fights interest you.

End-of-the-year lists are great resources for finding good recent classics, and Ring Magazine’s Fights of the Year is a good list of just a few of the hundreds of fantastic fights throughout history. There are plenty of boxers that almost everybody has heard of, like the heavyweights Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Mike Tyson, and their fights are worth checking out for any boxing fans. Among other recent fighters I’d recommend watching are Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker, Erik Morales, Julio Cesar Chavez, Roy Jones Jr, Marco Antonio Barrera and Kostya Tsyzu.

I made a short list of good fights to watch in the previous thread and a few others posted their recommendations as well, so check that out as a good place to get started.

How about getting into boxing training, you know anything about that?
I just watch the sport, and don’t know much about training, but there’s a really good Boxing training thread over on YLLS maintained by mewse. It’s got a lot of great info for anybody getting started, and there are a bunch of people who post there and here that have a lot of experience with boxing training.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at Jan 29, 2017 around 04:02

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

There were a lot of great fights that happened in 2016 and I just didn't have the time to highlight them all. Even now I'm scrambling to format the rest of the OP!

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Frampton brought the boys out. Great reception for him even in Las Vegas, where I thought Santa Cruz' support base would be out in force.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

My pound-for-pound list isn't ready in time for this match but for reference I had Frampton ranked #10 (out of 20) and Santa Cruz unranked going into this rematch.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

It seems like both guys have the advantage when the other guy is on the front foot. Frampton definitely fared better when Leo was coming at his shots instead of turning away. I think Santa Cruz is better off making Frampton come to him, his counters have been on point, but maybe LSC is just too used to coming at the other guy.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

These guys are very evenly matched. Santa Cruz controls the fight from range, but Frampton has been getting in on him with more regular success. Very interesting role reversal from the last fight where Frampton is now the one putting pressure on a strafing Santa Cruz.

My stream connection is a little choppy but from what I've seen I have SC up by one through 7 rounds.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah. This is a close fight with a lot of competitive rounds, but it just seems like Santa Cruz is overall the sharper, more effective fighter.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Great twelfth round. I liked Frampton in rounds 3, 4, 7, 8, and 12 and could conceivably imagine him taking 6 for a draw or even one more close round for a win, but honestly I think Santa Cruz earned the victory on this one.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

This one definitely needs the trilogy fight to cap it off.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Jose posted:

Isn't Lamont Peterson banned for steroid use?

Would be news to me. He's going to be fighting on the Broner-Granados undercard on Feb 18th.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Pacquiao vs Khan would be an interesting fight. Manny is perhaps diminished enough that the fight could be competitive. Khan's still fast and sharp enough to where I think he would do a better job of boxing Pacquiao than Algieri or Vargas. Seems like Manny doesn't have one punch power at welterweight either, although I think he could get Khan out with one punch.

That reminds me I should probably get this pound for pound post up that I've been sitting on for a while...

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Better late than never, pound for pound list up:

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah this was one of the first times in recent memory where I felt the top 3 guys were in more or less arbitrary positions and same goes for like 7-15.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

The argument against GGG is that he's never fought a pound-for-pound fighter before, so the most you can say about him is that he has dominated a weak division.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

It is circular logic, yes, but at the same time Tyson beat up a lot of bums, there isn't really anyone you could point to early in his career as a potential great who was derailed. Then when a Holyfield match was being set up the Douglas fight happened and Tyson lost to a 42-1 underdog who happened to not instantly wilt from his punches.

Putting aside quality of opposition Golovkin would be my #1 guy, I think he's a harder challenge than any of the three guys I ranked above him. But at the same time the only opponent in Golovkin's record that I would ever have tabbed as a potential top 10 pound-for-pound fighter is Kell Brook, who came up two weight classes to fight him. The rest are barely even relevant today, and when it comes down to it, almost all of them would be underdogs against Canelo if he moved up to 160.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Good showing for Peterson, his body work was something else that fight.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah for real. May as well just weigh in a 170 and pay the six million or whatever, to win forty.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah that's sorta how I feel about the fight. I'm struggling to think of anything Danny has that would give Thurman significant trouble. He's not a pressure-fighter like Porter was and I'm not sure his counterpunching will be that effective either, against a bigger fighter who himself can box effectively.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I got roped into working today but at least I'll catch Thurman vs Garcia later.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I've always liked Bad Chad, mostly because he was one of the top guys at the time I was getting into boxing. I even bought tickets to Dawson-Hopkins I at the Staples Center, the fight that got canceled in round 2 when Dawson judo-threw Hopkins to the canvas lol. It's amazing to think of how quickly boxing fans went from speculating whether Dawson was going to clear out the light heavyweight division to speculating whether his fights would even be aired on TV.

I'd love to see him make a real comeback, but personally I don't know if that's possible. I think he's the type of fighter who won fights by being 10% better at everything than the guys he fought, and at this point in his career he no longer has that 10%. I'm not sure that's something fighters can lose and then get back. It certainly doesn't happen very often.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah I just got home in time for the ninth round and all I really saw was Thurman running.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

From what I saw in those last three rounds I think I still wouldn't pick Thurman over Pacquiao. Manny would have cut the ring off a lot better than Garcia was doing.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah I'm watching it. Can't imagine Lemieux and Stevens go the distance tbh.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Thanks for reminding me that I've gotta see both those movies. Haven't seen a boxing movie since Creed.

I'm out of town so won't have a chance to make a thread for Golovkin vs Jacobs. If someone else wants to write something up go ahead, it's a fight worthy of some attention. At the very least I think I convinced my crew to buy the fight, worst case I'll buy the online stream for my laptop.

My opinion is that this is going to be a harder version of the Lemieux fight for Golovkin. Jacobs is imo a better boxer than Lemieux and has comparable power. So it's a matter of whether he can beat GGG in a boxing match. If they trade shots, Jacobs will lose. I don't have high hopes for Jacobs' chances but he does have one punch KO power and will be a threat to Golovkin for as long as the fight lasts.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at Mar 18, 2017 around 10:25

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'm seeing a fair amount of debate around on who is the "new #1" now that Chocolatito lost. I was never quite as big on Chocolatito as others and hadn't considered him as a #1 guy, but I still think his loss and Golovkin's win over Jacobs makes the question of who the best active fighter in the world is a lot muddier. ESPN now has Golovkin as their #1 pound for pound, with Ward, Loma, Kova and Gonzalez rounding off the top five. (I still think Manny Pacquiao deserves to be in there; they have him a spot behind Canelo.)

I still think Ward's win over Kovalev and overall record still wins out over GGG, but now I think Golovkin has a strong case. Danny Jacobs may not be some hugely accomplished boxer but at the very worst he's at the same level as David Lemieux, and with the performance he gave against Golovkin it seems he's perhaps a good bit better than that. Would any other middleweight have beaten Danny Jacobs that night? I'm not sure, I certainly can't think of anyone I would have picked over him.

Regardless it's an interesting time for boxing. This is probably the first time in a while that the sport does not have a clear marquee #1 fighter. In the past thirty years we've had Sugar Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather place pretty clear if not always uncontested claims as the best in the sport. Among ESPN's top five fighters today, two are coming off close and somewhat controversial wins, two are coming off controversial losses, and the fifth guy has eight professional fights.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yep I haven't heard anything about a potential rematch in months. But as far as big fights go there aren't a lot of options for Ward at the moment. Stevenson has a fight set in April and supposedly has to defend against Elieder Alvarez next, Beterbiev is doing his own thing with (as far as I've heard) no stated interest in Ward, Badou Jack is moving up in weight but I can't imagine he goes for Ward immediately. There's Nathan Cleverly but I haven't heard anything of what he's up to. That really leaves Ward with Kovalev, a tune up vs nobody, or retirement.

edit: As I say all that, a quick google search tells me Kovalev signed a rematch contract and is waiting for Ward:

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I've already heard the rumors that he's next for Canelo. Which if that's the case then just lol. Golden Boy is squandering all the goodwill Canelo built up.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

If there's really 50 million dollars in prize money every year then maybe the tournament actually does happen, though. That's a ton of money even for sixteen fighters to split.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

It'll almost certainly be PPV. Supposedly Ward wanted even more money this time around, and PPV is the only way that happens.


The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah. It wasn't a barn burner but it was some really high level stuff between two very skilled guys, which I will watch every time.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I have something like 40 pounds and six inches of height on Lomachenko and I would be scared to even try to fight the dude.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Loma is doing literally whatever he wants in the ring. I've said that about other fighters but I've never seen it at the level that Loma is doing here.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Eh, let's just toss a casual ten punch combination where seven of those shots land clean.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I don't know if I could pick a winner in Lomachenko vs Garcia. I'd think Mikey may be the favorite, but drat Lomachenko has some skills.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Monday Bandele posted:

Lomachenko has a short reach and only good, not great power. He'll end up one weight division too far and fight someone too big and strong for him, but that won't be for a few years yet.

This is why I think I'd favor Mikey if they fought.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Porter and Berto are fighting tonight, should be a good one if I can pull away from NBA Playoffs games.


The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I was thinking of going to the Valdez fight but had no strong feelings about anyone on the card. I'm sure I'll regret that decision; fights at StubHub are usually barnburners.

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