Boxing is going through an exciting time in the sport’s history. There have already been plenty of memorable fights in 2017 but bigger ones are already on the schedule.
Knockout artist Gennady Golovkin received the first serious test of his professional career in March when Daniel Jacobs went the distance in a highly technical middleweight battle. Also in March, Keith Thurman earned a split decision win over Danny Garcia in an action-packed welterweight unification title fight.
But the biggest fight of March was an upset. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez suffered the first loss of his career, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai knocking down the Nicaraguan in the first round and then proceeding to win in a tight majority decision.
In April, former gold medalist Anthony Joshua thrilled 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium with an exciting victory over veteran heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko that saw both fighters get knocked down. Two elite welterweights also met in April, with Shawn Porter defeating Andre Berto by technical knockout.
But that’s the past. The fights ahead will make even the most discerning boxing fan salivate.
One fight stands out above the rest. Golovkin, who at one point looked invincible before he fought Jacobs, will finally step into the ring with Canelo Alvarez, arguably the face of boxing. Alvarez earned a convincing victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Cinco de Mayo weekend and has won seven straight fights.
There’s also Terence Crawford meeting well-regarded Felix Diaz next week and Errol Spence taking on British star Kell Brook in Sheffield, England.
The biggest rematch of the year will take place in June when Andre Ward faces Sergey Kovalev. Ward defeated Kovalev in a highly debatable decision in November, prompting heightened interest for a second fight.
And that doesn’t even count the fights that will likely be schedule in late fall. Deontay Wilder, James DeGale, Danny Garcia, Sadam Ali, Jermall Charlo, along with many other top fighters, are still awaiting their next opponents.
Below is a top 10 list of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters in May 2017. It’s unfortunate that aging legends Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are left off this list because Mayweather seems to be in the headlines for weighing an offer to fight a mixed-martial arts fighter, while Pacquiao is in the Philippines senate and set to fight a relative no-name in Australian Jeff Horn. Also not on this list is Vasyl Lomachenko, who admittedly is a highly proficient technical boxer. But the Ukrainian junior lightweight has just nine professional fights after a stellar amateur career. He also has one loss, though it was controversial.
1) Terence Crawford 30-0 (21 KOs)
Light welterweight There is no getting around Crawford’s talent. He does basically everything right and shows flashes of being one of the all-time greats. Don’t be surprised to see a comprehensive victory over Diaz, as the Omaha native will switch from southpaw to orthodox with ease and deliver sharp punches that do damage. He has a superb jab, a powerful uppercut and a devastating straight left. Crawford also can be very difficult to hit and has a solid chin. While he holds a precarious spot atop this list, expect Bud to stay at or near the top for quite some time.
2) Gennady “GGG” Golovkin 37-0 (33 KOs)
Middleweight There may not be a better power puncher than Golovkin, who has proven he more than willing to trade punches with his excellent chin. That chin will be tested against Alvarez in clearly Golovkin’s biggest fight and in certainly the most important middleweight title bout in decades. Golovkin would be No. 1 on this list but Jacobs gave him a test and though GGG won, it may have exposed some of his vulnerabilities at age 35. But make no mistake, Golovkin is a superstar.
3) Sergey Kovalev 30-1-1 (26 KOs)
Light heavyweight Let’s be blunt: Kovalev deserved a victory over Ward. The judges gave the win to Ward, but Kovalev proved he is one of the best boxers in the world, knocking down Ward in the second round with a hard right. The Russian has proficient punching power and has excellent timing and precision. Kovalev, an underrated defensive boxer, will truly justify this No. 3 ranking if he defeats Ward.
4) Canelo Alvarez 49-1-1 (34 KOs)
Middleweight It’s time to finally give Alvarez his due credit. Lost amid the hoopla that surrounds a great young Mexican fighter is the fact that Alvarez is a superb power puncher that has defeated some marquee boxers. He showed courage in accepting a fight with Mayweather at the age of 23 and even gave him a more competitive fight than many expected. What holds Alvarez back a bit is that he has fought at catchweights but all that is thrown out the window with his upcoming fight with Golovkin. Alvarez vaults to No. 1 or No. 2 if he wins in September.
5) Roman Gonzalez 46-1 (38 KOs)
Super flyweight “Chocolatito” would be listed at least at No. 3 if he hadn’t lost to Rungvisai, a good boxer but not an elite one. The 29-year-old has speedy hands and an aggressive style that makes him so difficult to contain. He also has exceptional balance, movement and footwork. Expect him to bounce back from the defeat with some convincing wins in his upcoming fights.
6) Andre Ward 28-0 (15 KOs)
Light heavyweight Has the reputation for being a boring fighter, but that’s only because he’s so technically gifted and smart. Ward is perhaps the most disciplined boxer on this list and he will continue to thrive if he maintains that approach. Ward makes up for his lack of knockout power by dictating the tempo and measuring his straight power punches and crosses. How he performs against the cerebral Kovalev will determine his legacy.
7) Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KOs)
Welterweight The 29-year-old silenced many detractors when he defeated Porter and Garcia, two welterweight stars. Indeed, there is no reason to doubt Thurman as one of boxing’s best. Though he failed to knock out Porter and Garcia, “One Time” showed how his impeccable balance and speed can carry him when he can’t land that big power punch. Thurman is a highly skilled boxer in a division packed with them, making his undefeated record particularly impressive.
8) Guillermo Rigondeaux 17-0 (11 KOs)
Super bantamweight There is no quit in this hard-punching Cuban. Of all the boxers on this list, he might be the most elusive, with a defensive style that infuriates his opponents. At 36 years old, he will get his biggest professional test when he takes on Mexican star Moises Flores in a unification bout in June. Trainer Freddie Roach raves about Rigondeaux, and for good reason. He is a brilliant boxer.
9) Errol Spence 21-0 (18 KOs)
Welterweight He will climb this list and climb it fast if he manages to defeat Brook in England. Spence is a legitimate talent and probably the future of boxing. The 27-year-old is fundamentally sound and can unleash stellar combinations. He also outsmarts and outpunches his opponents, always appearing to be one step ahead of every challenger. Get used to Spence because he will be among boxing’s best for several years to come.
10) Anthony Joshua 19-0 (19 KOs)
Heavyweight Earned his way onto this list with his win over Klitschko. Joshua may have stamina issues, since Klitschko came back and mostly won Round 5 after being knocked down. But the young star showed his resiliency and not against some slouch—the Brit defeated one of the smartest heavyweights since the 1970s. Joshua is a true slugger and can be one of the greats if he keeps on improving. Yes, we can’t wait for him to fight Wilder. It should be a classic.
Source: Bobby llic, International Business Times