It is paramount to the survival of boxing, as with any other sport, that opinions differ. Without these differing opinions, the boxing world would have very little to debate and selling a ticket or a pay-per-view subscription to big fights would become far more difficult indeed.
The mythical pound-for-pound rankings will, and always should be argued over by boxing fans, writers, and historians. Until his loss to Teofimo Lopez, Vasyl Lomachnko was held by many as the P4P No1. Others argued that Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr should be at the top of the list but, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, while hailed by some as the obvious No1, always had his doubters due to his controversial draw and win over long-reigning middleweight king Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin.
Alvarez has since added world title belts at light-heavyweight and super-middleweight to his already bludgeoning collection but, until he goes back and settles matters once and for all with his nemesis Golovkin, there will always be doubters.
Canelo’s win over Sergey Kovalov drew cautious praise due to the way that the two-time WBO champion Kovalev was forced into a quick turn around after his title defence against Anthony Yarde. Again, Callum Smith was given very short notice for his vacant WBC and WBA super title defence against Canelo, all the time leaving the feeling that the cards are always unfairly stacked against the Mexican idol’s opposition.
Before Callum Smith left the ring after suffering a severe beating by Canelo, the Englishman left no doubts in his interview with Chris Mannix that he had been beaten by the superior fighter. He did not say anything about not being ready or insufficient preparation, he simply said that “Canelo was very good.” Understated perhaps, but it was the highest compliment a proud and defiant former champion could give at that moment.
Unlike boxers, managers, media outlets, and promoters, boxing fans have very little respect for the individual world governing bodies so, who wears which belt doesn’t hold the same significance to them but, Canelo’s wins over Smith and Kovalev, both in higher weight classes than his natural 160lb middleweight division does make a big impression. Crawford and Spence Jr have yet to take that step upwards. True, Crawford was the unified super-lightweight belt holder before moving to 147lbs but, that move was purely due to necessity, the Nebraskan could not make 140lbs any longer.
WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has made up ground in some P4P listings since his dominant win over the undefeated and long-reigning former champion Deontay Wilder but, he won’t be dominant in his own division until he faces four-belt holder and fellow countryman Anthony Joshua so how can he be dominant in a P4P list?
How Japanese sensation Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue can be left out of any P4P top-ten I am not sure. I understand that Inoue has only 20 fights on his professional resume thus far but he has proven himself to be totally dominant in his natural bantamweight division with an 85% knockout ratio. He too will need to move up a division or two before he can assume the No1 spot but he has makings of a future P4P No1 contender.
Pilipino great Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao cannot be overlooked in any such list. The 42-year-old scored one of his greatest wins in recent times in July 2019 when he re-established himself as a major player in the crammed welterweight division with a sensational performance against WBA super 147lb champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman. Of course, Pacquiao’s place must surely be due in some part to his past achievements but, he showed that he can compete with the younger less experienced champions at the top-level.
It seems highly unlikely that we will see Vasyl Lomachenko in a ring against Teofimo Lopez anytime soon. If I were on Team Lopez, I too would leave that fight until the Ukrainian has aged significantly. That said, Lopez is part of the future generation and along with Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia, the future of lightweight boxing looks very bright. Lomachenko will not be part of those fights and that is sad for boxing fans. If he defeated Lopez in a return bout, would he return to P4P No1?
Despite the above arguments, Saul Alvarez is now the solid No1 boxing practitioner in the sport today in my eyes. Even before a third instalment of his rivalry with Gennady Golovkin, the Mexican superstar was so dominant against Callum Smith that the nuances of his performance were overlooked by some. Smith is a highly competent boxer/fighter himself but, Canelo could simply walk into range and land solid, damaging punches at will. Such is the Mexican’s awareness of distance and his ability to see fast shots coming his way and slip into range. I have only seen this level of ability and old school skills from Golovkin and Pacquiao in recent times.
Who do you think is the P4P No1?