The Pound for Pound Debate: The Interregnum (Part V)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Tue, 10 Sep 2019
Author's Note: In the last installment, the Fight of the Century bout between Manny Pacquiao was discussed including the pre and post fight controversies that attended the event which nevertheless proved to be a huge commercial success grossing more than half a billion dollars in revenue in the US alone. Discussed also was the immediate aftermath that saw the forced sidelining of Pacquiao to undergo surgery and rehabilitation of his injured shoulder and the sudden re-retirement of Mayweather after tying the record of Rocky Marciano which resulted to a vacuum at the top of the pound for pound list.
The Rise of New Pound for Pound Kings
By the second half of 2015, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. decided to retire from pro boxing again while Manny Pacquiao was forced to go on extended medical leave of absence to undergo surgery and rehabilitation of his injured shoulder thus resulting to an interregnum---a period without a king.
Hence near the end the same year, boxing media in the US, chiefly the Ring Magazine took that as an opportunity not only to install a new pound for pound leader but also to revamp the P4P list.
The consensus choice to replace Floyd Jr. was Nicaragua's Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez who was then on an outstanding winning run in his domination of three weight divisions, the minimumweight, the light flyweight and the flyweight and on his way for a conquest of a fourth at the superflyweight class.
Close at his heels was unbeaten American Andre Ward who had just unified all world titles at the super middleweight division and was about to move up to extend his rule in the light heavyweight class.
In deference to his track record, Pacquiao was nevertheless still retained in the top five in the company of rival Timothy Bradley, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez.
In 2016, Pacquiao made another stirring comeback from the Mayweather fight fiasco and defeated Bradley for the second time and then Jessie Vargas to regain his WBO welterweight title thus deserving his place in the list.
Gonzalez clips Cuadras.
That same year, Chocolatito Gonzalez fortified his hold of the pound for pound top spot by winning his fourth world division title at super flyweight over Carlos Cuadras, thus surpassing the record of legendary countryman Alexis Arguello who reigned supreme at featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight in the 70s and early 80s.
But early the following year, Gonzalez was outpointed and unseated by Thailand's Wisaksil Wangek aka Srisaket Sor Rungvusai and that prompted the Ring among others to demote him and put in his stead as top pound for pound fighter, Andre Ward.
Another Gonzalez loss later in 2017 by knockout to the same Wangek eventually dropped him from the list.
Ward had made a strong case for succession to the top position by outpointing Sergei Kovalev and winning all belts at light heavyweight late in 2016.
Ward connects at Kovalev.
The undefeated American strengthened his hold to the pound for pound king title by repeating over Kovalev in June 2017, this time by late round knockout.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao forced to a one fight schedule due to his legislative duties as elected senator was set up to defend his WBO title versus Jeff Horn in Australia.
Though he had barely enough time to prepare well for that fight, Pacquiao gave Horn a helluva fight and even came close to stopping the bigger and rough fighting Aussie if not for the indecision of the referee. Manny though was declared loser on unanimous decision verdict of the judges which was widely questioned and even condemned in most boxing quarters.
Pacquiao loses a controversial decision to Horn who was fighting dirty.
That so called loss and another hiatus by Pacquiao finally gave the US media the reason to drop him unceremoniously from the P4P list by the last few months of 2017.
In another surprising development, Andre Ward announced his retirement near the end of that same year thus again leaving the top pound for pound fighter position vacant.
The Ring Magazine editorial staff headed by its editor in chief Douglass Fischer evaluated among themselves who should replace Ward.
The choice was narrowed down between then unified WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and the mercurial Ukrainian former many time Olympic champion and then nearly unbeatable two division world champion Vasily Lomachenko aka The Matrix and Hi Tech.
The final choice was Lomachenko only by virtue of his being number two on the pfp list by the time of Ward's retirement, as the raters themselves would admit, due to his recent attention- catching results and performance and already exemplary accomplishments barely four years into his pro career.
It was a stark contrast to the original traditional pound for pound succession which had been based largey on proven long track record of ring success against top level competition and opposition. As well as outstanding in and out of the ring accomplishments that contributed to the popularity of the sport of boxing.
The criteria for topping, inclusion to and continued stay in the P4P list have thus been practically altered to give more premium to recent results and performance over proven track record.
Hence, it has been Lomachenko as pound for pound best since the start of 2018.
With Manny Pacquiao on the outside looking in.
To be concluded...
Previous articles in this series:
Part I: Origins, Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part II: Origins, Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part III: Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part IV: Fight of the Century
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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