The title “Pound-for-Pound champion” was invented for the great Sugar Ray Robinson, who fought over 200 fights spanning for three decades. Robinson debuted as a lightweight (135lb) and campaigned up to light-heavyweight (175), something that is hard to witness with today’s boxers. Robinson loved a challenge, and it is arguable that he would have defeated Joey Maxim for the light heavyweight championship had they fought elsewhere. The fight was at Yankee Stadium on June 2, 1952 in 104 degrees. And with Robinson giving it his all to move up to 175, he wasn’t as prepared as Maxim was, and he eventually fainted in the ring from the heat. But nevertheless, his courage alone to face such a great challenge is a reward in and of itself.
It is hard to find P4P fighters nowadays because some fighters would rather fight at a catch weight rather than move up a class, and others would skip a weight class while moving up. But one guy who came after Ray Robinson who is regarded as one of the P4P best is Roy Jones Jr., Captain Hook himself. Jones debuted as a middleweight and would later go on to campaign at super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight. Jones wasn’t reluctant to fight anybody. He knocked people out from left to right and made most of his opponents look like nobody’s. As spectators began to criticize Jones, discrediting him with who he beat, he famously quoted, “It’s not that I ain’t beat nobody, I just make them all look like nobodies.” He in fact did. Jones was so focused on trying to prove people wrong that he moved up to heavyweight, desperate to make a fight between him and Mike Tyson happen. But while the fight never happened and Jones became a comfortable heavyweight boxer, he then accepted a fight with Antonio Tarver, moving down from 200lbs to 175 for the fight. That was arguably the beginning of the end for Jones; he was 49-1 after beating Tarver, and went 7-7 for the rest of his career, finishing 56-8.
As Jones was near the end of his career, Floyd Mayweather was abruptly climbing up the charts, gaining recognition from everyone in the boxing world. Money Mayweather debuted as a junior lightweight and stormed in the boxing world on a crescendo level, defeating the WBC champion at each level as he moved up. He took the WBC junior lightweight title from Genaro Hernandez in ’98, the WBC lightweight title from Jose Luis Castillo in ’02, the WBC junior welterweight championship from Arturo Gatti in ’05, the WBC welterweight title from Carlos Baldomir in ’06 and the WBC light middleweight title from Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. Since then, Floyd has fought four fights back at welterweight and one at light middle, with another scheduled for September 14th against Canelo Alvarez. With his outstanding 44-0 record, 22-0 in title defenses, he is arguably the best P4P boxer we have seen since Sugar Ray Robinson. And with just five fights remaining before he officially calls it quits, the question begins to circulate: who will be the next P4P king once Mayweather retires? Here are a few candidates.
Abner Mares – 26-0
Abner Mares is the current WBC Featherweight champion. He debuted as a Bantamweight in 2005 and later moved up as a Junior Featherweight. In his fight to win the WBC Featherweight title, Mares was the co-main event for Mayweather – Guerrero, in which he took the title from Daniel Ponce De Leon. Mares’ power was put to the test in his fight against PDL, as observers doubted it would translate as he moved up a weight class. It in fact did, and Mares proved why he is regarded as one of the best of the best in the sport. I could see Mares possibly moving up to junior lightweight and even lightweight eventually in his career. He has the potential to dominate for a decade, minimum, as he is only 27 years of age.
Andre “S.O.G.” Ward – 26-0
Believe it or not, but SOG is already regarded as the P4P champ in the sport, despite Mayweather’s dominance over the years. Ward was always known in the boxing world since he won Olympic gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, campaigning as a light heavyweight. But after an onslaught he displayed against Carl Froch in December of 2011, it became even more evident that Ward is one of the best in the sport. He recently went on record to state that he plans on fighting twice in 2013 – once in September and once in December. Not sure if that’ll fall through, but I do think it is realistic for him to possibly fight once in 2013 and three times in 2014. He doesn’t have anything else to prove, but the sport would love to see him more active in the ring.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo)
Lucas Matthysse – 34-2
Matthysse’s two losses are highly questionable. Depending on one’s perception, the argument can be made that he beat both Devon Alexander and Zab Judah, but they were given the decision. Had Matthysse been given the decision in the two “losses” he has, his record would be an outstanding 36-0 with 32 wins by KO. He should already be in the consideration as one of the P4P bests, as he stated himself after knocking out Lamont Peterson that he is the best junior welterweight in the sport, because no one handled Peterson as easy as he did. Matthysse will more than likely be given a shot for the WBC junior welterweight title later this year against Danny “Swift” Garcia. If he wins that title, we can probably expect Matthysse to defend it once or twice before moving up to Welterweight. He did go on record to state that he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, so a bout between the two of them, or Brandon Rios if he defeats Pacquiao in December would be a lock for next year. The 30-year-old Argentinean has a bright future ahead of him.
Photo Credit: (TIM SHAFFER/REUTERS)
Adrien Broner – 26-0
Broner is the WBC lightweight champion, who just so happened to have skipped the junior welterweight division and moved up two classes to welterweight. For him to have possibly tested his god-given talent against any of the countless junior welterweights, especially Matthysse, would be a wonderful thing to see. However, that does not disregard Broner to be in the consideration of possibly moving down to fight at 140 after his June 22nd bout with Paulie Malignaggi. Broner can still test the market at junior welter, welter, and even junior middleweight would be intriguing for him. He throws some of the best combinations in the sport, and his showboating can get in his opponents’ head and derail their gameplan. As long as Broner stays out of trouble, his future in the sport of boxing looks really bright.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – 42-0
At just twenty-two years of age and 42 wins with no defeats, Alvarez has already gotten several comparisons to the great Julio Caesar Chavez, Sr. Alvarez entered the sport as a junior welterweight and has found his comfort level at junior middleweight. His biggest test will come on September 14th against the P4P king Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Alvarez is currently regarded as Ring Magazine’s 10th ranked P4P best. Their criterion consists of three things: 1) Results, 2) Performance, and 3) Track record. That being said, Canelo’s results, who he has fought and his performance against the opponents he has been matched up with has not heavily impressed Ring Magazine yet. But win or lose, if Alvarez is impressive against Mayweather on September 14th, and if he fights Miguel Cotto or Sergio Martinez next year like he plans to (and wins, of course), there is no way he can be avoided in the P4P ranking system. He shows a ton of inexperience from time to time, but his youth is a blessing in disguise. He will fix those errors soon, and when he does, it will wreak havoc to his future opponents.
Peter Quillin – 29-0
Peter Quillin, or “Kid Chocolate” as he likes to be referred to as, has been calling out every possibly boxer in the sport. He wants Sergio Martinez, but he is done for the year after having to undergo surgery. He called out Gennady Golovkin as well, but Golovkin has a fight already scheduled with Mathew Macklin for June 29th and it is questionable if he fights again this year. The 29-year-old Quillin will eventually get the matchups he is calling for, and it will be interesting to see if he really wants the best of the best in the sport, because he isn’t that far from Andre Ward’s backyard, just one weight class up. Keep your eyes on this kid.
Mickey Bey Jr. – 19-0
The lightweight who is signed to Mayweather Promotions has a splash of Roy Jones Jr. and Shane Mosley in him. Mickey Bey was fined at the beginning of the year for being busted with PEDs, but that is a mistake that is likely not to happen again. When one is as youthful and talented as Bey is, with such a huge supporting cast, he will get future matchups that will force people to recognize him, and he could be one to explore the junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middle and possibly the middleweight class in his young career. Bey Jr. and Broner would have been a great fight, but being that Broner has moved up to the welterweight division, him having to lose 12 pounds to defend his WBC lightweight title after a welterweight bout can be as detrimental to him as it was for Roy Jones Jr. when he moved down from 200 to 175 to fight Tarver, or when De La Hoya moved down from 154 to 140 to fight Pacquiao. The WBC lightweight title should become vacant, and Bey Jr. should be one in the consideration to fight for the title. With Floyd Mayweather Sr. as his trainer and Mayweather Jr. backing him, saying he is the future of boxing, expect to see Bey Jr. really active in the near future, possibly fighting at least three times a year, and eventually becoming one of the P4P best.
The Mayweather – Alvarez fight coming to an agreement to happen let people who were sleeping on the sport know that boxing is back at being the most dominant sport. No hyperbole needed. And with such an array of young fighters, they will keep the sport alive for many years to come.