Continued from Part 1

Name: Gennady Golovkin

Alias: GGG (Triple G)

Division: Middleweight

Record: 37-0 (33 KO’s)

Triple G began his professional journey in Germany under the guidance of Universum Boxing Promotions, leaving the unpaid ranks as a World Amateur Champion and Olympic silver medallist with a record of 345-5. Golovkin built up a record of 18-0 before moving to K2 Promotions in pursuit of world title opportunities. It was at this stage that the Kazakh relocated his training to Big Bear, California, teaming up with Abel Sanchez who sought to add Mexican style aggression to Gennady’s disciplined Eastern European style.

In his 20th professional fight Golovkin would stop Nilson Julio Tapia in three rounds to claim the WBA middleweight world title. Over the next five years GGG would make thirteen defences of his title – winning by knockout on each occasion and in turn becoming the most feared man in the sport. Disposing of his challengers with such ruthless efficiency came at a price however, as fights against the big names and rival champions would prove elusive until October 2015 when newly crowned IBF king David Lemieux stepped up to the plate. In a battle of big punchers, the Kazakh utilised his jab to negate Lemieux’s attacks before clinically dismantling the Canadian to force an eighth round stoppage.

Triple G would soon add the WBC belt to his collection when champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez opted to vacate his title after being ordered to face Golovkin – presumably at the behest of promoter Oscar De La Hoya, in a move designed to kick the can down the road for a year or so, hoping that the Kazakh would decline during this period.

GGG has fought twice since picking up the WBC crown and on both occasions (against Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs) has failed to live up to his usual standards, leading some to suggest that time may be catching up with the 35 year old puncher.

The Case For

Golovkin has exercised a reign of terror over the middleweight division since claiming the WBA strap back in 2010. Methodically dismantling all contenders and building the highest knockout ratio in Middleweight Championship history (89%) in the process.

The Kazakh’s formidable reputation is further punctuated by a 23 fight knockout streak which began in November 2008, only ending in March of this year when he was taken twelve rounds for the first time ever – in a closely fought contest with WBA regular champion Danny Jacobs at the Barclay’s Centre in Brooklyn, New York.

Golovkin is a calculated pressure fighter with outstanding footwork, balance and poise who has rarely appeared to break sweat during a seven year-long world championship tenure. In the majority of his seventeen title defences Triple G has exercised complete control from the opening bell before ending the contest – seemingly at a time of his choosing. Throughout history, it is hard to name many fighters who have dominated a division with such brutality as is the case with Golovkin.

The Case Against

Whilst boasting a chilling knockout percentage, Golovkin’s resume consists mainly of middleweight contenders and fringe world level operators. The most impressive name on the Kazakh’s record is arguably Kell Brook, who stepped up from welterweight to face GGG in London after a proposed bout with Chris Eubank Jr fell through.

Triple G has garnered criticism in some quarters for not stepping up to super middleweight in pursuit of a worthy adversary, instead opting to remain the big fish at 160 where he has found little in the way of serious competition.

The thirty five year old was below par in each of his last two outings, leading some to suggest that he may be slipping. With a 16th September bout with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez fast approaching, we will soon find out whether this has simply been a minor bump in the road during a legendary middleweight reign, or the first cracks in an aging champion.

 

Name: Roman Gonzalez

Alias: Chocolatito

Division: Super Flyweight

Record: 46-1 (38 KO’s)

Chocolatito turned pro in July 2005 with a second round KO in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua. Beginning his career as a light flyweight where he would spend his first twenty contests, before stepping down in weight for his first world title shot. The bout would see Gonzalez travel to Yokohama, Japan to face hometown hero Yutaka Niida, who was defending his WBA minimum-weight title for the eleventh time. The belt changed hands two minutes into in the fourth round, with the referee stopping the contest – on the advice of the ringside doctor who deemed the local fighter in no position to continue due to an injured right eye.

The Nicaraguan would make three defences of his crown before stepping back up to light flyweight – defeating Mexican Francisco Rosas for the WBA interim title in October 2010 before picking up the full title with a decision victory over Manuel Vargas the following March.

In September 2014, Gonzalez would win his third world title in as many weight classes, once again travelling to Japan to dethrone an established champion, this time in WBC flyweight champ Akira Yaegashi. It was during his flyweight reign that Gonzalez began to catch the attention of the wider boxing world, fighting three times as chief support to Gennady Golovkin live on HBO.

The Nicaraguan would step up to win the WBC super flyweight crown in September 2016, scoring a unanimous decision over Mexican Carlos Cuadras at the LA Forum. In his next bout, Gonzalez would taste defeat for the first time at the hands of Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, touching down in round one before dropping a majority decision. The re-match is scheduled for this Saturday, in which a return to winning ways would reaffirm the pound for pound credentials of the four weight king.

The Case For

Chocolatito has blasted his way through four weight classes with his relentless two fisted attack, eclipsing the achievements of fellow county man and mentor, the late great Alexis Arguello. Each of the Nicaraguans four world title wins have come against an established incumbent, fighting away from home on each occasion.

Gonzalez has garnered a level of attention rarely afforded to fighters in the lower weight classes, thanks to his sublime skills and fan friendly style. Undefeated in forty six bouts prior to his last outing, the four weight king is a joy two watch, combining exquisite punch variety with a heavy handedness rarely seen in the flyweight divisions.

The Case Against

A defeat in his most recent contest has seen the Nicaraguan slip in most pound for pound rankings. That aside, critics will argue there is less competition in the lower weight classes of the sport – thus Gonzalez’s feat of winning titles in four divisions should not be held in as high regard as would be the case for a fighter operating north of 126 pounds.

Whilst entertaining to watch, Gonzalez does possess some obvious weaknesses. Most notably a leaky defence which was a key factor in his sole loss last time out.

 

Name: Vasyl Lomachenko

Alias: Hi-Tech

Division: Super Featherweight

Record: 9-1 (7 KO’s)

In an amateur career which began aged six, Lomachenko amassed record of 396-1 which included two Olympic and two world championship gold medal wins. The Ukrainian made the transition to the pro game in late 2013 under the guidance of Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Russian boxing manager Egis Klimas.

With a unique style which combines balletic footwork with dazzling punch variety and power, Hi-Tech has been fast tracked though the pro-ranks. Debuting against solid contender Jose Ramirez before fighting for a world title in only his second contest – in which he suffered a contentious split decision loss to veteran Orlando Salido.

Lomachenko would again fight for a world title in his next bout, facing the supremely talented Gary Russell Jr, this time emerging victorious after twelve rounds to claim the WBO featherweight strap. The Ukrainian made three defences of his crown before stepping up to dispose of Roman Martinez in five rounds, relieving the Puerto Rican of his WBO super featherweight title. The two time Olympian has looked untouchable in his three fights since the Martinez bout, most notably against Nicholas Walters in which he frustrated the undefeated Jamaican into to quitting.

A clash with fellow pound for pound star Guillermo Rigondeaux is rumoured to be in the works for December. Should the bout come to fruition, the victor is sure to emerge as the best in the world in the eyes of many.

The Case For

Lomachenko holds the record for winning world titles in two weight classes in the least amount of fights (seven) – beating the previous record of eight, set in 2014 by Japan’s Naoya Inoue.

The sole defeat on the resume of the two weight king came in only his second professional fight, at the hands of a former three time world champion and veteran of 55 fights – who also failed to make weight ahead of the contest, eventually coming in eleven pounds heavier than the Ukrainian on fight night. Unperturbed by this early set back, Hi-Tech would capture the WBO featherweight crown in his next contest before adding the same organisations super featherweight strap to his collection just four fights later.

Lomachenko’s boxing skills are truly something to behold. He has the ability to toy with world class fighters, pivoting round them whilst remaining in range before landing hard shots before they are able to reset their position. An elusive target with hand speed and power to boot and no apparent weakness, it’s easy to see why many regard to two time Olympian as the best in the world today.

The Case Against

Despite topping some pound for pound lists after only ten fights, many believe that the Ukrainian cannot be regarded as the best in the sport until he establishes his credentials further. A win over a fellow elite fighter or another step up in weight may be required for the Ukrainian to be universally recognised as boxing’s new pound for pound king.

 

Honourable Mentions

 

Mikey Garcia

The WBC lightweight champ has dazzled in his last two outings, with a brutal knockout of Montenegro’s Dejan Zlaticanan and a comfortable decision over maverick talent Adrien Broner. A win against a big name in the next twelve to eighteen months will propel the three weight king boxing’s into top table.

Keith Thurman

Having recorded wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in his last two outings, the Florida native has established himself as the man to beat in the welterweight division. A victory over newly crowned IBF king Errol Spence would see Thurman move into pound for pound contention.

Saul Alvarez

Having bounced back well from a 2013 decision loss to Floyd Mayweather, the Mexican sensation appears to be improving with each trip to the ring. Victory in next week’s showdown with middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin would place Canelo among the sports elite.

 

In Closing

Like many things in boxing, the pound for pound rankings are subjective. I have tried hard not to let my personal opinions shape the arguments for and against each fighter featured in this piece. I hope therefore to have provided some informative food for thought, from which you can draw your own conclusions.

With so many great fights on the horizon, the pound for pound debate is likely to rage on as fiercely as ever, but let’s not fall out over who should be placed where on a mythical list. Instead let’s sit back and continue to enjoy watching the talents of each of these fighters, and be grateful for their contribution to the sport we love.

Read more from Gareth Gonet