Pound-for-pound mess

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Ed C. Tolentino

Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez of Nicaragua and Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan, who had been ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the pound-for-pound ranking, saw action in the same card last weekend at New York’s Madison Square Garden and posted results that left said ranking in disarray.

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Gonzalez was dethroned as WBC junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) champion after dropping a razor-close majority decision to unheralded Thai challenger Srikaset Sor Rungvisai. On the other hand, the 23-bout knockout streak of world middleweight champion (WBA, IBF and WBC) Golovkin came to an end when he settled for a hard-earned decision win over American Daniel ‘Miracle Man’ Jacobs.

Bleeding on the right eye and locking lips with the canvas in the first round, Gonzalez found himself in an unadulterated brawl with a game Rungvisai and ended up absorbing his first loss after 46 straight wins. Gonzalez entered the fight as the generally recognized pound for pound king of boxing, a mythical title that is given to a boxer whose skills are unmatched regardless of the weight classification. While the loss was controversial, the fact remains that Gonzalez is a beaten man and is expected to drop in the ranking.

Golovkin kept his record unblemished (37-0, 33 knockouts) but he looked vulnerable against Jacobs. Golovkin still showed his power by knocking down Jacobs in the fourth stanza, but throughout the fight he looked unmotivated and struggled to find an offensive rhythm.

It would be so convenient to promote Golovkin to the No.1 spot in the pound-for-pound ranking, but his lukewarm performance have several ring experts entertaining second thoughts. Boxing fans are in fact looking at other fighters who may be next pound-for-pound king.

From where this writer sits, a solid candidate is WBO junior lightweight (130 lbs.) champ Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine. Though having only 8 pro fights under his belt (7-1, 5 knockouts), the former Olympian has impressed many with his unique blend of speed, power and judicious boxing. Lomachenko won his first world title (WBO featherweight) in only his third fight and added another one (WBO junior lightweight) last year with an impressive fifth round knockout of Roman Martinez. In his most recent outing, Lomachenko dismantled feared puncher Nicholas Walters in just seven rounds.

Yet another heavy candidate is WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 knockouts) of Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford is a two-division world champion and an excellent counterpuncher. He first merited attention in 2014, when he bamboozled Cuban mauler Yuriorkis Gamboa for the WBO lightweight title.

Rounding off the list of candidates are world light heavyweight king Andre Ward (31-0, 15 knockouts), welterweight kingpin Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 knockouts) and lightweight Miguel Angel ‘Mikey’ Garcia (36-0, 30 knockouts). However, these guys have some “defects.” Ward was extremely lucky to get a decision over the hard-punching Sergey Kovalev while Thurman was a disappointment in a ho-hum decision win over Danny Garcia. Mikey Garcia seemed on his way after winning titles in the featherweight and junior lightweight divisions, but contractual disputes with Top Rank put his career on hold and it was only last year when he returned to boxing after a two-year hiatus.

For now, Golovkin gets the benefit of the doubt and is still the favorite of many in the pound-for-pound race. Truth be told, however, the pound-for-pound throne is up for grabs with only a handful of worthy claimants.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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