Ring Ratings Update: Gonzalez, Golovkin shine, spark P4P debate
Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez put on breathtaking displays of technical aggression, precision power punching and ring generalship on their way to stopping game and dangerous opponents in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Gonzalez (44-0, 38 knockouts), THE RING’s flyweight champ and No. 1 in the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings, stopped experienced two-division titleholder Brian Viloria in nine rounds in the entertaining co-feature to Golovkin’s main event against David Lemieux.
Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs), THE RING’s No. 1-rated middleweight and No. 4 in the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings, outclassed Lemieux en route to a systematic eighth-round TKO. With the victory, Golovkin’s 21st consecutive stoppage, the 33-year-old Kazakhstan native added Lemieux’s IBF title to the WBA belt he defended for the 15th time.
Gonzalez’s sensational performance against Viloria solidified his top position in THE RING’s pound-for-pound rankings in the minds of every member of the magazine’s Editorial Board and Ratings Advisory Panel. However, there was discussion and some debate on whether to advance Golovkin ahead of No. 3-rated Sergey Kovalev and No. 2-rated Andre Ward on the pound-for-pound Top 10 list.
Those in favor of pushing “GGG” up the mythical rankings pointed out his often overlooked technical brilliance and near-flawless performance against Lemieux (34-3, 31 KOs). They also noted his impressive statistics. Golovkin is two knockouts away from equaling hall of famer Wilfredo Gomez’s record of 17 consecutive title bout stoppages (in a single division). He surpassed the great Carlos Monzon’s middleweight title defenses with the Lemieux TKO and is five defenses away from equaling Bernard Hopkins’ division record of 20.
Those who wished to hold off on Golovkin’s pound-for-pound promotion simply aren’t sold on the quality of his opposition. While most of the Board and Panel recognize Lemieux, THE RING’s No. 4-rated middleweight going into Saturday’s bout, and other recent GGG victims (Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio and Daniel Geale) as legit top-10 contenders when Golovkin beat them, they don’t view these as “elite” opponents or the 160-pound weight class as a particularly deep or talented division.
When it was proposed that Golovkin switch places with Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) in the pound-for-pound Top 10, those against the advancement pointed out that the 32-year-old Russian light heavyweight unified three major belts by beating Hopkins last November (a feat that also earned him THE RING’s Fighter of the Year award). And while Hopkins was almost 50, he is a future first-ballot hall of famer. Golovkin has yet to face an opponent of that caliber.
Other members of the Board and Panel were less focused on Golovkin’s advancement and more concerned with Ward’s lack of activity and quality opposition in recent bouts. They argued that the undefeated American is rated too high in the pound-for-pound Top 10 given that the last RING-rated opponent he faced, the moderately talented Edwin Rodriguez, was November 2013.
Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) was viewed as the Heir Apparent to former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. after earning THE RING super middleweight championship (unifying WBA and WBC belts) by defeating Carl Froch in the Super Six World Boxing Classic finals in December 2011 and then defending his 168-pound titles with a 10th-round stoppage of then-light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson in September 2012.
However, the 31-year-old Californian sat out most of 2013 and all of 2014 due to injuries and promotional law suits. He was stripped of THE RING and WBC titles for inactivity and was dropped from the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings. Ward was reinstated in the pound for pound (at No. 2) when he returned to the ring in June with a ninth-round drubbing of unrated Paul Smith in a light heavyweight bout.
It’s rumored that Ward could be added to the Nov. 21 Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez undercard against another no-hoper, Australian super middleweight Rohan Murdoch. Panelists asked: “Is this the schedule of an elite boxer?” The answer is no. However, members of the Board wished to hold off on taking action as Ward’s next opponent has yet to be officially announced. They also noted that Ward has signed a three-fight deal with HBO, according to recent reports, which could include an eventual showdown with Kovalev (who is scheduled to face Jean Pascal in a rematch in January).
For now Gonzalez, Ward, Kovalev and Golovkin will remain Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 in our pound-for-pound rankings but the debate about that order will undoubtedly rage on until Nos. 2 and 3, or 2 and 4, face each other in the ring.
Heavyweight – No. 4-rated Kubrat Pulev (21-1, 11 KOs) fought for first time since being stopped by Wladimir Klitschko, outpointing journeyman George Arias over eight rounds. He remains at No. 4. Unrated Luis Ortiz smashed overmatched Matias Ariel Vidondo in three rounds on the Golovkin-Lemieux undercard. Ortiz (23-0, 20 KOs) is knocking on the door of the Top 10 along with British uber-prospect Anthony Joshua.
Light heavyweight – Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs) moves up one spot, from No. 8 to No. 7, on the strength of his hard-fought 12-round decision over former WBO titleholder Nathan Cleverly. Fonfara’s ninth-round TKO of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in April factored into his advancement.
Middleweight – Lemieux drops from No. 4 to No. 5. Tureano Johnson won an IBF title elimination bout with a one-sided 12-round decision over the very tough and game Eamon O’Kane
Junior middleweight – Former WBO beltholder Demetrius Andrade (22-0, 15 KOs), dropped for inactivity, reenters the 154-pound rankings at No. 6 after blasting Dario Fabian Pucheta in two rounds.
Welterweight – Unrated Aron Martinez outhustled former titleholder Devon Alexander to close 10-round decision, and former 140-pound beltholder Lamont Peterson won a tough (and controversial) 12-round majority decision over previously unbeaten Felix Diaz. Neither Martinez nor Peterson performed strong enough to crack the 147-pound rankings.
Featherweight – No. 5-rated Lee Selby (22-1, 8 KOs) retained his IBF title with a 12-round decision over faded (undersized) three-division beltholder Fernando Montiel. Selby, who got the job done but didn’t impress, stays at No. 5.
Junior featherweight – Albert Pagara (25-0, 18 KOs) advances one spot, from No. 7 to No. 6, after stopping William Gonzalez in six rounds.
Bantamweight – No. 5-rated Koki Kameda (33-2, 18 KOs) drops out after losing a 12-round unanimous decision to Kohei Kono at junior bantamweight. Kameda, only 28, announced his retirement from boxing after the loss (for the WBA’s 115-pound belt). Rau’shee Warren (13-1, 4 KOs) enters the 118-pound rankings at No. 10.
Junior bantamweight – Kono (31-8-1, 13 KOs) enters at No. 7. Felipe Orucuta (31-3, 25 KOs), who has fought at bantamweight since losing his second title challenge to former WBO 115-pound beltholder last September, drops out of the rankings.
Flyweight – Gonzalez, who retained his WBC title on Saturday, reigns as THE RING champ. Viloria (36-5, 22 KOs) remains at No. 3. There was some discussion of having Viloria switch places with No. 4-rated Kazuto Ioka (18-1, 10 KOs). However, members of the Board reasoned that the four-time titleholder lost to the best boxer in the world and his resume at 112 pounds (which includes stoppage victories over Giovani Segura, Hernan Marquez and Omar Nino) is still better than the 26-year-old Japanese standout’s.