Dougie’s Monday mailbag (you know it was a slow weekend when fans want to debate the Pound-for-Pound)

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Should beating the Adrian Broners of the world get Manny Pacquiao back into the pound-for-pound rankings given his hall-of-fame resume? Photo by Wendell Alinea/MP Promotions

THE RING’S POUND FOR POUND POLICY

I see that the Boxrec still has Manny Pacquiao among its top ten pound for pound boxers at number 8. The only plausible explanation is that it places more premium on track record than recent results and performance.

Which was the case with the Ring Magazine from the time of Nat Fleischer and until the past stewardship of Nigel Collins.

In fact, track record – not to mention direct lineage – was used by the Ring in keeping Andre Ward in the ranking and in continuing to recognize as then-champions Sergio Martinez and Tyson Fury despite their long inactivity for varying reasons.

It was the same criterion used in justifying Floyd Mayweather’s return to its pound for pound ranking upon his first un-retirement in late 2009 after almost two years being out of the sport. Floyd Jr. soon recovered his top spot on the totem pole also based on that same criterion, though helped by Pacquiao’s defeats to Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez who in fairness were pound for pound listers themselves.

It could be said that the jockeying for top pound for pound position was instrumental in eventually making the record-breaking Floyd-Pacquiao fight in 2015.

Makes me wonder given the above why Pacquiao was unceremoniously though subtly booted out of the Ring pound for pound ranking in the aftermath of his controversial fight versus Mayweather and equally questionable loss to Jeff Horn.

Truth to tell,  based on track record and lineage, only Canelo Alvarez based on his fight with Floyd and win over Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin due his association with Canelo, Srisaket Sor Rungvusai on account of his two wins over previous top-notcher Roman Gonzales deserve their spots in the pound for pound listing of the Ring. And hence should be rated higher than those ranked ahead of them.

And based on track record which include his previously winning Ring recognition as lineal champion in three weight divisions (could have been four had the Ring likewise confer him it’s recognition at welterweight with the retirement of Floyd and his win over Cotto) Pacquiao deserves to also be included, at least in the bottom half of the list.

The Ring cannot be indecisive at one end and whimsical at another if it hopes to bring back credibility to its pound-for-pound ranking.

Fans hardly talk about its pound for pound rankings since it changed its policy from one that put weight more on track record and lineage to one that favors recent results and performance which are at times vague and inconclusive.

Regards from the Philippines. – Teddy Reynoso

Come on, Teddy! I’m the last person you should try to fool into believing that “fans hardly talk about” The Ring Magazine Pound-for-Pound rankings. I get emails like this one at least every week in my Mailbag inbox, and I get queries and debate attempts on our mythical ratings from hardcore heads almost every day via social media (mostly Twitter). 

I’m gonna be real with you even though you’re not being real with me, I just don’t get the pound-for-pound obsession among the diehards. I know it’s a slow period in the sport right now, but damn, it’s not THAT slow! You guys can come up with some angle of discussion on Friday’s Lomachenko-Crolla lightweight title bout. And would it kill you to bring up women’s boxing? You mallet heads telling me the Shields-Hammer matchup isn’t the least bit intriguing? And have you forgotten about Kid Chocolate and Caleb Truax? That might be a fun scrap! 

No? Nothing? OK, let’s talk about the pound for pound rankings policy and Pacquiao’s placement. Firstly, there is no set “policy” or criterion for the pound-for-pound list. That’s why it’s referred to as the “mythical” rankings! It comes to down to a variety of things – accomplishments/track record, dominance, athleticism, style and the good ole “eye test.” I’ve said this before in mailbag columns and I’ll state it again: I don’t really care to get deeply involved in the pound-for-pound rankings. In other words, I usually don’t bother arguing with the Ratings Panel’s suggestions for the P4P. (For example, I think Errol Spence is rated a little too high at No. 5. I would have both Gennady Golovkin and Naoya Inoue in front of the talented American welterweight.) 

Dougie was bummed out when his hero Chocolatito exited the P4P rankings but he got over it. PacMan fans need to do the same. Photo: Naoki Fukuda

The only time I put my foot down in regard to a pound-for-pound rankings decision was back when Michael Rosenthal was still Editor-In-Chief (and maybe the late Chuck Giampa was still our “Ratings Chairman”). It was early 2014, and Roman Gonzalez, 38-0 at the time and a two-division titleholder, was The Ring’s No. 1-rated flyweight (after having been the magazine’s top-rated strawweight and junior flyweight) but he wasn’t in the pound-for-pound top 10. I basically said on one of the Ratings Panel email chains that if Chocolatito doesn’t crack our rankings before he challenges Ring/WBC flyweight champ Akira Yaegashi (September 2014) I’m not gonna bother sharing my opinion on the mythical rankings for the magazine. (And I added that if he beats Yaegashi and doesn’t get in the top 10, I’m done with the silly pound-for-pound concept altogether. It loses all meaning for me at that point.) He got in the rankings over the summer, and eventually made his way to the top spot, so I was content. (He’s STILL the King, by the way.) 

But back to the present, and Pacquiao, and The Ring’s P4P Top-10. The difference between Ring’s rankings and BoxRec.com’s is that we have a panel of journalists who help the Editorial Board determine our ratings, while the record-keeping website uses a computerized formula. (Here’s how it works, by the way. If it makes sense to you, you might eligible for a scholarship to M.I.T.) I could be wrong, but I think Boxrec’s system factor’s in every damn fight Pac’s ever had. He’s a 40-year-old first-ballot hall of famer, arguably the greatest Asian fighter ever. His resume’s gonna top everybody else’s. But a computer isn’t going to have common sense. People are (most of the time). The Ring Rating’s Panel doesn’t view Pacquiao as an elite boxer anymore. He’s good enough to be a top welterweight contender, but he’s no longer the world-beater he once was. And we’re not the only ones who believe this. Pacquiao is not ranked in ESPN.com’s or the Transnational Boxing Rankings’ pound-for-pound top 10. Their rankings are determined by a panel (or “board”); not by computers or math formulas.

I think you’re glossing over Pacquiao’s loss to Jeff Horn, which was his only fight of 2017. Was it controversial? Yes. (I thought he won by a few points.) Was it a robbery? No. And the bottom line is that Pac struggled with an unproven and unrated fighter, who was totally outclassed (and stopped) by Terence Crawford (in Bud’s welterweight debut) not long after the upset. Manny has bounced back nicely, but victories over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner aren’t enough to get him back into the P4P. At the time Pac faced them, Matthysse was a lower-top-10 welterweight (and obviously faded) and Broner was unrated (having gone 3-2-1 in his previous five bouts).

Oscar De La Hoya (left) vs. Manny Pacquiao. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/HBO Boxing

We haven’t seen the peak-P4P-form Pacquiao in more than 10 years. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/HBO Boxing

I know the realization of Pacquiao no longer being “elite” is a hard pill to swallow for his fans, probably especially so for those of Filipino descent, but it happens to all fighters as they get older. (Hey, look on the bright side, Donnie Nietes is 36 years old and still reppin’ the Philippines in The Ring’s Pound-for-Pound rankings. Instead of complaining about Manny not being in the top 10, how about giving Donnie some love!? Come on! The man hasn’t lost since 2004! He’s a 35-bout unbeaten streak and he’s a four-division beltholder!)

Makes me wonder given the above why Pacquiao was unceremoniously though subtly booted out of the Ring pound for pound ranking in the aftermath of his controversial fight versus Mayweather and equally questionable loss to Jeff Horn. Dude, your man was “unceremoniously” average in both of those bouts. Don’t be mad at the Ratings Panel for that. Be mad at Father Time (and maybe you can save some rancor for Mayweather and his IV, and for the NSAC).

Truth to tell, based on track record and lineage, only Canelo Alvarez based on his fight with Floyd and win over Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin due his association with Canelo, Srisaket Sor Rungvusai on account of his two wins over previous top-notcher Roman Gonzales deserve their spots in the pound for pound listing of the Ring. What!? You don’t think your countryman Donnie Nietes has a P4P-worthy track record? You don’t think Vasilily Lomachenko, Crawford, Aleksandr Usyk and Naoya Inoue have the track records of elite boxers? I know they haven’t accomplished as much as Manny (who has?), but they’ve built impressive resumes in relatively short (to Pacquiao) periods of time and they’re at the peaks of their physical prowess.    

 

CRUISERWEIGHT MARKETABILITY

Hi Dougie,

I love reading your tweets and Mailbag articles, thank you for all of your wonderful insight!

The Cruiserweight division has seemed a bit dead to me over the past few years (few fights, even fewer number of well-known fighters). While Usyk was fighting there it was action-packed for a while, but as an American fan, I just don’t see many fighters of note staying at this weight for some reason. As a matter of fact, I can only think of 2 fighters who have recently fought there who are household names or at least known to casual fans (Usyk and Bellew). Actually, many casual US boxing fans don’t even know where “Cruiserweight” falls in the spectrum of weight classes. I understand there is a big push to make boxing dominant in the US market again, and a strong heavyweight division typically drives popularity.

So, I have 2 questions:

  1. With so much talent in both the Heavyweight and Light-heavyweight divisions, why don’t more well-known fighters fight (or stay) at 175-200 pounds, especially boxers from the Western Hemisphere?
  2. With the emphasis on making the heavyweight division competitive, would there be any advantage to scraping the Cruiserweight division, and mimicking the amateur ranks with Light-heavyweight (175), Heavyweight (200), and Super-heavyweight (+200) divisions in professional boxing?

My friends and I all read your articles and have had a lot of discussion regarding this topic, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks! – Zachary

Thanks for the kind words, Zachary.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say the cruiserweight division “seems a bit dead over the past few years” when the undisputed 200-pound champ, Aleksandr Usyk, hasn’t even officially left it yet, and his Fighter-of-the-Year-earning victories against Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew all took place last year. (Gassiev’s Fight-of-the-Year candidate against Yunier Dorticos also took place last year as part of the WBSS Cruiserweight tournament.)

If Usyk decides to campaign fulltime as a heavyweight after his May 25 division debut vs. Carlos Takam, the 200-pound ranks still have Gassiev, Dorticos, Briedis, Kryzysztof Glowacki, as well as some undefeated up-and-comers, such as Andrew Tabiti, Kevin Lerena and Arsen Goulamirian. There’s a lot of potential at cruiserweight. The right fights just need to happen (the key to success for any division).

With so much talent in both the Heavyweight and Light-heavyweight divisions, why don’t more well-known fighters fight (or stay) at 175-200 pounds, especially boxers from the Western Hemisphere? There’s just something about the allure of the heavyweights that’s hard to resist for any dominant or talented cruiserweight champ – from Evander Holyfield to Juan Carlos Gomez to James Toney to our man Usyk. It’s probably more than just the “allure” or prestige of going for the “biggest prize in sports,” it’s gotta be the money. Nobody makes as much (on average) as the heavyweights. But it’s also about competition. Once a cruiserweight has collected all of the major belts, as Holyfield and Usyk did, it’s only natural to start looking at the heavyweight titles. Or if a cruiserweight is as tough, experienced and ring savvy as Toney was during his brief stay in the division, he’s going to want to test his skill and mettle against the big boys. (Long before there was a cruiserweight division the best light heavyweights, even a few middleweights, dared to challenge the top heavyweights of their eras.)

With the emphasis on making the heavyweight division competitive, would there be any advantage to scraping the Cruiserweight division, and mimicking the amateur ranks with Light-heavyweight (175), Heavyweight (200), and Super-heavyweight (+200) divisions in professional boxing? Perhaps re-naming the cruiserweight division would help its recognition in the U.S. (I don’t think there’s as much of a stigma in Europe and other parts of the world) But I still think the best 200-pound “heavyweights” would eventually look to “Glamor Division” for more fame and fortune.

 

HAVE YOU HURD? P4P RANKINGS ARE UNFAIR

Hi Doug,

I pray you and your family are doing well and I pray that all the readers of your mailbag and their families are doing well.

I read your last mailbag and I’m just perplexed by the Jarrett Hurd pd-for-pd. response. I know it is all subjective but usually you come from such a logical place. I was truly shocked. Errol Spence has beaten Chris Algeri, Kell Brook (coming off a loss) and a blown-up Mikey Garcia in a match where he had every advantage and he is being touted as a best fighter in the world.

And even worse example is Canelo Alvarez. Canelo who is high on the pd. for pd. list had life and death struggles with Trout and Lara. Both of those wins are very questionable and he has two debatable results with Triple G and he flat out lost to Mayweather a guy who he is two weight classes heavier then and Mayweather didn’t even run from him. He took the fight to Canelo and beat his ass. Canelo was the one backing away. Yet Canelo is treated as some great fighter. Why? Because he was willing to take on tough competition. Well that is not enough. You also need to win decisively and impressively and not controversially to be considered outstanding. There is more to being great then just showing up. Canelo has been very mediocre in comparison to Hurd and has been given more acclaim which he doesn’t deserve. Hurd has so far proven to be the better fighter. Hurd defeated Trout, Lara, and Harrison in a very impressive and decisive manner. Those are three ex-champions. He might not be the better-looking guy or the guy who sells the most tickets or gets the most hype and publicity but based on performance and only performance he should be ranked higher then Canelo on any pd. for pd. list I think from a logical and not emotional standpoint. – Blood and Guts in Philly

I gotta disagree with your logic, B&G, because while I agree that those three Hurd victories you mentioned (the only world-class names on his resume) were impressive, others were not as keen on the pressure fighter’s performances vs. Harrison and Trout (pointing out his lack of defense and trouble cutting off the ring), and it’s debatable if he beat Lara in a “decisive manner” (more than a few observers thought the fight could have been a draw or even for Lara by a point or two).

And even though you’re saying your opinion is not emotional, I think it is. It’s pretty obvious that you don’t like Canelo. That’s fine. It’s a big group; not quite as big as his Fan Club, but Canelo Haters are definitely loud and very proud in comment sections and on social media.

I disagree with your claim that Canelo has been “very mediocre” in comparison to Hurd and I disagree that he’s been “given

Hurd takes it to Harrison during the competitive early rounds of their 2017 fight. Photo / PBC

more acclaim” than he deserves. Alvarez has paid the cost to be the boss. Period. You don’t have to like it, but it’s a fact. Canelo was headlining major events (televised on HBO, Showtime and PPV) in America in 2011, before Hurd turned pro, and in 2012 (when the Maryland native was still fighting in four-round bouts). Hurd wasn’t ready for world-class opposition until 2017, when he took on Tony Harrison and Austin Trout. And whether you want to acknowledge it or not, the fact is that both Harrison and Trout were competitive with Hurd. You could even say that they were outboxing him in the early to middle rounds – before Hurd’s greater size, strength and suffocating pressure overwhelmed them in the late rounds.

Major props to Hurd for wearing those two top-10 rated junior middleweights down. Harrison is now a 154-pound beltholder, fresh off an upset (and somewhat controversial) decision over Jermell Charlo. Trout is as tough and crafty as they come. Those wins made Hurd a world-class junior middleweight. The decision over Lara, which took place EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO (as I write this response), puts him in the “elite fighter” discussion but it’s not a slam dunk as far as a pound-for-pound ranking. Victories over Lara and Trout are very good, but he’s got to do a little more to get on the pound-for-pound board. Canelo faced Trout and Lara back in 2013 and 2014, before and after the loss to Mayweather, and he’s accomplished a lot since those bouts.

Canelo digs a body shot to Lara during their 2014 showdown. Photo by Josh Hedges / Getty Images

He fought Trout when the American junior middleweight titleholder was undefeated and at the peak of his confidence and ring prowess. The Mexican star faced a fresher version of Lara. Did he struggle in those bouts? Of course! They were even-money matchups! But Hurd struggled with a shopworn version of Trout. Hurd ALSO WENT LIFE AND DEATH with Lara, but it was an older version of the Cuban veteran. I had Hurd-Lara even in rounds; he needed that final round knockdown to get the nod my scorecard.

Canelo was facing The Ring’s No. 1 Pound-for-Pound rated fighter when he stepped into the ring vs. Mayweather and GGG. Why would anyone – especially those who drink TMT Kool-aide and believe that Floyd is TBE – hold those fights against him? Canelo was only the second fighter to take Golovkin the 12-round distance, and he did so without getting dropped as Daniel Jacobs did. In the rematch, he stood his ground for the duration of the fight. NOBODY had ever been able to do that for more than just a few rounds without getting WRECKED. It should be obvious – even if you f__kin’ HATE the guy – that Canelo is an elite boxer. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be the fans/media/odds favorite against Jacobs, who is ridiculously talented.

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

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