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The A-Team: The World’s 10 Best Fighters

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 “The only thing I fear when I battle, is God and my shadow.” — Juelz Santana

My squad fears nothing behind them, while believing that they are gods in the ring. The most preeminent fighter on the planet, Andre Ward, even calls himself the “Son of God,” making it thus fitting to witness the violent baptism of squared circle demon Sergey Kovalev.

This is, of course, a very subjective topic that offers no consensus. Even Ward himself could be rightfully replaced by the three fighters I ranked under him. But to be clear, these are in fact the most dominant forces in boxing for several reasons. I ranked these fighters based in part on what they’ve done, but even more so, on what they’re likely to do. Allow me to retort.

 

#1. Andre Ward (32-0, 16KOs)

Fans can be fickle and foolish. In the case of Ward, it is unwise to doubt or second guess him. How do I know this? I jumped on the podcast “Talkbox w/Michael Woods” to vehemently declare that Andre would KO Sergey Kovalev on June 17 following their hotly contested superfight in November 2016. I was adamant about it. At the last minute, I reversed tune under a barrage of fandom and went with Kovalev.

Big mistake. Huge.

After the initial Kovalev fight, it was tempting to believe Ward was the modern physical equivalent of Sugar Ray Leonard, who would plateau at around 32 and never quite regain the elements that made him special. Namely: His speed.

What’s unique about Ward is an otherworldly toughness and pugilistic wit to compensate for a loss of speed and elasticity. He’s arguably eclipsed the evisceration of super middleweight by slaying the dragon at light heavyweight. Immortality is already his, but if he turns Adonis “Superman” Stevenson into Clark Kent… Amen.

 

#2. Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33KOs)

Floyd Mayweather famously called him ‘straight up and down with no special effects’, but ask fighters who’ve fought the record-breaking middleweight monster known as ‘GGG’ if he didn’t feel like “The Exorcist” in 3D.

Triple G just came off a year in which he ruined what was the world’s best welterweight in Kell Brook, before following that up with what feels like an unforgivable decision over the best middleweight not named Golovkin in Daniel Jacobs. WTF?

In Golovkin, we’re watching a brutal hybrid of Kostya Tszyu and Julio Cesar Chavez (ehhh, we’re talking about Dad folks). He’s pissed off, and will trick ‘n treat Canelo Alvarez like a pinata full of Halloween candy.

 

#3. Terence Crawford (32-0, 23KOs)

Now approaching the height of his powers, the undisputed super lightweight world champion has become a lethal blend of ring legends Pernell Whitaker and Thomas Hearns. He’s that good.

Too big for a couple of ultra-talented guys just beneath him on this list, ‘Bud will probably have to set his sights on welterweight, where things could get really interesting. He’d beat Keith “One-Time” Thurman, “Showtime” Shawn Porter and Danny “Swift” Garcia. Crawford is the only viable threat to #7.

After yet another display of switch-hitting versatility in front of a massive ESPN audience, Top Rank and Bob Arum must treat Crawford like the superstar that he is and match him with nothing but star fights.

 

#4. Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7KOs)

What can we say about Ukraine’s Neo, except “Whoa”? Boxing has never seen the likes of Lomachenko, which probably explains why this confusing matrix has been making a habit out of making world-class fighters quit.

Vasyl will absolutely fight anyone within striking distance, either tomorrow or right now. You know you’re a badass when no amount of money can convince Orlando Salido to face him again. It says here he’d damn near kill Jezreel Corrales, embarrass Miguel Berchelt and beat up a cocky Gervonta Davis.

Negotiations are said to be near complete for a superfight with Guillermo Rigondeaux on December 9 at Madison Square Garden in New York. If he beats Rigo, convincingly, there would be no denying at just over 10 fights that he is indeed the world’s best fighter.

#5. Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30KOs)

From a purist standpoint, the cowboy hat wearing Garcia lasso’s technical perfection in the most aggressive manner possible. We saw the best version of Adrien Broner in years against Garcia on July 29 at Barclays, and Mikey simply blitzed him.

Before his sabbatical three years ago, I thought Mikey was one of the top five fighters in the world. He’s actually better than he was then, which means a fight with Vasyl Lomachenko would be one of the best match-ups in boxing over the past 40 years. It would be a modern Sugar Ray Leonard V Roberto Duran.

 

#6. Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34KOs)

Already one of the greatest fighters in Mexican history, matinee idol Canelo is a box office phenomenon and an extremely talented fighter. The upcoming September 16 superfight with Gennady Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will have historic implications for his legacy with a victory.

Alvarez is a destructive iteration of Juan Manuel Marquez with just as much pride. Having faced a who’s who of elite opposition while having a penchant for ducking no one, only a “hater” can claim Canelo as a hype machine unworthy of being regarded as one of the best fighters in all of boxing.

 

#7. Errol Spence (22-0, 19KOs)

As strictly a fan, this is my favorite fighter in the game. The world’s best welterweight is a southpaw version of Sonny Liston with the confidence of Muhammad Ali. After eventually thrashing the remnants of GGG victim Kell Brook, the best is yet to come for Spence. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Spence will be off the shelf in either December or January to defend his BIG strap against Lamont Peterson or Luis Collazo. Either foe would serve as a louder statement to a certain WBC/WBA welterweight champion. You all need to pray for Keith Thurman.

 

#8. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0-1, 11KOs)

The legendary Rigondeaux is the most rare blend of talent we can find in boxing. Arguably unfairly handled by Bob Arum, Top Rank and HBO, it’s already a shame we may have missed his best against some of boxing’s best. Cries from the likes of Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton of “Boring!” Tales of petulant behavior and an inability to wage the type of ring risk that accompanied his Cuban defection. Thus, he went after Moises Flores in a most forgivable way, and has now talked himself into a special confrontation with Vasyl Lomachenko.

 

#9. Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11KOs)

The WBO super flyweight champion is perhaps the most irascible and destructive fighter we’ve seen emerge from the lower weight classes since the great Manny Pacquiao. Inoue has it all: Speed. Ferocity. Variety. Power. Killer instinct. This is probably the Bruce Lee you’ve been waiting for to put on boxing gloves. Finally, U.S. fight fans will get to see this “Monster” in action against Cleveland’s tough Antonio Nieves on the “Superfly” card this weekend. He’s going to absolutely bury Nieves (who’s had to drop weight for the contest). If Roman Gonzalez gets past SsR this weekend as I expect, HBO would be hard pressed to not match him with Chocolatito.

#10. Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38KOs)

Overshadowed by the greatness of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Chocolatito was somewhat anointed world #1 by default. It’s not that he wasn’t, it’s just that he wasn’t what he was by the time “he was” (If you will). Watching the “Fight of The Year” caliber war with SsR (Srisaket Sor Rungvisai) live at MSG in March, it was hard to miss what I thought was a robbery.

However, it was also difficult to miss the body attrition of Gonzalez due to combat. A slight loss of speed and reflexes have rendered him as hittable as ever, something which really showed up in a grueling war with Carlos Cuadras awhile back. It would serve Choco well if he can somehow find a way to make short work of Rungvisai this Saturday night from StubHub in LA, shown live on HBO After Dark.

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