Johnny “Blaze” Robbins

Blaze’s Top 10 “Pound for Pound” Boxers in the World

In the ever changing World of Boxing, the clock never stops ticking. Just as time moves forward and old Champions fall, while new Champions rise…new Contenders are also born, and the circle of combatants inside the ring, much like the circle of life, remains in a constant state of motion, all the time. The best of the best though, somehow manage to stop time, even if only for a while, and the impact they leave behind, can create Legends that very well may last forever. It wasn’t that long ago that I touted Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez as the deserving King to the throne of the best of the best around. But sooner or later, either the best lose, or they retire, and unfortunately for Chocolatito, that loss came a lot sooner than expected. But that wasn’t the only major bout in the Boxing World that shook up the mix at the top of the talent pool recently. So let’s have a look at how I’ve got the Top 10 “Pound for Pound” Boxers around ranked, and why:

1.) “Canelo” Saul Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KO’s) who is set to fight “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin in September, has faced, defeated, and even destroyed, the kind of opposition to date that will undoubtedly already put him in the Boxing Hall of Fame. But Alvarez’s biggest test of his entire eleven year career (outside of Floyd Maywether of course) will be when he moves up again from Super Welterweight, where “Canelo” has dominated his opposition for so long, to Middleweight where Alvarez has already been a World Champion, and beaten the likes of Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Erislandy Lara, with Saul Alvarez now looking to add all four major Middleweight World Titles, to his already vast collection of golden world title belts, in one shot. His boxing skill and ring savvy in my opinion are actually underestimated, having only been outmatched by Floyd Mayweather since reaching the sport’s top ranks. And his experience is a factor that I think can be the biggest difference maker in the upcoming Super Fight with Golovkin as well…So much so that I’m actually picking Alvarez to beat Golovkin on September 16th for all four major Middleweight Titles. If that occurs, it will be the crowning achievement for the Pound for Pound King of the Boxing Ring! Truth is, whoever wins that fight can stake the truest claim of being the Pound for Pound best Boxer alive. No doubt…

2.) “GGG” – “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KO’s) was not at his most impressive best in his last bout against Daniel Jacobs. But credit Jacobs for being smart enough to use the weigh-in rules to his advantage, and for showing up ready to fight the Middleweight Division’s monster of a Champion. Golovkin though has shown throughout his career that he is the modern era’s quintessential power puncher, he’s a walking Knock-Out highlight reel, and he has added a bright spark to the sport of boxing that just can’t be ignored! Golovkin as mentioned will get his chance to prove that he currently is the best in the world, inside the 9th Marquis of Queensbury rules, in September when he puts all four major Middleweight Titles on the line, squaring off against “Canelo” Alvarez in a much anticipated showdown that almost already went down. All legal matters are out of the way, the date has been set, Ladies and Gentleman, get ready for a modern day “Super Fight” for all the marbles, between the two best Boxer’s in the business! This is what Boxing is supposed to be all about! The best fighting the best, so there’s no question who the Real Champion, really is!

3.) Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (31-0, 15 KO’s) after defeating Sergey Kovalev, could very easily have been recognized as the best boxer alive, pound for pound. But the landscape is always changing in the Boxing Universe, and New Challengers are always waiting for their shot. But before Andre Ward can expand across the Light Heavyweight Division and improve upon his already remarkable legacy, Ward now has some unfinished business to attend to with Kovalev in June. Both Boxer’s will know each other a lot better, which could potentially make for a much more explosive impact when these two meet inside the ring again. Ward though, found an answer to neutralize Kovalev’s punching power with superior body work in the first go ‘round, and I’m expecting Ward’s ring savvy to do much the same in the rematch!

4.) Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO’s) is a power punching beast of a Knock Out Specialist and losing a closely contended decision to Andre Ward doesn’t change that in any way at all. Kovalev will get his shot at redemption in July, and after stopping 12 of his last 15 opponents, with his last 10 bouts all being world title fights…and his only career loss coming by way of a very, very close decision to Andre Ward, one can only expect to see the very best that the “Krusher” has to offer in his upcoming rematch! Will it be enough to defeat Andre Ward? Only time will tell…

5.) Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomanchenko (8-1, 6 KO’s) defies logic inside the ring, and it’s no surprise if to some having a Boxer with an 8-1 record on my Top 5 Pound for Pound list also in some ways defies logic… But this guy is that good! Lomanchenko moves like Neo from The Matrix slipping punches and setting up counters with unbelievable skill, movement, anticipation and accuracy. He hits hard, he has a formidable Ukrainian cranium with his solid chin, even though he’s harder to catch than the Boogie-man! Lomanchenko has been on every Boxing fan’s radar since he was an illustrious amateur with a 396-1 record and Two Olympic Gold Medals around his neck. Lomanchenko went from the Ams right into the deep end and world title contention immediately upon making the move to the Pros. He became a World Champion in his second attempt and only 3rd Professional bout, which is almost unheard of in the modern era. When Lomanchenko gets his chance to avenge his only loss, which is in the works currently, possibly taking place in August, I’m not only predicting a KO win for Lomanchenko, I’m actually expecting it! Lomanchenko is still early in his career at only 9 fights to his credit, and look for this next-gen superstar to unify world titles in multiple weight classes in the years to come!

6.) Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KO’s) is only this far down on my list because it’s almost like “Pac-Man” is on the shelf, waiting for one last Mega Fight…and in the meantime he’s still a World Champion with his next defense coming in Australia in July versus Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KO’s). Hardly a Paquaio versus Mayweather, Marquez, De La Hoya, Mosley, Barrera, Morales, Cotto, Hatton or even Bradley fight now is it? Pacquiao however, is a bonafide boxing legend, no doubt about it, and I think there’s still more energy left in the Energizer Bunny that has been Manny Pacquiao inside the ring, for what seems like ages now. Pacquiao is still a very relevant name at the top of the Boxing Universe, and he definitely deserves to be in the Pound for Pound conversation. But I think there will be a lot more talk about Pacquiao once again, when his level of opposition improves, and he possibly even takes on someone on this list. Maybe even an old Pound for Pound King if one should decide to return to the sport of Boxing, and throw his hat back in the ring again!?!

7.) Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KO’s) is a three division World Champion and I expect we’ll soon see him picking up world titles in more divisions in the near future. His power in undeniable, he posses well refined boxing skills, and he comes from one of the smartest Boxing families in the game today! He had a bout of inactivity partly due to the business of boxing, but Garcia looks like he’s back and better than ever! Not yet the household name he likely will be and time will only tell if I’m right about Mikey Garcia, and how good he really is!

8.) Terence “Bud” Crawford (30-0, 21 KO’s) has been a World Champion for over three years, spanning across two divisions, and the level of opposition Crawford has left in his wake has been consistently amongst the best in the business. Terrance Crawford is also the top dog, nestled nicely between the lightweight and welterweight divisions. Meaning that Lightweights like Mikey Garcia, and Welterweights like Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman are all potential pound for pound showdowns available for Crawford in the near future! Whether it’s Garcia that moves up, or Crawford who makes the jump to welterweight, or even a catch weight somewhere in between…I expect we’ll see the name Terence Crawford in the bright lights, pitting him against some of the very best pound for pound Boxers around today, very soon!

9.) Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO’s) turned Pro 8 years ago, after winning 2 Olympic Gold Medals, and 2 Amateur World Championships, racking up a record of 463-12 along the way. In only his 7th professional bout “The Jackal” became an Interim World Champion, and “Rigo” has been unstoppable as a full Super Bantamweight World Champion for 5 years straight now! Rigondeaux is a pure boxing talent, the epitome of Cuban excellence inside the ring. His defense is beyond outstanding and his counter-punching is even better. The only thing Rigondeaux is truly lacking right now is that super top level of opposition, to push his career and his legacy to the next level. There was that upset of “The Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire back in 2013 which has been Rigondeaux’s crowning achievement to date. But with some great fights coming out of the featherweight division, and Lomanchenko making all kinds of noise at super featherweight…that pound for pound Mega Fight Rigondeaux is due, may be just around the corner.

10.) Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KO’s) has been on fire staking claim that he is the very best Welterweight in the World today! Thurman has been collecting gold belts like Pokemon, and he doesn’t look like he’ll be happy until he collects them all. Recently handing the ever formidable Danny Garcia his first loss, making Thurman the current owner of 2 out of the 4 major titles at Welterweight. A unification showdown with Manny Pacquiao looks like it may very well be in the cards in Thurman’s future. That or even a potential unification bout with the British Welterweight sensation Kell Brook, who holds the other major title at 147 pounds. However, “One Time” just underwent elbow surgery that is likely to keep this Champ out till the end of 2017. So Thurman’s legacy is going to have to wait until his return, before it gets the chance to reach the super stardom that “One Time” appears destined for. Again, only time will tell…

An honorable mention has to go out to Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KO’s), who recently finished Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of their Heavyweight Title slugfest! Putting the Heavyweight division right back on the map in the sport of Boxing. However, a lot of questions remain at Heavyweight with Tyson Fury’s (25-0, 18 KO’s) future uncertain, and Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KO’s) also staking claim to the Heavyweight throne. The future of the Heavyweight Division now looks brighter and at the same time, more chaotic than it has in ages, and when the dust settles, whoever comes out on top will likely also move up the pound for pound rankings across the board. Especially with the excitement that these massive Boxer’s all bring to their venues, every single time they enter the ring!

Also an honorable mention is in order for Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KO’s) at the very least. I couldn’t very well put a Boxer who just lost to someone not even in consideration of being on this list, I mean not even close to being even a thought, anywhere inside the Top 10. With that being said, “Chocolatito” did not appear to be his usual ferocious self in his last bout, and who knows why that was? What I do know, is that Roman Gonzalez is a premier Boxer in the world today. His achievements inside the ring, winning a multitude of world titles over the span of 4 divisions, makes him more than worthy to crack this list. Who knows, maybe “Srisaket Sor Rungvisai” (Wisaksil Wangek) (43-4-1, 39 KO’s) just had Chocolatito’s number that night, or maybe he’s a lot better than his record depicts. Personally I doubt very much that lightning will strike in the same place twice, if these two were to clash again. I also believe that Roman Gonzalez will either defend his Bantamweight World Champion again, or pick up yet another World Title and put himself right back on this list where he belongs, sooner rather than later…and I doubt very much that Super Bantamweight is where the story will end for Chocolatito, as he’s only 29 years old with a lot of time potentially left in the tank…

Only time will tell.

The current state of Boxing in Canada

The current state of Boxing in Canada
By: John Robbins – October 24, 2016

The course of Professional Boxing in Canada in recent times; had seen the top level of the sport of Champions all but slow down to a screeching halt on its own home turf. Everywhere that is, with the exception of the province of Quebec of course, the boxing capital of Canada. Yet even then, gone is the constant barrage of massive sell-out crowds at the Bell Centre in Montreal, showcasing world title fights at Boxing’s highest level on a highly-regular basis. Cards that featured former French Canadian world beaters, Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal, hosting the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, and Chad Dawson, which culminated when Sergey Kovalev visited “la belle province” and stopped Jean Pascal twice, Kovalev staking his claim to the Light Heavyweight division in the process; and wars where the Quebec based boxing superstars, faced off against each other, for far more than world title belts, but also for bragging rights, as to who the “Baddest man in Quebec” truly was. As well as many other brutal battles that excited audiences around the world, with local favourites of the era including, Librado Andrade and fellow Canadian Adrian Diaconu, all of which now, as the saying goes, are in the history books.

Boxing in Quebec though, always seems to find a way to survive, (unlike in the country’s largest mega-city Toronto), and the Quebec boxing scene has simply refused to die. With the promotional backbone of boxing in Quebec, “G.Y.M. Promotions”, (Groupe Yvon Michel) still leading the charge, and with their world champion, the pound for pound ranked, Adonis “Superman” Stevenson now at the helm of Boxing’s flagship in the most modern of eras, (recently emblazoning his talent regularly in Quebec City, another Boxing hotspot in the province). As well as heavy handed David Lemieux (36-3, 32KOs) under the watchful eye of, “Eye of the Tiger Promotions”, the modern day power punching main attraction thrilling audiences at the Bell Centre, in Montreal as he attempts to work his way back into world title contention. While up-and-comers like the 21 year old, Steven “Bang Bang” Butler (18-0-1, 15KOs) of Montreal, who utterly dominated and destroyed his Canadian counterpart Janks Trotter (10-4-1, 10KOs) from Calgary, on the Bell Centre undercard to David Lemieux recently. (Butler also picked up the IBF North American title belt for his efforts in that knock-out victory). Or the ever formidable, top conditioned, slick and strong, former Canadian Olympian, Custio Clayton (10-0, with 8 KO’s), originally from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, now fighting out of Montreal. Who’s been quietly climbing up the ranks at the Montreal Casino (also in a GYM Promotions production)…Boxing is still alive, well and even thriving in the province of Quebec.

Though Toronto once truly was the home of boxing in Canada, Quebec has now owned that distinction for decades. The fight scene in the mega-city certainly has seen better days. But there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel in Toronto as of late. Since the arrival of Global Legacy Boxing, spear-headed by owners, Les Woods of Port Credit, Ontario alongside legendary Heavyweight Champion, Lennox Lewis. With the additional full support of the Canadian Boxing Legend himself, George Chuvalo, who all share the common goal of bringing back the lustre that professional boxing once held in Canada’s greatest metropolis. The Boxing scene in the G.T.A. (Greater Toronto Area) is once again on the rise!

Already Global Legacy Boxing has brought the WBC World Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson spectacle, with the assistance of Yvon Michel, into the highest profile Canadian venue to host a world title fight outside of Quebec, Canada in ages, Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum. On a card that also featured top American prospect, Errol Spence Jr. in the co-main event. In addition, Global Legacy Boxing has also seen the return of professional boxing to the famed Maple Leafs Gardens, now the Mattamy Athletic Centre, which was once the Mecca of boxing in all of Canada. Finally there is a new promoter in town in Toronto, and along with it, world class boxing events have followed.

Global Legacy Boxing has also put together quite a stable of young, up and coming talent, as they look to continue on forward with their push to restore Boxing in Toronto to its glory days. Much like Yvon Michel has done with GYM ever so masterfully over the years, as well as “InterBox” (another longstanding promotional staple of the thriving boxing business in Quebec), while building up the sport of champions in Canada’s premier boxing province.

This stable of young Canadians that Global Legacy Boxing is now building, includes the recently crowned Commonwealth (British Empire) Cruiserweight Champion, “Dangerous” Denton Daley (16-1, 9KOs) of Brampton, Ontario. An electrifying talent who has boxed professionally exclusively on Canadian soil, and has picked up many explosive finishes along his path of destruction and success. The GLB roster also bolsters another Ontario, Canada native in current Canadian Heavyweight Champion, Dillon “Big Country” Carman (11-2, 10KOs) who has been keeping the fans well entertained in the Canadian Maritime provinces of late, (along with east coast Canadian boxing staples, Tyson Cave (29-3) of Nova Scotia, and Brandon Brewer (20-0-1) from New Brunswick, who aren’t Global Legacy fighters, but who have been the lifeblood of the Maritime Canadian boxing scene for a while now, keeping the sport alive out on the east coast).

Then there’s the six foot, four inch monster, a relative unknown, who’s travelled over to Canada from the Ukraine, bringing with him some seriously devastating power punching, and a solid pedigree of over 247 amateur bouts, Oleksandr “Sasha”, “The Panther” Teslenko! “Sasha” Teslenko is a massive guy who has the boxing scene across Canada buzzing right now with his brutal force, in ring determination, and unlimited potential. Teslenko is still fresh on the professional boxing circuit. But with a record of 7 wins, no losses, and 6 knockout victories under his belt already, Teslenko has also already fought in 5 different Canadian cities, spread over 4 different provinces across the country. In his next scheduled competition (which is on previously uncharted ground for the 24 year old prospect, in Winnipeg, Manitoba) on October 28th, 2016, “The Panther” tour looks to continue to keep on picking up steam, and fans, as he once again attempts s to crush his competition inside the ring, on his way up the boxing charts.

Match-maker, Jim Gentle, formerly of Stele Boxing Promotions, which was a staple of professional boxing in Ontario, Canada for many years, has also added his expertise to the long list of advisors assisting Les Woods and Lennox Lewis’ venture into the promotional side of the squared circle. And it shows in the quality of competitive bouts they’ve already had under the Global Legacy Boxing banner, in the 2 years that they’ve been in the boxing business. Keeping the bouts competitive and entertaining, along with the high level of talent on display, is a major part of what has set Global Legacy Boxing apart from other promotions across Ontario and aside from GYM and InterBox, pretty much all of Canada. As the vast majority of the remaining boxing promoters in the country, are consistently hosting mainly grassroots level matches, with the occasional Canadian Title bout, as their showcase attraction.

Recently, another new promotional group has arrived on the scene in Ontario, Canada as well. “Three Lions Promotions” held their inaugural boxing card in Hamilton, Ontario on October the 1st, 2016. The show was a charity fund raiser for The Robbie Wilcox Cancer Foundation, and Camp Trillium (a childhood cancer support centre) that consisted of ringside tables including dinner service, as well as a high volume of general seating, which showcased a WBA-NABA North American title fight in the main event. A hard fought battle that was won by young Super-Lightweight prospect, Steven “The Piranha” Wilcox (15-1-1). Wilcox is a multi-time Canadian amateur national champion with a bright future in the sport. On the undercard, his younger brother Jessie Wilcox (5-0) also a stand-out former amateur national champion, picked up a win in the brother’s hometown of Hamilton, to the delight of fans who have clamoured about the highly successful and extremely entertaining event ever since.

These new promoters are a much welcomed addition to the handful of longstanding promotional groups that have already existed in the Greater Toronto Area for years. Which obviously is great news for the boxing fans in Ontario, who had been waiting for something big to happen to the sport that used to fill up downtown Toronto’s  Carlton Street, with eager spectators back in Boxing’s heyday once upon a time,  in the now mega-city. All of whom were anticipating action packed showdowns, like George Chuvalo versus “The Greatest of All Time” Muhammad Ali. The same fans who for years would fill the same stadium that the Toronto Maple Leaf’s played in, just to watch closed circuit boxing matches on the big screen. Who prior to Global Legacy Boxing making their mark on the sport in Canada recently, hadn’t seen world title fights on their home soil of that calibre, since the days of Steve “The Canadian Kid” Molitor, when he was in the midst of his long standing reigns as world champion, back when Molitor used to pack the house at Casino Rama, all the way up north of Toronto in Orillia, Ontario. This is definitely a welcomed change for Toronto’s professional Boxing scene. No Doubt. And since the co-owner of Global Legacy Boxing Lennox Lewis’, mother and father, both still live in the province of Ontario, along with a very large Lewis family contingency. It makes perfect since for the former Canadian Olympic Gold Medallist to be such a huge part of this effort to restore the sport of Boxing’s legacy, in the Canada’s largest city.

Looking out to the west, the most notable prize fighter on the horizon, has got to be the Calgary based prospect, Steve “The Dragon” Claggett (24-4-1, 16KOs). Claggett’s record is a bit deceiving if not tainted, in that some of his losses have appeared to be hometown decisions that just didn’t occur in his hometown. And after already having held on to multiple Canadian titles, “The dragon” recently won a war of attrition, in his greatest showcase bout to date, this past September, in Las Vegas, earning himself a WBA–NABA USA title in the process. Claggett is an old throwback type of Boxer/Puncher. Who’s mentality is that he is willing to get in the ring, anytime, anyplace, under almost any circumstances, on his journey to one day contend for a world title. Claggett at 27 years old is an already well travelled road warrior, who’s well schooled in the sweet science, and he’s the kind of fighter who always looks to put on a great show, with no other objectives in mind aside from winning, and thrilling the fans.

Much like in Ontario, the Canadian west coast boxing circuit has had a handful of consistent promoters in recent years, keeping the sport alive. However the vast majority of the competition out west is still at the grassroots level, with local fighters filling up the cards, and the occasional Canadian title bout as the main attraction…or possibly a Women’s world title fight featuring Jelena Mrdjenovich on a KO Boxing Promotions televised event out in Edmonton, Alberta. Keeping the west coast boxing scene relevant of late have been promoters like Calgary’s, Eric De Guzman, and his “Teofista” boxing promotion, who will host the return of Orangeville, Ontario native, Logan McGuiness (23-0-1) on October 28th, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta. As well as “King John Boxing” who is set to host Ontario based fighters, the already touted Oleksandr Teslenko and Steven Wilcox, also on October 28th, 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

There have been many changes in the past couple of years, to the overall complexion of professional boxing in Canada. Most of which has been for the better of the sport, and also for the betterment of the next generation of the sport’s athletes. One thing that has remained consistent in the Canadian boxing scene of late is the resurgence of young fresh talent. New faces making their way up onto the world stage, and their resolve to become something greater, than the confines of the Canadian boxing industry’s standard, for so long now. Meaning, the young and hungry Canadian fighters themselves these days, want more opportunity to grow, to improve, to test their metal against higher level opposition, and they are doing so wherever the opportunities lie. One of the oldest principles of pugilism, “To be the man, you have to beat the man”, has not been lost on this new generation of Canadian pugilists. So whether it’s Shiller Hyppolite (21-1, 14KOs) a rising Super Middleweight who boxes out of Montreal, under Eye of the Tiger Promotions, who’s next bout, the toughest competition he’s faced to date, will be for a piece of WBC hardware in Germany, when he faces a young Turkish fighter named Anvi Yildirim (13-0, 8 KOs) on November 5th, 2016. Or Trois Rivieres, Quebec’s, Mikael Zewski (27-1, 21KOs) who’s fought his last 5 fights outside of Canada. Or Cornwall, Ontario’s, Tony “Lightning” Luis (21-3) who’s fought his last 7 bouts outside of Canada. Or even Toronto, Ontario’s, Phil Lo Greco (27-3, 15KOs) who has faced all 13 of his most recent opponents, outside of his home country of Canada. Professional Boxers on the rise in Canada in this new era, have proven time and time again, that they are willing to travel anywhere that they have to, and fight whoever stands in their way, en route to their final destination…A shot at being called Champion, of the entire world!

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