By Ivan G. Goldman
The fighter in greatest demand these days, the one the general public would most like to see, is of course Floyd Mayweather. He’s proved that by the money and number of eyeballs he attracts.
It costs approximately seventy bucks a pop to see Mayweather, who holds welterweight and super welterweight titles. His next outing, May 4 against Robert Guerrero, will be no exception unless he and his team decide to make a greedy grab and raise the pay-per-view price to yet another record, which is entirely possible. They always wait for a superfight to inflate their already-ridiculously expensive charge, and this card could very conceivably be notched up another $5 (a 7 percent increase). Where it stops nobody knows. But I digress.
Floyd’s earned the right to be called great, and he’s fun to watch, particularly since he started losing his legs, forcing him to trade once in a while. But there are fighters I’d rather see in the ring. Mayweather’s awfully careful and prefers to throw one at a time. His most memorable combination was the hook-right hand against Victor Ortiz, who’d dropped his gloves because he thought it was recess or something.
Meanwhile, we’re up to our necks in pound-for-pound best fighters lists, and Mayweather sits atop every one. I’m both weary and wary of those rankings. The raters copy from each other, and the lists are entirely theoretical. How do you prove welterweight Manny Pacquiao is better than heavyweight Vitali Klitschko? You can’t. So it creates lots of arguments, and because fight fans love to argue, fight media love arguments too.
Meanwhile, although we can’t prove the optimum pound-for-pound list, we do know who we like to see fight. I had my reasons for everyone left off my list. A few like Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, Keith Thurman, and Dmitry Pirog I just want to see a little more first. Also, although there are probably quite a few fighters in smaller weight divisions who are great to watch, over the last few years the networks have pretty much frozen them out. If I don’t see them, I can’t honestly say they’re more enjoyable to watch than Mayweather. So in no particular order, here’s my list of twelve fighters I prefer over Floyd, and why:
* Adrien Broner, lightweight. Big mouth, backs it up. Softens them up, knocks them out.
* Andre Ward, super middleweight/light heavyweight, a tremendous talent who’s already cleaned up the super middleweight division, knocked off one of the top light heavies, and is so sharp that tough Bernard Hopkins declared he wants no part of him. Ward’s probably the best fighter in the world, though once again, it can never be proved.
* Nonito Donaire, junior featherweight, who does everything well, is super speedy, takes chances, and has power in both fists.
* Timothy Bradley, welterweight. He earned this distinction in his courageous stand against Ruslan Provodnikov. It was the kind of gutsy performance we saw in pairings such as Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez, Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo. None of Mayweather’s fights have come close.
* Ruslan Provodnikov, welterweight. When this iron-jawed Russian gets in the ring, a fight breaks out. Remember this isn’t a list of fighters better than Floyd. This list is all about entertainment.
* Sergio Martinez, middleweight. Guts, talent, speed, not a great jaw (the last attribute makes him even more exciting).
* Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, junior middleweight. This 22-year-old gets better every time out, and he’s not looking to win on points. Ever seen him in a bad fight? Me neither.
*Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, super lightweight. Thinks going toe to toe is fun. The guy’s nuts, and I mean that in a good way. His rematch against Mike Alvarado, set for this Saturday, is free to HBO subscribers. Anyone who’d rather watch Mayweather-Guerrero is crazier than Rios or badly misinformed.
* Mike Alvarado, super lightweight. See Rios, above.
*Chris Arreola. Only heavyweight on my list. Comes to fight, knows how. Never in bad fights.
* Manny Pacquiao, welterweight. Speed, power, grace. Always tries to put on a show.
* Lucas Matthysse, junior welterweight. Don’t go to the fridge.
* Mikey Garcia, featherweight. He can pop. Fast, unpredictable, tough.
Got your own choices? Let us know who you’d add or subtract and why.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE