Welcome to Today’s Knockout’s “Ranks in Review,” a feature where we examine one boxing division, starting with the heavyweights and ending with the 105-pound minimumweights. Our champions will be the men who have earned it the ring, not been handed a belt by a combination of letters, and our rankings come from the computers of boxing’s most valuable website, BoxRec.
For the second week in a row, we’re looking at a division where Floyd Mayweather has vacated the championship. No one knows if his career is actually over, but he says it is, so we have to take him at his word.
In our system, vacancies are filled by the No. 1 contender fighting either another of the top-five contenders or the No. 1 contender/champion from the next division down. Unlike junior-middleweight No. 1 Canelo Alvarez, who is already moving up to 160, the No. 1 contender at 147 might give us a new champion sooner rather than later.
CHAMPION: VACANT (Floyd Mayweather Jr. vacated his title upon his retirement in September 2015.)
Mayweather was one of the greatest welterweights of all time, first winning the championship in 2006, and never losing it in the ring. He was stripped of the title during his 2008 prison sentence, but regained the belt from Shane Mosley in 2010.
No. 1 Contender: Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, Philippines)
Pacquiao hasn’t fought since losing to Mayweather in May, which he fought with a torn rotator cuff. He’ll be 37 when he returns in the spring, but could pick up another world title if he wins a rumored fight with Amir Khan.
That would make him a lineal champion in four weight classes, all the way from 126 pounds to 147, an achievement that would put a final stamp on what is already a clear Hall of Fame career
No. 2 Contender: Kell Brook (35-0, England)
Brook has had a hard road to the top, as he had to wait for a shot at a big fight, and almost died shortly after getting it. He beat Shawn Porter in August of last year to win an alphabet title, then sustained severe injuries in a machete attack in England.
He’s already fought twice in 2015, winning twice over decent journeymen, and he’s fighting tough Diego Chaves next month. Chaves shouldn’t beat Brock, but he did draw with Timothy Bradley, and his penchant for fouling will be a good test of the Brit’s composure. Brock is hoping to fight Bradley sometime in the spring of 2016.
No. 3 Contender: Keith Thurman (26-0, United States)
Like most prospects, Thurman was allowed to run his record to 20-0 without facing much opposition, but he’s had some nice wins since 2013. He knocked out Chaves and Jesus Soto Karass, then won easy decisions over Leonard Bundu and Robert Guerrero to win his own alphabet belt.
He’s a regular on the Premier Boxing Champions series, but will be looking for a fight against Brook or Bradley in the near future.
No. 4 Contender: Amir Khan (31-3, England)
If Khan had a good chin, he might be the best fighter on the planet. Instead, he has losses to Breidis Prescott, Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. And while the last two are quality opponents, they shouldn’t be beating someone with Khan’s ability.
Khan tried desperately to get himself into position for Mayweather’s last fight – he’d have been a real threat, given Mayweather’s lack of punching power – but he was too talented for what was always intended to be an easy fight. Instead, he’s looking to fight Pacquiao in the spring, and a win there would set up a big all-English fight against Brook.
No. 5 Contender: Shawn Porter (26-1-1, United States)
Porter didn’t look great in his loss to Brook, but both fighters were cut by accidental head butts, leading to a chippy fight. He came into that fight with nice wins over Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi, and bounced back with a very impressive unanimous decision win over Adrien Broner in June.
His next big fight might be against Garcia, who has moved up to 147 after an impressive run at 140 that included wins over Zab Judah, Khan and a welterweight-debut win over Malignaggi.
If you’ve missed out on any of our previous rankings, feel free to check them out below:
- Light Heavyweights
- Super Middleweights
- Junior Middleweights