There has been a change at the top. Andre Ward takes over the top spot in the Neutral Corner Top 10 pound-for-pound list. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fans won’t like it, but Ward has been active and he’s beaten most of the top 168-pound fighters in the world and the best light heavyweight. Can’t deny Ward the top spot this time.
1. Andre Ward, super middleweight, (26-0): Ward has beaten Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch and Chad Dawson dating back to November 2009. We dare you to name another fighter who has beaten that many quality opponents in a three-year span. Ward is the best, hands down.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr., welterweight (43-0): Mayweather Jr. moves down a peg on the list. It wasn’t the easiest decision because Mayweather is the most skilled fighter in the game. The problem is he doesn’t fight enough. The “Money” man has been in six fights dating back to his tilt with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. His list of recent conquests – Miguel Cotto, Victor Ortiz, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez – has been impressive, but it doesn’t quite measure up to Ward’s list.
3. Sergio Martinez, middleweight, (50-2-2): Martinez’s wish of fighting Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was granted. And he came through with flying colors, scoring a unanimous-decision win. It got a little tight in the end as Martinez was knocked down in the 12th, but he otherwise dominated the fight. Beating Chavez Jr. like that moves Martinez up to third. Sorry Manny, but dominating wins over Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker, Matthew Macklin and now Chavez Jr. is just too much to overlook.
4. Manny Pacquiao, welterweight, (54-4-2): Pacquiao’s No. 4 ranking has nothing to do with his controversial loss to Tim Bradley. It has more to do with his recent opponents and his struggles. An argument can be made he lost his recent fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Shane Mosley was a show fight and so was Antonio Margarito. And Joshua Clottey offered no resistance. Pacquiao could move up if he can score a convincing win over Marquez in December.
5. Nonito Donaire, super bantamweight, (29-1): Donaire, the WBO and IBF super bantamweight champ, dominated an undefeated Omar Andres Narvaez last October, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in February and Jeffrey Mathebula in July. He gets veteran Toshiaki Nishioka on Oct. 13.
6. Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight, (58-3): Klitschko, the IBF, WBO and WBA champ keeps fighting and keeps winning. He scored a 6th-round TKO over Tony Thompson in July and destroyed Jean Marc Mormeck with a fourth-round knockout last March. The lack of prime talent in the heavyweight division has been well documented, but you can’t deny Klitschko his kudos.
7. Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight (41-0-1): Alvarez deserves credit for scoring a 5th-round TKO over Josesito Lopez. Alvarez’s record is impressive, but it's time for him to think about stepping up in class. Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron and Alfonso Gomez are not in Alvarez’s class. Mosley was especially shot in their fight last May. Cintron can’t go past five rounds anymore and Gomez just didn’t have the skill to threaten Alvarez. That notwithstanding, Alvarez has earned his place on this list.
8. Yuriorkis Gamboa, super featherweight, (21-0): Gamboa hasn’t been active since a win over Ponce de Leon at the Boardwalk Hall in September 2011, but he will move up in weight to fight Juan Carlos Salgado for the IBF super featherweight title on Nov. 17.
9. Timothy Bradley, welterweight, (29-0): Bradley’s “win” over Pacquiao is still considered a farce, so we can’t give him too much credit for it. Yet, Bradley is still a quality fighter, he’s still undefeated and still has beaten an impressive list of boxers.
10. Danny Garcia, junior welterweight (24-0): Surprise. Garcia is in our top 10. The 24-year-old native of Philadelphia shook up the boxing world with his fourth-round KO of Amir Khan. He handled Erik Morales for the WBC junior welterweight title last March and earned a split decision win over Kendall Holt in 2011. He also has a win over Nate Campbell. Garcia’s career is on the rise. He’ll face Morales in a rematch on October 20.