Andre Ward's dominant knockout victory against Chad Dawson prompted major changes in the September pound-for-pound rankings.
I saw many comments -- good and bad -- from folks on Twitter and my Facebook page. Many asked why this guy or that guy wasn't in the top 20. The main reason certain fighters were excluded was quite simple -- they are talented but haven't yet had the kind of significant win to earn a spot, or haven't had any sort of longevity yet to make it.
It got me thinking about the future of the P4P list and who is on the cusp of breaking into the top 20. There are many fine fighters out there, but I came up with a list of 10 who, with the right fights and/or some more experience against better opponents, could soon find themselves ranked on the monthly list.
Here they are, listed in alphabetical order:
• Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs): Alvarez has massive star potential. The question is, can his résumé catch up to his current level of attraction? He has made five defenses of his junior middleweight belt, but they've all been against B- and C-level opponents, the shadow of Shane Mosley and the much-smaller Josesito Lopez. Alvarez has shined against them, but he needs to step up against a better grade of opponent to warrant inclusion.
• Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KOs): He has a style similar to Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s, as well as similar potential. What he doesn't have are any wins against a significant opponent or any longevity with a title. He won a vacant junior lightweight belt against a nobody, made one defense (a one-sided blowout of decent opponent Eloy Perez) and then blew weight for a defense against Vicente Escobedo. He's moving up to lightweight and probably will face titlist Antonio DeMarco, whom I have ranked No. 1 at 135 pounds. If the fight happens and Broner beats DeMarco impressively, he's on his way.
• Daniel Geale (28-1, 15 KOs): He's coming off a big win -- albeit a very close one -- to Felix Sturm to unify a pair of alphabet middleweight belts. He won both of his belts by split decision in Germany (the first against Sebastian Sylvester), which had been unheard of until now. I'd say one more win against another titleholder or top-rated contender in the suddenly hot middleweight division ought to do the trick.
• Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs): The middleweight titlist already seems likely to crack the list in the near future. He had a monster amateur career (Olympic silver winner to top it off) and has been ferocious as a pro. He has some solid B-level names on his record, such as Grzegorz Proksa and Kassim Ouma, although that's not enough to put him on the P4P list yet. But with a willingness to fight anyone and the skills to match, he should be there soon. Give him maybe three more fights against quality opponents.
• Roman Gonzalez (32-0, 27 KOs): He is already a two-division titlist and still only 25, but although the reigning junior flyweight titleholder has a stellar record and is one of the biggest punchers, pound for pound, he simply needs to fight a better grade of opponent. He has held a belt at either 105 or 108 pounds since 2008, but his competition hasn't matched his ability.
• Yoan Pablo Hernandez (27-1, 13 KOs): Hernandez was a tremendous amateur from the Cuban national team who defected and has won a cruiserweight title. He has all of the skills in the world, although he isn't always exciting to watch. That's got nothing to do with ability, though. With four solid victories in a row -- a Sept. 15 defense against talented Troy Ross, two against Steve Cunningham (although the first one was controversial) and a knockout of Steve Herelius -- Hernandez is right on the cusp of cracking the list.
• Erislandy Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs): Lara, a former world amateur champion from the powerhouse Cuban national team, is on the verge of big things. His biggest fight was against Paul Williams, who had been a longtime pound-for-pound list stalwart. Lara got ripped off in a majority decision loss so horrible that New Jersey officials suspended the three judges assigned to the bout. Lara has fought twice since, crushing Ronald Hearns in one round and dominating Freddy Hernandez. He has another big test that will go a long way toward showing his pound-for-pound worth when he faces fellow top-10 154-pound contender Vanes Martirosyan Nov. 10 for the right to become Canelo Alvarez's mandatory challenger.
• Lucas Matthysse (32-2, 30 KOs): There are few offensive forces in boxing scarier than Matthysse, who usually blasts out his opponents. His two losses were controversial split decisions in the hometowns of quality opponents Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. Since the loss to Alexander in June 2011, Matthysse has looked superb against quality opponents, crushing Humberto Soto in five rounds in June and stopping Olusegun Ajose in the 10th round to win a vacant interim junior welterweight belt Sept. 8. A couple more showings like those against good opponents and Matthysse will crack the list.
• Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs): The former two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist is already one of the most skilled fighters in the world, and he has good two-fisted power to go with it. He makes everything look so easy in the ring. He crushed Rico Ramos in six rounds to win a belt in January and rolled in two defenses, a fifth-round knockout of Teon Kennedy in June and a lopsided decision against Robert Marroquin on Sept. 15. He is definitely on his way to pound-for-pound status. He just needs a few more similarly solid wins.
• Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KOs): Santa Cruz might be a bit of a long shot, but he has a chance because of his overwhelmingly aggressive style. He won a vacant bantamweight belt in June by throwing well over 1,000 punches in a dominant performance against Vusi Malinga, whom I viewed as a legitimate opponent. On Sept. 15, he crushed veteran former flyweight titlist Eric Morel in five one-sided rounds. With regular activity and a significant win or two, he could be right there. Santa Cruz is likely headed for junior featherweight after a November defense. Golden Boy is obviously positioning him to fight the winner of the Abner Mares-Anselmo Moreno fight. If it happens and Santa Cruz were to win, he'd probably find a place in the top 20.