As boxing lazes through its typically slow summer months, all is predictably quiet on the pound-for-pound front. But rather than put our list in mothballs, we decided to give it a once-over, then look ahead -- way ahead -- at which fighters have the best chance to take ownership of it in the near future. (For a quick refresher on the current order, click here.)
The debate: Which current fighter will eventually climb highest on the P4P list? Rather than fussing with ages or number of fights, the only criteriion for a fighter to qualify is that he must not have already appeared in our ESPN pound-for-pound top 10. That's a mighty deep pool that includes Canelo Alvarez, Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia, Gennady Golovkin, Leo Santa Cruz and many more. (Our apologies, Abner Mares.)
Below, our panel of experts consider the most likely candidates to be boxing's next pound-for-pound star.
Dan Rafael: Adrien Broner
The sky has always been the limit for Broner, who at age 23 has already won world titles in three divisions: junior lightweight, lightweight and welterweight. Granted, he didn't face Superman to get those belts and has, at least for now, skipped the talent-rich junior welterweight division. But his combination of skills, speed and power is obvious, and when he faced solid opponents, such as Paulie Malignaggi and Antonio DeMarco, he won rather handily.
Broner has the physical ability to become an elite fighter. The issue, to me, is whether he can gain the maturity and tunnel-vision focus it takes to not only get there but stay there. He's immature and has been in legal troubles, and the fame and money seem to be going to his head. How far he will go is up to him and whether he can keep himself together outside the ring.
Kieran Mulvaney: Adrien Broner
Two or three years ago, I predicted during a podcast that Broner was the prospect most likely to become the next American boxing superstar. Depending on your perspective, that was either atypically prescient or flattery of a boxer who has turned out to be more sizzle than steak.
He has achieved huge ratings on separate networks and has acquired titles in three weight classes -- although the latter is far less of a feat than it once was. He lacks the technical mastery of his idol, Floyd Mayweather Jr., but his prodigious natural talent has proved more than enough to paper over the holes in his game. The biggest threat to Broner's ascension is probably Broner. His outside-the-ring persona could generously be described as boorish, and his social media accounts should come with antiseptic wipes. But if he keeps his head on straight -- and that's a big if -- he has the talent to reach the top of the heap.
Nigel Collins: Mikey Garcia
This was more a process of elimination than anything else. If Canelo Alvarez beats Mayweather, he's obviously the main man, but I don't think that's going to happen. Broner has a ton of talent, but he seems to be the sort of guy who could ruin his career by doing something stupid.
Gennady Golovkin is arguably the hottest fighter in the world, but his defense isn't as good as his lethal attack. If he's going to be beaten, it will be by someone who can box and punch, and so far he hasn't fought an adversary who can do both at a high level.
Mikey Garcia, on the other hand, is a highly skillful boxer who can end a fight with one or two well-placed shots. He's very relaxed in the ring, takes his time figuring out his opponents and then brings the heat. And the fact that he takes very little punishment will increase his longevity and his chances of making it to the top of the P4P list.
Eric Raskin: Adrien Broner
My selection of Broner comes with the important (and now standard) caveat: This is a young man with some major personality defects to correct, and the possibility of him doing something outside the ring to derail his in-ring career is worrisome. But if he can stay out of trouble, I think he has the best combination of talent and youth to facilitate a climb to the very top of the pound-for-pound list a few years from now.
Fighters such as Gennady Golovkin or Roman Gonzalez might be better at this moment, but Golovkin doesn't have as much time to play with and "El Chocolatito" likely will spend his whole career underrated on pound-for-pound lists. Broner has the profile to be properly rated, the youth to peak when Mayweather is gone and Andre Ward is perhaps fading, and the talent to be special. He has all the speed, power and skill you could ask for. He just needs maturity and, with it, consistency.
Bernardo Pilatti: Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse winner
I can't pick one just yet, but whoever wins the Sept. 14 co-feature on the Mayweather-Alvarez card will settle the matter for me: The next pound-for-pound star is either Lucas Matthysse or Danny Garcia.
Both are elite fighters in top form, and both have recently and soundly beaten A-list opponents on major cards. And when they meet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, everything points toward their stealing the show. Both Garcia and Matthysse -- and especially the winner -- will keep getting those blockbuster fights, which is the only way to reach the P4P pinnacle.
Brian Campbell: Mikey Garcia
There are plenty of young fighters capable of putting together a big enough string of important victories to make an appearance in the pound-for-pound top 10. But to have staying power over an extended stretch of time, it takes a combination of versatile skills, dedication and consistency. It also takes the kind of intangibles a fighter can't fake.
In the case of Garcia, a 25-year-old featherweight titlist, he's got it all. Sure, there's the total package of speed, power and the accuracy of a sniper. But what separates Garcia is the head on his shoulders. With the poise of a veteran a full decade older, Garcia is never in a hurry, nor does he take unnecessary chances. Coming from a household where boxing is the family business, Garcia breaks his opponents down with surgical precision, leaving no limit for how high on the P4P list he can climb.
Jason Langendorf: Gennady Golovkin
All of the cases made above were compelling ones. I'm sold on Broner the fighter, if not the man. And Garcia, truth be told, is a cyborg. You could even throw Alvarez into the conversation for good measure. At 23, he's still getting better. Lots of possibilities, and there is no wrong answer.
But if I had to pick one can't-miss future pound-for-pound star, one fighter with the package of skills, potential and intangibles to eventually snatch the mythical title from Mayweather, it has to be Golovkin. A true boxer-puncher (emphasis on the puncher), he quickly takes measure of his opponents, takes aim and throws ruinous, accurate combinations until the other guy is horizontal.
The quality of Golovkin's defense is still an open question, but we've seen him absorb some punishment (against Gabriel Rosado) and come out the other side. The issues of his broken (albeit improving) English and lack of a natural fan base -- Kazakhstan is not a boxing hotbed, it seems -- won't much matter if he continues mowing down the middleweight division. And with no promotional shackles and a genuine willingness to fight the best in any of three weight classes, the opportunity is there for him to climb the board fast.
Got a beef with one of our experts, or maybe you have your own pick for a future P4P star? Comment below, or use #ESPNP4P in social media settings and we may feature your feedback.