In the wake of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, it has left open the question of who is the new No. 1 fighter in the world pound-for-pound.
In the panel vote of ESPN.com’s boxing experts released on Wednesday, the honor went to flyweight world champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who is most definitely one of the elite fighters in the world.
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has dominated the division for a decade. He has never ducked an opponent and fought virtually all of the notable heavyweights of his time, except -- for good reason -- his now-retired older brother Vitali.
Klitschko (64-3, 54 KOs), who hasn’t lost since 2004, has won 22 fights in a row, virtually all of them with ease. Not only hasn’t Klitschko lost in more than a decade, he has barely lost any rounds. During his historic title reign he has also:
• Made 18 title defenses (third-most in division history).
• Held the title for more than nine years (second-longest in division history).
• Is 25-2 overall world title fights (across two title reigns).
• When he meets Tyson Fury, who will be the sixth undefeated opponent Klitschko will be facing in his last seven title defenses, on Oct. 24, it will be the 28th world title fight of Klitschko’s career, breaking the division record he shares with Joe Louis.
It is rather surprising that a fighter as accomplished against the best of his time -- who is also superb on offense and defense with an amateur pedigree that included the 1996 super heavyweight Olympic gold medal -- didn’t get more consideration for the top spot. He came in at No. 8 on the new ESPN poll, which I couldn’t disagree with more. I had been voting him No. 2. With Mayweather retiring, I voted him No. 1.
I asked Klitschko about his pound-for-pound standing on a recent media teleconference he was on to talk about the fight with Fury. As usual, Klitschko was polite and handled himself like he always does -- with class. He wasn’t about to start blathering about how he was the best, like a certain recently retired star did with regularity.
“I will never say that,” Klitschko said when asked he thought he deserved consideration to take over Mayweather’s vacated No. 1 spot. “I don't want to compare myself with other guys and I think there's some that do certain thing better than I and have been champions for a couple of years. But otherwise, am I going to be really upset? No.
“I think that there's a lot of people that can make the decisions. There's always somebody that is better than you in certain ways. There’s an old saying: People call you the king, the king doesn't call himself that. Would I be pleased to be called the top pound-for-pound fighter? I guess so. You guys decide who’s going to be the No. 1 pound for pound. That decision is not in my hands.
“I think that I can do certain things better than the others but I think I will let the others decide for me where I'm [ranked]. So I'm totally chill about it and I'm not bothered by that. I do not decide who's going to be pound-for-pound No. 1.
“You can watch me enjoying myself on Oct. 24th at my next match against Tyson Fury and the rest is history. So I definitely will not concern myself with who's going to be pound-to-pound No. 1.”
Spoken like a true king.