1. Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KO)
With Floyd Mayweather out of the sport — mostly, anyway — and Manny Pacquiao now clearly performing like a shadow of his former self, the top spot belongs to Keith Thurman, the WBC and WBA titleholder. He’s on the shelf for the time being after surgery, but when he’s back, he’s due to rematch Shawn Porter, his WBC mandatory. Thurman’s been crowing about being the best for five years. He can now comfortably claim that he truly deserves to be seen as the top welterweight in boxing.
2. Errol Spence Jr (22-0, 19 KO)
Spence showed elite level ability against Kell Brook, a patience beyond his experience level might lead you to believe at first, power, speed, accuracy, skill. There’s nothing to dislike about Spence, really. The 27-year-old southpaw appears to have all the tools to be the top guy in this division. I give the nod to Keith Thurman for now, but Spence has passed every test with flying colors thus far, and he can still get better.
3. Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KO)
Was competitive with Thurman, still in his prime at 29, and waiting to see what’s next. I expect a light tune-up, in all honestly. Garcia and his father are cautious managing his career, and they don’t take big risks unless they feel the timing is right. Maybe that’s a friendly way to put it.
4. Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 KO)
Yes, I think Shawn Porter would beat Manny Pacquiao. At least the Pacquiao we saw this weekend. Too physical. Too strong. If Jeff Horn, who is no Shawn Porter, could get to Pacquiao at times on sheer strength and size, little linebacker Porter could. In fact, honestly, I think if the very same Pacquiao we saw on Saturday fought Shawn Porter, Porter would have eaten him up and possibly stopped him. He’s too relentless.
5. Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KO)
6. Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KO)
I scored the fight 116-111 Pacquiao. I feel he absolutely deserved the win, and cannot see seven rounds for Horn, let alone an absurd nine. I rewatched the fight. I scored it the same for Pacquiao.
People rant about not listening to punch stats. I didn’t know the punch stats until after the fight. I just thought Pacquiao won the fight. Now that said, I don’t think Pacquiao was very good in that fight. I wouldn’t pick that Manny Pacquiao to beat the four guys ranked ahead of him. I definitely wouldn’t pick Horn to beat the top four I have here, I think they’d all beat him fairly handily. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Horn’s talent, but I did like his effort and his gameness. I also wasn’t impressed with Pacquiao in this fight. He looked like a 38-year-old who didn’t take the fight seriously, and ultimately, he paid for it. He could have done more. He should have done more. The fact that I gave Horn four rounds is a surprise to me, compared to what I expected the fight to be.
Switch them if it makes you feel better. But I don’t think Horn is an elite fighter, and baed on what I saw on Saturday, I don’t think Pacquiao is anymore, either.
7. Kell Brook (36-2, 25 KO)
Brook may not ever fight in this division again, but I don’t want to drop him before he makes a decision. He’s lost two straight, but they were to Gennady Golovkin at 160, and then to Spence, who appears to be a special talent. Both of them broke one of Brook’s eyes, which is also troubling. At 31, Kell is a little older than some might think at first, and he’s now been through a couple of physically damaging losses. I don’t know what he has left going forward, but I don’t write him off.
8. Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KO)
Peterson is 33 and we pretty much know what he is and what he isn’t, but his win over David Avanesyan was solid, and it wasn’t long ago that he arguably should have beaten Danny Garcia. But then he arguably should have lost to Felix Diaz, too. Styles make fights. Nights make fights. Some nights you have more than others. Peterson is in the mix, but unlikely to knock off any of the top dogs.
9. Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KO)
One thing I have to wonder about now: was Pacquiao that much more well-prepared for the Vargas fight, or did Pacquiao-Horn expose Vargas’ limitations in hindsight? Thinking about it for more than a minute, and even just looking back at highlights, Manny was different. He was quicker, sharper, faster against Vargas. Vargas is a bona fide Good Fighter. Not great, but good. He remains a contender in this division.
10. Pick someone!
Sam Eggington? Adrien Broner, whose next fight is at 140? Jose Benavidez Jr? Konstantin Ponomarev? Lucas Matthysse? David Avanesyan? Shit, Andre Berto? Will Tim Bradley come back and get in this race? Maybe Omar Figueroa will become a contender. I don’t know. It’s a race for the No. 10 spot, but I think there’s a real drop after the top four, and another drop after the top nine.