Has boxing truly devolved to the point where beating one aged former champion can earn the distinction of being one of the top 10 fighters pound for pound, in the world?
That is exactly the description now being applied to Jeff Horn following his disputed victory over Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium a couple of days ago. It is exactly the sort of description that makes us think that there are only 11 boxers in the world.
Horn has only 18 professional fights to his name. To mention him in the top 10 simply in his weight class, let alone applying the “pound for pound” label, requires a suspension of disbelief that borders on fantasy.
Yet, a well-regarded website, boxrec.com, lists Horn, the new WBO welterweight champion as the top fighter at his weight, ahead of undefeated Keith Thurman, the WBC and WBA welterweight champ, and the unbeaten IBF champ, Errol Spence Jr.
The loss to Horn dropped Pacquiao out of the top 10 pound for pound to 11, number three at his weight class, so perhaps our earlier estimate was askew and there are 12 boxers in the world.
The boxrec.com website has the order, for any weight class, thus: Saul Alvarez, Andre Ward, Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko, Gennady Golovkin, Anthony Joshua, Shinsuke Yamanaka and Jeff Horn.
Many who saw the fight between Horn and Pacquiao expressed incredulity over the outcome, so labeling Horn with the “pound for pound” distinction would seem to be equally controversial. What will happen if the rematch clause in the contract for the recent fight is exercised and Pacquiao, who had Horn bloody, disoriented and teetering in the ninth round, were to finish Horn off, rather than let him escape?
We would have to increase our estimate of the number of boxers to 13 and label Horn 14th.