The last 12 months have included a lot of great boxing matches, allowing a few fighters to prove that they are among the best in the sport. While a few fights late in the year enabled some boxers to climb up the pound-for-pound rankings, it became clear that a few older fighters are no longer as good as they once were.
Wladimir Klitschko reigned atop the heavyweight division for over a decade, and was a staple on any pound-for-pound list during that time. But he was defeated by Tyson Fury by unanimous decision on Nov. 28, dropping him from the rankings. Miguel Cotto looked like a top-10 boxer after he knocked out Daniel Geale in June, but the 35-year-old can’t be considered among the sport’s elite after his uninspiring effort to Canelo Alvarez.
With 2015 coming to a close, here’s a look at boxing’s top 10 pound-for-pound fighters at the end of the year.
1) Gennady "GGG" Golovkin 34-0 (31 KOs), middleweight
Golovkin entered 2015 as the sport’s most dominant fighter, and he was as good as ever in two bouts this year. He needed less than six full rounds to finish off Willie Monroe Jr., and he won every round of an eight-round knockout over David Lemieux, who was his best opponent to date.
2) Roman Gonzalez 44-0 (38 KOs), flyweight
Gonzalez could easily rank No.1 on this list. His win over Edgar Sosa was one of the most dominant performances by any top boxer in 2015, finishing the fight in less than two rounds. Five months later, a ninth-round TKO of Brian Viloria kept Gonzalez near the top of the rankings.
3) Andre Ward 28-0 (15 KOs), super middleweight
The 31-year-old took a 19 month hiatus before his last fight, but he reminded the boxing world how good he is with a ninth-round knockout of Paul Smith. He could be in for a big 2016, having agreed to fight Sergey Kovalev next year.
4) Canelo Alvarez 46-1-1 (32 KOs), middleweight
The 25-year-old was victorious in one of the best fights of 2015, as well as the second-most anticipated boxing match of the year. He was dominant in his three-round knockout over James Kirkland, and he won a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto, potentially setting up a mega-bout with Golovkin late in 2016.
5) Manny Pacquiao 57-6-2 (38 KOs), welterweight
Pacquiao makes the list despite picking up no wins in 2015. He lost to the best fighter of the last decade in his only bout, but he still remains the best welterweight in the world. He easily defeated Chris Algieri in his last fight, knocking down his opponent six times. His recovery from shoulder surgery is one of boxing biggest storylines entering 2016.
6) Sergey Kovalev 28-0-1 (25 KOs), light heavyweight
The 32-year-old needed just 11 total rounds to win both of his 2015 fights. Knockouts of Jean Pascal and Nadjib Mohammedi make him the best light heavyweight in boxing.
7) Guillermo Rigondeaux 16-0 (10 KOs), super bantamweight
His style might be boring to watch, but there’s no doubting Rigondeaux’s skill. In his one match this year, he was just about perfect, winning every round on two judges’ scorecards in a 10-round unanimous decision over Drian Francisco.
8) Terence Crawford 27-0 (19 KOs), junior welterweight
Loaded with potential, Crawford followed up a big 2014 with an even better 2015, knocking out the likes of Thomas Dulorme and Dierry Jean. After dominating the junior welterweight division, it might be time for Crawford to move up a weight class.
9) Keith Thurman 26-0 (22 KOs), welterweight
Thurman continues to prove that he’s a rising star, defeating Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision and Luis Collazo with a seventh-round knockout. A much-anticipated fight with Shawn Porter in 2016 is on the horizon. Thurman may need a strong showing against the burgeoning Porter to increase his name recognition.
10) Timothy Bradley 33-1-1 (13 KOs), welterweight
After failing to get a win in 2014, Bradley showed why he’s a future Hall of Famer in 2015. He won the WBO welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Jessie Vargas, and he might have set up a third fight with Pacquiao by dismantling Brandon Rios in nine rounds.