Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao won’t be on the top of the pound-for-pound rankings forever. The lists aren’t moving Mayweather from his perch despite being in jail and no one knowing when his next fight will be, while Pacquiao’s “loss” to Bradley didn’t change too much because it’s hard to ignore the facts of that fight and what everyone saw.

Still, the retirement for both these fighters looms closer and closer. Not because of their abilities or declines, but because they’ve both mentioned quitting and leaving the sport too many times over the last 12 months or so. A few fighters already among the top P-4-P fighters in the world could take their place once they choose to hang up their gloves, or simply start losing.

Nonito Donaire

Before his fight with South African Jeffrey Mathebula and despite being of the lower weight classes, Donaire was a decent pick in my opinion. He’s 29, with a 29-1 record going along with 18 knockouts. He’s fun to watch, he’s got that star quality about him outside the ring and he’s dominated the Flyweight and Bantamweight division for a few years now.

He still has to fight Jorge Arce, Toshiaki Nishioka and Guillermo Rigondeaux to really prove he’s the king at Bantamweight, but there’s also the fear of going up and fighting Yuriorkis Gamboa at Featherweight. Without that move up in weight class and an impressive win, Donaire will always be overlooked when it comes to number one.

Andre Ward

Probably the best option, and being American certainly helps. Ward isn’t the most exciting of fighters, but there’s a chance that after winning the Super Six tournament and proving he is the cream of the crop at Super Middleweight with perfect defense and speed that was too much for anyone who’s faced him (25-0, 13 KO’s) he’ll change his ways to what might be a more crowd pleasing style.

Chad Dawson went down a few pounds after beating Bernard Hopkins to face Ward for his WBA, WBC and Ring belts. With Mayweather inactive and Manny Pacquiao coming off a loss, a win here for Ward just might propel him to the top of the charts, although it depends on Sergio Martinez’ fight with Chavez as well.

Wladimir Klitschko

Don’t shake your head. Klitschko, despite being 36, is more likely to retire after Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather at the current rate of things. He’s every major heavyweight belt except for the one his brother has, and he’ll probably want to wait for Vitali to retire so he’ll have a shot at the title and unifying all major belts. At the state of the heavyweight division, Klitschko can keep on fighting for at least two, three more years, without getting too much wear & tear on his body with the incredibly weak stable of opponents laid at his feet.

Amir Khan

This one is kind of a long shot because of all of the IFs surrounding Khan ability to master his weaknesses, but he has the biggest kind of star quality among all the prospects for the pound-for-pound king unofficial title. Khan is a fighter who’s fun to watch with brilliant hand speed and that go-for-the-knockout mentality which sometimes gets him in trouble. Khan has a lot riding on his next fight with Garcia, which is the key to the return the righteous path which he was derailed off due to the unjust loss to Lamont Peterson. From now on, don’t fight in Washington DC, but you never know how Vegas judges will treat you these days.

Images: Donaire Klitschko Khan