The Independent’s pound-for-pound boxing rankings
The Independent’s pound-for-pound rankings
10. Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs)
Juan Francisco Estrada celebrates a 2017 win against Carlos Cuadras
The diminutive Mexican is a two-weight world champion, having obtained the WBA super-flyweight title with his split-decision victory over Roman Gonzalez in March 2021. That win saw Estrada, 33, avenge a 2012 defeat by “Chocolatito”, but its narrow nature meant the old rivals were set to rematch last March, until Estrada had to withdraw due to Covid symptoms. Estrada has since outpointed Argi Cortes and triumphed in his delayed trilogy bout with “Chocolatito” in December, winning a close fight by majority decision. His creative use of angles is one of his standout attributes, making him a fun watch each time out.
9. Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs)
Vasiliy Lomachenko (left) during his fight with Devin Haney in May
The Ukrainian southpaw (one of two on this list…) saw off Jorge Linares in 2018 to become a three-weight title holder, before adding further belts with notable wins against the likes of Luke Campbell and Jose Pedraza. “Loma” was somewhat surprisingly beaten by Teofimo Lopez in 2020, but the 35-year-old bounced back with three straight wins to maintain his status as one of the best boxers in the world. The two-time Olympic champion is in the twilight of his career now, which only made his terrific showing against the next fighter on this list even more impressive. Lomachenko came up narrowly short, but many observers felt that he had won.
8. Devin Haney (30-0, 15 knockouts)
Devin Haney (right) was a unanimous-decision winner against George Kambosos Jr in two fights in 2022
The unbeaten American entered our list following his second straight clinic against George Kambosos Jr. Haney eased to a unanimous-decision win against the Australian on Kambosos’ home turf in June 2022 to become undisputed champion at lightweight, before retaining that status in the pair’s rematch in October – also in Melbourne. Prior to those clashes, Kambosos Jr was undefeated. At just 24 years old, the best is still ahead of Haney, though he must learn from his most recent bout, with Lomachenko in May. It was a fight that Haney won, but not without controversy.
7. Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs)
Dmitry Bivol outpointed Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for a stunning win
Entered our list in May 2022, following his stunning victory over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The Russian remained unbeaten and retained the WBA light-heavyweight title with that result, which he achieved by fighting on the front foot, picking his shots wisely, and almost doubling the output of his opponent. Bivol, 32, won by two points on all three judges’ scorecards, though the margins should have been much wider. A clinical showing that raised the Russian’s profile immensely and likely sets up a rematch with Canelo down the line. Before that, though, Bivol was tasked with getting past the unbeaten Gilberto Ramirez in November. Bivol won on points with an aggressive and sharp performance, which saw him rise from ninth to seventh on our list.
6. Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs)
Tyson Fury after stopping Deontay Wilder again in a heavyweight epic in 2021
Has eclipsed Anthony Joshua as the household name in British boxing. Fury, 34, returned to the sport in 2018 after three years off due to a long struggle with his mental health. Since then, he has established himself as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, dethroning Deontay Wilder to become WBC champion in the pair’s 2020 rematch, having controversially drawn with the American in their first clash, in 2018.
In October 2021, Fury stopped Wilder for the second fight in a row to retain the belt, which he did again in April by knocking out Dillian Whyte with ease and once more in December with a late stoppage of Derek Chisora. A creative fighter who has demonstrated remarkable resilience and heart in the ring, Fury previously held the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles and was looking to regain them in a fight with Oleksandr Usyk this spring. However, the fight – which would have crowned an undisputed heavyweight champion – fell through.
5. Errol Spence Jr (28-1, 22 KOs)
Errol Spence Jr is a former unified welterweight champion
The American has not been the most active fighter in recent years, but he slowly built a fine resume as one of the top welterweights of this generation. Spence Jr holds impressive wins against the likes of Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia and Carlos Ocampo. The southpaw stopped the latter, as well as notably finishing Kell Brook on the Briton’s home turf earlier in his career, and a cancelled clash with Manny Pacquiao would surely have built up Spence even further had it come to fruition.
In July, the 33-year-old finally faced Terence Crawford in a clash five years in the making, where he put his unified titles on the line against the WBO champion. Crawford left Las Vegas with all the belts after stopping Spence in Round 9, in a fight that was nowhere near as close as fans expected.
4. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs)
Saul Alvarez following his stoppage win against Caleb Plant in 2021
In the 10 years since his loss to Floyd Mayweather, the Mexican has established himself as the face of boxing, with wins against Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders and many more of note. The effectiveness of the 32-year-old’s counter-punching, slickness of his head movement and beauty of his body work make him a joy to watch.
Detractors will point to Alvarez’s clenbuterol controversy in 2018 and the fact that a few of his victories have come via controversial scorecards. Supporters will give more credence to Canelo’s admirable level of activity and the great number of formidable foes he has fought and beaten. His three victories in 2021 – all stoppages – saw him ultimately become boxing’s first ever undisputed super-middleweight champion. A title holder in four weight classes, the Mexican failed to add a second light-heavyweight title to his collection when he was outpointed by unbeaten Russian Bivol in May 2022.
That result, which surprised a number of fans, marked just the second defeat of Canelo’s professional career and saw him drop from No 1 in our list to No 4. He rebounded with a decisive points win against ageing rival Golovkin, though that result proved little at this point and only saw him climb one spot here. The ambitious Mexican then defended his super-middleweight belts against John Ryder in Guadalajara, dropping the Briton en route to a decision win that sees him stay put at No 3.
3. Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs)
Oleksandr Usyk (left) has outpointed Anthony Joshua twice in a row
Was the only ever undisputed cruiserweight champion of the four-belt era before moving up to heavyweight, where he became WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion in 2021 by outpointing Anthony Joshua with relative ease. The Ukrainian, 36, is undefeated and most recently beat Joshua on points a second time to retain his heavyweight titles and climb two spots here. The southpaw, an Olympic gold medalist, is as technical and awkward as they come in the heavier weight classes, making a potential match-up with Fury an intriguing prospect – though that bout collapsed this spring. Next up for Usyk is mandatory challenger Daniel Dubois in mid-August.
2. Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs)
Terence Crawford outclassed Errol Spence Jr for eight rounds and stopped him in the ninth
The undisputed welterweight champion has one of the most impressive resumes in the sport, and it just keeps getting better. Five of the American’s last 11 opponents were undefeated before facing him, and all 11 were stopped by Crawford – who has a tremendous knockout ratio. Wins against big-name boxers Brook and Porter in 2020 and 2021 further enhanced the 35-year-old’s profile, especially his victory over the latter, before Crawford stopped David Avanesyan in December 2022.
Then, in July, he schooled Errol Spence Jr in what was widely billed as the fight of the decade, delivering a masterclass to expose a bigger gap between the Americans than anyone had predicted. In beating Spence in Round 9 after scoring three knockdowns, Crawford took his rival’s three titles to become undisputed.
1. Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs)
Naoya Inoue stopping Stephen Fulton in July 2023
One of the lesser-known names on this list to the more casual fan, the Japanese does not lack in prowess what he may lack in profile. Inoue has the best stoppage percentage of any fighter on this list, part of what makes him such an exciting athlete to watch – along with his effortless evasiveness, brutal body attacks, and frightening level of output.
The 30-year-old stopped Paul Butler in December to become undisputed bantamweight champion – and the first Asian boxer to hold four world titles in a weight class at once – having previously held gold at light-flyweight and super-flyweight. However, he vacated his bantamweight belts in January to move up and challenge Stephen Fulton.
In July, Inoue took Fulton apart to hand the American his first pro loss and take his WBC and WBO super-bantamweight titles. As a result, the “Monster” became a four-weight world champion and confirmed his No 1 spot here.
Source: Read Full Article