You’ll typically receive one of two replies when you ask a boxer or trainer about the fabled pound-for-pound rankings: a smile or a giant eye-roll.
Because discussing a pointless list always draws laughter or derision from those who are actually engaging in the sport. Pound-for-pound rankings are a subjective invention with no predetermined standards. They are in no way relevant to how opponents are chosen or champions are chosen. And they don’t (at least directly) increase the pay of boxers.
According to trainer Johnathon Banks, who has worked with future Hall of Famer Gennadiy Golovkin, “pound-for-pound rankings are just views.” “Opinions don’t win [a] championship. What are the requirements? That is a query that hasn’t truly received an answer.
It’s difficult to narrow down the top ten boxers in the world, regardless of weight class, because the finest boxers of today have such a wide range of physiques, fighting styles, and skill sets (including power and defense). Anybody wishing to weigh in on the “pound for pound” discussion—or make their own list—could easily place a higher emphasis on one quality than another fan of boxing.
Terence Crawford, who has a strong case for being No. 1, recently said, “In a way that y’all justify it, y’all don’t look into everything that surrounds a boxer being pound-for-pound.”
Who a fighter has faced, defeated, and who their opponent has defeated is what some people find most important. Others rely their rankings solely on what they perceive with their eyes; they can recognize greatness. Others may place significance on your quickness and ability to take down an opponent. Do you possess any titles? You seem to be after them. Do you only have one skill? Do you have fights more often than once a year?
Social media is beneficial to the media because it keeps people talking. I enjoy it because of that,” says Banks. “Anything that promotes the sport and gets people talking about it is beneficial for it.”
Just avoid involving the boxers themselves. Typically, they are unwilling to participate in the discussion. Crawford stands out as an anomaly because he’ll tell you right away that he’s the best pound-for-pound. A living sports icon, Vasiliy Lomachenko, told us he would never claim to be the best because “I’m too bashful to speak.” Golovkin, on the other hand, has a valid point when he says that it is impossible to compare a lightweight to a light heavyweight or a welterweight to a heavyweight.
“I find it very insane. Everyone is unique, according to Golovkin.
Although ranking the top boxers in each of the sport’s weight classes seems absurd to those who put their safety in jeopardy, Complex Sports can’t resist weighing in.
Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta Davis, Roman “Chocolato” Gonzalez, Artur Beterbiev, Juan Francisco Estrada, and Tyson Fury are on the verge (in no particular order).
10. Jermell Charlo
Titles: WBO light-middleweight, IBF light-middleweight, WBA (Super) light-middleweight
Prior to: N/A
Next matchup: Tim Tszyu vs. TBD
For Jermell Charlo, who has long been acknowledged as one of the sport’s most talented fighters but hadn’t quite put it all together to enter discussions about the best of the best, a slot in the top 10 has been a long time coming. After losing his WBC light middleweight title to Tony Harrison in 2018, Charlo has been committed to become the undisputed global light middleweight champion. He defeated Jeison Rosario and most recently Brian Castao to win all of the division’s championships, avenging his loss to Harrison in 2019 and winning back his WBC title in the process. The WBO has now mandated that Charlo face Tim Tszyu in a championship defense, but before that happens, Charlo has earned his spot in the top 10 after an arduous ascent to elite status. Cameron Hay
9. Dmitry Bivol
Light-heavyweight WBA championship
Prior to: 9
Next match: TBD
Bivol wasn’t even considered for a spot in the top 10 pound-for-pound rankings at the beginning of the year. But if you defeat Canelo Alvarez in a title fight and find a weakness in his defense, you earn a place on the list. Bivol defeated Alvarez by controlling the match’s parameters from the outset, achieving one of the more unexpected victories in recent memory. But Bivol also conveyed a message: he is here to stay, not just to Alvarez but to the entire boxing community. Although a rematch between them is possible in 2023, Alvarez is currently scheduled to take on GGG. Regardless, Bivol has the biggest boxing victory of the year to yet, and his standing is rapidly advancing. Cameron Hay
8. Vasiliy Lomachenko
Lightweight Division Titles: None
Prior to: 8
Next Battle: TBD
In order for someone to become the champion in a fourth weight class, the 33-year-old Ukrainian was demoted from our top rank in late 2019. And after losing to Teófimo López in 2020 for the second time in his career, he was further relegated from the game. But his two fights in 2021 demonstrated that, despite his advanced age, Lomachenko hasn’t begun to exhibit signs of senility, and no other lightweight is capable of performing the feats he achieves in the ring. On December 11, at Madison Square Garden, the three-division champion, one of boxing’s most captivating athletes, battled masterfully once more as he demolished former lightweight champion Richard Commey to win a simple unanimous decision. Currently, Lomachenko is assisting his beloved Ukraine in their conflict with Russia, but if Lomachenko wants to return to the ring later this year, a super fight between the two is possible after Devin Haney defeated George Kambosos to become the undisputed lightweight champion of the world. And he may climb back up these ranks if he managed to defeat Haney. Adams Caparell
7. Josh Taylor
Titles: IBF light welterweight, WBC light welterweight, WBA (Super) light welterweight
Prior to: 7
Next match: TBD
Josh Taylor gave the Tartan Tornado a serious fright on February 26 when he suffered his first career knockdown and barely held onto his four straps. As a result, I pushed him down a few slots. But even if Taylor’s victory was controversially decided by a split vote, I can’t punish her too severely. Two judges gave it to Taylor with scores of 114-111 and 113-112, while the other judge gave Catterall the win with a score of 113-112. 113–112 was my score for Taylor. Despite the lackluster performance, Canelo Alvarez, Devin Haney, and Jermell Charlo are the other three undisputed boxing champions, leaving Taylor as one of just four. The fact that Taylor defeated Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis, Viktor Postol, and Ivan Baranchyk ensures that he is still unquestionably the best 140-pound boxer in the world, despite the fact that he acknowledged he may have put too much pressure on himself before the match with Catterall, who deserves a lot of praise for almost pulling off a major upset. Taylor appears to be finished as a super lightweight, which is okay. What else is there for him to do in the division, barring a desire to challenge Teófimo López? If a Taylor-Terence Crawford mega-match can be held at 147, we’re all in. Additionally, will you kindly forbid Marcus McDonnell from officiating another championship match? He did a terrible job. A. Caparell
6. Terence Crawford
Welterweight Division WBO Welterweight Titles Previously: 5
Next match: David Avanesyan on December 10.
Terence Crawford never misses when he believes he can terminate a fight and goes in for the kill. And on November 20 of last year, that is exactly what occurred in the 10th round of his contest with Shawn Porter. It was quite difficult to move one boxer in front of the other midway through if you were scoring at home. Crawford, who began the bout as one of the toughest and most experienced welterweights in the world, eventually recognized his friend, connected with several brutal body blows, and finished the job. In the end, Bud twice knocked Porter to the ground before Shawn Porter’s trainer and father Kenny Porter stopped the bout. Despite the fact that Crawford caught Porter three years after Errol Spence Jr. had defeated him, some may argue that Crawford appeared more spectacular in his victory over Porter than Spence did. After the fight, which Spence was present to see, Crawford commented, “You see what I did compared to what he did.” There is nothing in the ring that the incredibly talented 34-year-old former undisputed junior welterweight champion can’t accomplish, and the general public likely underestimates his prowess. Crawford promised us before the fight that if he defeated Porter, Porter would earn his respect in the pound-for-pound rankings. A victory against Spence in their next superfight would be more than enough to propel Crawford to the top spot and make him the undisputed world champion in both weight classes, albeit he isn’t quite there yet. A. Caparell
5. Errol Spence Jr.
Weight class: Welterweight
titles: welterweight (IBF), WBC (WBC), and WBA (WBA)
Prior to: 3
Next match: TBD
For Errol Spence Jr., difficulty is nothing. Spence returned to the ring in December 2020 to fight Danny Garcia following a terrifying car accident in which he was able to escape with only minor injuries. Despite not quite looking like the powerhouse who had taken the welterweight division by storm to win the IBF and WBC titles, Spence dominated Garcia with relative ease. He was set to challenge Manny Pacquiao for the WBA (Super) welterweight belt in 2021, but a torn retina again kept him from competing. In April of this year, Spence faced Yordenis Ugás for the WBA (Super) welterweight championship, a bout that Ugás won after stepping in to face Pacquiao in Spence’s place. This time, Spence entered the ring with more questions than answers. Spence aggressively attacked Ugás before winning by a 10th round TKO that left his opponent with a cracked orbital bone, and for the first time since his 2019 title fight with Shawn Porter, Spence looked the part of the finest welterweight boxer in the world. After his most recent performance, there is no disputing that Spence is on the rise. He currently possesses three of the four welterweight championship belts, all of which he has obtained by challenging the incumbent champion. There is no questioning Spence’s resume at 147 pounds, which includes victories over Kell Brook, Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, and Ugás.
The final query for him to address is if, following a meeting with Terence Crawford, he is the undisputed finest welterweight and possibly boxer on the planet. Cameron Hay
4. Devin Haney
WBC lightweight, WBO lightweight, WBA lightweight, and IBF lightweight titles
Prior to: N/A
Next match: TBD
Haney was on the outside looking in the previous time this list was made public despite defeating George Kambosos Jr. to claim the title of undisputed world lightweight champion. It was time for Haney to climb this list and into the top five as he once again dominated Kambosos and kept all of the belts. Haney has all the makings of a star and future great in the sport, and he isn’t avoiding any smoke. He is blessed with superb technical defensive skills and a jab to keep rivals at bay. He has already named Gervonta Davis in his next fight, and there are rumors that he will face Vasiliy Lomachenko. He holds the throne in the lightweight class, which may be the most competitive in boxing right now. And he accepts all opposition. Cameron Hay
3. Canelo Alvarez
Weight class: super middleweight
IBF super middleweight, WBC super middleweight, WBO super middleweight, and super world super middleweight
Prior to: 2
Next conflict: TBD
When one is as dominant as Canelo has been throughout his career, anything less than the top rank might be unexpected. But he still ranks as one of the very best fighters in the world when it comes to the biggest name in boxing. After losing to Dmitry Bivol, Canelo rebounded in a resounding way with a convincing victory against his main opponent Gennady Golovkin, ending the trilogy with two victories and a draw. As 2023 approaches, it’s unclear what the fighter, who has appeared to explore every avenue in his career, will do next. It appears probable that Canelo will face Bivol again at 168 pounds, giving him the chance to maybe revenge his lone defeat aside from his setback to Floyd Mayweather Jr. No matter which path he chooses, Canelo will continue to be the center of attention. Cameron Hay
2. Naoya Inoue
Weight class: bantamweight
WBC bantamweight, IBF bantamweight, and WBA bantamweight
Prior to: 2
Next match: Paul Butler on December 13
The 29-year-old heavyweight known as the Monster is now at the top of the list after going 18-0 in world title contests. The extremely gifted 118-pounder, who won the World Boxing Super Series after defeating future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire in our 2019 Fight of the Year, rose to the top of the list thanks to his brilliance in their rematch. Instilling dread in one of the former nine-time world champions, he stopped Donaire on June 7th by TKO, establishing himself as not only the best bantamweight in the world but also the best fighter pound-for-pound in the sport. Due to Canelo Alvarez’s recent defeat, Inoue was given the opportunity to overthrow him and accomplished so in an impressive manner. Inoue is one of the most dominant fighters in recent memory, and there isn’t much that can be said about him that hasn’t already been said. He has earned his spot among the greatest of the best. Cameron Hay
1. Oleksandr Usyk
titles: heavyweight (WBA), heavyweight (IBF), heavyweight (WBO), heavyweight
Prior to: 6
Next match: TBD
It’s difficult to argue against Usyk for the #1 slot at this moment. In only his third fight in boxing’s most prestigious division, the 2012 Olympic gold winner and former undisputed cruiserweight champion became the unified heavyweight champion of the world. Usyk is unquestionably the best heavyweight fighter in the world pound for pound after defeating Anthony Joshua for the second time. With mega-fights against Tyson Fury and perhaps even Deontay Wilder in the works, Usyk has a greater chance of making huge money and improving his already impressive résumé. Cameron Hay