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Pound For Pound

BoxingScene Pound for Pound Top Ten

By Cliff Rold

1) Saul Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KO)

Age: 30

Current Alphabet Titles: WBA Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses); WBC Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Lineal Titles: Lineal World Middleweight (2015-21, 4 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBC Super Welterweight (2011-13, 6 Defenses); Ring Super Welterweight (2013); WBC Middleweight (2015-17, 2 Defenses; 2018-19, 1 Defense); WBO Super Welterweight (2016-17); IBF middleweight (2019); WBO Light Heavyweight (2019); WBA Middleweight (2018-21, 1 Defense); TBRB/Ring Magazine Middleweight (2015-17, 1 Defense; 2018-21, 1 Defense); Ring Magazine Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 14-1-1, 7 KO (15-1-1, 8 KO including WBA secondary title fights)

Last Five Opponents: Callum Smith (UD12), Sergey Kovalev (KO11), Daniel Jacobs (UD12), Rocky Fielding (TKO3), Gennady Golovkin (MD12, D12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: The end of the Golden Boy/DAZN/Alvarez partnership took a twist into Alvarez fighting on DAZN again after all. The Callum Smith win gave Alvarez a cemented claim as a four-division titlist. The results of the two Golovkin fights make a big impact on Alvarez’s placement. The draw in the first fight and win in the second both have detractors, more for the former. Flip either, or both, into the loss column and this reads a lot different but the official outcomes are what they are. So too is Alvarez’s sheer willingness. As the biggest money draw in the sport right now, Alvarez is in a position to pick and choose few enjoy (or will be again when current promotional and network issues resolve). Because of that, like Leonard, Mayweather, Pacquiao, and other rainmakers before him, the bar of public opinion is often higher for him than his peers and who he isn’t fighting is often an argument against who he is. The bottom line on Alvarez is, from Austin Trout to Erislandy Lara to Golovkin, he has fought the fighters many insisted he would avoid and makes a habit of giving those who earn a bite at the biggest apple around their chance to bare their teeth.

Tie - 2) Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17 KO)

Age: 27

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Bantamweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses); WBA “super” Bantamweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense)

Additional Titles: WBC Light Flyweight (2014, 1 Defense); WBO Super Flyweight (2014-18, 7 Defenses); Ring Magazine Bantamweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 13-0, 11 KO (15-0, 13 KO including WBA secondary title fights)

Last Five Opponents: Jason Moloney (KO7), Nonito Donaire (UD12), Emanuel Rodroguez (KO2), Juan Carlos Payano (KO1), Jamie McDonnell (TKO1)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: While his reign at Jr. bantamweight wasn’t all it could have been, Inoue has been making the most of his prime since moving to bantamweight. Five straight legitimate top ten opponents, five straight wins. It’s the longest current streak of top ten wins in the sport. With a little more luck on the count against Donaire, it could have been five straight top ten stoppages. Regardless, Donaire gave him some scary moments and we learned Inoue is more than an offensive dynamo. Foes who know what sort of frightful finishing pop awaits them now have to reckon with the evidence that Inoue can take as good as he gives and come back harder. Losing a unification bout with Johnriel Casimero to COVID was unfortunate but considering the growing war of words (and tweets), there’s no reason Casimero can’t be revisited now that Inoue and Casimero have cleared their decks.

Tie - 2) Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KO)

Age: 33

Current Alphabet Titles: WBO Welterweight (2018-Present, 4 Defenses)

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Lightweight (2014-15); World/TBRB/Ring Jr. Welterweight (2016-17, 3 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBO Lightweight (2014-15, 2 Defenses); WBO Light Welterweight (2015-17, 6 Defenses); WBC Super Lightweight (2016-17, 3 Defenses); WBA Super Lightweight (2017); IBF Jr. Welterweight (2017)

Record in Title Fights: 15-0, 12 KO

Last Five Opponents: Kell Brook (TKO4), Egidijus Kavaliauskas (TKO9), Amir Khan (TKO6), Jose Benavidez Jr. (TKO12), Jeff Horn (TKO9)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Crawford hasn’t had much interesting to do since moving to welterweight with a knockout of Jeff Horn. Crawford may be the most complete talent in boxing but he’s veritably locked out of the best fights in the class by promotional concerns. Crawford can box from both sides effortlessly, he can punch, and he’s got an old school chip on his shoulder but recent fights didn’t set pulses racing. Others around him are just getting more opportunities against the best in their weight classes. To many eyes, the best fight in the division is Crawford versus Errol Spence. Spence is part of a stacked roster of welterweights and has dangerous options without crossing the street as displayed in his exciting win over Shawn Porter and upcoming clash with Danny Garcia. Will the politics and business structure of boxing keep Crawford from defining fights in his third weight class? Will Crawford be left to look down the scale at the winner of a possible, logical 140 lb. unification between Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor? Or are we now just waiting for a contract to run out to change the game board?

4) Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO)

Age: 30

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Welterweight (2017-Present, 4 Defenses); WBC Welterweight (2019-Present, 0 Defenses)

Previous Titles: None

Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 3 KO

Last Five Opponents: Danny Garcia (UD12), Shawn Porter (SD12), Mikey Garcia (UD12), Carlos Ocampo (KO1), Lamont Peterson (RTD7)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Spence showed real chops against Brook and Peterson and dug deep in a fantastic battle with Porter. With the fight seemingly still up for grabs, a knockdown in round eleven stamped a big unification victory. Spence has never been short on guts. He went on the road to win his first title from a Brook who had never lost at welterweight and Spence got better as the fight moved along. Then he dominated Peterson who had, outside of a blowout loss to Lucas Matthysse, never been an easy out. Spence in his previous two fights handed first career stoppage losses to a Leonard Bundu and Chris Algieri who had taken Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao, respectively, the distance. Mikey Garcia thought he saw something before the fight. Spence arguably didn’t let him see a single winning round. The southpaw can box, has size and speed, can punch, and he knows how to finish. Pegged as the best of the 2012 US Olympic class, Spence let the world know a terrible auto accident took nothing off his fastball in an impressive win over Danny Garcia.

5) Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KO)

Age: 23

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Lightweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Lightweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense); WBA Lightweight “Super” (2020-Present, 0 Defenses); WBO Lightweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 2-0, 1 KO

Last Five: Vasyl Lomachenko (UD12), Richard Commey (TKO2), Masayoshi Nakatani (UD12), Edis Tatli (KO5), Diego Magdaleno (KO7)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Lopez has gone from barely more than a prospect to top of the lightweight division in two quick hops. The ways he did it suggest a ceiling that will only get higher over time. Still only 23, Lopez won his first belt with a devastating knockout of a Richard Commey who had never been stopped. Lopez followed by outworking, outboxing, and ultimately solving one of the best technical packages in the sport. Vasyl Lomachenko made him work for it in the second half of the fight but it wasn’t nearly enough. It announces the arrival at the elite level of a notable crop of blue chip talents around 135 lbs. Who will be the next to join Lopez as the future unfolds?

6) Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KO)

Age: 33

Current Alphabet Titles: None

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Cruiserweight (2018-19, 1 Defense)

Additional Titles: WBA Cruiserweight (2018, 1 Defense); WBO Cruiserweight (2016-19, 6 Defenses), WBC Cruiserweight (2018-19, 2 Defenses); IBF Cruiserweight (2018-19, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 7-0, 3 KO

Last Five Opponents: Dereck Chisora (UD12), Chazz Witherspoon (RTD7), Tony Bellew (TKO8), Murat Gassiev (UD12), Mairis Briedis (MD12)

Next Opponent: TBA 

The Take: As expected, the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist at heavyweight from Ukraine reached the final of the excellent World Boxing Super Series at Cruiserweight. He closed it out in style, turning one of the most anticipated fights of 2018 into a showcase and picking up a rare four-belt unification. That it came in one of boxing’s deepest and most competitive divisions was a bonus. A win over Tony Bellew after the tournament, Bellew having never lost the WBC belt at cruiserweight in the ring, providing a resounding clean out of his era. Usyk’s delayed move into the unlimited class was anti-climactic and the follow-up against Chisora leaves questions about his physical limits above 200 lbs. That’s a small sample. Usyk can set sights on Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua to discover if he is the most viable Cruiserweight threat to the whole heavyweight throne since Evander Holyfield.

7) Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO)

Age: 35

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB Light Heavyweight (2019-Present, 0 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Light Heavyweight (2017-Present, 3 Defenses), WBC Light Heavyweight (2019-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 5 KO

Last Five Opponents: Oleksandr Gvozdyk (TKO10), Radivoje Kalajdzic (KO5), Callum Johnson (KO4), Enrico Koelling (KO12), Isidro Priteo (TKO1)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: One of the heaviest handed battlers in the sport has been snakebit since winning history’s crown with a career best knockout of Gvozdyk. COVID and cancellations have meant a year out of the ring. The impression Gvozdyk last made and has made for most of his professional tenure remains. The best fight on paper in the division would be a showdown with WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol but promotional ties might make it easier to match Beterbiev with the winner of Joe Smith-Maxim Vlasov to add the WBO strap. Either bout would promise significant action for fans.

8) Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28 KO)

Age: 30

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Jr. Bantamweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: WBC Super Flyweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBA/WBO Flyweight (2013-16, 5 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 8-2, 5 KO

Last Five Opponents: Carlos Cuadras (TKO11), Dewayne Beamon (TKO9), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (UD12, L12), Victor Mendez (RTD7), Felipe Orucuta (UD12)

Next Opponent: March 13, 2021 vs. Roman Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KO)

The Take: It’s happening. After eight years, the rematch of the bout that started an era is happening. Chapter ten of the four way rivalry between Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and Carlos Cuadras will unify two of the four belts in what has been arguably boxing’s best weight class, pound for pound, over the last half decade. A win would give Estrada partial unification in his second weight class after winning the WBA and WBO belts from Brian Viloria. The winner of Estrada-Gonzalez II is mandated by the WBC to face Sor Rungvisai in what would be a third turn with the power punching Thai for either. Estrada is tied 1-1 with Sor Rungvisai. It’s comforting to know chapter ten is not the finish line.

9) Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KO; 20-2, 10 KO incl. World Series of Boxing contests)

Age: 32

Current Alphabet Titles: None

Previous Titles: WBO Featherweight (2014-16, 3 Defenses); WBO Super Featherweight (2016-18, 5 Defenses); WBC Lightweight (2019); WBA Lightweight (2018-20, 3 defenses); WBO Lightweight (2018-20, 2 Defenses); Ring Magazine Lightweight (2018-20, 3 defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 13-2, 9 KO

Last Five Opponents: Teofimo Lopez (L12), Luke Campbell (UD12), Anthony Crolla (KO4), Jose Pedraza (UD12), Jorge Linares (TKO10)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Despite the loss to Lopez, Lomachenko remains highly regarded in part because since moving to lightweight he’s done nothing but fight real contenders and also because his form in two divisions prior was fantastic. One would have to go back to the summer of 2017 to find a Lomachenko opponent who was unrated by TBRB or Ring in any division. All of that is small consolation on the heels of a tough defeat but Lomachenko remains one of the best in the world. What division is in store for his future and how will he return from shoulder surgery after the Lopez loss? Lomachenko isn’t a young fighter in any weight class right now.

10) Josh Taylor (17-0, 13 KO)

Age: 30

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Jr. Welterweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses); WBA Super Lightweight (2019-Present, 1 Defenses)

Additional Titles: Ring Magazine Jr. Welterweight (2019-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 3-0, 1 KO

Last Five Opponents: Apinun Khongsong (KO1), Regis Prograis (MD12), Ivan Baranchyk (UD12), Ryan Martin (TKO7), Viktor Postol (UD12)

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: The World Boxing Super Series provided a platform and opponents for Taylor to go from hot rising contender to halfway toward undisputed at Jr. welterweight. The best fight in his division right now would be with the man who holds the other two major alphabet straps, Jose Ramirez. Both took care of business in their last outings to clear the way to make it happen. The winner of that fight if it happens, based on promotional and network alignments, might be staring down the barrel at Terence Crawford sooner than later. Taylor has the sort of foes that could move him up, or down, with a bullet.   

Five More Who Could Easily Be Here: Jermell Charlo, Tyson Fury, Gennady Golovkin, Kazuto Ioka, Manny Pacquiao

Five for the Future: Gervonta Davis, Anthony Joshua, Jose Ramirez, Ken Shiro, Josh Warrington

Contributing Editors: Manouk Akopyan, Jake Donovan, Thomas Gerbasi, Cliff Rold As always, feel free to agree…and disagree. This list is for entertainment purposes only and based purely on imagination, hypotheticals, and conjecture just like every other pound for pound list ever written. Neither it nor any other such list made up of such illusory ingredients should be used to forward corporate agendas of any kind.

That doesn’t make it any less fun to argue about.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at 


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