The Sporting News: Boxing top 12 pound-for-pound list
There was plenty of fiery build-up to Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko and the drama finally coalesced in the ring on May 20. When all was said and done at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Haney was still the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.
Large sections of the crowd chanted “bulls__t”, many fans and experts have reacted angrily since fight night, but the result is in the books. We’ve seen worse decisions in boxing.
Haney, 24, is an excellent talent and entered this fight as a pound-for-pound player. With the official victory, “The Dream” has jumped up one spot.
But what of the man he outpointed?
The 35-year-old Lomachenko boxed brilliantly at times and had the younger man flummoxed and shaken up late in the fight. Given the fact that the decision was disputed and that Lomachenko turned back the years, this display has been recognized as pound-for-pound worthy.
“The Matrix” has entered the mythical pound-for-pound top-12:
Agree or disagree?
MORE: Haney wins the battle but still chasing respect
1. Oleksandr Usyk
- Record: 20-0 (13 KOs)
- Current Titles: IBF, WBA, WBO, and Ring Magazine Heavyweight
A former Olympic champion, an undisputed cruiserweight champion, and the reigning unified heavyweight champion of the world. Usyk, 35, is arguably the finest technician in boxing today, and he’s the complete package. Blessed with rapier hand speed, quick feet, incredible athleticism, and unmatched ring IQ, the Ukrainian wizard holds career-defining wins over Mairis Briedis (MD 12), Murat Gassiev (UD 12), and Anthony Joshua (UD 12, SD 12).
Next fight: When the Tyson Fury fight capitulated, Daniel Dubois, the WBA’s mandatory challenger, became the front-runner. However, when it emerged that Dubois may not be available, rumors spread that former champ Deontay Wilder could be next.
2. Naoya Inoue
- Record: 24-0 (21 KOs)
- Current Titles: Undisputed bantamweight
Is there a more apt nickname in boxing than “The Monster?” From the moment he turned professional, Inoue, 29, possessed crushing punch power, blazing hand speed, and exemplary technique. Now a three-weight world champion, the Japanese star holds signature wins over Emmanuel Rodriguez (TKO 2) and Nonito Donaire (UD 12/ TKO 2).
On December 13, Inoue outclassed Paul Butler (TKO 11) to claim the undisputed bantamweight championship.
Next fight: Moving up to 122 pounds. A matchup with unified champion Stephen Fulton is set for July 25.
MORE: Lomachenko proves his greatness in defeat to Devin Haney
3. Terence Crawford
- Record: 39-0 (30 KOs)
- Current Titles: WBO welterweight
Omaha’s Crawford is one of the most decorated and gifted world champions in boxing today. “Bud” followed world title success at lightweight by becoming the undisputed champion at 140 pounds. Since 2018, the 35-year-old boxer-puncher has been campaigning at welterweight and his performance level remains elite.
Notable triumphs have come against Ricky Burns (UD 12), Yuriorkis Gamboa (TKO 9), Viktor Postol (UD 12), and Shawn Porter (TKO 10).
Next fight: Long-awaited clash with Errol Spence Hr. appears to be on for July 29.
4. Errol Spence Jr.
- Record: 28-0 (22 KOs)
- Current Titles: IBF, WBA, and WBC welterweight
A technically brilliant lefty with an overflowing toolbox, there’s nothing that Spence can’t do in a boxing ring. The 32-year-old Texan is as good on the inside as he is on the outside, and his punch variety is exceptional. Ownership of three-quarters of the governing body belts at 147 pounds has many convinced that “The Truth” is the best welterweight in the world.
Among his top wins are Kell Brook (KO 11), Shawn Porter (SD 12), Danny Garcia (UD 12), and Yordenis Ugas (TKO 10)
Next fight: Long-awaited clash with Terence Crawford appears to be on for July 29.
5. Canelo Alvarez
- Record: 59-2-2 (39 KOs)
- Current Titles: Undisputed super middleweight
Canelo is the biggest star in boxing.
A former champion at super welterweight, middleweight, and light-heavyweight, the Mexican star currently holds all the marbles at 168 pounds. With next to no amateur foundation, Canelo learned on the job as a pro and developed into a well-rounded and skilled competitor. Dmitry Bivol got the best of him in May, but Canelo’s resume is the envy of his peers: Erislandy Lara (SD 12), Miguel Cotto (UD 12), Gennadiy Golovkin (MD 12, UD 12), Daniel Jacobs (UD 12), and Sergey Kovalev (KO 11), to name a few.
Next fight: Having recently defeated John Ryder on Cinco De Mayo weekend, Canelo looks ahead to his Mexican Independence day appearance in September. A Bivol return would appear to be at the forefront of Canelo’s mind.
MORE: Lomachenko prepares to appeal Devin Haney loss
6. Dmitry Bivol
- Record: 21-0 (11 KOs)
- Current Titles: WBA light-heavyweight
He came from out of nowhere and he’s here to stay.
Bivol, 31, was a long-reigning light-heavyweight titleholder when he was drafted in as a sacrificial lamb for boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez. Things didn’t go to plan. The talented and rangy Bivol outclassed the Mexican star over 12 rounds to crash the pound-for-pound list and break free of the pack. In November, the Russian technician impressively outboxed the previously unbeaten Gilberto Ramirez. Bivol also holds victories over Jean Pascal (UD 12) and Joe Smith Jr. (UD 12).
Next fight: Has been linked to a Canelo rematch, but Bivol would prefer that at 168 pounds for all of the Mexican star’s super middleweight belts.
7. Devin Haney
- Record: 30-0 (15 KOs)
- Current Titles: Undisputed lightweight
“The Dream” just outpointed Vasiliy Lomachenko in what is undoubtedly a career-best triumph on paper. However, not everyone was convinced by the unanimous decision win, with many fans calling for an immediate rematch.
The quest for respect continues.
Last year, Haney ventured to Australia for an undisputed title clash with George Kambosos Jr., who had unseated unified champ Teofimo Lopez. Haney, 24, outclassed Kambosos (UD 12) to emerge as the first undisputed lightweight champion since Pernell Whitaker in the late 1980s. The young champ’s speed, skill, judgement of distance, and technical know-how are of the highest calibre.
Other impressive wins include Jorge Linares (UD 12), Joseph Diaz Jr. (UD 12), and a rematch win over Kambosos (UD 12).
Next fight: There have been persistent rumors that Haney will move north to 140 pounds.
8. Tyson Fury
- Record: 33-0-1 (24 KOs)
- Current Titles: WBC heavyweight
Many felt “The Gypsy King” was gone for good when he disappeared from the scene between November 2015 and June 2018. Fury’s first miracle was to lose 140 pounds in weight, which he did before regaining the heavyweight championship of the world.
The Englishman’s height, weight, and dimensions are frequently referenced as the main reason for his success, but that’s blind ignorance – Fury’s ring IQ and fighting heart are beyond reproach. Career-defining wins have come against Wladimir Klitschko (UD 12) and Deontay Wilder (TKO 7, KO 11).
Next fight: The most recent fighter attached to a fight with “The Gypsy King” is unbeaten Australian Dempsey McKean.
MORE: Chantelle Cameron earns her greatest ever triumph
10. Shakur Stevenson
- Record: 20-0 (10 KOs)
- Current Titles: N/A
Stevenson, 25, doesn’t hold a world title at present but don’t let that fool you. The former featherweight and super-featherweight champion is extraordinarily talented and looked excellent in dismantling Shuichiro Yoshino in his lightweight debut. An Olympic silver medallist, Stevenson has adapted brilliantly to the professional ranks and he’s the very definition of a complete fighter.
His best years are likely ahead of him, but the New Jersey-born star already holds impressive victories over Jamel Herring (TKO 10), Oscar Valdez (UD 12), and Robson Conceicao (UD 12).
Next fight: Fans are hoping for a Devin Haney showdown at 135 pounds.
10. Josh Taylor
- Record: 19-0 (13 KOs)
- Current Titles: WBO and Ring Magazine super lightweight
This quick-fisted and gutsy Scotsman rocketed to stardom courtesy of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. During and afterward, the 31-year-old Taylor took on a trio of dangerous and previously unbeaten world titleholders to emerge as the undisputed super-lightweight champion in only his 18th pro fight.
He lost a bit of luster following a poor showing against Jack Catterall, which he pulled out via controversial split decision, but Taylor is now super-motivated to re-establish his credentials. Defining wins include Ivan Baranchyk (UD 12), Regis Prograis (MD 12), and Jose Ramirez (UD 12)
Next fight: Takes on former unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez on June 10 at Madison Square Garden.
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11. Juan Francisco Estrada
- Record: 44-3 (28 KOs)
- Current Titles: WBC and Ring Magazine super-flyweight
Mexican star Estrada successfully marries the blood and guts tenacity of his home country with a cerebral approach to the fight game. A former unified champion at flyweight, “El Gallo” moved up to 115 pounds and has enjoyed considerable success.
He may be closer to the end than the beginning, but the 32-year-old Estrada has already punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame with a plethora of career-defining wins: Brian Viloria (SD 12), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (UD 12), and Roman Gonzalez (MD 12, SD 12) to name a few.
Next fight: There was talk of a fourth fight with friendly rival Roman Gonzalez. Estrada leads 2-1 in the series.
12. Vasiliy Lomachenko
- Record: 17-3 (11 KOs)
- Current Titles: N/A
Following a lackluster showing against rising lightweight force Jemaine Lopez last October, there were many crying out for Lomachenko’s athletic obituary.
Not so fast!
Lomachenko may have lost the decision to undisputed lightweight king Devin Haney on May 20, but he turned in an inspired performance and in the opinion of many he was very unlucky not to have regained the championship.
The same skills that took the Ukrainian wizard to two Olympic gold medals, three professional world titles, and secured victories over Gary Russell Jr. (MD 12), Roman Martinez (KO 5), Nicholas Walters (TKO 7), Guillermo Rigondeaux (TKO 6), and Jorge Linares (TKO 10) are still in evidence.
Next Fight: After he’s rested, one would expect Lomachenko to proactively call out Devin Haney for a rematch. Whether he gets it or not is something else.