With the start of the new year, it seems like a great time to debut a fresh pound for pound list.
For this list, I will base the rankings more so on accomplishments, however, skills and the ‘eye test’ will also factor in. There will be 10 fighters ranked, and fighters ranked 1 through 5 will have a short summary outlining why I ranked them so highly.
The list will be updated periodically, after there have been a few fights that result in significant changes to the list.
1) Terrence Crawford (Record: 32-0, 23 KO)
Crawford is my choice for the number one spot because he possesses both the resume to back it up, and is arguably the most skilled fighter on this list.
The 2017 Fighter of the Year, Crawford burst onto the scene in 2014 when he went overseas and defeated then champion Ricky Burns in his hometown of Scotland. Since then, he has quality wins over Yuriorkis Gamboa, Viktor Postol (who was coming off of a stoppage against then feared Lucas Matthysse), and Julius Indongo, among others. His most recent fight (against Indongo) took place over the summer, and was highly anticipated for boxing fans.
The anticipation stemmed from the fact that it had all 4 major belts in the junior welterweight division on the line, and the winner (Crawford) would emerge the undisputed champion, something not done in any division in over a decade. Crawford easily dispatched Indongo, stopping the fight with a beautiful body shot.
While Crawford came in as a big favorite against Indongo, this is a testament to how dominant Crawford is. A unified champion in Indongo was not even seen as a challenge for Crawford.
After dominating the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions, Crawford has decided to move up to welterweight, and is now the mandatory for WBO champion Jeff Horn. Most expect Crawford to beat Horn with ease, which would set up a big fight between Crawford and Manny Pacquiao.
Next fight: As previously stated, Crawford is the mandatory challenger for WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn, but it is not signed and it is unclear whether Horn will first make a voluntary defense before facing Crawford.
2) Vasyl Lomachenko (Record: 10-1, 8 KO Victories, 0 KO defeats)
In Crawford’s description, I stated how he is arguably the most skilled fighter on this list. The argument can be made that Lomachenko is even more skilled.
Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist with an amateur record of 396-1, is arguably the greatest amateur boxer of all time. That is why his professional debut was much anticipated, as many saw his skill set as one that could dominate the professional ranks. He has not disappointed thus far in his professional career.
He quickly began competing at a a world class level, fighting for a world title in only his second professional fight. However, he came up just short in defeating an overweight Orlando Salido, who frankly should have been disqualified for low blows.
Despite Salido failing to make weight and throwing an absurd number of low blows, Lomachenko still nearly knocked out Salido, but ultimately lost a close split decision. However, the loss ended up being great for Lomachenko, as it showed him how different the professional game is compared to the amateurs, and showed him that some changes had to be made.
Since that loss, Lomachenko has absolutely dominated top level opposition, making the likes of Gary Russel Jr and Nicholas Walters look average. His most recent fight was a historic matchup with Guillermo Rigondeaux, which was the first ever matchup between two, two-time Olympic Gold medalists.
Lomachenko dismantled Rigondeaux, forcing Rigondeaux to quit. While Rigondeaux was the smaller man, moving up two weight classes, Lomachenko simply was the more skilled fighter. Rigondeaux did not quit because he was getting bullied by a larger fighter, he quit because he was getting embarrassed by a boxer with superior skills, outlined by Rigondeaux landing a measly 8% of punches (via CompuBox).
Rigondeaux was Lomachenko’s 4th consecutive opponent to quit, and the self-given nickname of NoMasChenko seems to be very fitting. It appears Lomachenko will be moving up to lightweight, where a huge fight with Mikey Garcia could eventually take place. That is the fight boxing fans would love to see, and is one of the best fights to make.
While I may agree with someone who argues that Lomachenko is a bit more skilled than Crawford, I believe Crawford is the slightly more accomplished fighter. It is really a coin flip when deciding which of the two is the best pound for pound, both have very strong cases.
Next fight: Nothing is official, but if he does decide to move up in weight, fights with title holders Jorge Linares or Mikey Garcia would be great. A fight with TMT fighter Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis would also be great, but Davis and his team have blatantly stated they have no interest in making the fight.
3) Gennady Golovkin (Record: 37-0-1, 33 KO)
Better known by his initials, GGG is probably the most exciting fighter on this list. Golovkin has become a household name in boxing, mainly due to a streak of 24 consecutive KO victories, many of which were against the top fighters in the middleweight divison. This remarkable streak came to an end, however, when Daniel Jacobs brought GGG to the final bell in a super competitive fight that almost no one expected to go the distance.
Not only did Jacobs survive, he was in the fight, and some fans (not many) even believe Jacobs did enough to win.
Following the Jacobs fight, GGG finally got his wish, a Mega-Fight with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez.
Many thought this fight could be an all-time great bout, and it did not disappoint. The two traded bombs with each other, each landing shots that would have knocked out any other middleweight. Both fighters somehow made it to the final bell, and the judges ruled the fight a (disputed) draw.
With the draw, Golovkin retained his WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles. While most observers felt GGG won, and despite retaining his titles, it looks as though his aura of invincibility is gone. Two fights in a row he has failed to stop his opponent, both fights were close, and both saw him get hit with more big shots than we are accustomed to.
Is this apparent slippage father time’s doing (he is 35 years old, and will be 36 in April) or has GGG looked worse because he is fighting better opposition? A combination of bother factors seems likely, but regardless, Golovkin is still an elite fighter, who has more to his game than just devastating power.
Next fight: While not official, it appears a rematch with Canelo Alvarez is close to being finalized for May 5th, which would be one of the biggest fights in 2018.
4) Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (Record: 49-1-2, 34 KO Victories, 0 KO defeats)
The face of boxing (at least on this side of the pond) Canelo Alvarez is the premier PPV attraction in the post Mayweather/Pacquiao era. Since suffering his only loss to Mayweather, Canelo has improved greatly, going 7-0-1, the most notable of those wins coming against Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto. The one draw came from the previously mentioned fight with Golovkin.
While most (myself included) felt GGG won a decision (I scored it 115-113 GGG), it was a close fight. Reports later surfaced that Canelo had injured his right hand in training camp for GGG, and if that is true, it most certainly would have impacted their first fight.
The rematch is much anticipated, and while fans would love to see it as soon as possible, Canelo is a star and dictates the terms. He only fights two times a year (once in May and once in September), so the earliest we can hope to see the much anticipated rematch with Golovkin is in May.
Next fight: As previously stated, it appears both sides are close to finalizing a Golovkin rematch for May 5th. If that does happen to fall apart, fights with Daniel Jacobs or WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders would be excellent alternatives.
5) Wisaksil Wangek (Srisaket Sor Rungvisai) (44-4-1, 40 KO Victories, 2 KO defeats)
Better known by his alias Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Wangek earned a very controversial majority decision win against then P4P king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez this past March. While most felt Chocolatito did enough to win, the judges appeared to favor Rungvisai’s aggression, the knockdown he earned, and the appearance of Gonzalez taking a beating due to a cut he suffered early from accidental head-butts.
The controversy of the first fight led to the two rematching in September, serving as the main event on a card featuring the top 5 fighters in the super flyweight divison. In the rematch, Rungvisai did not allow a chance for controversy.
From the opening bell Chocolatito appeared very uncomfortable, and was getting hit quite a lot by Rungvisai. Then, in the 4th round, Rungvisai ended the fight with a devastating one punch knockout, retaining his WBC super-flyweight title. The knockout officially ended the reign of Gonzalez as the pound for pound king, and was also awarded knockout of the year.
Next fight: On the undercard of the rematch with Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras fought for the right to be the mandatory for Rungvisai. Estrada came out victorious, and is scheduled to face Rungvisai on February 24th.
6 through 10:
6) Sergey Kovalev (Record: 31-2-1, 27 KO Victories, 1 KO defeat)
Accomplishments: Regained, and is the current WBO Light heavyweight champion. Former unified WBA, IBF and WBO Light heavyweight champion.
Previous Fight: 11/25/17, TKO victory over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy
Next Fight: 3/3/18 against Igor Mikhalkin
7) Naoya Inoue (Record: 15-0, 13 KO)
Accomplishments: Became the WBC light-flyweight champion in his 6th fight. Later moved up two weight classes to the junior-bantamweight (aka super-flyweight) division in his 8th fight. In that 8th fight, he became a 2 divison champion when he won (and still holds) the WBO junior-bantamweight title.
Previous Fight: 12/30/17 TKO Victory over Yoan Boyeaux
Next Fight: While not official, Inoue plans on moving up to the bantamweight divison, which would be his third weight class.
8) Keith Thurman (Record: 28-0, 22 KO)
Accomplishments: Current, unified WBA and WBC Welterweight Champion
Previous Fight: 3/4/17, SD victory over Danny Garcia
Next Fight: While not official, Thurman is in talks with Jessie Vargas for an April fight
9) Mikey Garcia (Record: 37-0, 30 KO)
Accomplishments: Former WBO featherweight champion, Former WBO Junior Lightweight Champion, Current WBC Lightweight Champion
Previous Fight: 7/29/17, UD victory over Adrien Broner
Next Fight: 2/10/18 against IBF champion Sergey Lipinets
10) Errol Spence Jr. (Record: 22-0, 19 KO)
Accomplishments: Current IBF Welterweight Champion
Previous Fight: 5/27/17, KO victory over IBF champion Kell Brook
Next Fight: 1/20/18 against Lamont Peterson