Pound for Pound: Planet Sport's top 10 male fighters in the world

Boxing has resumed during the pandemic and some of the sport's biggest stars including Fury and Joshua will return to the ring before the end of the year.

Planet Sport Boxing's rankings are based on current fighters in all divisions to date with form, records and achievements taken into consideration.

1) Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2)

DAZN's main man is assessing his options ahead of his first fight since defeating Sergey Kovalev in 2019
DAZN's main man is assessing his options ahead of his first fight since defeating Sergey Kovalev in 2019

The Mexican has to be our number one based on his wins in 2019 and a sole victory in 2020 over Callum Smith to unify the super middleweight division. Despite Smith having the considerable size and reach over Canelo - a natural middleweight - the Mexican delivered his best performance yet to remind the world of his boxing skills following a frustrating 2020 which saw Canelo split from Golden Boy Promotions and the remaining eight fights of his 11-fight deal with DAZN to become a free agent. 

In 2019, fighting on his usual Cinco De Mayo date, Canelo produced a sublime performance to outpoint Daniel ‘Miracle Man’ Jacobs to unify the middleweight division. Major improvements were on show from Canelo, whose head movement and defensive ability saw him outpoint Jacobs without any controversy.

His second fight, which took place in November due to a rumoured knee injury and unsuccessful negotiations, saw Canelo take on veteran Sergey Kovalev at 175-pounds. Moving up two weight divisions, Canelo knocked the Russian out in spectacular style to become just the second Mexican to win a world title at light-heavyweight. In doing so, he is also the country’s first four-division champion to have won all of his world titles above welterweight. 

2) Terence Crawford (36-0)

The American is the current WBO welterweight champion and is set to face Kell Brook next
The American is the current WBO welterweight champion and is set to face Kell Brook next

‘Bud’ is the most exciting American talent out there right now. Some critics will ask, ‘who has he fought’? Those who ask that, have no idea about boxing. Crawford has held multiple world titles at three divisions at lightweight, super-lightweight and welterweight. He is just the seventh fighter in boxing history to hold all four recognised world championships [WBA, WBC, WBO & IBF] - he achieved this at 140-pounds.

The beauty about Crawford is his talent to switch from the orthodox stance to southpaw. After unifying the super-lightweight division, Crawford has gone on to make three defences of his WBO welterweight crown and his standout victory is against Amir Khan. While ‘King’ Khan may not be what he was, it was the first time Khan had been dominated throughout a fight with Crawford nullifying any chance of Khan of unleashing his fast hands in the opening rounds.

The 32-year-old has seemingly gone under the public eye, similar to Gennadiy Golovkin when he was racking up win after win in 2014. Bob Arum’s star is hoping for a unification with Errol Spence Jr. or Manny Pacquiao within the next 12 months to prove his greatness.

3) Naoya Inoue (19-0)

The Japanese superstar won the World Boxing Super Series tournament after defeating Nonito Donaire via unanimous decision
The Japanese superstar won the World Boxing Super Series tournament after defeating Nonito Donaire via unanimous decision

This man is a national hero in Japan. His relentless power has seen him nicknamed ‘The Monster’. Last year was the year Inoue confirmed his status amongst the elite with his World Boxing Super Series triumph. In the semi-finals, Inoue dispatched Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round to collect his eighth consecutive KO to claim the IBF bantamweight strap.

He took on the legendary four-division champion Nonito Donaire in the final, which took place in Saitama, Japan. The fight would go on to become 2019’s Fight of Year with Inoue’s 11th round knockdown helping him earn a unanimous decision to unify the bantamweight division. Inoue demonstrated a championship quality, overcoming a nasty cut above the eye in the fifth to see out victory.

Inoue is an undefeated three-division world champion and at some point this year is expected to face Asian contender Johnriel Casimero in a unification battle for the WBA, WBO, IBF, Ring and lineal belts. At the age of 26, the question is how many weight classes can he go through? Could he become the next Manny Pacquiao? It seems very unlikely he’ll win world titles in eight divisions but another world title at super-bantamweight is highly possible. 

4) Teofimo Lopez - (16-0)

Teofimo Lopez is the only four-belt holder at lightweight and the youngest four-belt holder in boxing history [photo credit: Mikey Williams]
Teofimo Lopez is the only four-belt holder at lightweight and the youngest four-belt holder in boxing history [photo credit: Mikey Williams]

Teofimo Lopez delivered a stunning upset at the age of 23 to dethrone to much-feared Vasyl Lomachenko via unanimous decision. The unified lightweight champion, who holds the WBC Franchise, WBA, IBF and WBO belts, is now considering his next move. The undefeated Brooklyn star has plenty of fights on the table with a Lomachenko rematch, a unification bout with Devin Haney and a move up to 140-pounds against Josh Taylor or Jose Ramirez all viable options.

Based on Lopez's recent comments, a rematch with Loma seems the least likeliest. "For what? F*** him. I won fair and square," said Teofimo to TMZ when asked if he'll give Lomachenko a rematch. "I beat him and everyone wants me to do it again. For what? "I beat him not only at his own game but being off for ten months against the guy that everybody said was pound-for-pound. I think everybody is upset, the ones that do what this rematch.

"Hey, I'm the king now. I've always been the King. I was the underground king. Now I've been crowned," said Lopez.

5) Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2)

The Ukrainian is the quickest three-division male world champion in the sport's history
The Ukrainian is the quickest three-division male world champion in the sport's history

Loma slides down the list from 1 to 5 after defeat to Lopez. The two-time Olympic champion had previously been regarded as the best fighter in the world based on becoming the quickest three-divison champion in the history, destroying Luke Campbell and picking up notable wins over Anthony Crolla, Jorge Linares and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Questions have now been asked as to whether 'father time' has caught up with Lomachenko, who entered the professional circuit with a 396-1 record.

Speaking about the second defeat of his pro career and first in 13 bouts, Lomachenko said: “In the first half of the fight, I think he [Teofimo] got more rounds than I did. “But in the second half of the fight, I took it over and was much better, but I want to go home and review and see.

“I can’t concentrate right now much on it, but I definitely am not agreeing with the scorecards. At the moment, I think, and I thought I was winning the fight, but the results are the results. I’m not going to argue right now. I need to see it.

“I’ll talk with my promoter and manager, and we will discuss, and we’ll make a decision,” added Lomachenko.

6) Errol Spence Jr. (26-0)

Errol Spence is set to make his highly-anticipated return to the ring against former two-division world champion Danny Garcia
Errol Spence is set to make his highly-anticipated return to the ring against former two-division world champion Danny Garcia

A unified welterweight champion, ‘The Truth’ is living up to his much-hyped potential. The first time Spence proved his qualities was in 2017 when he faced England’s Kell Brook. At the time, he was a mandatory challenger to Brook’s IBF title and he certainly earned his stripes as the ‘B side’, defeating ‘Special K’ in his hometown, Sheffield.

The first six rounds were close but Spence took over, outworking Brook and forcing him to quit in the 11th after fracturing his eye-socket. In 2019, Spence manhandled four-weight king Mikey Garcia before unifying the 147-pound division with victory over Shawn Porter in 2019.

However, question marks have been raised as to whether Spence will be able to fight at the same level displayed against the likes of Porter after surviving a horror car crash in December, 2019. For now, we have to presume he still has the same level of speed, power and technical ability. The fight the world wants to see is Spence-Crawford as mentioned earlier but it seems like it’ll be at least 12 months until we see the encounter. 

7) Tyson Fury (30-0-1)

Will Fury retire in two fights time?
Will Fury retire in two fights time?

The Brit has to make the list following his epic victory against Deontay Wilder in February, 2020. Going into the rematch, Fury had racked up successive wins over Tom Schwartz and Otto Wallin in Las Vegas. The rematch between the ‘Gypsy King’ and Wilder was seen as a 50/50 going into the contest with Fury seen as the boxer and Wilder the puncher with a 95% KO rate - the highest of any heavyweight world champion in history.

Fury ripped up the script and with the Kronk influence of SugarHill Steward, Fury stopped Wilder inside seven rounds, producing a relentless beating on foreign shores. Promoter Frank Warren said in his 40 years of being in the business it was the best win he had seen on away soil by a British fighter. To add to this, the lineal champion ended a decade of dominance in 2015 by outpointing Wladimir Klitschko ‘in his backyard’.

His three-year absence and return to the top makes him the unquestionable No.1 heavyweight in the world. A trilogy is expected between the duo after Wilder triggered his rematch clause. Fury has revealed he has two fights left with unified champion Anthony Joshua being his last. 

8) Oleksandr Usyk (17-0)

Usyk celebrates Bellew beating
Usyk celebrates Bellew beating

Usyk would’ve been ranked higher but inactivity has seen him slide down a couple of places. No one can doubt how good the 33-year-old is but due to injuries, he’s fought just once since winning the World Boxing Super Series in 2018.

First of in 2018, he defeated Mairis Briedis in a barnstormer to progress into the final before outpointing Murat Gassiev. Usyk - the first 200-pound fighter to hold all four major world titles - topped 2018 by retiring Tony Bellew. His three fights took place in Latvia, Russia and England, all three locations were his respective opponent’s home turf so it can’t be forgotten.

He may have had just one fight at heavyweight against Chazz Witherspoon but his scheduled bout with a rejuvenated Derek Chisora can prove his heavyweight credentials.

9) Artur Beterbiev (15-0) 

Beterbiev is the current unified light heavyweight world champion and is undefeated from 15 bouts
Beterbiev is the current unified light heavyweight world champion and is undefeated from 15 bouts

If Canelo decides at some point he fancies a return to 175-pounds then Artur Beterbiev could be the defining fight of his legacy. However, Beterbiev himself is creating his own legacy after an incredible 2019. After knocking out Radivoje Kalajdzic in five rounds, he continued his 100% KO ratio in October by stopping Oleksandr Gvozdyk to unify the 175-pound division. The powerhouse is 15-0 and is expected to take on Meng Fanlong next in Quebec City, Canada.

He’s fought all 15 fights in North America with five taking place in the United States. He is currently signed to Top Rank Promotions and features on ESPN although he has showcased his talents on subscription-based platform DAZN, where he went toe-to-toe with Callum Johnson in a thrilling four-round shootout. Beterbiev has an exceptional amateur pedigree having won gold at the European and World championships between 2006-2010. 

10) Josh Taylor (16-0)

The
The "Tartan Tornado" is the current unified junior welterweight champion

The ‘Tartan Tornado’ is a sensational talent who has all the tools to go on and become an all-time great in the game. Taylor is the third WBBS winner to feature in PSB's Pound for Pound list and rightly so, having delivered two stunning performances in 2019. Taylor fulfilled his dreams by winning the IBF super-lightweight title with a convincing win over Ivan Baranchyk. Advancing into the final, the No.2 seed took on No.1 seed Regis Prograis with the WBA, IBF, Ring and Muhammad Ali Trophy up for grabs.

The contest, which got picked up by Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the U.S., lived up to the hype with both men leaving it all on the line. Ultimately, Taylor edged the American out in what was a throwback to how fights used to be back in the day.

Taylor later admitted he fought on despite his vision being hampered from punches thrown by ‘Rougarou’. His next fight with Apinin Khongsong has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus and while it’s not ideal, it’ll give the Scotsman more time to gel with new trainer Ben Davison.

Taylor is now signed to Top Rank Promotions in association with MTK Global, paving the way for him to fight Jose Ramirez - the only other champion at super-lightweight. The world really is his oyster, though, with a potential showdown with Crawford in the pipeline.

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