From Crawford to Usyk : Ranking the seven male undisputed champions

Boxing has witnessed many undisputed champions in its history, yet in this 'four-belt era', only seven men have been able to acquire the status that has eluded many.

Becoming a world champion is often the pinnacle moment of a fighter's career but for many, it is just one step too far.

Only seven men have been able to achieve it. Why haven't there been more you ask Well that can be down to sanctioning fees from governing bodies, mandatory challengers and boxing politics.

Below we rank all seven undisputed champions based on the road they took to earn their legacy in the sport.

7) Jermain Taylor - middleweight

It feels cruel to have to put someone in last place due to the achievement being of such a high magnitude, yet it is Jermain Taylor who has to take the spot.

Taylor became the undisputed champion in 2005 when he won a split decision victory over the then undisputed king Bernard Hopkins.

Coming into the bout the underdog, Taylor was unbeaten with a record of 23-0.

In a fight of two halves - which saw Taylor control the first six while Hopkins dominated the latter rounds, even staggering the man known as 'Bad Intentions' in the tenth - it was Taylor who took the decision.

The judges scored the bout 115-113, 115-113, 112-116, crowning just the second undisputed middleweight champion.

Due to the closeness of the fight, the pair had a rematch although the IBF title was vacated in the process. Taylor won the second encounter, this time more comfortable via unanimous decision.

6) Jermell Charlo - junior middleweight

Next up we have the most recent man to achieve the biggest title there is in boxing as the younger Charlo twin in Jermell unified the 154lb division.

The journey for Charlo began in 2016 when he won his first career world title against US Virgin Islands native John Jackson.

During the fight. 'Iron Man' was actually down on the scorecards before his brutal right hand stunned Jackson claiming the vacant WBC belt in the process - a belt which was vacant following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather.

After three successful defences, Charlo suffered a roadblock in the path to undisputed as he lost his famous green and gold belt to Tony Harrison on points.

However, 364 days later the loss against Harrison was avenged as Charlo stopped his rival in round 11 to reclaim the WBC strap.

In his next bout, the American came face-to-face with the unified WBA and IBF champion Jeison Rosario. The Dominican was making his first defence of his unified belts after snatching them off Julian Williams.

At just 25 years old, Rosario was expected to come and give Charlo a fight, yet after facing the canvas three times by round eight, a jab to the body was the final blow for the now former champion.

After a dominant performance, Charlo was only one belt away from etching his name in history.

On the other side of the super welterweight division, the Argentine Brian Castano who just after winning the WBO belt, immediately headed into the undisputed clash without hesitation.

After a contentious draw in their first fight - in which many had Castano as the victor - the two champions agreed to the rematch 10 months later.

In a back-and-forth contest which saw the fighters trade blows throughout 10 action-packed rounds, a right hook into the body of Castano saw his dream of undisputed slip away as Charlo became the king at super welterweight.

5) Terence Crawford - junior welterweight

This may be seen as a controversial one but Terrence Crawford sits fifth on our list. It's important to remember that this list isn't ranking them on their fighting ability but instead their road to undisputed.

This road began for 'Bud' began when he fought for the vacant WBO belt against the Puerto Rican Thomas Dulorme. With Dulorme looking strong in the opening rounds, Crawford upped the pace and stopped him in the sixth round.

It took just two defences before 'Bud' unified the division by beating Viktor Postol to win the WBC championship.

Crawford fought Julius Indongo for all of the marbles in 2017 although he was no challenge for the American, who stopped Indongo inside three rounds.

Despite Crawford now being one of the pound for pound best in the sport, his undisputed run at super lightweight is difficult to put above the last four on the list due to the lack of depth in the 140lbs division at the time.

He will go into top slot though should he face Errol Spence Jr and become the undisputed champion at welterweight.

4) Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez - super middleweight

Before losing to Dmitry Bivol, Canelo sat at the top of everyone's pound for pound list. Despite the loss, the Mexican still holds all the belts in the super middleweight division and will defend them next against Gennadiy Golovkin.

After winning the WBO light heavyweight title against Sergey Kovalev, Canelo came back down to 168 to begin his ventures to super middleweight supremacy which began at the hands of the WBA champion Callum Smith.

Even though the Liverpudlian was the taller man by seven inches, Canelo controlled the fight for the full twelve rounds, pushing his opponent around the ring and even detaching Smith's bicep in the process.

Winning via unanimous decision, Canelo was already halfway to undisputed with the vacant WBC belt also won.

With mandatory Avni Yildirim being rapidly dispatched in three rounds, a Cinco De Mayo weekend fight was announced against the WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders.

Being an elusive southpaw, Saunders had a style that many believed would create problems for Canelo.

Despite having some success within the fight, a nasty uppercut from the Mexican broke the orbital bone of Saunders, and the Brit retired on his stool after the eighth.

Canelo then destroyed Caleb Plant and knocked the American out in round 11 to become the first undisputed king at super middleweight.

3) Bernard Hopkins - middleweight

Bernard Hopkins. The first man to ever hold four belts in a division and the pioneer of the undisputed chase which has motivated boxers of today.

The first stop on the road to undisputed was Quito, Ecuador, the home country of Hopkins opponent Segundo Mercado. The American managed to escape South America with a draw despite being knocked down twice in the bout.

The rematch was set just four months later with Hopkins righting his wrongs and finishing Mercado in the seventh round while picking up the vacant IBF strap. After the loss to Hopkins, the Ecuadorian only won one of his last nine career fights, proving not to be as a tough opponent as he turned out to be during the first fight.

After 12 successful defences on the IBF belt over six years, Hopkins found himself in two consecutive unification bouts. The first of which was a wide points victory win over the WBC strap holder Keith Holmes - who defended his belt against Anthony Joshua's former trainer Rob McCracken in his previous fight.

Yet it was the next unification bout that was seen as his most difficult, as the Puerto Rican Felix Trinidad and Bernard Hopkins met at the famous Maddison Square Garden.

Trinidad was a 40-fight veteran, winning every one of them, hence Hopkins entering the contest as the underdog.

Yet against the odds, it was the 36-year-old American who prevailed over his middleweight counterpart, with a right hook flooring the WBA champion in the twelfth and final round to hand Trinidad his first loss.

At the point of fighting Oscar De La Hoya for the undisputed belts, Hopkins had been a world champion for nine years. But now his crowning moment had arrived, in his way was a six-weight world champion.

Both were icons of the sport, but it was Hopkins who defined his legacy in the MGM Grand. A body shot midway through the ninth round had the Mexican hit the canvas unable to reach the ten count.

Bernard Hopkins had become the first undisputed champion, as well as the oldest man to win all four belts at 39 years of age.

2) Josh Taylor - junior welterweight

In spite of recent controversy regarding his contentious win over Jack Catterall, the prestige of Taylor's road to undisputed is undeniable.

'The Tartan Tornado' won his first world championship in only his 15th fight. After coming through Ryan Martin in the World Boxing Super Series quarter-final, Taylor's reward was a fight with the tough Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk for his IBF belt.

Taylor found a way past 'The Beast' though winning comfortably on points to take the IBF belt and progress into the WBSS final. Regis Prograis was his opponent - the WBA champion.

The fight became a brawl between the two boxers, with it being nominated for Fight of the Year by The Ring in 2019.

With it being a tight fight to score due to the back and forth nature of the bout, the judges edged it to Taylor via a majority decision.

The Scotsman now owned half of the world titles at 140lbs as well as being the winner of the WBSS.

The contest took place in Las Vegas, next door to California - the home state of Ramirez. With Taylor coming into the bout the away fighter, it added onto the pressure.

However, pressure makes diamonds and in May 2020 Taylor became a diamond, knocking down Ramirez twice to go onto win a points victory over the Mexican American.

Taylor's road to undisputed saw him face three undefeated fighters, with the undisputed fight being on the road.

1) Oleksandr Usyk

There was only ever going to be one name at the top of the list.

Oleksandr Usyk's journey to cruiserweight supremacy was one of fairytales. But the now unified heavyweight champion proved why he is the current pound for pound best in the world.

Fresh off his Olympic gold medal in 2012, Usyk won his first world title in his tenth fight, when he fought Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland for his WBO belt.

With a record of 26-0, the Pole was cementing himself as a strong contender in the division, yet Usyk's slick skills were too much for Glowacki to handle with the Ukrainian winning via a wide points victory.

After defending the WBO title three times - including against current heavyweight contender Michael Hunter - Usyk had his toughest career test against the WBC belt holder and current number one in the 200lbs division, Mairis Briedis.

Fighting in Briedis' hometown of Riga in Latvia, it would always be a hard task for Usyk to earn a decision win but he managed to do it, narrowly outpointing Briedis via majority decision.

The final stop on the road to undisputed glory for Usyk was Moscow, Russia, with Murat Gassiev looking to define his legacy.

But in the most dominant performance on his journey at cruiserweight, 'The Cat' dominated the Russian scoring a shutout on one of the cards and dropping just one round on the other two. Usyk held all the belts, and nobody deserved it more.

Usyk won all of his fights on the road as the away fighter - something unheard of and he has continued that by beating Anthony Joshua in London last year to become heavyweight champion.

Latest news