Boxing Pound for Pound Rankings: Canelo Alvarez stakes his claim at the top, welterweights step back

The last decade of boxing's pound-for-pound debate has largely centered around one undisputed name at the top and a group of worthy also-ran's vying one tier below for consideration.

Outside of a brief run in which pundits were split between pay-per-view kings Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao as to who was boxing's best, the duo eventually gave way to the likes of Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez and then Andre Ward, who each had cups of coffee atop the throne. 

But as we enter the start of a new decade, the competition for the top spot is as crowded ever with no shortage of five current fighters holding legitimate arguments as to why they are the best in the world. In many ways, it comes down to preference -- usually in terms of how you grade P4P credentials to begin with and whether you score higher for resume and achievements compared to the eye test of how great a fighter looks right now. 

Respect box? Subscribe to my podcast -- State of Combat with Brian Campbell -- where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week.

One thing that can't be debated, however, is that Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez has never held a greater claim on arguing for the top spot than he does right now, just weeks removed from his unanimous decision win over Daniel Jacobs to unify three of four middleweight titles. 

At 28, Alvarez is firmly within the physical prime of his 14-year career after turning pro as a teenager. But regardless of whether you thought he received preferential treatment from judges during his two bouts with Gennady Golovkin, it's clear that Alvarez's steady evolution into a complete fighter has been nothing short of impressive. 

Alvarez has always been a heavy puncher with great timing who can dig to the body just as successfully as he can snipe from the outside with counter shots. But he has improved tremendously from the standpoints of stamina and defense to become the rare top fighter historically whose critical and commercial appeal is largely one in the same. 

The way in which he efficiently outboxed Jacobs also helped Alvarez further the type of rhetoric that suggests he only wins big fights because judges favor the more popular fighter. Alvarez continues to show there is a reason beyond the hint of corruption that judges so regularly reward him rounds. 

Alvarez typically sacrifices volume to selectively set up his punches. The effect on scoring is that when he lands, he does so both cleanly and powerfully enough to leave an imprint as to who got the better of the round. Add to that a deft ability to swivel his torso and avoid counter shots and it's clear to see that Alvarez has worked hard to create a tool set that works against any type of style. 

Being the biggest star in the sport typically invites extra scrutiny but Alvarez is at a point where even his harshest critics must recognize just how well this superstar has done to evolve his craft. 

Dropped out: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

Honorable mention: Anthony Joshua, Donnie Nietes, Manny Pacquiao, Regis Prograis, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sor Rungvisai, Keith Thurman

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories