Boxing Pound for Pound Rankings: Canelo Alvarez stakes his claim at the top, welterweights step back
Canelo has never had this strong of an argument after beating another top challenger at middleweight
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.
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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 fromto 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.
|1. Vasiliy Lomachenko||13-1, 10 KOs||Unified lightweight champion||--|
| Loma's wizardry was on full display in a one-punch knockout of mandatory opponent Anthony Crolla in April. The Ukrainian sensation is rumored to be headed toward a shot at a third 135-pound title against Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC strap later this year. |
|2. Canelo Alvarez||51-1-2, 30 KOs|| Unified middleweight champion|
Whether he seeks a big-money trilogy fight against GGG next or moves back up to 168 pounds to chase history, expect Alvarez to call his own shot as the biggest star in the sport. He may also look to unify all four belts at middleweight against Demetrius Andrade.
|3. Terence Crawford||35-0, 25 KOs||Welterweight champion|
| Amir Khan's choice to seek an exit robbed "Bud" of a clean finish to their PPV bout. The problem for Crawford moving forward remains the same as the cupboard within Top Rank/ESPN at welterweight is bare. Creative matches like Khan are fine but at some point Crawford needs to face the best. |
|4. Errol Spence Jr.||25-0, 21 KOs||Welterweight champion|
| Spence showcased the full package in a one-sided win over Mikey Garcia in his PPV debut. Up next are rumors of a summer unification bout with Shawn Porter that further gives Spence the chance to prove himself as the best in boxing's deepest and sexiest division.|
|5. Oleksandr Usyk|| 16-0, 12 KOs|| Undisputed cruiserweight champion|
| The long-awaited heavyweight debut of the slick Ukrainian southpaw will have to wait as injury forced him to pull out of a May bout against Carlos Takam. In winning all four titles at cruiserweight, Usyk proved he was on a completely different level. But he still has much to prove against the big boys. |
| 6. Gennady Golovkin|| 38-1-1, 34 KOs||Middleweight||--|
| A lucrative DAZN deal and a switch in trainers have the 37-year-old Glolovkin feeling refreshed entering a stay-busy fight against unbeaten Steve Rolls in June. Like most fans, GGG is holding out hope he can entice Alvarez into a third showdown. |
|7. Nayoa Inoue|| 17-0, 15 KOs||Junior bantamweight||--|
The Japanese "Monster" continues his assault on a third division when he faces Emmanuel Rodriguez in a 118-pound unification bout as part of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. At just 25, Inoue is among the most dangerous punchers in the sport.
|8. Juan Francisco Estrada|| 39-3, 26 KOs||Junior bantamweight champion|
| At 29, Estrada remains one of the most unsung elite competitors in the sport and went a long way in proving that in April by outpointing 115-pound king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a rematch of their 2018 action classic. Expect a trilogy fight between them to one day be magic. |
|9. Mikey Garcia||39-1, 30 KOs||Unified lightweight champion||--|
| A one-sided loss to Spence after moving up two weight divisions hasn't quieted Garcia's boldness to seek tough matchups. After recently vacating his lightweight title, Garcia has been publicly pushing for a PPV welterweight clash against former champion Danny Garcia.|
|10. Leo Santa Cruz||36-1-1, 19 KOs||Featherweight champion||--|
| Santa Cruz continues to stay busy with big opportunities ahead in such a loaded division. One can hopefully look for a long-awaited unification bout against Gary Russell Jr. before 2019 comes to a close.|
Dropped out: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Honorable mention: Anthony Joshua, Donnie Nietes, Manny Pacquiao, Regis Prograis, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sor Rungvisai, Keith Thurman
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