Somewhat lost in the post-fight debate regarding scoring, last weekend's undisputed lightweight summit was a showcase of pound-for-pound brilliance as unbeaten Devin Haney survived a late surge from former champion Vasiliy Lomachenko to defend his four-pack of titles.
Haney (30-0, 15 KOs), just 24, continued to evolve his game by controlling the first half with body punches and defense. But the young champion's will was severely tested late after the 35-year-old Lomachenko made the adjustments to time Haney in the second half and walk him down with power shots.
Although the scorecards didn't quite deserve the outcries of robbery that followed after such a gutsy effort from Lomachenko, this was the exact test Haney needed at the super-elite level to find out exactly where he's at. And the fact that Haney not only didn't break despite bending late, his resurgence in Round 12 turned out to be the difference in preventing a majority draw.
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With victories over Jorge Linares, Joseph Diaz Jr., George Kambosos Jr. (twice) and now Lomachenko, Haney is building the kind of resume that backs up his status as undisputed king of boxing's hottest division. But as rumors persist regarding a possible re-signing with promoter Top Rank, Haney will have an interesting decision to make about his future.
Already huge for the weight class, Haney said after the victory that he's strongly considering a move up to 140 pounds and would only stay at 135 for the right situation (i.e. big money). If he stays with Top Rank, not only would a Lomachenko rematch make sense but so would a showdown opposite unbeaten two-division champion Shakur Stevenson, who entered the ring for a staredown, which Haney appeared to avoid after the fight.
As for Lomachenko, he reminded boxing fans of his living legend status by proving he's still got it at his age. The best move for the Ukranian wizard, and likely for boxing's uneven reputation regarding judging, would be an immediate rematch.
Using a criteria that takes into account everything from accomplishments to current form, let's take a closer look at the top fighters inside the ring. Below is the latest Pound for Pound rankings update after Haney's win in May.
1. Naoya Inoue
Undisputed bantamweight champion (21-0, 19 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 1
At 29, the Japanese "Monster" is operating at the peak of what is becoming an all-time great career. The three-division champion added undisputed status at 118 pounds to his resume by finishing an overly cautious Paul Butler to become the first four-belt champion in divisional history. Inoue is expected to move up to 122 pounds next, where there are no shortage of elite foes.
UNDISPUTED.— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) December 13, 2022
POUND FOR POUND NO. 1️⃣
All hail @NaoyaInoue_410 🇯🇵👑#InoueButler pic.twitter.com/rPFdeKZy2k
2. Errol Spence Jr.
Unified welterweight champion (28-0, 22 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 2
The only fight that makes sense for Spence is an undisputed showdown with WBO champion Terence Crawford for all four titles. The good news is that talks continue behind the scenes for a possible superfight this summer, which became more likely once talks for a Spence fight against Keith Thurman at 154 pounds died down.
3. Terence Crawford
WBO welterweight champion (38-0, 28 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 3
No one has ever questioned Crawford's talent. But the 35-year-old promotional free agent pulled out of talks to fight Errol Spence Jr. in November for the undisputed welterweight championship. "Bud" scored a thunderous knockout of David Avanesyan in his lone appearance in 2022 as eyes continue to look for the unification matchup.
@blkprimeboxing Beautifully orchestrated KO from beginning to end and @tbudcrawford continue to set the bar… before it’s over we could be talking about one of the greatest of all time!🤴🏾 Bud Crawford pic.twitter.com/koRbMMBJxF— Antonio Tarver Sr. (@AntonioTarver) December 11, 2022
4. Oleksandr Usyk
Unified heavyweight champion (19-0, 13 KOs | Previous ranking: 5
Usyk's professional run has been as decorated as it has been perfect. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion even has a strong argument for best fighter in the sport after defeating Anthony Joshua in their August rematch. Unfortunately for fans, an undisputed title bout against WBC champion Tyson Fury continues to allude Usyk despite how easy it appears to make.
5. Dmitry Bivol
WBA light heavyweight champion (21-0, 11 KOs) | Previous ranking: 6
Criticized at times for playing it safe in the past, Bivol was anything but in his career-making victory over pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez. The 175-pound titleholder was even more explosive in a convincing shutdown of unbeaten Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez in November.
6. Devin Haney
Undisputed lightweight champion (30-0, 15 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 10
Although debate still lingers regarding the scoring, Haney raised his all-around game to a higher level in edging former P4P king Vasiliy Lomachenko in May. Haney's resume is coming together nicely at just 24. Everything from a rematch with Lomachenko, a showdown with unbeaten Shakur Stevenson or even a move up to 140 pounds is possible for Haney's next move.
Take a ringside seat to #HaneyLoma 📲🍿 pic.twitter.com/wIwHFP7aRU— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 21, 2023
7. Tyson Fury
WBC heavyweight champion (33-0-1, 25 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 6
The 34-year-old "Gypsy King" chose to stay active in a largely unnecessary trilogy bout against Derek Chisora in December. The problem now is Fury hasn't shown any signs of actually wanting an undisputed title bout against Oleksandr Usyk as he continues to make seemingly disingenuous accusations at the unified king for avoiding him.
8. Canelo Alvarez
Undisputed super middleweight champion (59-2-2, 38 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 7
The former P4P king is still the undisputed champion of one of the sport's hottest divisions and among the best boxers in the game. But it's clear at 32 that Alvarez is slowing down just a bit, some 18 years into his pro career. A decision win over mandatory foe John Ryder in May confirmed that Alvarez seems determined to secure a Dmitry Bivol rematch at 175 pounds.
9. Gervonta Davis
Secondary lightweight titleholder (29-0, 27 KOs) | Previous ranking: 8
It's about time "Tank" is finally getting his due as one of the most dangerous and well-rounded boxers on the planet. The efficient sniper finished unbeaten Ryan Garcia with a body shot in Round 7 of their April superfight and continues to make a case for being the next breakout star in the sport.
The face of boxing @Gervontaa stops Garcia in round 7 with a VICIOUS body shot 😱 #DavisGarcia pic.twitter.com/8MRrWvBOOQ— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 23, 2023
10. Shakur Stevenson
WBO junior lightweight champion (20-0, 10 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 9
Fresh off of blanking of Robson Conceicao last fall, Stevenson moved up in weight and finished unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino in April to announce himself at lightweight. Although it's likely Stevenson will continue to be avoided, he has declared his hopes of facing Devin Haney next for all four recognized titles.
Dropped out: None
Honorable mention: Vasiliy Lomachenko, Stephen Fulton Jr., Artur Beterbiev, Jermell Charlo, Juan Francisco Estrada