Boxing Pound for Pound Rankings: Terence Crawford continues ascent; Lomachenko still on top

For anyone who thought it premature to anoint Vasiliy Lomachenko with the status of world's best boxer despite less than a dozen pro fights, his performance in Saturday's lightweight title bout appeared to remove any lingering doubt. 

Lomachenko, 30, added to his string of boxing records by becoming the fastest to win world titles in three separate divisions when he got up off the canvas to finish 135-pound king Jorge Linares at New York's Madison Square Garden. 

Each time the heat in the kitchen was raised by the larger and determined Linares, Lomachenko simply changed the recipe with dazzling feints and sublime footwork to get off counter attacks. 

The dramatic finish in Round 10 was the perfect showcase of what makes the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine great. An unanswered flurry of eight punches, including everything from lead uppercuts to sneaky hooks, landed clean as Lomachenko bobbed and weaved forward before a left hook to the liver left Linares unable to continue.

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Yet for everything Lomachenko flashed in terms of his mesmerizing skill set, it was the intangibles he was forced to show at a weight class two divisions north from where he turned pro that proved to any critics he's more than just a talented frontrunner.  

"Going into this fight, we knew Loma was a huge talent," Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said on Saturday. "After this fight, we know now that he's a fighter."

Lomachenko, who was knocked down for the first time in his career in Round 6, may be the one who ultimately benefits most from his brief battle with adversity. 

"After the fight, I told [Top Rank vice president] Carl Moretti in the ring, 'It's going to be much easier for you to get opponents for me because they all see I'm also a human being,'" Lomachenko said. "What I did was make my promoter's job easier."

His recent rise in weight was largely due to the big names at 126 and 130 pounds avoiding him. What will be interesting to see next for a fighter who has so willingly dared to be great since turning pro is whether he does everything in his power to fight the most dangerous name in his new division: unbeaten WBC champion Mikey Garcia, who has been rumored to be facing IBF champion Robert Easter Jr. in a July 28 unification bout. 

"Lomachenko did good, beat a solid world champion at 135 [pounds]," Garcia told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. "I would love a fight with him. Hope we can make it in the near future."

Late Saturday, Lomachenko reiterated his desire to unify titles against anyone. But Arum, who went through a bitter promotional divorce with Garcia in recent years and revealed plans to bring Lomachenko back on Aug. 25 in Los Angeles, may not be as excited. 

"Mikey Garcia is a worse negotiation than [Donald] Trump is gonna have with the North Koreans," Arum said on Saturday. "I don't have time for negotiations. 

"If [Garcia] wants to fight, let him call me. I'll give him a number. If it's not good, f--- it. I ain't negotiating."

On paper, Garcia represents the toughest challenge for Lomachenko's style considering his patience, technical boxing prowess and thudding power at 135 pounds. In addition to producing a recognized champion at lightweight, a Lomachenko-Garcia bout would decide who is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. 

Garcia recently vacated the junior welterweight title he won from Sergey Lipinets in March in order to focus on unifying titles at lightweight.  

Honorable mentions: Sergey Kovalev, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Anthony Joshua, Murat Gassiev

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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

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