The boxing landscape is arguably as intriguing as it has ever been.
The past few years have seen heavyweight epics for the ages between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, they have seen Saul “Canelo” Alvarez establish himself as the face of the sport in the eyes of many fans, and they have seen frequent displays of technical brilliance from champions in lighter weight classes.
There have been upsets, title unifications, and there has been no shortage of drama – Anthony Joshua’s defeats by Andy Ruiz Jr and Oleksandr Usyk standing out as prime examples.
All of these fights and results have factored into The Independent‘s own top 10, pound-for-pound rankings for men’s boxers, to be updated monthly.
While there is no exact science to putting together lists such as this, a number of factors have been considered in making the rankings, including each fighter’s overall record, recent record, level of activity and caliber of opposition.
The Independent’s pound-for-pound rankings
10. Teofimo Lopez (16-1, 12 knockouts)
Just about earns a spot in our top 10 despite his recent split-decision loss to George Kambosos Jr – the first defeat of the American’s professional career. Prior to that upset loss, the 24-year-old reigned as WBA, WBO and IBF lightweight champion, with an impressive points victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko in his previous bout marking his standout win from him so far. At his age, the best is surely yet to come.
9. Shakur Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs)
The unbeaten American enters our list following his clinic against Oscar Valdez at the end of April. Stevenson eased to a unanimous decision win against the Mexican, retaining the WBC and WBO super-featherweight titles as a result. At just 24 years old, the best is still ahead of Stevenson, who we expect will only climb our rankings.
8. Vasily Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs)
It was somewhat surprisingly beaten by our former No 10, Lopez, but the 34-year-old has bounced back with two straight wins – most recently against Richard Commey – to maintain his status as one of the best boxers in the world. The Ukrainian southpaw (one of two on this list…) saw off Jorge Linares in 2018 to become WBA lightweight champion and a three-weight title holder, before adding further belts with notable wins against the likes of Luke Campbell and Jose Pedraza.
7. Juan Francisco Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs)
The diminutive Mexican is a two-weight world champion, having obtained the WBA super-flyweight title with his split-decision victory over Roman Gonzalez in March 2021. That win saw Estrada, 31, avenge a 2012 defeat by “Chocolatito”, but its narrow nature meant the old rivals were set to rematch this March, until Estrada had to withdraw due to Covid symptoms. In any case, Estrada’s creative use of angles is one of his standout attributes of him, making him a fun watch each time out.
6. Tyson Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs)
You have eclipsed Anthony Joshua as the household name in British boxing. Fury, 33, returned to the sport in 2018 after three years off due to a long struggle with his mental health. Since then, he has established himself as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, dethroning Deontay Wilder to become WBC champion in the pair’s 2020 rematch, having controversially drawn with the American in their first clash, in 2018.
In October, Fury stopped Wilder for the second fight in a row to retain the belt, which he did again in April by knocking out Dillian Whyte with ease after outboxing his compatriot for the best part of six rounds. A creative fighter who has demonstrated remarkable resilience and heart in the ring, Fury previously held the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles and looks destined to regain them and reign as undisputed champion in the future – as long as he does not commit to retriement .
5. Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19-0)
One of the lesser-known names on this list to the more casual fan, the Japanese does not lack in prowess what he may lack in profile. Inoue has the best stoppage percentage of any fighter on this list, part of what makes him such an exciting fighter to watch – along with his effortless evasiveness, brutal body attacks, and frightening level of output. At 28, the WBA and IBF bantamweight champion – who has also held titles in two other weight classes – has plenty left ahead of him.
4. Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22 KOs)
The American has not been the most active fighter in recent years, but he has been slowly building a fine summary. Spence Jr holds impressive wins against the likes of Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia and Carlos Ocampo. The southpaw stopped the latter, as well as notably finishing Kell Brook on the Briton’s home turf earlier in his career, and a canceled clash with Manny Pacquiao would surely have built up Spence even further had it come to fruition.
Last time out, the 32-year-old beat Yordenis Ugas by brutalizing the Cuban’s eye, collecting another welterweight belt and rising two spots in our rankings in the process. If he can increase his activity from him, Spence will likely only continue to climb here, especially if a long-awaited meeting with Terence Crawford comes to pass and Spence can win …
3. Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs)
Reigned as undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up to heavyweight, where he has since become WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO champion. The Ukrainian, 34, is undefeated and most recently outpointed Anthony Joshua with ease in London to gain those heavyweight titles. The southpaw, a former Olympic gold medalist, is as technical as they come in the heavier weight classes, making a possible match-up with Fury an intriguing prospect down the line.
2. Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs)
The WBO welterweight champion has one of the most impressive resumes in the sport, and it just keeps getting better. Four of the American’s last seven opponents were undefeated before facing him, and all seven were stopped by Crawford – who has a tremendous number of knockout and TKO victories to his name. Wins against big-name boxers Brook and Porter in Crawford’s last two outings have further enhanced the 34-year-old’s profile, especially his victory over the latter last time out.
1. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs)
In the eight years since his sole professional loss – against Floyd Mayweather – the Mexican has established himself as the face of boxing, with wins against Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders and many more of note. The effectiveness of the 31-year-old’s counter-punching, slickness of his head movement and beauty of his body work make him a joy to watch.
Detractors will point to Alvarez’s clenbuterol controversy in 2018 and the fact that a couple of his victories have come via controversial scorecards. Supporters will give more credence to “Canelo”’s admirable level of activity and the great number of formidable foes he has fought and beaten. His three victories for him in 2021 – all stoppages – saw him ultimately become boxing’s first ever undisputed super-middleweight champion. A title holder in four weight classes, the Mexican is now set to return to light-heavyweight to face unbeaten Russian Dmitry Bivol.