Oleksandr Usyk conquered Anthony Joshua to take his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles and fly up the pound-for-pound rankings in 2021.
However, he didn’t quite claim top spot in talkSPORT.com’s list, with Canelo Alvarez becoming undisputed champion of the super-middleweight division just a few weeks later.
Usyk was the undisputed WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO cruiserweight world champion, and is now WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion
Canelo is the undisputed WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO super-middleweight world champion
Prior to climbing his way to the top in the sport’s glamor division, Usyk’s cruiserweight run was one of the most impressive achievements any fighter has produced in modern boxing history.
Within the space of just 15 fights, the Ukrainian became the undisputed WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO world champion.
What made the entire campaign more impressive was the fact he did it all on away soil.
When Usyk won his first world title against Krzysztof Glowacki in 2016, he did it in Glowacki’s home country of Poland.
He went on to beat Michael Hunter in America, Marco Huck in Germany, Mairis Briedis in Latvia, Murat Gassiev in Russia and Tony Bellew in the UK.
Now, in just 11 months, Canelo has beaten Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant to claim the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are previous pound-for-pound kings
The pound-for-pound argument is probably one of the most contentious in the sport and every supporter seems to have a unique opinion on it.
Some rank the best fighters in the world based purely on the manner of their performances – how they look.
Some rank them based purely on their résumés and weigh up who has the best recorded wins.
Some take other factors such as activity and official results into account, too, meaning the whole thing becomes one big confusing mess.
Therefore, talkSPORT.com is going to lay out its criteria (based roughly on Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound criteria) for this list right now:
Result – The official result always stands and ultimately trumps the other factors. The other three are all equally important.
Performance – The manner in which a fighter wins or loses.
Résumé – The opponents beaten/titles won.
Activity – How often a fighter is fighting against top level opposition
10. Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs)
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Josh Taylor conquered the super-lightweight division in spectacular fashion, beating Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez – to be crowned undisputed king. Last time out against Jack Catterall though, many felt he was very fortunate to retain his titles from him.
9. Shakur Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs)
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Shakur Stevenson first won the WBO featherweight title at just 22 years of age. He then moved up and dethroned Jamel Herring for the WBO super-featherweight title, and has since outclassed Oscar Valdez to claim the WBC and Ring Magazine crowns at just 24.
8. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KOs)
‘Chocolatito’ was eleven pound-for-pound king having built a 46-0 record as a four-weight world champion. He was dethroned by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but stopped Kal Yafai to become champion again. Although he lost to Juan Estrada, many felt this decision went the wrong way and he has again bounced back with a victory over Julio Cesar Martinez.
7. Vasyl Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs)
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After an historic 396-1 amateur career, double Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko turned pro and jumped straight into world class match-ups. The Ukrainian has since become a three-weight champion, beating the likes of Gary Russell Jr, Nicholas Walters, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jorge Linares, but was dethroned by Teofimo Lopez.
6. Tyson Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs)
After dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, Tyson Fury’s life and career famously spiraled out of control. However, he’s since remarkably turned everything around and returned to stop Deontay Wilder twice and KO Dillian Whyte, re-establishing himself as the best heavyweight in the world.
5. Errol Spence (28-0, 22 KOs)
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Errol Spence is the unified WBA, WBC and IBF welterweight world champion, having won each belt directly from the champion. Spence took titles from Kell Brook, Shawn Porter and Yodenis Ugas, plus also holds dominant wins over Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia.
4. Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19 KOs)
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Japanese three-weight world champion Naoya Inoue has already blasted through the light-flyweight and super-flyweight ranks, and is now a unified king at bantamweight. The 26-year-old conquered the World Boxing Super Series tournament in the 2019 ‘Fight of the Year’ with Nonito Donaire.
3. Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs)
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America’s Terence Crawford has won world titles in three weight classes, including becoming undisputed super-lightweight king. He is yet to face elite opposition, though he recently improved his record by beating Shawn Porter. The WBO welterweight champion ranks highly based on him’s achievements and the manner of his victories, but must unify with Errol Spence if he wants to become pound-for-pound king.
2. Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs)
Oleksandr Usyk cleaned out his entire division, becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion in 16 fights. The Ukrainian won all of his biggest tests in his opponents’ hometowns, traveling to beat Mairis Briedis in Latvia, Murat Gassiev in Russia and Tony Bellew in the UK. He’s now repeating the feat at heavyweight having dethroned Anthony Joshua in London.
1. Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs)
Canelo has a number of impressive names on his win sheet, including the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Miguel Cotto, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders, Callum Smith, Caleb Plant, Erislandy Lara, Shane Mosley, Amir Khan and Austin Trout. While some of those have come with controversy, the Mexican’s undisputed super-middleweight status cements him as our pound-for-pound king.