Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Boxing Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Canelo Alvarez returns to top three with masterful performance

It turns out that Canelo Alvarez was a man of his word. 

Despite a recent three-fight stretch that saw him looking his age at 33 this deep into a historic 18-year pro career, Alvarez told media and fans alike that he would bounce back in a big way against Jermell Charlo in their September pay-per-view clash for Alvarez’s undisputed super middleweight title.

The Mexican icon proved to be dead on in his prediction as, now fully healthy after left wrist surgery, Alvarez put on a clinic to widely outpoint the timid Charlo. 

Not only did Alvarez have the stamina to fight at a high pace for 12 rounds, seemingly everything he threw was for power and succeeded in backing Charlo up while lowering his output. 

Alvarez has evolved into one of the most well-rounded technicians boxing has seen in many decades and proved he hasn’t lost a step as he routinely countered Charlo’s jabs and wore him down to the arms and shoulders as he hid behind a high guard. 

Although Alvarez didn’t receive the type of pushback from Charlo that critics expected, much of that was due to his own incredible ring generalship as Alvarez proved he was levels above his opponent in terms of fight IQ and execution. 

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Where Alvarez goes next with two fights remaining on his Premier Boxing Champions deal is a hot topic of interest considering everyone from new pound-for-pound king and undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford and rising, unbeaten super middleweight star David Benavidez tops the wish list for most fans. 

It was Alvarez, himself, who declared after the Charlo win that “no one is beating this Canelo” and he might be right, at least as it pertains to his division and lower. Alvarez has previously moonlighted at 175 pounds, defeating Sergey Kovalev for a world title in 2019 before falling to current champion Dmitry Bivol last year. 

But even with the daring skill of Crawford and both the size and output of Benavidez, it’s still Alvarez’s world and everyone else is just existing in it. He’s arguably the most experienced active fighter, in terms of marquee events, and continues to carve out a legacy that will one day see him exclusively known as the best boxer in Mexico’s great history. 

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 Alvarez’s win in September.

Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Terence Crawford

Undisputed welterweight champion (39-0, 29 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 1

If you wondered how great Crawford really was, his dismantling of unbeaten Errol Spence Jr. in their long-awaited undisputed title bout provided the answers we so desperately coveted. Crawford wasn’t just better than Spence, he proved he would be a handful for any welterweight in history. He also hasn’t backed down from his interest in facing Canelo Alvarez at 168 pounds.

2. Naoya Inoue

Unified junior featherweight champion (22-0, 20 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 2

How is it possible that the Japanese “Monster” could capture a title in a fourth weight division while dominating the unified champion Stephen Fulton Jr. and somehow lose his spot in the rankings? The answer is Terence Crawford. That doesn’t mean Inoue hasn’t succeeded in showing us he’s a future all-time great in the making. 

3. Canelo Alvarez

Undisputed super middleweight champion (60-2-2, 38 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 6

The former P4P king is still the undisputed champion of one of the sport’s hottest divisions and he proved against Jermell Charlo in their September PPV that he’s not done yet at 33. Now fully healthy, Alvarez redeemed himself from a trio of ho-hum performances over the past two years with a dominant decision win

4. Oleksandr Usyk

Unified heavyweight champion (19-0, 13 KOs | Previous ranking: No. 3

Usyk’s professional run has been as decorated as it has been perfect. The former undisputed cruiserweight champ scored a pair of resounding victories over Anthony Joshua to unify a trio of heavyweight titles. With Tyson Fury avoiding him, Usyk stopped mandatory opponent Daniel Dubois in August. Usyk and Fury have signed on for a fight to either close 2023 or begin 2024.

5. Dmitry Bivol

WBA light heavyweight champion (21-0, 11 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 4

Criticized at times for playing it safe in the past, Bivol was anything but in 2022 as he overpowered Canelo Alvarez before convincingly shutting down unbeaten Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez. While the sport waits for an undisputed title bout against unified champion Artur Beterbiev, Bivol appears headed toward an Anthony Yarde meeting this fall. 

6. Devin Haney

Undisputed lightweight champion (30-0, 15 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 5

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 24 and he will head north to 140 pounds later this year to challenge WBC titleholder Regis Prograis. 

7. Tyson Fury

WBC heavyweight champion (33-0-1, 25 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 8

Although we will see him next in an October circus fight against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, Fury silenced his critics by agreeing to a December undisputed title showdown against Oleksandr Usyk. Fury will need to stay healthy, however, considering the fights are just two months apart. 

8. Errol Spence Jr. 

Welterweight (28-1, 22 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 7

The former unified welterweight king endured tremendous punishment in a disastrous undisputed title loss to long-time rival Terence Crawford. A full-time move up to 154 pounds is expected for the 33-year-old Spence, who recently activated his immediate rematch clause with Crawford. 

9. Gervonta Davis

Secondary lightweight titleholder (29-0, 27 KOs) | Previous ranking: 9

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. Recently free from prison, Davis is expecting an early 2024 return.

10. Shakur Stevenson

Lightweight (20-0, 10 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 10

Fresh off of blanking Robson Conceicao last fall, Stevenson moved up to lightweight and finished unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino in April. Even though a fight with undisputed king Devin Haney continues to elude him, Stevenson remains a legit threat who returns on Nov. 16 against Edwin De Los Santos for a vacant lightweight title.

Dropped out: None
Honorable mention: Vasiliy Lomachenko, Artur Beterbiev, Jermell Charlo, Teofimo Lopez Jr., Juan Francisco Estrada

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