Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Boxing Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Gervonta Davis begins his climb up the top 10; Canelo Alvarez slips down

Fourteen months away from the sport did nothing but sharpen the focus of lightweight superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis.

The 29-year-old Davis, whose career-long layoff included a 44-day prison sentence for violating the terms of his house arrest, looked much more mature inside the ring by patiently shaking off a self-admitted “rusty” start to walk down and finish unbeaten contender Frank Martin with a vicious left cross in Round 8 of their pay-per-view clash last Saturday in Las Vegas. 

There has never been much question about the ability of Davis, or where he might fit in when compared to his pound-for-pound contemporaries. The only thing that has held “Tank” back in the eyes of his critics has been his matchmaking. But after a knockout of Ryan Garcia last April and a thorough dismantling of Martin, Davis is finally starting to make his move within the top 10. 

The best news that came out of Davis’ victory was that he only wants champions and crossover names from here on out, which creates an interesting debate regarding which opponent will be next when one considers his leading options: rematches with Garcia or 140-pound titleholder Isaac “Pitbull” cruz, or unification bouts against lightweight titleholders Shakur Stevenson or Vasiliy Lomachenko. 

All four bouts would be must-see and would draw huge interest from the boxing public. But it’s the Stevenson and Lomachenko fights, in particular, that would do the most for Davis from a critical standpoint moving forward. 

Already in the conversation for the title of “the face of boxing” from a commercial standpoint, Davis relied heavily upon his still underrated IQ and technique to set up and finish a determined foe in Martin. Always an efficient counterpuncher, Davis connected on an absurd 53% of his power shots and 44% of his punches overall as he used pressure and body shots to take away the jab of Martin before routinely pinning him in the corner. 

While there is so much more to Davis’ overall game than he gets credit for, his calling card remains his power. And once Davis was able to routinely touch Martin, his opponent’s output began to wane.

The most dangerous opponent for Davis continues to be himself outside of the ring. But here’s to hoping the dynamic southpaw has his priorities in order because every fight from here on out as he navigates his physical prime has the potential to be a big one.   

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 Davis’ win in June.

Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Oleksandr Usyk

Undisputed heavyweight champion (22-0, 14 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 1

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 before finally getting his undisputed clash against WBC champion Tyson Fury in May. An exciting, split-decision victory made Usyk just the third male boxer to become undisputed champion in two divisions during the four-belt era. 

2. Naoya Inoue

Undisputed junior featherweight champion (24-0, 22 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 2

The four-division champion who has reached undisputed status in at two different weight classes only continued his legendary takeover of the sport by rising from the canvas to finish Luis Nery in their May title bout at the Tokyo Dome. “The Monster” may have endured a brief misstep but he made up for the error by scoring three thrilling knockdowns en route to a sixth-round knockout. Unbeaten mandatory challenger Sam Goodman looks to be next.

3. Terence Crawford

Undisputed welterweight champion (39-0, 29 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 3

If you wondered how great Crawford truly was, his dismantling of Spence in their undisputed title bout provided those answers. Crawford, who proved he would be a handful for any welterweight in history will move up to 154 pounds in August when he challenges WBA champion Israil Madrimov.

4. Artur Beterbiev

Unified light heavyweight champion (20-0, 20 KOs) | Previous ranking: 5

Beterbiev turned away any whispers that he was getting old by dismantling former 168-pound champion Callum Smith in January. With his mandatories out of the way, an undisputed showdown against WBA champion Dmitry Bivol was scheduled for June 1. But the 39-year-old Beterbiev pulled out in May with a ruptured meniscus, which moved the fight to October.

5. Dmitry Bivol

WBA light heavyweight champion (23-0, 12 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 6

Following an incredible 2022, which included a victory over Canelo Alvarez and almost universal acclaim as the fighter of the year, Bivol sat out most of 2023 in hopes of facing unified champion Artur Beterbiev. Their undisputed title clash was set for June 1 until Beterbiev suffered a major injury, forcing Bivol to face replacement Malik Zinad, which he handled with ease.

6. Canelo Alvarez

Undisputed super middleweight champion (61-2-2, 38 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 4

The former P4P king is still the undisputed champion of one of the sport’s hottest divisions and he proved just that by brilliantly outdueling countryman Jaime Munguia in May. That doesn’t mean the Mexican icon stands alone without criticism, however, as the boxing world continues to push for a superfight against two-time champion David Benavidez that Alvarez is outright avoiding.

7. Gervonta Davis

WBA lightweight champion (30-0, 28 KOs) | Previous ranking: 7

Davis’ body-shot knockout of Ryan Garcia in their superfight last April looks even better now that “King Ryan” became the first boxer to drop and defeat former undisputed lightweight king Devin Haney. With a 2023 jail sentence behind him, “Tank” returned in June to obliterate unbeaten Frank Martin. Davis wants champions from here on out, which could mean unification fights against Shakur Stevenson or Vasiliy Lomachenko.

8. David Benavidez

Interim light heavyweight titleholder (29-0, 24 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 9

Frustrated with waiting around for his shot at undisputed 168-pound king Canelo Alvarez, “El Monstro” moved up in weight to outclass former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk in June. Benavidez, who later revealed injuries to both hands during training camp (which may have prevented him from scoring a stoppage), said he’s open to big fights in either division moving forward. 

9. Shakur Stevenson

WBC lightweight champion (21-0, 10 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 8

Although Stevenson limited the hard-punching Edwin De Los Santos to a CompuBox-record over 12 rounds of just 40 punches landed, he was widely criticized for how boring his November victory was in their vacant 135-pound title bout. Stevenson, who turns 27 in June, won a title in a third weight division and will defend it in July at home in Newark, New Jersey, against Artem Harutyunyan. 

10. Tyson Fury

Heavyweight (34-1-1, 25 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 10

Although he looked on his way to overtaking Oleksandr Usyk in their historic, undisputed heavyweight title clash in May, Fury was dropped and nearly stopped in Round 9. The “Gypsy King” went on to lose a split decision in an instant classic and will now heal up before a December  rematch. 

Dropped out: None
Honorable mention: Vasiliy Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez Jr., Juan Francisco Estrada, Devin Haney, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez

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