Another month is here, and it’s time to update our big team pound-for-pound list!
Does Naoya Inoue stay in the top spot? Is anyone out, anyone in? Let’s find out! Exclamation points make people think things are exciting!
Bad Left Hook Pound-For-Pound Top 10
The voters: Scott Christ, Wil Esco, John Hansen, Patrick Stumberg, and Lewis Watson.
The total results for Oct. 2022:
Just the Facts: Inoue stays at No. 1, edging Usyk by a slightly closer total than last month; none of Inoue’s votes changed, but Usyk’s stock went slightly up. Others lost some total points but the list largely stays the same. The Bivol and Canelo tie is split now at the fifth and sixth spots, Jaron Ennis has another supporter to push him over Lomachenko, and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez with one fourth place vote replaces Shakur Stevenson, who lost some support.
And now, some personal thoughts from your esteemed panel, and their ballots.
- (1) Oleksandr Usyk, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Terence Crawford, (4) Dmitry Bivol, (5) Errol Spence Jr, (6) Artur Beterbiev, (7) Canelo Alvarez, (8) Jermell Charlo, (9) Vasiliy Lomachenko, (10) Devin Haney
My changes are minor; I switched spots on Beterbiev and Canelo, and I gotta tell you, I’m not tremendously convinced Canelo Alvarez is actually one of the world’s 10 best fighters pound-for-pound anymore. Dmitry Bivol handled him pretty solidly in May, and he didn’t exactly look sensational against a 40-year-old Gennadiy Golovkin.
“But Scott,” some of you might begin with your question, “you thought Canelo vs GGG 3 would be a good fight! Now you are doing flip-flopping!”
I did think that! Then I saw what the fighters looked like in the fight. As much as Golovkin looked aged and a little tentative, Canelo didn’t take the sort of advantage a guy who supposedly still has an argument for the top spot probably should. I think we’ve seen the best days of Canelo come and go; mind you, I still think he’ll have another three to five years fighting at a very high level, and maybe the wrist issue has been a bigger issue than I’m considering. We’ll see in 2023, when we’ll have even more actual new information upon which to base thoughts that change over time.
I dropped Shakur Stevenson. I still think he’s an excellent technician, but he didn’t make weight for the Conceicao fight, and there’s just too much competition for these spots to not take things like that into account at all. Devin Haney arguably should have been here already. Devin Haney arguably should be higher. Devin Haney might deserve to be top five. Anyway, I have him in now.
- (1) Jaron Ennis, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Errol Spence Jr, (5) Terence Crawford, (6) Vasiliy Lomachenko, (7) Canelo Alvarez, (8) Artur Beterbiev, (9) Shakur Stevenson, (10) Dmitry Bivol
After taking some more time to think about it, I’m shuffling up a couple of names for housekeeping purposes — BUT NOT AT THE TOP! As far as I’m concerned, Jaron Ennis is still the best fighter in the world until proven otherwise, and my track record in these discussions is pretty damn exceptional. When I was raving about Errol Spence well before he even was in line for a title shot and blacked up Floyd Mayweather’s eye, everybody told me to pump the brakes. When I was raving about Terence Crawford after his debut appearance on HBO back in 2013, everyone told me to pump the brakes. When I was raving about Josh Taylor and his elite level body attack circa Ohara Davies, everyone said, “Calm down, he hasn’t beaten anybody yet.”
Well, guess what?! Two of those folks have gone on to claim the ever-elusive “undisputed” status while the third is just one belt away. Continue to ridicule my list at your own peril, you non-prognosticators. I’m just ahead of the game
- (1) Naoya Inoue, (2) Oleksandr Usyk, (3) Artur Beterbiev, (4) Jesse Rodriguez, (5) Jaron Ennis, (6) Vergil Ortiz Jr, (7) Dmitry Bivol, (8) Vasiliy Lomachenko, (9) Regis Prograis, (10) Stephen Fulton Jr
Welterweight should be the greatest, most compelling division in boxing right now. Two P4P greats at the top in Terence Crawford and Errol Spence. Three (or four, if you really like Conor Benn) undefeated young talents on the rise. Unfortunately, the entire division has been at a complete standstill for half a year because the two champions can’t agree to a deal to face each other.
With the beltholders uncommitted, guys like Jaron Ennis, Vergil Ortiz, and Eimantas Stanionis are stuck in a holding pattern. Each of them has a position and a case for a mandatory order, so there’s no sense in booking their next fights until Crawford and Spence are confirmed elsewhere. If Spence vs Crawford ever books, I suspect we’ll get a Stanionis vs Ortiz announcement in reasonably short order. Ennis, as a PBC guy, could fight Yordenis Ugas, or maybe Keith Thurman if the scotch tape and Elmer’s glue keeping his hands together is holding up well enough.
But, instead, we have nothing. And it’s all because two guys won’t move forward and give us the fight we’ve all been waiting for anywhere between six months and four years. They won’t move on to anything else, either. Until they do SOMETHING, Spence and Crawford move to P4P-in-recess, and the young talents assume their places.
Tyson Fury says he’s done waiting for Anthony Joshua. He’s going to fight Mahmoud Charr instead. That’s enough for me to accept that it’s time to take him at his previous word and treat him as officially retired. Beating up an old guy with fake hips is a legit next move for a retirement home fighter. Check back next month, and maybe we’ll have Tyson on our P4P bocce or shuffleboard rankings once he really settles in and gets himself through a few games.
Stepping in at No. 10 this month instead is “Cool Boy Steph,” Stephen Fulton Jr. The last spot could have gone a couple of ways, including to potential UNDISPUTED unification opponent Murodjon Akhmadaliev. It might belong to Hiroto Kyoguchi in a few weeks if he beats Kenshiro Teraji. For now, though, it’s Fulton.
My inclusion of Regis Prograis last time wound up the most controversial part of my rankings. Before anyone gets outraged again, please remember that I’ve eliminated six conventional P4P fighters for reasons of personal taste or spite. If you have a list of 16 people you feel are clearly and definitively better P4P fighters than Stephen Fulton? Please feel free to share it in the comments so I can tell you how much righter than me you clearly are.
Hey, What About...?
Devin Haney and Shakur Stevenson are still exceptionally talented, but unentertaining viewing. They remain ineligible under the Rigondeaux Rule.
Canelo Alvarez put on a showcase display of elder abuse this month, made even more impressive by his triumph over the adversity of a repetitive wanking injury. Unfortunately, certain same-day weigh-in requirements that I am contractually forbidden from discussing force his exclusion once again. Maybe next month!
- (1) Naoya Inoue, (2) Oleksandr Usyk, (3) Errol Spence Jr, (4) Terence Crawford, (5) Canelo Alvarez, (6) Dmitry Bivol, (7) Shakur Stevenson, (8) Vasiliy Lomachenko, (9) Artur Beterbiev, (10) Chocolatito Gonzalez
Most of you will look at this and go “well, that sure is a pound-for-pound list.” Those big-brained enough to remember last month’s ranking and/or those bored enough to check it themselves may realize “hey, wait a minute, that’s the exact same list he posted last time,” and you’d be right. Just two of the 10 competed in the last 30 days: Canelo Alvarez and Shakur Stevenson.
Canelo underwhelmed in his trilogy bout with Gennadiy Golovkin, but I’m not sure I can justify knocking him down a peg because he didn’t win as dominantly as he should have. Stevenson, on the other hand, ran over Robson Conceicao in essentially the exact fashion I expected him to. I distinctly remember thinking “He’s going to win nine rounds minimum” and lo and behold, he won nine on two scorecards and 10 on the other. Was that enough to move him past Dmitry Bivol? With all due respect to Conceicao, no. If anything, Stevenson’s win over Oscar Valdez was more impressive and he didn’t miss weight that time.
On top of that, none of the borderline fighters just below the top 10 made any moves. The closest was “Bam” Rodriguez, who actually had more trouble than anticipated against the good-but-not-great “Jiga” Gonzalez.
Apologies for the lack of interesting developments. At least the next few months should give us some good material.
- (1) Oleksandr Usyk, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Terence Crawford, (4) Canelo Alvarez, (5) Dmitry Bivol, (6) Errol Spence Jr, (7) Chocolatito Gonzalez, (8) Devin Haney, (9) Jermell Charlo, (10) Artur Beterbiev
In a quiet month it’s tough to justify any real chopping or changing, but Canelo’s inability to dominate on his return to 168 against an over-the-hill “GGG” sees Crawford jump up a spot into the medal positions. If Stevenson didn’t miss weight against Conceicao then it would be easier to warrant a jump into the top 10, and maybe Bam could shove Beterbiev or Charlo from their perches too, but September — in typically quiet form — is a month of treading water.