Canelo Dethroned: Who Is Boxing's New Pound-For-Pound King?

Assessing the potential successors to the pound-for-pound throne
14:35, 12 May 2022

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s loss to Dmitry Bivol on Saturday ended not only his nine-year unbeaten run, but also his tenure at the top of boxing’s pound-for-pound list. The Mexican had emerged as the finest fighter on the planet in the wake of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, racking up titles across four weight classes and beating the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs and Callum Smith. But ‘Canelo’ cannot claim to be the best fighter on the planet after he was shown to be the second best fighter in the ring in Las Vegas. So who replaces Alvarez atop boxing’s mountain? Here is a look at the main contenders for the pound-for-pound throne.

Dmitry Bivol

It feels appropriate to start with the man responsible for the fall of ‘Canelo’. The Russian was majestic last weekend, using range, speed and ring savvy to out-fox and out-box his heavily-favoured foe. It was certainly the sort of performance one expects from a P4P claimant.

However, the rest of Bivol’s 20-0 resume is not quite enough to earn him top spot just yet. Pound-for-pound does not function like a boxing championship, and you do not earn the status simply by beating the previous holder. Bivol is an extremely impressive and unbeaten world champion, but he needs two or three more statement wins before he can truly claim to be the best boxing has to offer. A win in the rematch with ‘Canelo’ and a victory over WBC and IBF counterpart Artur Beterbiev would do the trick.

Errol Spence Jr

The WBC, IBF and WBA welterweight champion certainly has the record of a pound-for-pound boss. Wins over Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and last time out against Yordenis Ugas strengthen his claim. The fact he recovered from a major car accident in 2019 with his superb skills intact proves there is steel underneath the silk.

A brilliant technician who is still only 32, his only barrier to the top of the list is the fact he arguably isn’t the best welterweight in the world. There is another possible pound-for-pounder operating at 147 pounds.

Terence Crawford

The WBO welterweight champion is yet to find an opponent who can really challenge him, let alone beat him. Even at the age of 36, when most boxers tend to slow down, ‘Bud’ is blasting out big names like Shawn Porter. Remember how Kell Brook and Amir Khan was one of the biggest British fights of the year. Crawford knocked them both out in ten combined rounds. The three-weight world champion is an utter phenom.

Crawford and Spence’s road to the pound-for-pound top spot runs through each other. As stated before, the P4P designation is not a boxing championship, but it might as well be if this rumoured welterweight clash comes to fruition.


Oleksandr Usyk

The unified heavyweight champion has proven the core tenet of the pound-for-pound phenomenon: that skills trump weight. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion moved up to the banner division and dismantled the far-bigger Anthony Joshua, clinching the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in the process.

The conflict in his home country of Ukraine has understandably kept him out of the ring, but Usyk gets a chance to reiterate his claim as the best boxer in the sport when he rematches ‘AJ’ this summer.

Naoya Inoue

The purists’ choice perhaps, but you can’t argue with the numbers. If the pound-for-pound award was decided on entertainment alone, the explosive bantamweight would be streets ahead. 

A three-weight world champion, never defeated and in possession of tremendous power, Inoue has been nothing short of dominant. A mouth-watering clash with Nonito Donaire this June might end up being the best outing yet from ‘The Monster’.

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