The Sportsman Boxing Power Rankings is a new monthly series ranking boxers on a number of factors to determine the most pivotal names in the fight game. Rather than a pound-for-pound list, the Power Rankings will collate performance, reputation, influence and momentum. Here is our pick for the ten male boxers who sit atop the sport as of right now.
10. Knockout CP Freshmart
Thammanoon Niyomtrong got his unusual moniker through a sponsorship deal with Thai supermarket CP Freshmart. Despite basically being a real-life Duffman, Knockout’s in-ring performances make him a lock for this list.
The consensus best mini-flyweight in the world, Freshmart is unbeaten in 22 fights and has racked up nine defences of the WBA title. After leaving Pongsaklek Sithdabnij needing a clean-up on aisle three in October, he is set to defend his belt against Robert Paradero this month.
9. Devin Haney
The WBC lightweight king defends his title against Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz this weekend, and a win should see him become a fixture of this list in the coming months. ‘The Dream’ is coming off a career-best win over Jorge Linares in his last fight, and at 23 he has some big nights ahead of him. The lightweight division is the perfect place for him, with Vasiliy Lomachenko, Ryan Garcia, Teofimo Lopez, George Kambosos and Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis all lurking.
8. Shakur Stevenson
The 24-year-old took a huge step up in class in his last outing, boxing brilliantly in a statement win over WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring. ‘Fearless’ has been criticised for boxing within himself, but against Herring he opened up and scored an impressive stoppage.
Stevenson is in the list because he has the world at his feet. If he stays at 130 there are mouth-watering fights with Oscar Valdez, Miguel Bertchelt and Kenichi Ogawa on the table. If he moves up to lightweight, there is a litany of box office clashes available with the names listed in the Haney entry.
7. Naoya Inoue
Put simply, Inoue is the most exciting boxer in the world today. A supreme knockout artist, only three men have ever heard the final bell against the ‘The Monster’. After travelling to America for his last two, a pair of knockout victories that put him on a number of western radars, Inoue returns to Japan this month to defend his WBA, IBF and The Ring titles. Opponent Aran Dipaen has never been stopped, but he’s also never fought anyone like Naoya Inoue.
6. Josh Taylor
The first ever four-belt undisputed champion in the history of the junior welterweight division, the 18-0 Scotsman is in a prime position. If he can win his February clash with unbeaten British rival Jack Catterall, the sky's the limit for ‘The Tartan Tornado’.
Taylor scored one of the year’s best wins by a British fighter to unify the titles, knocking Jose Ramirez down twice on the way to taking his WBC and WBO belts.
5. George Kambosos Jr.
A perfect example of how our Power Ranking differs from a pound-for-pound list, the Australian gets into the list by virtue of his stunning upset over Teofimo Lopez. Few gave Kambosos a chance as he travelled to New York, with the consensus being he was simply the latest victim of ‘The Takeover’.
The dazzling Lopez was coming off a career-win over Vasiliy Lomachenko, and on-paper this looked like a stepping stone to another blockbuster bout. But fights aren’t fought on paper, and ‘Ferocious’ knocked Lopez down in the first round before boxing brilliantly to take the split decision. A huge upset win in one of the fights in the year made Kambosos a lock for this list.
4. Oleksandr Usyk
The holder of the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts stunned the boxing world by beating Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September. The former undisputed cruiserweight king has a rematch with ‘AJ’ on the docket next, and a number of exciting possibilities in the future.
A clash with WBC and lineal champion Tyson Fury is arguably the biggest fight in boxing today. A meeting of two unbeaten champions to decide the first-ever undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era is the very pinnacle of what boxing stands for. Joshua will be no easy test, but the rewards for a win are huge for Usyk.
3. Terence Crawford
Critics told ‘Bud’ that he needed a win against a top contender in their prime to truly pass into greatness. So he went and got one. Crawford became the first man to stop two-time welterweight champion Shawn Porter last month, and is now eyeing a fight with IBF and WBC boss Errol Spence Jr.
A fixture in pound-for-pound lists, and a three-weight world champion, it is scary to think there are prime years ahead of Crawford. What he does next could put him in the Hall Of Fame conversation.
2. Tyson Fury
The WBC and lineal champion of the world has transcended his sport in a way no heavyweight king has since Lennox Lewis. After the anonymous 2000s and Klitschko-dominated early 2010s, boxing finally has a heavyweight champion that even your Nan could name.
With the Deontay Wilder business conclusively settled, we can look forward to Fury spreading his wings and solidifying his already-impressive legacy. The Usyk vs Joshua II winner is a natural opponent, but ‘The Gypsy King’ is hoping to fight before that bout takes place. Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce seem to be the front-runners, and both are worthy of a crack at the title. Let’s hope that such a bout is the final roadblock on the path to an undisputed champion.
1. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
An extraordinary twelve months sees ‘Canelo’ sit atop our inaugural power ranking. The achievements are well-known, but they bear repeating. The mighty Mexican has fought four times since last December, winning all four super middleweight title belts and knocking off a mandatory challenger along the way. The activity, and the history-making result of it, is unprecedented in the modern era.
Even for a fighter who makes the impossible seem routine, his next move is a puzzler. ‘Canelo’ is set to move up two divisions to cruiserweight to face WBC champion Ilunga Makabu. If he wins, don’t expect him to spend long basking in the glow of another historic achievement. With David Benavidez still a factor at super middleweight, plus a number of tasty clashes available at light heavyweight, expect more than one big ‘Canelo’ night in 2022.