The Sportsman Boxing Power Rankings is a 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. Josh Taylor
A sharp drop for ‘The Tartan Tornado’ after he was extremely fortunate to emerge with a points decision over Jack Catterall at the weekend. Taylor keeps his unbeaten record and undisputed super lightweight title intact, but his stock has taken a hit after a below-par display.
Whatever the outcome of the British Boxing Board of Control’s pending investigation into the judging, Taylor could do a lot worse than giving Catterall a rematch. Jack deserves another crack at a title many thought he’d won, and for Taylor it is important to remove any doubt before moving on to the welterweight super-fights he craves.
9. Kell Brook
Your eyes are not deceiving you, this is indeed the March 2022 rankings. ‘Special K’ reminded everyone how much fun he is to watch while dismantling Amir Khan in their thrilling grudge match. Suddenly, the Sheffield man is the name on every fighter’s lips again.
Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn have thrown their hats into the ring for huge domestic dust-ups with Brook, while the fighter himself favours a meeting with Floyd Mayweather. Kell has ruled out retirement, perhaps aware that his name has never been hotter. Look for at least one more big night under the lights before it's all said and done for the 35-year-old.
8. George Kambosos Jr
Kambosos is currently faced with the most unenviable choice in combat sports. Defend his WBA, WBO and IBF lightweight championships against Vasiliy Lomachenko, or face WBC king Devin Haney in an undisputed showdown. He would be an underdog in both fights, as he sizes up the two best lightweights on the planet.
Being an underdog is nothing new for the Australian. He upset Teofimo Lopez to win his titles in November. While he would be up against it fighting Lomachenko or Haney, there is no doubt he belongs at their level.
7. Lawrence Okolie
Britain’s latest cruiserweight sensation looks to have a big 2022 ahead, after winning his first outing of the year. ‘The Sauce’ overcame multiple fouls from Michal Cieslak to win a unanimous decision at the o2 Arena at the weekend.
After the fight, he outlined his intentions to unify his WBO title against WBC boss Ilunga Makabu and IBF champion Mairis Briedis. The latter was present at the fight, and looks the most likely next opponent for the Londoner. Okolie will have to wait for the outcome of the Latvian’s mandatory title defence against Jai Opetaia in April.
6. Artur Beterbiev
The IBF and WBC light heavyweight champion is set to face WBO king Joe Smith Jr in a three-belt unification attraction. The winner of the bout is expected to face WBO mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde in the UK, though Top Rank promoter Bob Arum refuses to rule out Beterbiev or Smith Jr facing Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez beforehand.
The fearsome Beterbiev is 17-0 with 17 knockouts, and is perhaps the most dangerous man in the division. This year, he looks to make that dominance tell in some massive fights. Smith Jr is the perfect way to start what could be a banner year for him,
5. Dmitry Bivol
The winner of the ‘Canelo’ lottery, Bivol will put his WBA light heavyweight championship up against boxing’s pound-for-pound king. The unbeaten 31-year-old is coming off a decision win over Umar Salamov at the tail end of last year. Alvarez will be the defining bout of his 19-fight career.
If Bivol is to make the most of this chance, he’ll have to do it the hard way. ‘Canelo’ has never been stopped, while Bivol has been taken the distance eight times in his career. If the champion is going to retain his title, he will need to box the fight of his life for twelve rounds.
4. Naoya Inoue
The concussive puncher from Japan is reportedly sizing up a rematch of his 2019 Fight of the Year effort with Nonito Donaire. ‘The Monster’ has barely been tested since that classic battle, wiping out three opponents since. Donaire dusted himself off from the points loss to win the WBC bantamweight title and make one successful defence.
Now Donaire looks to unify that belt with Inoue’s WBA, IBF and The Ring titles. The prize is a fitting one for this high-quality match-up. If it happens, this could well be another candidate for this year’s finest bout.
3. Tyson Fury
After much to-ing and fro-ing, Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte is finally in the diary. The British heavyweights will meet on 23rd April for Fury’s WBC and The Ring titles. ‘The Gypsy King’ is taking his mandatory challenger seriously, and has handed his social media channels over to his team to concentrate on training.
The boxing world will be a quieter place without Fury’s witticisms, but he is almost certainly saving some zingers for the press conferences. His meeting with Whyte is sure to be memorable before the two warriors even make it to the ring.
2. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
As detailed in the Bivol entry, ‘Canelo’ has his next fight set in stone. The undisputed super middleweight champion is moving back up to light heavyweight, looking to reclaim the WBA title he took from Sergey Kovalev in 2019.
While nothing is confirmed, most insiders expect this to be the beginning of another divisional conquest. It took ‘Canelo’ under a year to unify the four super middleweight championship belts. It will be some feat if the Mexican manages to take the 175lb division in the same kind of dominant fashion. Watch this space, you might see something historic.
1. Oleksandr Usyk
WBA, IBF and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk has not fought in a boxing ring since our last ranking. In that listing, he was positioned in sixth. Today, we at The Sportsman felt it appropriate to put the Ukrainian star first on our list.
No man on this list has shown more power this month than Usyk. The 35-year-old has joined the Kyiv Territorial Defense, with the aim of defending his country from Vladimir Putin and his forces. The champion joins Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko and Vasiliy Lomachenko as just some of those from the boxing fraternity who have signed up to various armed forces to defend Ukraine.
In truth, every single name mentioned there, and the whole country of Ukraine, deserves this spot at the top of the Power Rankings. Your bravery is inspiring. We are with you.