Canelo’s Stumble Shakes Up The Pound-For-Pound Opinions

Boxing Scene

It’s been quite the few weeks in boxing lately.

A heavyweight champion winning and (probably not) retiring. A pay-per-view star climbing the ladder for another title and falling hard. And two welterweights who’ve shared title status for years finally making it sound as if a showdown is what both of them actually want.

Precisely the sort of action that sets a guy thinking about pound-for-pound lists.

Given the recent action, it’s only natural that top-10s that had been relatively stagnant for months have suddenly undergone significant change.

And while I of course defer to my collective colleagues for the staff-wide list that represents the site as a whole, it seemed an appropriate time to share my own individual list emblematic of this space.

So, in ascending order… here goes: 

10. Shakur Stevenson: Some have him included already. Some say he’s not done enough. And while I don’t argue that he’s got more to prove, the one-sided demolitions of Jamel Herring and Oscar Valdez tell me all I need to know. This kid’s a star. Plain and simple. And it won’t be long before he’s No. 1.

9. Dmitry Bivol: A couple weeks ago, he was a talented Russian whose biggest win was a well-past-vintage Jean Pascal. Thirty-six life-changing minutes later, he’s ascended far higher in some places than others. As for me, I need to see another big win before he climbs further.

8. Gennady Golovkin: He’s in some. He’s out others. At age 40, he’s an emeritus selection at best. But I figured he’s got enough of a lifetime resume to be included – and now with a third Canelo fight on the horizon he’ll have one more big chance to add a new line to his Canastota plaque. 

7. Josh Taylor: Yes, I think Catterall outpointed him. But the 140-pound king isn’t the first fighter to receive a gift, and I’m not one who believes it was so one-sided to warrant dropping an unbeaten, four-belt champ out of the running entirely. But yes, he’ll need a better performance next time out.

6. Errol Spence Jr.: Two 147-pounders doing just about everything outside of actually meeting in a ring? Gee, where have we heard that before? The good news is that Spence and Crawford seem competitive enough that they’re on the verge of working something out. If they do, it’s 2022’s biggest event.

5. Canelo Alvarez: Sheesh, a guy loses one fight in nine years and drops four spots? That’s about the size of it these days considering how tactically one-sided the bout with Bivol looked. He’ll be a big favorite in the Triple-G trilogy fight, but lord knows where he falls if that doesn’t go as planned come September. 

4. Naoya Inoue: Japan’s a wonderful boxing country, but it’s kind of a shame this guy hasn’t gotten way more exposure on this side of the Pacific. If he had anything close to the promotional push that Pacquiao got, he’d already be a household name. In the meantime, we hardcore fans can enjoy him.

3. Oleksandr Usyk: He was a terrific cruiserweight but count me among the people who believed even a technically inferior Anthony Joshua would be able to impose his will. Man was I wrong. That being said, I’m not sure I’ll totally buy into the Ukrainian as a heavyweight player until he beats AJ again.

2. Terence Crawford: I get the feeling that “Bud” is one of those guys, like Hagler a generation before, that we’ll appreciate far more in a decade or two than we do now. He’s done everything across three divisions. Fought everyone. Beat everyone. And if he adds Spence to the victim list, it only gets better.

1. Tyson Fury: I’ve seen lists where he’s barely a top-10 guy and many where he’s listed behind Usyk. I don’t see it. To these eyes, there’s not a champion in the game today who’s more ahead of the pack in his weight class than Fury is among the big men. A 6-foot-9, 270-pound man who moves that fluidly, boxes that scientifically and punches that hard? This is historic staff we’re seeing, folks. He’s an all-timer.

In my humble opinion, to suggest he won’t whip Usyk or wouldn’t have had his way with many of the division’s highest-profile past champions is to admit you don’t know what you’re looking at.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

No title fights scheduled.

Last week’s picks: None

2022 picks record: 13-5 (72.2 percent)

Overall picks record: 1,222-397 (75.5 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body’s full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

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