The boxing landscape is arguably as intriguing as it has ever been.
The past few years have seen heavyweight epics for the ages between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, they have seen Saul “Canelo” Alvarez establish himself as the face of the sport in the eyes of many fans, and they have seen frequent displays of technical brilliance from champions in lighter weight classes.
There have been upsets, title unifications, and there has been no shortage of drama – Anthony Joshua’s defeats by Andy Ruiz Jr and Oleksandr Usyk standing out as prime examples.
All of these fights and results have factored into The Independent’s own top 10, pound-for-pound rankings for men’s boxers, to be updated monthly.
While there is no exact science to putting together lists such as this, a number of factors have been considered in making the rankings, including each fighter’s overall record, recent record, level of activity and calibre of opposition.
The Independent’s pound-for-pound rankings
10. Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs)
The diminutive Mexican is a two-weight world champion, having obtained the WBA super-flyweight title with his split-decision victory over Roman Gonzalez in March 2021. That win saw Estrada, 32, avenge a 2012 defeat by “Chocolatito”, but its narrow nature meant the old rivals were set to rematch last March, until Estrada had to withdraw due to Covid symptoms. Estrada has since outpointed Argi Cortes and triumphed in his delayed trilogy bout with “Chocolatito” in December, winning a close fight by majority decision. His creative use of angles is one of his standout attributes, making him a fun watch each time out.
9. Devin Haney (29-0, 15 knockouts)
The unbeaten American enters our list following his second straight clinic against George Kambosos Jr. Haney eased to a unanimous-decision win against the Australian on Kambosos’ home turf in June to become undisputed champion at lightweight, before retaining that status in the pair’s rematch in October – also in Melbourne. Prior to those clashes, Kambosos Jr was undefeated. At just 24 years old, the best is still ahead of Haney; as such, we expect him to climb these rankings.
8. Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs)
Was somewhat surprisingly beaten by our former No 10, Teofimo Lopez, but the 34-year-old has bounced back with three straight wins – most recently against Jamaine Ortiz – to maintain his status as one of the best boxers in the world. The Ukrainian southpaw (one of two on this list…) saw off Jorge Linares in 2018 to become WBA lightweight champion and a three-weight title holder, before adding further belts with notable wins against the likes of Luke Campbell and Jose Pedraza.
7. Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs)
Entered our list in May 2022, following his stunning victory over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The Russian remained unbeaten and retained the WBA light-heavyweight title with that result, which he achieved by fighting on the front foot, picking his shots wisely, and almost doubling the output of his opponent. Bivol, 32, won by two points on all three judges’ scorecards, though the margins should have been much wider. A clinical showing that raised the Russian’s profile immensely and likely sets up a rematch with Canelo down the line. Before that, though, Bivol was tasked with getting past the unbeaten Gilberto Ramirez in November. Bivol won on points with an aggressive and sharp performance, which saw him rise from ninth to seventh on our list.
6. Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs)
Has eclipsed Anthony Joshua as the household name in British boxing. Fury, 34, returned to the sport in 2018 after three years off due to a long struggle with his mental health. Since then, he has established himself as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, dethroning Deontay Wilder to become WBC champion in the pair’s 2020 rematch, having controversially drawn with the American in their first clash, in 2018.
In October 2021, Fury stopped Wilder for the second fight in a row to retain the belt, which he did again in April by knocking out Dillian Whyte with ease and once more in December with a late stoppage of Derek Chisora. A creative fighter who has demonstrated remarkable resilience and heart in the ring, Fury previously held the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles and will look to regain them in a likely clash with Oleksandr Usyk in 2023. Such a fight would crown an undisputed heavyweight champion.
5. Errol Spence Jr (28-0, 22 KOs)
The American has not been the most active fighter in recent years, but he has been slowly building a fine resume. Spence Jr holds impressive wins against the likes of Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia and Carlos Ocampo. The southpaw stopped the latter, as well as notably finishing Kell Brook on the Briton’s home turf earlier in his career, and a cancelled clash with Manny Pacquiao would surely have built up Spence even further had it come to fruition.
Last time out, the 32-year-old beat Yordenis Ugas by brutalising the Cuban’s eye, collecting another welterweight belt and rising up our rankings in the process. If he can increase his activity, Spence will likely only continue to climb here, especially if a long-awaited meeting with Terence Crawford comes to pass and Spence can win…
4. Terence Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs)
The WBO welterweight champion has one of the most impressive resumes in the sport, and it just keeps getting better. Four of the American’s last 10 opponents were undefeated before facing him, and all 10 were stopped by Crawford – who has a tremendous number of knockout and TKO victories to his name. Wins against big-name boxers Brook and Porter in 2020 and 2021 further enhanced the 35-year-old’s profile, especially his victory over the latter, before Crawford stopped David Avanesyan in December 2022.
3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs)
In the 10 years since his loss to Floyd Mayweather, the Mexican has established himself as the face of boxing, with wins against Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Gennadiy Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders and many more of note. The effectiveness of the 32-year-old’s counter-punching, slickness of his head movement and beauty of his body work make him a joy to watch.
Detractors will point to Alvarez’s clenbuterol controversy in 2018 and the fact that a few of his victories have come via controversial scorecards. Supporters will give more credence to Canelo’s admirable level of activity and the great number of formidable foes he has fought and beaten. His three victories in 2021 – all stoppages – saw him ultimately become boxing’s first ever undisputed super-middleweight champion. A title holder in four weight classes, the Mexican failed to add a second light-heavyweight title to his collection when he was outpointed by unbeaten Russian Bivol in May 2022.
That result, which surprised a number of fans, marked just the second defeat of Canelo’s professional career and saw him drop from No 1 in our list to No 4. He rebounded with a decisive points win against ageing rival Golovkin, though that result proved little at this point and only saw him climb one spot here. The ambitious Mexican should go for the rematch with Bivol soon.
2. Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs)
Was the only ever undisputed cruiserweight champion of the four-belt era before moving up to heavyweight, where he became WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion in 2021 by outpointing Anthony Joshua with relative ease. The Ukrainian, 35, is undefeated and most recently beat Joshua on points a second time to retain his heavyweight titles and climb two spots here. The southpaw, an Olympic gold medalist, is as technical and awkward as they come in the heavier weight classes, making a likely match-up with Fury an intriguing prospect.
1. Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs)
One of the lesser-known names on this list to the more casual fan, the Japanese does not lack in prowess what he may lack in profile.
Inoue has the best stoppage percentage of any fighter on this list, part of what makes him such an exciting fighter to watch – along with his effortless evasiveness, brutal body attacks, and frightening level of output. In June, “Monster” lived up to his nickname once again by eviscerating Nonito Donaire in a rematch, having narrowly outpointed the Filipino in their first fight.
With that second victory over Donaire, Inoue added the WBC belt to his collection of bantamweight titles, and he also surged to the top of this list from No 5. The 29-year-old then stopped Paul Butler in the 11th round in December to take the WBO strap and become undisputed champion – and Asia’s first boxer to hold four world titles in a weight class at once.
The three-weight world champion has plenty left ahead of him, including a planned move to super-bantamweight next.