Here is our revised top 10 best pound-for-pound boxers in the world to close out the final month of 2018.
- Vasyl Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs)
Lomachenko returned to form earlier this month following successful shoulder surgery to dismantle overmatched but serviceable Jose Pedraza. In doing so, he unified the lightweight division adding yet another notch to his growing legacy. However, there is a flipside to this story. Loma is an amazing talent, but he might be approaching his ceiling as we are beginning to see some limitations against bigger and skilled opponents. Both Linares and Pedraza were able to push Vasyl and that could be a worrying sign should the ambitious warrior continue to test boundaries.
Next Fight: A future clash with Mikey Garcia would be huge but he will likely face the IBF title fight winner between Richard Commey and Isa Chaniev on Feb 2.
- Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs)
Canelo moves up to the No. 2 spot based upon his activity and the body of his work. He has defeated tricky fighters like Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout, ended future hall of famer Miguel Cotto’s brief reign as middleweight champion and defeated boxing’s boogeyman, GGG, in tough back-to-back fights. The Mexican superstar just recently blasted out a game, brave, but over matched Rocky Fielding in his successful debut at 168 to claim another title.
Next Fight: It is difficult to determine whom he faces next, but we can always speculate. It almost certainly will not be Golovkin although I believe that fight needs to happen at some point. So mandatory Jermall Charlo or Danny Jacobs could get the nod in what would be very interesting fights on Cinco de Mayo.
- Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs)
The brilliant switch hitter is ready for the big-money fights at welterweight but the slow pace of those opportunities lowers his stock in this latest listing. Crawford like Lomachenko, has No. 1 pound-for-pound talent but he needs the right opponents to display it. Crawford’s days at 140 pounds are clearly behind him so he must reinvent himself in boxing’s deepest division. If Crawford can lure a big name opponent into the ring, he could quickly rise back to the top.
Next Fight: Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr are all busy with other fights in the first part of 2019. Top Rank’s stable of available 147-pounders is weak with faded veteran Luis Collazo likely becoming Crawford’s next foe in New York on March 23. A fight with former Olympian and stablemate Egidijus Kavaliauskas makes more sense although he too does not quite fit the billing.
- Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs)
Usyk is a bona fide star and the ESPN 2018 Fighter of the Year. He cemented that status by wrecking former cruiserweight titleholder Tony Bellew with a devastating straight left hand in the eighth round of their November UK blockbuster scrap. The win follows his historic capture of every belt in the WBSS tournament to become unified champion, placing the Ukrainian on the division’s shortlist of greatest fighters of all time. Add to this the fact that Usyk is only 31 and hitting his prime. Enough said.
Next Fight: Usyk is aligned now with Matchroom Boxing and should have a plethora of options in 2019. He can still comfortably make the 200-pound cruiserweight limit to defend his titles. He could also venture north to heavyweight, where Hearn has a healthy stable of available fighters, including a certain Anthony Joshua.
- Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs)
I am giving the powerful Kazakh a second look here. Sure, GGG came out on the wrong end of razor close decisions against Alvarez but he is still a beast at 160-pounds. You must also consider the fact that Golovkin has never been dominated, seriously hurt or even buzzed inside the ring. That is a testament to his amazing physical constitution. Golovkin should be able to capitalize on his lofty standing in 2019 in securing the big fights and is more than capable of reclaiming the titles.
Next Fight: It will be interesting to see whom Golovkin signs with considering that ESPN (in conjunction with its long-term deal with Top Rank) and sports subscription service DAZN are all in hot pursuit. A third showdown with Alvarez would be the ultimate goal but tantalizing fights with either Jermall Charlo or past foe Danny Jacobs would be entirely doable within the first part of 2019.
- Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs)
Mikey leapfrogs both Inoue and Spence Jr. in this reworking considering the superior strength of his resume. That resume is littered with quality wins over good fighters like Robert Easter Jr., Sergey Lipinets, Adrien Broner, Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido. Garcia has also won titles in two weight classes and unified belts in the lightweight division to further bolster his high ranking.
Next Fight: Garcia will move up two weight classes to challenge 147-pound titleholder Errol Spence Jr. in March. Win or lose, Garcia will have no shortage of options to include a possible mega matchup with Lomachenko at lightweight since it is widely believed that he will come back down to 135-pounds.
- Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs)
The three-time amateur national champion and 2012 Olympian is the complete package, mixing withering power with precision and a high ring IQ. He is rightly known as one of the best body punchers in the business too. Perhaps the one chink in the Texan’s armor is his reputation as a calm ring technician, which could play into the hands of a more athletic opponent with the ability to negate Spence’s physicality and skill.
Next Fight: It was a frustratingly slow year for Spence that saw him climb into the ring twice. He will have a tremendous opportunity to turn things around against the much smaller Mickey Garcia in March, and if he wins a unification fight with either Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman awaits.
- Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-1-1, 41 KOs)
The Thai fighter put his mark on the super flyweight division in 2017 with emphatic wins over heralded Roman Gonzalez. He has continued to scale the mythical pound-for-pound rankings ever since with hard fought quality wins over Estrada and Diaz in 2018. He is also the first ever RING magazine champion at 115 pounds, arguably the best division in boxing. Overall, Sor Rungvisai has a resume the compares quite favorably to most other fighters on this list.
Next Fight: A unification fight has thus far eluded him but that can change in early 2019 if he gets a shot against fellow titlist Jerwin Ancajas.
- Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs)
While my excitement about Inoue has not exactly abated, the fact that he is still largely untested is reason enough to hit the pause button. He has yet to achieve two key things as a top pro: unify titles and defeat an unbeaten fighter. The boxer-puncher has also spent the bulk of his young career in Japan having fought just once outside of his homeland, knocking out Antonio Nieves in six rounds of their 2017 super-flyweight bout in California. However, there is so much to like about this sensational fighter and the new year should give us an opportunity to see what he is really made of.
Next Fight: Inoue has crushed his last seven opponents, all by knockout. The hope is that the World Boxing Super Series will give Inoue the kind of high profile fights that his talents warrant and make him mainstream although the tournament has been cash-strapped lately. He is poised to face fellow undefeated fighter and IBF titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez in the next round in early 2019.
10. Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs)
Joshua is still the man to beat at heavyweight although Wilder and Fury might have something to say about that. The unified IBF, WBO, WBA and IBO champion is the closest top division star we have seen since Lennox Lewis. AJ is more than just a concussive puncher but has demonstrated that he can take a punch too. He also showed another dimension by jabbing his way to a wide points win over Joseph Parker back in March, which now gives him the experience of going the championship distance.
Next Fight: AJ prefers to fight on UK soil, where he has sold out Wembley Stadium and the O2 Arena several times over. However, an even bigger market and chance to obtain global appeal might await him in the U.S. It appears that his next challenger may emerge from the Chisora vs Whyte rematch on December 22.