Here is our reassessment on the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world as the 2019 fight calendar continues to unfold in the ring.
- Vasyl Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs)
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and now WBA and WBO lightweight titlist tops our list again for the sixth month in a row since we started this column. It is not just the fact that Loma has not tasted defeat since dropping a controversial decision to Orlando Salido back in 2014, but the comprehensive manner that he has shut out every single opponent since that time. No other fighter on this list has come close to duplicating that feat.
Next Fight: He will be a huge favourite against mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla on April 12 in Los Angeles.
- Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs)
He is one of the world’s richest athletes after signing a record $365 million fight deal with DAZN after HBO left boxing. The Mexican superstar then followed that historic signing by blasting out hapless foe Rocky Fielding in December. A third fight with Golovkin is on the radar if he also signs with DAZN but Alvarez has done just fine as the newest face of the middleweight division.
Next Fight: Canelo continues his tradition of fighting the best when he meets Daniel Jacobs to unify their 160-pound world titles on May 4 – Cinco de Mayo weekend.
- Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs)
The tactically-gifted Crawford is on the outside, looking in although he is the WBO welterweight champion. It is hard to appreciate his brilliance when the best fights at that weight continue to allude him. 2019 could be a breakout year for the man simply known as ‘Bud.’
Next Fight: Crawford has the benefit of fighting a well-known entity in Amir Khan when the two fighters collide on April 20. This fight could not come at a better time against a worthy opponent who is as good as he is vulnerable.
- Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs)
The 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist for Ukraine, winner of the World Boxing Super Series and reigning unified 200-pound titlist has been unusually quiet this year as speculation mounts about his plans. The 2018 ESPN.com fighter of the year remains high on this list due to past accolades but the boxing world is eager to know what comes next.
Next Fight: Promotor Eddie Hearn, who works alongside K2 Promotions to oversee Usyk’s career, had this to say in a recent interview, “Usyk will fight in May, probably in his heavyweight debut, potentially against Alexander Povetkin. Then he’ll have one more. Then it looks like the WBO will make him mandatory for Anthony Joshua.”
- Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs)
Golovkin will turn 37 in April and is still one of the top fighters in the sport although he is on the back end of his in-ring career. If Canelo Alvarez beats Daniel Jacobs on May 4 – which is no guarantee, though Alvarez will be the favorite – we should expect a Canelo-GGG III toward the end of the year. Stay Tuned.
Next Fight: After months of speculation about where he would wind up after the end of HBO boxing, GGG looks all but set to ink a multi-fight deal with gargantuan streaming service DAZN reportedly for at least three fights, and would give the former champion equity in the company.
- Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs)
Four-division World Champion and current WBC Lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia has had a Hall of Fame career and continues to reach for greatness. Garcia’s boxing heritage and sublime skills are virtually unmatched and makes him one of the best active fighters today.
Next Fight: Give Mikey tons of credit for challenging the very dangerous Errol Spence Jr on March 16 in what is shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year. A win would catapult him to superstardom but I will not bet against Spence.
- Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs)
‘One Time’ cracks this list with his long-awaited triumphant return from a nearly two-year absence against Josesito Lopez on Jan 26. It was a tougher-than-expected title defense. Thurman raced to early lead but the challenger made it interesting down the stretch.
Next Fight: The former unified welterweight titleholder showed flashes of greatness but will need another tune-up or two before taking on the other big names at 147 pounds.
- Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs)
How good is Errol Spence, Jr.? It is a hard question to nail down but we got a glimpse when the 2012 Olympian travelled to Sheffield, England and stopped the experienced Kal Brook in his own back yard, showing a rare mastery of all areas of the sweet science. He has no exploitable weaknesses that we have discovered thus far. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect fighter.
Next Fight: Spence is leaving nothing to chance and wants to put on a boxing clinic and finish off talented challenger Mikey Garcia in style in their upcoming bout at AT&T Stadium. It will be a huge statement if the Texas native does just that in the highest profile fight of his promising career.
- Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs)
Santa Cruz leap frogs Rungvisai due to activity although it was recently announced that the latter will take on Juan Francisco Estrada in a welcomed rematch on April 26. Between his wars with Mares and a pair of fantastic fights against Frampton, Santa Cruz is firmly established as must-see television. His boundless energy and aggressive fighting style is endearing to any true boxing fan.
Next Fight: Santa Cruz easily dominated late replacement Rafael Rivera last time out to retain his 126-pound belt for the third time. He can now look ahead to a unification bout against Gary Russell Jr, which would be a fantastic challenge and tantalizing matchup.
- Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs)
The powerful Russian appeared to be a completely different fighter under new trainer Buddy McGirt in dominating Eleider Alvarez from start-to-finish in their anticipated February 2 rematch. The win helped Sergey reclaim the WBO light heavyweight title for the third time and places him right back in the mix of the light heavyweight division. It is hard to believe that Kovalev was knocked out in the first installment just six months ago.
Next Fight: He is still the man at light heavyweight, has a world title and lucrative deals to secure unification fights in the future. However, a felony assault charge could land Sergey in prison for four years and derail all that he has achieved as of late.