Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s victory over Gennady Golovkin on September 15 cemented the Mexican as the world’s number one middleweight. That is beyond dispute, but where does he now rank on the pound-for-pound list? The Ring Magazine still rate Golovkin at number four, despite his narrow defeat last month. Canelo sits one place higher.
If I had to choose, I would probably have Vasyl Lomachenko as my number one. Even though he got dropped in his last fight, against Jorge Linares, and has yet to meet a pound-for-pound rival, the 30-year-old southpaw has amassed an impressive roster of names on his record in a very short space of time. Guillermo Rigondeaux was a former occupant of the pound-for-pound list but was dramatically brought up in weight. Gary Russell Jr and Nicholas Walters were both unbeaten and well regarded when Lomachenko got stuck into them.
The fact that Lomachenko is fighting Jose Pedraza on December 8 and people are underwhelmed is a testament to the high standards by which we judge the Ukrainian. Pedraza is a belt holder, and yet it feels like a tune-up. Lomachenko has spaced such immense levels between himself and the likes of Pedraza, or initially expected opponent Ray Beltran that fans are assuming victory and immediately looking forward to the next one.
Terence Crawford is another possibility for the top spot but, at the risk of being labelled a hater, who has he actually beaten? Terence certainly passes the eye test, the skill test and is not lacking for talent, but the names are not there as yet. Crawford’s overall resume is big on achievement and comparatively weak on top level names. Don’t just take my word for it: Errol Spence made a similar point on Twitter. As well the Texan might, given that the two are on a collision course. Now that we mention it, is Spence himself a contender for the crown? Not really- although I would argue that his record is on a par with Crawford’s. I would have Canelo above Crawford but let’s save those conversations for another day.
Oleksandr Usyk hovers in and around the top five on most lists, but should he be much lower than Crawford? After all, the fleet-footed southpaw unified a division (as did Terence), with all wins on the road and in the process crowned himself as the inaugural World Boxing Super Series champion.
Next, he’s fighting on away soil again (naturally) against Tony Bellew who was recently campaigning at heavyweight. A win over Bellew would be mightily impressive and lucrative, but would not cause huge ructions on a wider boxing scale. Victory over Bellew would help to seal Usyk’s candidacy for Fighter of the Year and stoke the fires for a match-up with a heavyweight behemoth like Anthony Joshua.
Talking of Fighter of the Year, another top ten pound-for-pound entrant is Mikey Garcia. The 39-0 Californian took Sergey Lipinets’ IBF super-lightweight title in March and then moved down to add Robert Easter’s IBF lightweight strap to the WBC title he already held before he moved up. As confusing as all that may sound, one thing is crystal clear: Garcia is in the running for a pound-for-pound slot and the sought-after annual accolade for his 2018 achievements.
Who do you have as your pound-for-pound number one?