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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Chris Mannix

Boxing Pound-for-Pound Top 10 Rankings: January 2023

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Some thoughts on Gervonta Davis’s knockout win over Hector Luis Garcia

• This was a quality win. Garcia, despite being a sizeable underdog, is an accomplished fighter. He was undefeated and a legitimate 130-pound titleholder who was coming off the two biggest wins of his career. He had a good game plan, too. He didn’t overcommit on his punches early and refused to fall into some of the smartly placed traps Davis was setting for him. Davis, though, can crack, and when he finally caught Garcia in the eighth round, it was over.

• Garcia didn’t quit. It was certainly frustrating to see Garcia retire on his stool after the eighth round. It appeared to be a competitive fight up until that point—the judges scorecards, which had Davis well ahead, felt wide—and I would have liked to have seen if Garcia could rally in the final rounds. But he told his corner he had lost vision in his right eye and if he did, the ninth round wouldn’t have lasted very long.

• Is Ryan Garcia next? I certainly hope so. The two fighters have agreed to terms and the networks (Showtime and DAZN) have worked out an arrangement where Showtime will produce the show with DAZN collecting a seven-figure fee. But Golden Boy, Garcia’s promoter, has still not received an official contract and Davis goes on trial next month for a hit-and-run that could result in jail time.

• Fighters need to stay active. On the undercard, Demetrius Andrade looked sluggish, Rashidi Ellis lost and Jaron Ennis went the distance for the first time in his career. Andrade had not fought in 14 months, Ellis had fought one round in the last 26 and Ennis, usually a busy fighter, was coming off a one-fight 2022. A lot of work gets done in the gym but to stay sharp, fighters need to fight.

On to Sports Illustrated’s latest pound-for-pound rankings.

1. Terence Crawford

Record: 39-0

Last Month: 1

Last Fight: KO win David Avanesyan

Next Fight: TBD

Crawford ended a 13-month layoff on Dec. 10, successfully defending his 147-pound title with a spectacular sixth-round knockout of Avanesyan. It was the 10th straight stoppage win for Crawford and reestablished the three-division champion—at least in these rankings—as boxing’s pound-for-pound king. The question now is if Crawford can rekindle negotiations for a showdown with Errol Spence. Talks between the two sides publicly—very publicly—fell apart in October, but a Crawford-Spence matchup remains among the biggest that can be made in boxing.

2. Oleksandr Usyk

Record: 20-0

Last Month: 2

Last Fight: SD win Anthony Joshua

Next Fight: TBD

Only Canelo Alvarez can claim a better resume than Usyk, whose accomplishments include wins over Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis and Tony Bellew at cruiserweight and now a pair of wins over Anthony Joshua at heavyweight. Usyk has settled nicely into boxing’s glamour division, finding a comfortable weight (around 221 pounds) and fighting style that has made him tough to beat. Representatives of Usyk and Tyson Fury are in advanced discussions to formalize a Fury-Usyk fight that would crown an undisputed heavyweight champion.

3. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez

Record: 58-2-2

Last Month: 3

Last Fight: UD win Gennadiy Golovkin

Next Fight: TBD

The third fight between Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin in September didn’t match the intensity of the first two but it did establish the first clear winner in one of boxing’s better rivalries and it did put Alvarez, 32, back in the win column after last May’s upset loss to Dmitry Bivol. Alvarez recently underwent surgery on his injured left wrist, putting a return off until next May, at the earliest. While Alvarez has publicly declared an interest in a rematch with Bivol, Eddie Hearn, Alvarez’s promoter, says it’s likely Alvarez faces John Ryder, an interim 168-pound titleholder, with the Middle East emerging as a potential landing spot.

4. Naoya Inoue

Record: 24-0

Last Month: 4

Last Fight: KO win vs. Paul Butler

Next Fight: TBD

Welcome to the undisputed club, Naoya Inoue. Inoue cemented his status as the top 118-pound fighter in boxing—and one of the top fighters in the world—with a lopsided knockout win over Butler that made Inoue boxing’s fourth current undisputed champion. Inoue plans to move up to 122 pounds, where two titleholders—Stephen Fulton and MJ Akhmadaliev—have split the belts. The question is, will either go to Japan to face him?

5. Errol Spence Jr.

Record: 28-0

Last Month: 5

Last Fight: TKO win vs. Yordenis Ugas

Next Fight: TBD

Spence, 32, continued his assault on the top names in the welterweight division last April, stopping Yordenis Ugas to pick up a third piece of the 147-pound title. Despite a series of serious injuries—a car crash in 2019, an eye injury that forced him out of a scheduled fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2021, along with a December collision that left Spence with minor bumps and bruises—Spence continues to roll through the best fighters in his weight class. With a Crawford off the table, Spence is reportedly targeting a grudge match with Keith Thurman, the ex-welterweight champion who is among the few top 147-pounders Spence has yet to face. Spence tweeted that fight could happen in April.

6. Tyson Fury

Record: 32-0-1

Last Month: 6

Last Fight: KO win Derek Chisora

Next Fight: TBD

A December matchup against British rival Chisora went as expected, with Fury battering Chisora for the better part of ten rounds before the referee mercifully stopped the fight. Fury is unquestionably the class of the heavyweight division, with a deep resume that includes a win over Wladimir Klitschko and two wins over Deontay Wilder. Next up, a legacy fight against Oleksandr Usyk, which will crown the first undisputed champion in the division since Lennox Lewis.

7. Dmitry Bivol

Record: 21-0

Last Month: 7

Last Fight: UD win Gilberto Ramirez

Next Fight: TBD

Bivol, 31, locked up the 2022 Fighter of the Year with an impressive performance against the undefeated Ramirez. After outmuscling the smaller Canelo Alvarez last May, Bivol did the same to Ramirez, a physically bigger fighter, backing Ramirez up with the jab and battering him with combinations. Ramirez will have several lucrative options in ’23, including a rematch with Canelo Alvarez and a light heavyweight title unification fight with Artur Beterbiev, both of which could be on the table in the second half of the year. Before then Bivol’s co-promoter, Eddie Hearn, has suggested a UK fight against Callum Smith or Joshua Buatsi could take place in the spring.

8. Shakur Stevenson

Record: 18-0

Last Month: 8

Last Fight: UD win Robson Conceicao

Next Fight: TBD

Stevenson, 25, looked brilliant in a lopsided decision win over the once-beaten Conceicao, walking the ex-Olympic gold medalist down while continuing to be among boxing’s most difficult fighters to hit. Stevenson now heads to 135-pounds where star making matchups with Devin Haney, Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis await.

9. Jermell Charlo

Record: 35-1-1

Last month: 9

Last Fight: KO win Brian Castano

Next Fight: 1/28 vs. Tim Tszyu

Charlo earned a place on this list after picking up a spectacular knockout win over Brian Castano in May, avenging last year’s controversial draw and fully unifying the 154-pound division. Charlo’s resume at junior middleweight is impressive: He has wins over Erickson Lubin, Austin Trout, Tony Harrison and Jeison Rosario, with his only loss a questionable decision defeat to Harrison. Charlo has consistently taken on the best in the division, though his next test will have to wait: Charlo was forced to withdraw from a scheduled title defense against Tim Tszyu with a hand injury that is expected to sideline him for two months.

10. Devin Haney

Record: 29-0

Last Month: 10

Last Fight: UD win George Kambosos

Next Fight: TBD

Haney, 23, joined the rankings in November after a second straight decisive win over former titleholder George Kambosos. Traveling to Australia (again) Haney, operating behind a smooth jab and stinging right hands, dominated Kambosos. The win caps a solid two-year run for Haney that includes wins over Jorge Linares, Joseph Diaz Jr. and Kambosos. Haney should get a chance to burnish his credentials next year: Top Rank intends to match Haney with Vasyl Lomachenko in a monster showdown in the lightweight division. 

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