Boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings continue to spark debate around the world with several candidates making strong claims to the throne.
With Floyd Mayweather’s time over and Manny Pacquiao joined by a new generation at welterweight, the competition is fierce at the top of the sport.
Canelo Alvarez is widely considered to be the face of the sport, and the Mexican will be back in action against Callum Smith on 19 December, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he warrants the top spot in the pound-for-pound rankings - where resume, activity, effectiveness in multiple weight divisions and perceived standing among rivals are all considered.
Terence Crawford made a case that he should be the pound-for-pound king after ruthlessly dispatching Kell Brook, but the debate continues to rage.
So the Independent Sport writers got together to discuss the best fighters in the sport before combining our lists and averaging out our rankings for each fighter to produce a list.
With Anthony Joshua still fight this year against Kubrat Pulev, and Errol Spence Jr also in action against Danny Garcia, there could still be some movement before the end of the year, but as we approach 2021, here is our top 10 fighters in the sport:
Juan Francisco Estrada is emerging as the king at super flyweight with his latest victory over Carlos Cuadras. In perhaps the sport’s most entertaining division, the fans will be demanding a third fight with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai or a rematch against Roman Gonzalez.
Gennady Golovkin is on the brink of the top 10 but is now entering his final years and in need of another clear-cut win over a top contender after a disputed win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko last time out.
Artur Beterbiev is also close to breaking into the top 10 here, but the hard-hitting Russian has not been seen since his career-best win over Oleksandr Gvozdyk last October.
10. Josh Taylor
The Scot was impressive in outpointing Regis Prograis and is on a collision course with Jose Ramirez to become the undisputed champion at 140 pounds.
The winner could be rewarded with a fight against Terence Crawford, though the Nebraskan’s poor relationship with Bob Arum may complicate that as he pushes for a split.
9. Manny Pacquiao
The Filipino, now 41, is still a big player in the best division in boxing with Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford both desperate to fight the future Hall of Famer.
Pacquiao’s win over Keith Thurman is arguably better than anything the two Americans have done at 147 pounds and with his current affiliation with Al Haymon, a big fight in 2021 could enhance his legacy yet further.
8. Vasyl Lomachenko
Beaten by Teofimo Lopez, Lomachenko made it closer than many made it out after the fact, though a rematch looks off the table with the American adamant he will move on.
Despite not being at his absolute best at 135 pounds, there are many more tantalising fights available to him and a comeback in 2021 will be highly anticipated.
7. Tyson Fury
An emphatic victory over Deontay Wilder paired together with dethroning Wladimir Klitschko, five years earlier in 2015, gives the Gypsy King the best resume in the heavyweight division, or at least the two-best single victories.
We knew he had the best skills in the premier division in the sport, but after adding brute force in the way he bludgeoned Wilder, he is widely considered the No 1 heavyweight ahead of Anthony Joshua, though the pair could settle that debate towards the end of 2021.
6. Errol Spence Jr
A horrific car crash at the end of 2019 gave ‘The Truth’ a big setback after edging out Shawn Porter in a war.
Debate rages on as to who is the better welterweight between him and Crawford, a win over Danny Garcia on his return to the ring could send him further up the rankings here.
5. Teofimo Lopez
The Takeover has begun, Lopez is now the king at lightweight and has the potential to rise up in weight again.
His next move will be fascinating with his return after such a superb display against Lomachenko attracted widespread recognition as one of the sport’s premier fighters.
4. Oleksandr Usyk
Now up at heavyweight, but it was not too long ago that Usyk dominated at cruiserweight. After outclassing Derek Chisora in a points decision to ensure the Ukrainian retained his mandatory status for Anthony Joshua’s WBO title, 2021 will likely provide an answer as to whether he can live with the very best in the division.
3. Naoya Inoue
The Japanese fighter is one of the hardest hitters in the sport with Jason Moloney his latest victim.
The bantamweight king is appointment viewing heading into next year and one of the few global stars.
2. Terence Crawford
A vicious knockout of Kell Brook, Crawford is now searching for a career-defining fight against Errol Spence Jr or Manny Pacquiao, with his Top Rank contract winding down, the hope is this fight comes before the end of 2021.
1. Canelo Alvarez
The Mexican is Independent Sport’s No 1 fighter despite admirable cases from Crawford and Inoue, with his ability to display polished skills, as well as destructive combinations - as witnessed against Sergey Kovalev at light heavyweight.
It’s back down to super middleweight next month, with the unbeaten Callum Smith representing a fascinating challenge.