Naoya Inoue. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
The Ring first introduced its divisional ratings in 1925. Almost a century later, it’s no exaggeration to claim that these independent rankings are the most respected and accurate in world boxing.
The ratings panel is made up of a dozen experts from around the world. Opinions are shared, debate takes place, and the final decision on who should be ranked where is decided democratically every week. It sounds easy, but this can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
A couple of years ago, during the pandemic, we reviewed and broke down each division in full. In a two-pronged approach, we looked back at the respective achievements of the finest fighters in the world and analyzed what lay ahead.
Now, with enough time having elapsed, and with a busy final quarter to 2022 ahead of us, we’ve decided to compile another divisional breakdown.
We begin with the mythical pound-for-pound Top 10. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
No. 1 NAOYA INOUE
RECORD: 23-0 (20 KOs)
THE PAST: The big punching Japanese “Monster” has lived up to his moniker, devouring all before him en route to claiming world titles at 108, 115 and 118 pounds. The 29-year-old holds wins over Omar Narvaez (KO 2), Jamie McDonnell (TKO 1), Juan Carlos Payano (KO 1) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (KO 2). However, it’s his triumphs over four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire that provided Inoue with considerable acclaim. He edged Donaire (UD 12) in an instant classic that was later named Fight of the Year and stopped him in the second round of recent rematch. Inoue is Ring, IBF, WBA and WBC bantamweight titleholder.
THE FUTURE: Inoue would like to become undisputed champion. For that to happen, he would have to face WBO counterpart Paul Butler, and that bout could happen in the fall. A step up to 122 pounds would likely be next.
No. 2 OLEKSANDR USYK
RECORD: 19-0 (13 KOs)
THE PAST: Usyk, who won gold at the 2012 Olympics, cleaned out the cruiserweight division, beating Krzysztof Glowacki (UD 12), Marco Huck (TKO 10), Mairis Briedis (MD 12), Murat Gassiev (UD 12) and Tony Bellew (TKO 8), all in their home countries. The manner in which he outboxed Gassiev to become undisputed champion was particularly eye-catching. After moving up to heavyweight, Usyk was hampered by injuries and the pandemic. He scored a routine win over late substitute Chazz Witherspoon (RTD 7) and outpointed perennial trier Derek Chisora (UD 12). However, the proud Ukrainian reminded everyone just how special he is when he bested Anthony Joshua to pick up the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles last September.
THE FUTURE: He will face Joshua in a rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on August 20.
No. 3 TERENCE CRAWFORD
RECORD: 38-0 (29 KOs)
THE PAST: The super-talented American switch-hitter has won titles at 135, 140 and 147. However, it was his body of work at junior welterweight, where he became undisputed champion, that helped separate him from the rest. Since moving to welterweight, the 34-year-old Nebraska native has claimed the WBO title and made five successful defenses, notably beating Amir Khan (TKO 6), Kell Brook (TKO 4) and, most recently, Shawn Porter (TKO 10).
THE FUTURE: Apparently in talks to face Errol Spence Jr. this fall.
No. 4 ERROL SPENCE JR.
RECORD: 28-0 (22 KOs)
THE PAST: Spence represented the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics. After making the switch to the professional ranks, he proved his mettle by stopping Kell Brook (TKO 11) to win the IBF welterweight title. The 32-year-old has made six defenses and captured WBA and WBC titles. He holds championship wins over Mikey Garcia (UD 12), Shawn Porter (SD 12), Danny Garcia (UD 12) and Yordenis Ugas (TKO 10).
THE FUTURE: In negotiations to face Crawford.
No. 5 CANELO ALVAREZ
RECORD: 57-2-2 (39 KOs)
THE PAST: Canelo boasts a cache of outstanding wins over Shane Mosley (UD 12), Austin Trout (UD 12), Erislandy Lara (SD 12), Miguel Cotto (UD 12), Gennadiy Golovkin (MD 12), Daniel Jacobs (UD 12), Sergey Kovalev (KO 11), Callum Smith (UD 12), Billy Joe Saunders (RTD 8) and Caleb Plant (TKO 11). The 32-year-old is a modern day great, having captured world titles at junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. However, the Mexican superstar is coming off an upset loss to Dmitry Bivol (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Will meet Golovkin for a third time on September 18. Victory could lead to a December fight, potentially in the U.K., John Ryder’s name mentioned. Has also talked about facing Bivol in rematch next May.
No. 6 VASILIY LOMACHENKO
RECORD: 16-2 (11 KOs)
THE PAST: The supremely gifted Ukrainian southpaw was one of the most decorated amateurs ever, claiming Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. An early setback to Orlando Salido (SD 12), in his second professional outing, was followed by a rapid ascent. Loma claimed the vacant WBO featherweight title at the expense of Gary Russell Jr. (MD 12), and he has won further titles at 130 and 135. Owns solid victories over Roman Martinez (KO 5), Nicholas Walters (RTD 7), Guillermo Rigondeaux (RTD 6) and Jorge Linares (TKO 10). He lost to Teofimo Lopez (UD 12) but has bounced back with comprehensive wins over Masayoshi Nakatani (TKO 9) and Richard Commey (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Passed up a shot at then undisputed lightweight titleholder George Kambosos Jr. to continue defending his country in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Has mentioned potentially fighting this fall against an as yet unknown opponent.
No. 7 DMITRY BIVOL
RECORD: 20-0 (11 KOs)
THE PAST: Bivol was a standout amateur before turning professional in November 2014. The 31-year-old Kyrgyzstan-born technician claimed the WBA light heavyweight title in 2017 and has reeled off nine successful defenses. He holds wins over Sullivan Barrera (TKO 12), Isaac Chilemba (UD 12), Jean Pascal (UD 12) and Joe Smith Jr. (UD 12). However, a career-best win over Canelo Alvarez (UD 12) is what vaulted Bivol into the pound for pound ratings.
THE FUTURE: This fall, he’s likely to face WBA mandatory challenger Gilberto Ramirez or Joshua Buatsi before potentially engaging Canelo in a rematch.
No. 8 JOSH TAYLOR
RECORD: 19-0 (13 KOs)
THE PAST: Taylor was a decorated amateur before turning professional in 2015. He claimed wins over former world titleholders Miguel Vazquez (KO 9) and Viktor Postol (UD 12) before entering the World Boxing Super Series. In a terrific run, the talented Scotsman beat the previously undefeated Ryan Martin (TKO 7); wrenched the IBF title from Ivan Baranchyk (UD 12) and unified against WBA beltholder Regis Prograis (MD 12). The latter victory saw the 31-year-old southpaw claim the Ring championship. “The Tartan Tornado” went on to become undisputed 140-pound champion by beating WBC and WBO titlist Jose Ramirez (UD 12). Taylor struggled with Jack Catterall before being awarded a highly controversial 12-round split decision.
THE FUTURE: Although he’s bursting at the seams at 140, he appears to be leaning toward a rematch with Catterall, which is mooted for November 26.
No. 9 JERMELL CHARLO
RECORD: 35-1-1 (19 KOs)
THE PAST: Charlo captured the vacant WBC 154-pound title with a come-from-behind knockout over John Jackson (KO 8). He made three defenses – most impressively knocking out Erickson Lubin (KO 1) – but lost the title to Tony Harrison (UD 12). After one comeback win, Charlo regained the championship, struggling at times before stopping Harrison (KO 11). The 32-year-old Texan added Ring, WBA and IBF titles to his collection when he stopped Jeison Rosario (KO 8) in September 2019. After a contentious draw with Brian Castano, Charlo ended any debate, knocking out his Argentine rival in the 10th round to pick up the WBO title and claim undisputed honors
THE FUTURE: He has agreed to face WBO mandatory challenger Tim Tszyu on January 28.
No. 10 ARTUR BETERBIEV
RECORD: 18-0 (18 KOs)
THE PAST: Beterbiev was a standout amateur, winning gold at the 2009 World Championships and competing at the 2012 Olympics. The physically imposing Russian moved quickly as a professional. He won the IBF light heavyweight title, stopping Enrico Koelling (KO 12) and defended against Callum Johnson (KO 4) and Radivoje Kalajdzic (KO5). His breakout win came against then-WBC titleholder Oleksandr Gvozdyk (TKO 10) in a unification bout. The 37-year-old marked time against Adam Deines (TKO 10) and Marcus Browne (KO 9) before demolishing WBO counterpart Joe Smith Jr. (TKO 2).
THE FUTURE: Early indications are that Beterbiev will face Anthony Yarde in England on October 22.