The Best Boxer in Every Weight Class Today
Thanks to the alphabet gang (boxing’s horrendous hodgepodge of sanctioning bodies), it’s hard for the everyman to tell who’s who in the world of boxing. Indeed, not having a singular universally recognized champion probably hurts the sport more than any other factor.
To that end, something new is taking the boxing world by storm. It’s called the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Per the website:
The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board was formed in October 2012 as a not-for-profit initiative to provide boxing with authoritative top-ten rankings, identify the singular world champion of every division by strict reasoning and common sense, and to insist on the sport’s reform. Board membership includes thirty respected boxing journalists and record keepers from around the world who are uncompromised by so-called sanctioning bodies and promoters.
The TBRB rankings system, based in large part on common sense critiques of Ring Magazine’s ratings and championship policy (in fact, the three founders were former rankings panelists who resigned in protest of ever-changing criteria), has been embraced by much of the boxing community.
(Disclosure—I have been a member of the board since its inception.)
Endorsements to date include TheSweetScience.com, EastSideBoxing.com, Queensberry-Rules.com and a slew of other well-established media outlets. Moreover, the effort has been endorsed twice on ESPN airways by Teddy Atlas, most recently on last Friday’s season finale telecast.
From straw to heavy, here are the 16 best boxers in the world today according to the TBRB: the top man in each weight class.
Strawweight: Katsunari Takayama, 25-6 (10 KOs)
The 30-year-old Takayama is a whirlwind of movement and activity. He’s held two alphabet titles and is currently the IBF champion at 105 pounds.
Takayama seems incapable of being in a bad fight. He’s just 2-4 in title fights, but he's undefeated in providing action and suspense.
Junior Flyweight: Roman Gonzalez, 35-0 (29 KOs)
Undefeated flyweight Roman Gonzalez might be the most exciting fighter in the world today. He packs a wallop in each hand, and he fights like he knows it.
Gonzalez has obliterated just about anyone he’s faced, including the top strawweight on this list, Katsunari Takayama, who managed to go the distance with him in a blood-and-guts battle.
Flyweight: Akira Yaegashi, 18-3 (9 KOs), Linear Champion
A former stalwart at strawweight, Yaegashi made the move up to flyweight after his 2012 loss to menacing slugger Kazuto Ioka.
He’s won three straight since, including becoming the linear champion of the weight class by defeating Toshiyuki Igarashi in April and defending it just four months later against the rugged Oscar Blanquet.
Junior Bantamweight: Omar Narvaez, 40-1-2 (21 KOs)
Navaez is a smart, capable fighter who bit off more than he could chew only once, against Nonito Donaire in 2011. The bout was fought north of Narvaez’s usual weight and he was no match for the pound-for-pounder.
Still, Navaez is the best at junior bantamweight until proven otherwise.
Bantamweight: Shinsuke Yamanaka, 19-0-2 (14 KOs)
Undefeated and usually underrated, Yamanaka takes the No. 1 slot at bantamweight.
Yamanaka obliterated Omar Nieves earlier this month. He also has wins over notables Vic Darchinyan and Malcolm Tunacao. A bout against No. 2 contender Anselmo Moreno would be something special to see, assuming U.S. fight fans would get to see it.
Junior Featherweight: Guillermo Rigondeaux, 12-0 (8 KOs), Linear Champion
Guillermo Rigondeaux might be the best fighter in the world. After a historically great run as an amateur competitor in Cuba, Rigondeaux is now linear champion as a professional after just 12 bouts.
Moreover, he absolutely dominated perennial superstar Nonito Donaire this year, showcasing his incredible skill set.
Regardless of HBO’s reluctance to broadcast his fights, the Rigolution will continue.
Featherweight: Mikey Garcia, 32-0 (27 KOs)
Garcia is just 25 years old, but he appears to be a strong contender for perennial power. He’s got physical skills, but he's also technically sound and a hard puncher.
Garcia has earned his No. 1 ranking at the weight by knocking out Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez in successive fights, though the latter bout was spoiled by Garcia not making weight.
Garcia should target long-reigning alphabet holder Chris John to solidify his claim as the division's best.
Junior Lightweight: Takashi Uchiyama, 20-0-1 (17 KOs)
Uchiyama is a beast.
He has all the tools—speed, power, precision—and he knows how to use them. So much so, in fact, that it appears Adrien Broner skipped right past him in his run up the weight class ladder on purpose. If you’ve seen Uchiyama fight, you probably don’t blame him.
Sure, fighting all his bouts in Japan won’t win American fans over, but enough money on either side of the ocean could secure big-money fights with brand-name stars.
Lightweight: Adrien Broner, 27-0 (22 KOs)
You might not like Adrien Broner, but the kid can sure fight.
His athletic prowess is unparalleled, and his offensive aggression makes him more interesting to watch then some other fighters who possess the same kind of speed.
Broner moved all the way up to welterweight to fight Paulie Malignaggi but appears to be going after big names anywhere between 130 and 147 pounds. Broner remains ranked at lightweight until he’s inactive there for a year or makes his intention to leave the division clear. He’s also ranked eighth at welterweight.
Junior Welterweight: Lucas Matthysse, 34-2 (32 KOs)
Lucas Matthysse might be the scariest fighter on the planet. He’s absurdly rugged and powerful, yet he's highly skilled as a boxer. Matthysse is aggressive and capable of delivering devastating knockout blows with either hand.
A win over Danny Garcia next month, who is ranked No. 2 at the weight, would crown him champion of the division. Moreover, it could put him line to face Floyd Mayweather, assuming “Money” is successful against Canelo Alvarez.
Welterweight: Floyd Mayweather, 44-0 (26 KOs)
Mayweather is absolutely the best fighter on the planet. The 36-year-old will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible, and a win over Canelo Alvarez next month would make him linear champion of the junior middleweight division to boot.
Still, Mayweather is a natural welterweight at this age, and he will probably be king of the division as long as he wants to be. He’s defeated several notable welterweights in his run at 147 pounds, including Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto.
Junior Middleweight: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 42-0-1 (30 KOs)
When Alvarez defeated Austin Trout earlier this year, he did more than unify some alphabet title belts. Canelo claimed the top spot in the division with the victory, leapfrogging Trout, Floyd Mayweather and Erislandy Lara.
Alvarez has better wins at the weight than any of those gentlemen at this point, and at the tender age of 22, he’s set to face the top boxer in the sport next month. If he does the unthinkable and beats Mayweather, watch out. Alvarez might just be the next great superstar in boxing.
Middleweight: Sergio Martinez, 51-2-2 (28 KOs), Linear Champion
There are lots of good middleweights these days. Gennady Golovkin, Darren Barker and Peter Quillen are all fine fighters, but the true champion of the division is still Sergio Martinez.
The champ is older and slower now. He squeaked by Martin Murray earlier this year while sustaining more significant injuries that he’ll have to deal with before his next bout.
Still, to be the man, you have to beat the man. So any middleweight wanting to claim top dog will have to take out Sergio Martinez first.
Super Middleweight: Andre Ward, 26-0 (14 KOs), Linear Champion
Andre Ward has earned his championship the way we want fighters to do it: He defeated every notable contender he could face.
Ward faced and defeated Mikkel Kessler, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch in succession to grab the 168-pound crown. Moreover, he welcomed then-light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson down to the weight with a 10-round beating to prove he’s one of the two or three best fighters in the entire world.
Ward’s been inactive almost a year now due to injury, but he's looking for a comeback fight soon.
Light Heavyweight: Adonis Stevenson, 21-1 (18 KOs), Linear Champion
With one giant punch, Adonis Stevenson went from borderline contender to light heavyweight champion. Stevenson bashed Chad Dawson in the first round this year after Dawson came back up to light heavyweight to lick his wounds from the Ward fight. Instead, Stevenson gladly sent him to dreamland with as good a punch as you’ll ever see.
Next up for Stevenson is former belt holder Tavoris Cloud.
Cruiserweight: Marco Huck, 36-2-1 (25 KOs)
Germany’s Marco Huck is ranked at the top of the cruiserweight division. Huck has been in against the likes of Denis Lebedev and Firat Arslan and has come out the victor.
Huck is almost always in close fights. He’s fought old rival Ola Afolabi twice since last May, picking up a draw and a close majority decision win on his ledger (to go along with his 2009 unanimous decision win over the same fighter).
In addition, Huck almost outpointed heavyweight titleholder Alexander Povetkin in 2012, losing a hotly disputed majority decision.
Heavyweight: Wladimir Klitschko, 60-3 (51 KOs)
The only criticism of heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko is that his fantastic run as heavyweight champion has never included a win over the clear No. 2 contender.
Why? Because it’s always been his brother.
That being said, he’s fought just about everyone else. The champ is as good a heavyweight as there’s ever been, and the sooner big brother Vitali retires, the sooner Wladimir can solidify his legacy by becoming the linear champion of the division.
Klitschko takes on undefeated titleholder Alexander Povetkin this October in Moscow in a bout that’s been three years in the making.