Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Boxing Rankings

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2021

Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Boxing Rankings

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    It's a perpetual boxing argument.

    Oh sure, Fighter A is a dynamo in his own weight class, but if he were matched up with the sublime talent or the brutalizing power of Fighter B a division or two higher or lower, he'd be lunchmeat.

    Hence, pound-for-pound rankings were created as a means of pitting the skill sets of those fighters as if they were all competing on an equal playing field on the scales.

    Dozens of lists exist, though only a few are widely regarded and recognized.

    Among them is the one put out and frequently updated by The Ring, compiled by the magazine’s editorial board with the participation of a ratings panel of boxing journalists from around the world.

    The B/R combat sports team used the imminent Manny Pacquiao fight week as an excuse to take a look at the top six fighters on the most recent list and apply a Stock Up or Stock Down tag to each.

    See what we came up with and drop a comment with a thought or two of your own.

Stock Down: Errol Spence Jr.

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    Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

    If there's a higher power, he may not be an Errol Spence Jr. fan.

    The talented Texan is only one fight into a comeback from serious injuries sustained in a car accident, but he's on the shelf for several more months now thanks to a retinal tear in his left eye.

    And the worst part: The tear was diagnosed less than two weeks before a career-defining fight against multi-division champion and sure-fire Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.

    Instead, Pacquiao will fight late sub Yordenis Ugas while Spence hopes for a full recovery.

    "There was no way I could fight with my eye in that condition," Spence said. "I’d like to apologize to everyone. You know I’ll be back as soon back soon. We’ve come back from worse."

    Exactly what the division will look like when/if he does remains to be seen.

Stock Up: Josh Taylor

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    He may be the best fighter you've never heard of.

    And he certainly has one of the sport's coolest nicknames.

    But whether you know him as Josh Taylor, as the "Tartan Tornado" or as the four-belt kingpin of the 140-pound division, the 30-year-old native and resident of Scotland is certainly worthy of top-five billing.

    He became just the sixth undisputed champion in the four-belt era with a stirring 12-round decision over Jose Carlos Ramirez in May, capping a four-fight run in which his victims included three champions—Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis and Ramirez—with a combined pristine record of 69-0.

    Not bad for a guy who's only been a pro for six years and has just 18 fights of his own, all wins, with 13 KOs.

    Do yourself a favor. Next time he's within viewing range, watch.

Stock Down: Oleksandr Usyk

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    No one can, or should, argue that Oleksandr Usyk was a beast at cruiserweight.

    Leaving the ring with four title belts after his last fight there nearly three years ago is ample evidence.

    But his heavyweight evidence is a little less substantial.

    He debuted in the big-man division with a seventh-round TKO of middling gatekeeper Chazz Witherspoon in 2019, then stepped up a notch for a decision over fringe contender Dereck Chisora last October.

    He weighed 215 and 217.25 for those bouts, but will face a much bigger and more talented brand of opponent when he duels with three-belt champion Anthony Joshua late next month in England.

    Joshua, lest anyone forget, is 6'6" with an 82-inch reach. And it'll take a massive step up in performance for Usyk, who's 6'3" and 78 inches in those same categories, to stand more than a fluky chance at victory.

    "Usyk has fought a real heavyweight contender in Chisora. That will actually help him to start to understand what needs to be done," said Eddie Hearn, whose Matchroom company is promoting the fight. "But AJ’s a different kind of beast. A good big guy will always beat a good small guy, so we’ll see."

Stock Down: Terence Crawford

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    Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc/Getty Images

    If you feel like it's been a while since you've seen Terence Crawford, you're right.

    The Nebraska-based welterweight hasn't fought since blasting out ex-champ Kell Brook last November in the fourth defense, all by stoppage, of the WBO belt he won from Jeff Horn three years ago in Las Vegas.

    So while Crawford's No. 3 slot on The Ring's list is perfectly legit, he's still looking for a career-definer.

    He was rumored close to a Pacquiao fight earlier this year but saw fellow 147-pound champ Spence land the fish instead before Spence lost the gig due to injury. A fight between Spence and Crawford has long been a dream of welterweight followers, too, but perpetual promotional haggling has rendered it a non-starter.

    Without Pacquiao or Spence, little remains for Crawford beyond a second lap through the same weight class fodder or a second act featuring rising opponents from 140.

    A truly great fighter with no truly great foils.

Stock Up: Naoya Inoue

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    Steve Marcus/Getty Images

    Naoya Inoue is not only a multi-division world champion.

    He's a straight-up monster. Or "Monster," if you prefer.

    The 28-year-old from Japan has been a title-level commodity since winning his first belt at 108 pounds in just his sixth pro fight. All 15 fights since have come with jewelry on the line, too, and have seen Inoue capture crowns at 115 and 118 pounds while ending all but two of the bouts inside the 12-round distance.

    One fight in 2021 against ex-IBO champ Michael Dasmarinas ended in less than nine minutes, only a few smidges less than the 13-fight average of 4.38 rounds.

    The horizon may include a unification against the winner of a weekend matchup between WBO champ John Riel Casimero and Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire, Short of that, though, it'll take a rising 115-pounder or a rise of his own to 122 or 126 to truly move the needle for The Ring's No. 2.

Stock Up: Canelo Alvarez

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    It's good to be the king.

    Though a would-be September unification with fellow super middleweight champ Caleb Plant appears dead and buried, Canelo Alvarez is still the man nearly every fighter within a division or two wants.

    Not to mention MMA fighters.

    The cinnamon-haired Mexican has won 15 straight fights across four weight classes since his lone career loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. eight years ago, including a 168-pound victory over Billy Joe Saunders in May.

    UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman was the latest to pine for a spotlight date, suggesting in a recent Instagram Live session that "whatever I put my mind to, I go out there and I get it."

    Usman's suggestion comes on the heels of a rant by fellow cage warrior Jorge Masvidal, who said last year that he was ready to "shock the world" if a would-be match between he and the boxer took place.

    As for boxers, if the Plant fight doesn't take place look for Alvarez to ponder a second move to light heavyweight for challenges of WBA champ Dmitry Bivol or WBC/IBF claimant Artur Beterbiev.

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