Another month is here, and it’s time to update our big team pound-for-pound list!
Does Naoya Inoue stay in the top spot? Is anyone out, anyone in (yes, as you guessed from the headline)? Let’s find out! Exclamation points make people think things are exciting!
The voters: Scott Christ, Wil Esco, John Hansen, Patrick Stumberg, and Lewis Watson.
The total results for Nov. 2022:
Just the Facts (Taylor’s Scott’s Version): Inoue and Usyk keep the top two spots, and all five of us have maintained our No. 1 votes, whatever they are; it’s Usyk getting No. 3 instead of one of the top two spots that keeps him a point off of Inoue, so in essence Jaron Ennis is why Naoya Inoue is our No. 1 P4P fighter.
A small switch with Spence and Crawford because John has drastically shifting emotions on the Spence and Crawford front, and Devin Haney is in this month, picking up some support that probably doesn’t have a lot to do with his own second win over George Kambosos Jr, but what has happened otherwise.
And now, some personal thoughts from your esteemed panel, and their ballots.
(1) Oleksandr Usyk, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Terence Crawford, (4) Dmitry Bivol, (5) Errol Spence Jr, (6) Artur Beterbiev, (7) Canelo Alvarez, (8) Jermell Charlo, (9) Devin Haney, (10) Shakur Stevenson
Devin Haney bumps up a spot to No. 9 for me, with Shakur Stevenson coming in at No. 10. Vasiliy Lomachenko falls out of my top 10; I think he’s still a fantastic fighter, a top contender, but the Loma I saw in his Oct. 29 win over Jamaine Ortiz didn’t look like a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter to me anymore. I’m already wavering on how much I really think Canelo Alvarez is one, as I said last month, but with Loma, I felt more ready to say I think he’s slipped just out of this range.
This is a competitive idea, pound-for-pound. There are 10 slots in a top 10 list. There are lots of good fighters out there. Some damn good ones are not on the list. And a “good-but-not-great” sort of performance from a back end top 10 fighter can leave room for someone who was already knocking on the door. That’s what I see with Loma slipping out; he wouldn’t be below the top 15 to me, but 15 ain’t 10, and neither is 11.
(1) Jaron Ennis, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Errol Spence Jr, (5) Terence Crawford, (6) Dmitry Bivol, (7) Canelo Alvarez, (8) Artur Beterbiev, (9) Devin Haney, (10) Vasiliy Lomachenko
I wanted to wait to see how Vasiliy Lomachenko performed this past weekend before I turned in this month’s rankings, because I really haven’t been sure as to where he fits in due to his inactivity in the ring.
I absolutely mean nothing disparaging towards Jamaine Ortiz who really put up an astounding effort, but I’m starting to waver on Loma as far as his current form. I don’t know if it’s age, the weight class, or the combination, but I feel like Loma’s been getting too comfortable giving up early rounds, banking on bossing the second half of the fight. That didn’t work out for him against Teofimo Lopez, and it potentially could’ve cost him here against Ortiz despite what the scorecards indicated. And, really, the whole point of being a “master boxer” is to be able to bank some rounds while figuring your opponent out.
Loma is really only going to be in tough fights so long as he wants the belts, and a prospective one against Haney will be a tall task considering the success Ortiz had with keeping Loma defensive with an active jab. All things considered, I’m slightly tweaking things where Loma’s stock drops a bit and I’m going to nudge out Shakur Stevenson for Devin Haney — at least for the time being.
(1) Naoya Inoue, (2) Oleksandr Usyk, (3) Artur Beterbiev, (4) Jesse Rodriguez, (5) Kenshiro Teraji, (6) Errol Spence Jr, (7) Dmitry Bivol, (8) Vasiliy Lomachenko, (9) Regis Prograis, (10) Stephen Fulton Jr
Kenshiro Teraji is an inspiration to the rest of the boxing world. He fought the top challenge in his division, and turned a 1a and 1b situation into a clear 1 and 2 hierarchy, at least for now. He took that fight while he was still 30 years old and his opponent was 28, boosting the likelihood of potentially doing it again. He also fought a tactically sharp style behind a long and punishing jab, without boring the hell out of the viewing audience. Magnificent all around, and role model stuff for the Spence/Crawford and Haney/Stevenson types out there. You don’t often see a 108 lb guy who fights before the USA sees sunrise make a pound-for-pound list over here, but I doubt I’ll be alone in adding him this month.
Errol Spence Jr is back, because my bitterness has its limits. He fought a unification less than seven months ago, and I’m putting him back in on the assumption that he’ll have to handle a good mandatory now. There’s an announcement supposedly coming soon. If it’s a Boots Ennis, Vergil Ortiz, Eimantas Stanionis level challenger, Spence stays. If we get some bullshit stay-busy action like Spence vs Mario Barrios, Spence is out again.
Jaron Ennis and Vergil Ortiz Jr are out. Last month, they replaced Spence and Crawford as a protest move. Protest over. Maybe one of them will get Spence. Maybe they’ll fight someone else in the top 5-6 of the division. Maybe they’ll fight each other. Any of those would put them one fight away from jumping right back in. I think they both have a world of talent and potential, and I hope that the six month deep freeze at welterweight is finally over. On a related note, If I have any suspicious accidents this month, make sure and thoroughly investigate Wil Esco.
HEY, WHAT ABOUT…?
Terence Crawford stays out, because fuck this David Avanesyan fight. I put at least 90 percent of the blame for the failure to book a Spence-Crawford fight on the PBC side. I put 100 percent of the blame for Crawford-Avanesyan on Crawford. He could have called for a WBO mandatory and gotten, worst case, the champion’s share of a purse bid against Ortiz, Ennis, or Keith Thurman. Taking Avanesyan instead is just the latest in a series of disappointing to disgusting matchmaking decisions that have defined his entire welterweight tenure, with Shawn Porter the only exception. Crawford doesn’t have to take a bad deal from PBC, but he does have to own his non-Spence choices. At least he has $10 million worth of consolation for his exclusion here.
Tyson Fury stays out, because fuck this third Derek Chisora fight. For my purposes, he remains officially retired until he books a real fight against someone fully ambulatory (no Mahmoud Charrs!) that he hasn’t already beaten twice. I’d even make an exception for that two-win principle if it’s Deontay Wilder. But this Chisora trilogy fight is nonsense.
Devin Haney and Shakur Stevenson remain ineligible under the Rigondeaux Rule.
(1) Naoya Inoue, (2) Oleksandr Usyk, (3) Errol Spence Jr, (4) Terence Crawford, (5) Canelo Alvarez, (6) Dmitry Bivol, (7) Shakur Stevenson, (8) Vasiliy Lomachenko, (9) Artur Beterbiev, (10) Chocolatito Gonzalez
I really do wish this list was more unstable, but the last couple months have been dead as far as top-shelf action goes. The only one of the bunch who fought last month was Lomachenko, and while he definitely underwhelmed, the fact that it was his first fight after a stint on the front lines is enough to keep his spot safe.
Things should get interesting very shortly, at least. Inoue, Crawford, Bivol, and Chocolatito will all hit the ring in the next two months, so who knows? Maybe things will finally get weird.
(1) Oleksandr Usyk, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Terence Crawford, (4) Canelo Alvarez, (5) Dmitry Bivol, (6) Errol Spence Jr, (7) Devin Haney, (8) Chocolatito Gonzalez, (9) Jermell Charlo, (10) Artur Beterbiev
Can you knock fighters down a peg or two for letting us all down by not making a fight? I mean, my head tells me no, and I haven’t, but I am very tempted to relegate Crawford and Spence to the bottom half of this top 10 following news that their fight has collapsed again. I guess finger-pointing can be saved for the thousands of articles discussing this very mythical fight.
Elsewhere, I guess it’s going to be a month centered around everyone’s favourite Marmite (don’t worry, Americans) lightweight, Devin Haney, as he Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V’ed his win over George Kambosos Jr to remain the current man to beat at 135. I’ve given him a slight bump up to No. 7, but he is only renting this spot off Chocolatito until we see how he gets on in his Estrada trilogy fight on Dec. 3.
No. 9 down to, well around No. 12 are a bit of a who’s who and see many guys jostling for position, but there is no reason this month to see the back of Mell or Beterbiev. I’d love to push Lomachenko back into the mix, but the longer he campaigns at lightweight the less likely it is he creeps back into the top 10. Ortiz was an excellently-matched opponent for Loma this past weekend and he did well to come through this test.