Wednesday, October 04, 2023  |


Ring Ratings Update: Terence Crawford seizes No. 1 in pound-for-pound rankings

Terence Crawford told us he was the best -- at welterweight AND pound-for-pound -- and he proved it on July 29. Photo by German Villasenor
Fighters Network

Last week was amazing. The boxing world was blessed with TWO elite-level showdowns. The media and hardcore fans thought they would witness two great ring battles but were instead treated to two one-sided masterclasses for the ages. 

We thought Naoya Inoue‘s bold challenge to No. 1-rated junior featherweight Stephen Fulton last Tuesday in Japan would be competitive. It wasn’t close. The former undisputed bantamweight champion dominated the undefeated American to an eighth-round KO and snatched the WBC and WBO 122-pound titles, becoming a four-division world titleholder in the process.

We viewed the long-awaited Errol SpenceTerence Crawford undisputed welterweight championship as a 50-50 matchup on paper. It wasn’t close in the ring. Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) outclassed and punished Spence to a ninth-round mercy stoppage, cementing his place atop the 147-pound division by winning the vacant Ring Magazine title and unifying all four major sanctioning body belts. 

Many thought there would be a heated debate among the Ring Ratings Panel as to who would take the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings. Would it be Crawford or Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs)?

There was no debate. 

Terence Crawford is the man. The 35-year-old veteran, who was No. 3 in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings, outclassed No. 4 in the mythical top 10. ‘Nuff said, according to the majority of the Panel.

“Inoue lived up to his moniker against Fulton and Crawford followed that with a similarly emphatic performance against Spence,” said Anson Wainwright. “Both performances were very impressive, but for me the deciding factor is Crawford and Spence entered their fight at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively (in the pound-for-pound rankings), while Fulton was unranked.

“I’d go No. 1 Crawford, 2. Inoue, 3. Usyk, 4. Canelo, 5. Bivol, 6. Spence, 7. Haney, 8. Davis, 9. Lopez, 10. Lomachenko.” 

Ye Ole Editor-In-Chief cast the only vote for the Japanese superstar.

“I know I’m in the minority, and I truly feel that we cannot go wrong with either man in the pound-for-pound No. 1 spot because both are generational talents, but I’m sticking with Inoue as the Pound-for-Pound King,” stated the EIC. “He’s a four-division titleholder and former undisputed champ with just 25 pro bouts. He dominated the No. 1-rated junior featherweight in his FIRST bout in the 122-pound division.

Naoya Inoue stuns Stephen Fulton with a right during their junior featherweight title bout on July 25 (Photo by Naoki Fukuda/Top Rank)

“I know Crawford equally dominated a more accomplished and more celebrated fighter in Spence, but I can’t get the Texan’s history of car accidents, eye surgery, weight-struggles, lifestyle, etc. out of my head. I think Fulton is a fresher AND more versatile boxer (Spence could only win one way, by pressing Bud, and stopped working after the opening round).

“But no frets on my part if the coveted top spot goes to Crawford. He’s in rare company by being a two-division undisputed champ and a three-division Ring Magazine champ (which puts him in GREAT company). He’s as worthy as Inoue, who will be a two-division undisputed champ by the end of 2023, so we’ll likely revisit this discussion at the end of the year.

“Inoue might have to win a major title in a fifth weight class before he supplants Crawford, but that’s where he’s headed, so our man Bud better not get complacent.”

Tom Gray appreciates The Monster more than most media members (the Scotsman was ringside for Inoue’s Ring bantamweight title-winning KO of Emmanuel Rodriguez and the 2019 Fight of the Year with Nonito Donaire), but he has to side with Crawford as the pound-for-pound best.

“Inoue is my favorite fighter in world boxing as has been for years,” he said. “However, I must give Bud his props after this triumph. His skill level was dazzling and he’s just smashed a top-five pound-for-pound entrant to bits.

“Bud to No. 1.”

Replied Yours Truly: “It’s all good. Bud deserves his flowers. Crawford is King but he’s also 35 going on 36. Inoue is 30 and the Heir Apparent.”

Added Adam Abramowitz: “I would select Crawford as number one at the moment, but I don’t feel that there’s a wrong answer between the two.”

Abraham Gonzalez leaned toward Crawford but suggested the dynamic duo sharing the mythical top spot.

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think anything could bump Inoue from the top spot but Crawford’s performance was special and made a pound-for-pound fighter look ordinary. The great ones can take it to that masterclass level and Crawford certainly did that on Saturday night. Crawford has earned the top spot with Inoue at a strong No. 2. 

“A question for everyone here, if there is some strong Inoue support, would it be wrong to have both Crawford and Inoue at the top spot at least for now? We are in uncharted territories by having two spectacular wins in the same week by top five pound-for-pound fighters. Having two fighters in that No. 1 spot and then bringing someone else in at No. 10 like maybe a Shakur Stevenson. Just a thought.”

Replied the EIC: “I personally have no problem with a tie for No. 1, but I could see the rest of the boxing world being sent into a tizzy. Then again, who cares? Everything sends the boxing world into a tizzy, even a commemorative Ring title. LOL.

Crawford was awarded ceremonial Ring title commemorating the magazine’s 99-year welterweight championship history and his undisputed clash with Spence.

Responded Gonzalez: “I think we should really think about it. These two fighters both deserve the recognition of being No. 1. 

“Also, sorry, I wasn’t a fan of the commemorative belt. I just love the way it looks on its own but he’s going to have both so that’s cool.

“You should consider making Ring mini belts and sell them on the site. 😁 I know, I got off track.” 

Replied the EIC: “Haters would give us hell for selling minis! But again. Who cares? 

“I’m curious as to what the other panel members think of Crawford and Inoue as Nos. 1a and 1b. My hunch is that the majority views Crawford’s stoppage of Spence as more of a statement and accomplishment than Inoue’s KO of Fulton. 

“I’m still blown away that Inoue did what he did against the best junior featherweight in his divisional debut. He goes from undisputed champ at 118 to No. 1 at 122. I’m not saying Crawford couldn’t have done the same thing at 147 had he been given the opportunity, but my guess is that he would have had a more competitive fight with Spence in 2018 or 2019. 

“It’s all mental masturbation. (But boxing fans like jacking off!)”

Added Abe: “By the way, not that this matters but I’m seeing folks on social media going with ‘both’ in reference to who should be No. 1. I wouldn’t even call it 1a and 1b. I would just call it 1 for both and make the two pictures vertical so that no one points towards whose picture is in front of the other. LOL.” 

Daisuke Sugiura voted for Crawford.

“Inoue looked like a perfect fighter,” he said. “I thought he would be No. 1 and only could be surpassed by Crawford if Bud would win by a historical-level performance. Well, Crawford actually did it. Just appreciate the fact we can witnessed two all-time greats’ finest individual performances in a five-day span. No. 1. Crawford, No. 2. Inoue, No. 3. Usyk.”

Added Tris Dixon: “Crawford No. 1 for me without doubt or hesitation.”

Crawford didn’t just outclass Spence, he punished his fellow welterweight champ and P4P entrant. Photo by German Villasenor for The Ring

Added Diego Morilla: “Inoue’s one-punch, out-of-the-blue first knockdown of Fulton and the subsequent furious follow-up were the stuff highlight reels are made of. Simply fantastic. His accuracy in that last onslaught was on par with his power and ferocity. A different kind of fighter, no doubt, against a foe with 50% of his record comprised of unbeaten foes. That’s how dominant he is.

“On Crawford’s side, I can’t get past the image of Spence plodding around the ring by the end of Round 2. Whether there were weight issues or anything else, he seemed completely out of it, making mistakes that would make a club fighter consider another career. Crawford is a man of multiple resources, but he only needed to use the bare minimum of his arsenal to score a decisive win.

“If I struggle with how to rate both of them, it’s because I am also considering Fulton as fighter in his prime fighting a great fight versus Spence as a P4P-rated champion in one of his worst outings ever. On paper, the ‘quality of opponent’ factor alone puts Crawford an inch above Inoue right now. And just as it was mentioned, it will only be a matter of time before Inoue returns to the top and remains there for a while.

“With all that, I say Crawford should be No. 1, with Inoue breathing down his neck.”

So be it. 

RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of July 29):

POUND-FOR-POUND – Crawford advances to No. 1. Inoue remains at No. 2. Spence drops to No. 6.

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTDiego Pacheco enters at No. 10 after stopping unrated Manuel Gallegos in four rounds.

WELTERWEIGHT – Crawford is the new Ring Champion. Spence remains No. 1. Jaron Ennis remains at No. 3 after chopping down tough and game Roman Villa, who drops to No. 10 (but was pushed to No. 9 by Rashidi Ellis, who entered at No. 10 after Crawford was elevated to champion).

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTSandor Martin remains at No. 10 following a sixth-round stoppage over unrated Arblin Kaba.

LIGHTWEIGHTIsaac Cruz remains at No. 3 following a lackluster split-decision over unrated Giovanni Cabrera. Frank Martin remains at No. 6 after pushing hard in the late rounds to  edge difficult and determined Artem Harutyunyan via close unanimous decision. George Kambosos drops to No. 8 after winning a controversial majority decision over Maxi Hughes, who remains at No. 9. 

I’m not sure how this will play out, but I could see Kambosos coming out altogether, similar to how we dropped Kurbanov at 154,” said Wainwright. “My revised rankings: No. 7. Zepeda, 8. Muratalla, 9. Keyshawn (Davis, who picked apart Francesco Patera to score a 10-round unanimous decision), 10. Hughes. 

“I am interested to see what others have to say because I can’t get a clear 7-10 that I am happy with.”

Added Abramowitz: “I do not believe Kambosos-Hughes was a robbery. I hated the 117-111 scorecard but I could see potential scenarios for the other two. I wouldn’t make any changes at lightweight.” 

Added Tom: “I personally do believe Kambosos-Hughes was a robbery. And it was a robbery that you could foresee. I spoke to Anson about it 10 hours in advance.

“I’ve had Australian fans contacting me, saying how awful the decision was. And I’ve not seen one single fan or expert call the fight for GK, which speaks volumes. You’ll get arguments, but only from people who don’t know the difference between a rabbit punch and a Daniel Larusso jumping front kick.

“Attempting to justify the scoring is not the answer IMO. The variety in the official numbers submitted does not smack of a fight that was difficult to score. This was simply the bigger name getting an unjust decision over a fighter he was ‘expected’ to beat. The scores may as well have been submitted before the fight started.

“Just imagine being in Hughes’ shoes when that decision was announced. I will not be complicit in the craziness that surrounds the sport’s favoritism towards fighters who can potentially earn more money for the powers at be. The three blind mice will be back out robbing some other hardworking fighter next weekend.

“Hughes won that fight clearly. He proved he was the better lightweight and should be above Kambosos on the ratings.”

Replied Abramowitz: “Well, see what the panel thinks. I could get to scores of 114-114 or 115-113. I thought the broadcast was completely off base. I thought it was a very close fight that could have gone either way. I don’t care if it’s a popular opinion or not. That’s the fight I saw. And I don’t particularly care about either guy. Sutherland is usually a very good judge. His 114-114 card didn’t bother me at all.” 

Added Abe: “Hughes won that fight but I also don’t think it was enough to move fighters around. I would leave it as is for now.”

Added Daisuke: “I had Hughes up by 2 or 4 points, he did what he wanted more, but maybe it’s not exactly a robbery because a lot of rounds were close. Can I find two more rounds for Kambosos? Probably yes, if I try. 

“I don’t oppose Kambosos coming out of the ranking. Again, I thought he lost and it seems 90% of the fans thought so too. But was it bad enough to ignore the official decision and revise the ranking? I don’t know. Sorry for a cop-out answer but I really don’t have strong feelings either way.” 

FEATHERWEIGHTRobeisy Ramirez advances to No. 4 after stopping unrated Satoshi Shimizu in five rounds to retain his WBO title. 

“I think Ramirez might be the best 126-pounder in the world, but he needs to beat a better opponent than Shimizu to get that spot,” said Wainwright.

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHT – Inoue enters at No. 1. Fulton drops to No. 3. Luis Nery remains at No. 4. Zolani Tete exits due to inactivity. Toshiki Shimomachi enters at No. 10.

Noted Corey Erdman: I like Shimomachi, but just wanted to float out two other possibilities for entry that probably have comparable recent/best wins: Elijah Pierce and Liam Davies. Pierce’s win over Tramaine Williams is a really good one, and he’s facing another top-10 guy in Mike Plania shortly. Something to consider!”

Replied Anson: “Good shouts, Corey. If Davies impresses against Cunningham at the end of the month, he may well take the No. 10 spot. If Piece beats Plania, he could take that spot.”

BANTAMWEIGHTAlexandro Santiago advances to No. 2 after outpointing future hall-of-famer Nonito Donaire, who drops to No. 5. 

FLYWEIGHTDavid Jimenez remains at No. 6 after stopping unrated Rosendo Guarneros in seven rounds.


Email Fischer at dougie@boxing Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s or Doug’s IG Live most Sundays.