The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Pound for Pound
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 talked-about in world boxing.
The Ring 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.
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.
Last year, we looked back on how each division was doing and have decided after a busy first half of 2023 to compile another divisional breakdown.
We begin with the always subjective mythical pound-for-pound top 10. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
No. 1 – TERENCE CRAWFORD
RECORD: 40-0 (31 KOs)
THE PAST: Crawford’s early pro career took place away from the bright lights before the Nebraska native’s big break came when he stepped in on three days’ notice to whitewash former Amir Khan conqueror, Breidis Prescott (UD 10). The super-talented American switch-hitter went from strength-to-strength winning titles at 135, 140 and 147. Bud has separated himself from the competition by becoming an undisputed champion at 140 and 147. The 35-year-old has made seven defenses of his WBO welterweight title, notably beating Khan (TKO 6), Kell Brook (TKO 4), Shawn Porter (TKO 10) and David Avanesyan (KO 6). However, he saved his best for his biggest night when he dominated long-time rival Errol Spence Jr. (TKO 9) to become the first male two-weight undisputed champion in the four-belt era.
THE FUTURE: With nothing left to prove at welterweight will wait to see if Spence takes up the rematch clause before deciding his next move.
No. 2 – NAOYA INOUE
RECORD: 25-0 (22 KOs)
THE PAST: Inoue devoured all before him en route to claiming world titles at 108, 115, 118 and 122 pounds. The big-punching Japanese “Monster” has lived up to his moniker, demolishing the likes of 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 2019 Fight of the Year by The Ring and stopped him in the second round of their rematch. The 30-year-old became the undisputed bantamweight champion when he dominated Paul Butler, stopping the Brit in 11 one-sided rounds. With nothing left to conquer at 118, Inoue decided to move up in weight and looked just as impressive as ever bludgeoning Stephen Fulton (TKO 8), the consensus No. 1-rated junior featherweight, to add the WBC and WBO 122-pound titles to his growing list of accolades.
THE FUTURE: Looks likely to face IBF/WBA 122-pound ruler Marlon Tapales for the undisputed junior featherweight championship in the fall.
No. 3 – OLEKSANDR USYK
RECORD: 20-0 (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 dangerous 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). 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 (UD 12) and repeated the trick (SD 12).
THE FUTURE: The 36-year-old had hoped to face Tyson Fury but for a myriad of reasons the fight wasn’t consummated and appears as far off as ever. He will instead face Daniel Dubois at Tarczynski Arena in Wroclaw, Poland on August 26.
No. 4 – CANELO ALVAREZ
RECORD: 59-2-2 (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 33-year-old is a modern day great, having captured world titles at junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. The Mexican superstar was upset by Dmitry Bivol (UD 12) but has bounced back by beating Golovkin (UD 12) and John Ryder (UD 12)
THE FUTURE: Will take the first of a three-fight deal with PBC when he meets undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo in Las Vegas on September 30.
No. 5 – DMITRY BIVOL
RECORD: 21-0 (11 KOs)
THE PAST: Bivol was a standout amateur before turning professional in November 2014. The 32-year-old Kyrgyzstan-born technician claimed the WBA light heavyweight title in 2017 and has reeled off 10 successful defenses. He holds wins over Sullivan Barrera (TKO 12), Isaac Chilemba (UD 12), Jean Pascal (UD 12) and Joe Smith Jr. (UD 12). A career-best win over Canelo Alvarez (UD 12) is what vaulted Bivol into the pound-for-pound ratings. He picked a part Gilberto Ramirez (UD 12) in his lone fight since besting Canelo.
THE FUTURE: Had hoped to secure a rematch with Canelo but quickly discovered that despite owning a win over the Mexican he was still the B side. He would like to face the Artur Beterbiev-Callum Smith winner for the undisputed light heavyweight title but that may not be until next year so may have to find a stay busy fight for the fall.
No. 6 – ERROL SPENCE JR.
RECORD: 28-1 (22 KOs)
THE PAST: Represented the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics. After turning pro, he moved through the ranks quickly, notably beating perennial contender Chris Van Heerden (TKO 8) and former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri (TKO 5), before proving his mettle by stopping Kell Brook (TKO 11) on the road in England to win the IBF welterweight title. The 33-year-old southpaw made six defenses and added 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) but came unstuck when he was dominated by Crawford (TKO 9).
THE FUTURE: Could invoke the rematch clause to face Crawford in the fall or move in another direction up at junior middleweight.
No. 7 – DEVIN HANEY
RECORD: 30-0 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: Haney turned professional at 17 in Mexico. This super talent has scored wins over Mason Menard (RTD 9), Juan Carlos Burgos (UD 10) and Antonio Moran (KO 7). After being upgraded to full WBC titleholder, following his dominant win over Zaur Abdullaev (RTD 4), he defended his title, notably beating former three-division titlist Jorge Linares (UD 12) and former 130-pound titlist Joseph Diaz Jr. (UD 12). The 24-year-old scored a dominant win over IBF, WBA and WBO titleholder and then-The Ring champion George Kambosos Jr. (UD 12) to become undisputed champion and repeated the win in a rematch. Then edged past Vasiliy Lomachenko (UD 12) in controversial fashion in his most recent outing.
THE FUTURE: Tabbed to step up to 140-pounds and face Regis Prograis for the WBC title in Las Vegas on October 28.
No. 8 – GERVONTA DAVIS
RECORD: 29-0 (27 KOs)
THE PAST: Davis dominated his opposition on the way up before impressively ripping the IBF 130-pound title from Jose Pedraza (TKO 7). Since then, his star has risen and he is one of the most popular attractions in America, regularly selling out arenas across the country and performing on Showtime Pay-Per-View. The 28-year-old power-punching southpaw owns a highlight-reel knockout over Leo Santa Cruz (KO 6) and showed that his vaunted power carries up in weight by coming on strong to stop the much larger Mario Barrios (TKO 11) at 140 pounds. “Tank” also won when not at his best against Isaac Cruz (UD 12), took care of Rolando Romero (TKO 6), WBA 130-pound titlist Hector Luis Garcia (TKO 9) and, most recently, Ryan Garcia (KO 7).
THE FUTURE: Served 44-days of a 90-day sentence after violating the terms of his house arrest. Will be back in the hunt for a big fight in the fall.
No. 9 – TEOFIMO LOPEZ
RECORD: 19-1 (13 KOs)
THE PAST: Lopez represented Honduras at the 2016 Olympics. Since turning professional, the big puncher went about his business in devastating fashion, scoring highlight reel knockouts against Mason Menard (KO 1), Diego Magdaleno (KO 7) and Edis Tatli (KO 5). After a learning experience win over Masayoshi Nakatani (UD 12), Lopez was back to his brilliant best, demolishing IBF titleholder Richard Commey (TKO 2). The 26-year-old became undisputed lightweight king when he edged past Vasiliy Lomachenko (UD 12). An often-postponed bout and outside-the-ring drama meant Lopez didn’t face IBF mandatory George Kambosos for 13 months and, when he did, he shockingly dropped a 12-round split decision. Lopez promptly moved up to 140 pounds and looked less than stellar winning two fights before returning to his best impressively outboxing Josh Taylor (UD 12) to become Ring and WBO titlist.
THE FUTURE: He said he was retiring from boxing in the wake of the Taylor victory but has since retracked it. Likely to return in the fall.
No. 10 – VASILIY LOMACHENKO
RECORD: 17-3 (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 wins over Masayoshi Nakatani (TKO 9), Richard Commey (UD 12) and Jamaine Ortiz (UD 12) before losing a contentious decision to Haney (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Things have been quiet since the Haney fight and now that there won’t be a rematch it will be very interesting to see what is next.
On the Cusp: Jermell Charlo (who was dropped for inactivity but can re-enter depending on his Sept. 30 performance v.s Canelo), Tyson Fury, Artur Beterbiev, Shakur Stevenson, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka and Kenshiro Teraji.
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