Well it’s the end of the year which means it is that time of year to have a look at the boxing rankings and pick your best fighters of the year. The year has seen many high profile fights, heck if you’re anything like Floyd Mayweather Jr you can’t keep him out of the limelight either and he rounds off the year with an exhibition on New Years Eve against Tenshin Nasakuwa but thankfully we have had a lot more meaningful fights throughout the year in the squared circle. Canelo Alvarez rematched Gennady Golovkin for the middleweight titles and Deontay Wilder escaped with a draw against Tyson Fury in the heavyweight league. In between all of that we saw new stars being born, Englands Callum Smith snatched the Super middleweight title from George Groves, also winning the WBSS event and Oleksandr Usyk displayed amazing skills as a cruiserweight on his way to dominating the division. So without delaying it any further let’s get into on who I think makes Boxings end of year pound for pound rankings to round off an excellent year 2018 of boxing.
8. Anthony Joshua
Hey there has to be a heavyweight in this list and right now Anthony Joshua has done the most inside the ring amongst the heavyweights of 2018. Wilder struggled in overcoming Ortiz before somehow coming out with a draw against Tyson Fury. Fury was making a comeback in 2018 so whilst I expect the heavyweight landscape to change in 2019(my money is on Fury ending 2019 as the best heavyweight) as of now Joshua is still the King of the boxing worlds most glamorous division. You also have to remember that in 2018 Joshua took on the undefeated Joseph Parker and comfortably coasted to a points win, taking his WBO title and then dismissed a tough Alexsander Povetkin(who had only ever lost to Wladmir Klitschko) in round seven later in the year. Joshua is 29yrs old and is already the unified world heavyweight champion holding three of the four major world titles, all this he has achieved in just 22 fights. Let’s hope 2019 brings us the heavyweight fights the rest of us all want to see.
7. Gennady Golovkin
2018 wasn’t a very good year for Golovkin. His long anticipated rematch with Canelo was initially delayed to Canelo failing a drugs test for clenbuterol and then when the fight finally came round in September of 2018, Alvarez looked the superior boxer in taking the fight to Golovkin. Canelo though is another of the worlds best so losing a close decision is nothing to be ashamed of, Golovkin is still one of the worlds best and still has scary knock out power, as displayed in his other fight of 2018 – a second round knockout of Vanes Martirosyan but will Golovkin ever retain the lofty heights of years past when he was the most avoided fighter in the world and no one wanted to taste his power? He will be 37 in 2019 and having lost his titles to Canelo Alvarez, it will take a monumental effort to reach the top of the ladder again. Can we expect part III to Canelo vs GGG next year?
6. Oleksandr Usyk
Usyk took the boxing world by storm in 2018 becoming the undisputed Cruiserweight champion and the first boxer in history to hold all four major world championships at cruiserweight. Usyk’s skills lie in his ability to maintain a high work rate despite weighing 200lbs. The speed at which he moves and the pressure he applies, constantly chipping away at his opponents, forces them to slowly break down both physically and mentally before Usyk shuts you down for good. Usyk took on some tough opponents in 2018, both in the WBSS event and after against Tony Bellew but he never really look threatened in any of those fights, picking up wins, titles and the Ali trophy. Little wonder he was named fighter of the year for 2018 by The Ring and ESPN amongst others. Look for Usyk to continue heading up in this list during 2019 as he sets his sights on the heavyweight division…
5. Naoya Inoue
The Monster is a quiet unassuming man outside of the ring but inside of the ring he turns into something else, I guess that’s why they call him the monster. Inoue fought twice in 2018 but neither of his opponents was able to make it out of the first round, and that was despite Inoue moving up in weight in bantamweight and he also happened to take the WBA title off the much taller Jamie McDonnell. A ferocious puncher who murders the body, he is currently competing in the WBSS tournament with the aim of getting more exposure for his name and boxing skills. I fully expect him to do just that and at just 25yrs old with him being a three weight world champion after just 17 fights(and 15 KOs), Inoue is someone who will rule the lighter divisions for more years to come.
4. Mikey Garcia
2018 was a good year for Mikey Garcia. Facing stiff tests against Sergey Lipinets and Robert Easter Jr, Garcia overcame both world champions to add the IBF belts to his name, in both the junior welterweight and lightweight divisions. Garcia is still unbeaten in 39 fights and has almost quietly gone about his business to become a four weight world champion. He’s not flash, he doesn’t have the artistry of a Lomachenko or the slickness of a Canelo but he has thus far been just as effective. Garcia doesn’t have a stand out trait but he does everything well and nothing wrong. An all round excellent fighter who believes in his ability and gets the job done. A huge fight awaits in 2019 when Garcia attempts the impossible by jumping up two weight classes to take on the huge welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. If Garcia wins that, you might just have to rank him as the worlds best….
3. Canelo Alvarez
Alvarez came back from a lot in 2018. From many believing he was lucky to earn a draw in the first match against Gennady Golovkin to the outcry over his failed tests for the performance enhancing asthmatic drug clenbuterol. But he answered all questions in style when he took on Golovkin for the second time and stood toe to toe against the man many considered to be the worlds most dangerous puncher. Golovkin himself was one of the worlds best pound for pound fighters but Alvarez left the arena a winner and took him Golovkins numerous middleweight belts. If that wasn’t enough, to round off the year Alvarez moved up to super middleweight and barely broke a sweat in taking Rocky Fieldings WBA regular title, making Alvarez only the 3rd fighter in history to win belts at 154, 160 and 168lbs, the other two? Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, esteemed company indeed. Canelo is still just 28yrs old which means we might not have even seen the best of him….
2. Vasyl Lomachenko
Loma is a special fighter – in the pro ranks he is really still relatively experienced when you look at the number of fights he has had but he is helping to change the game and creating a legacy for himself by continually challenging himself and moving up through the ranks. His fight against another of the worlds best in Jorge Linares has been the defining moment of his career in my opinion. Linares was a smart and smooth operator but Loma was able to break the world champion down and win the fight. A magician in the ring, an artist, a dancer, Lomachenko just keeps going and going picking up belts along the way. Just 13 fights in he is already a three weight world champion. Only the two fights in 2018 for Loma but that win against Linares was big. Expect more of the same from Loma in 2019, I don’t think anyone will stop him skills wise, his only threat is eventually fighting someone too big for him as he continues in his quest for chasing greatness.
1. Terence Crawford
Yes ‘Bud’ gets my nod as the overall number one fighter on the planet. I know Loma will have his fair share of fans who believe he should be one and there wasn’t much in it. Crawford is a supreme fighter who can do it all. He can fight out of either stance, he can break you down through the body or knock you out up top but what sets him apart more than anyone else is just his extreme fighting skills, it is his extreme ring iq. Crawford is much like Floyd Mayweather Jr in that he can figure a fighter out and make adjustments quicker than anyone else in the game and it is this ability which has propelled him to the top of the sport and kept him there whilst he has been winning a title in the welterweight division in 2018. He also has a mean streak inside of him which can bring out the best of him inside the ring. Crawford fought just twice in 2018 but made it look easy and classy in each fight. What will 2019 bring?
So that is my top eight list on the pound for pound rankings to end 2018, Errol Spence Jr would most probably be my number 9 and just missed making my list at the 8th position, other than that, the tenth position would be up for grabs. Possibly even Manny Pacquiao who heads up the start of the new year with a fight against Adrien Broner in just a few week time.
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