The proliferation of titles makes it difficult for all but the most astute fans to determine the cream of the boxing crop.
That’s why Boxing Junkie came up with its “Great Eight” feature, which names the best fighter in each of the original eight weight classes –heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight and flyweight.
Heavyweight includes cruiserweight (and the WBC’s bridgerweight), light heavyweight includes super middleweight and so on.
In this installment of “Great Eight” we provide the best and, for the first time, the second best in each of the original divisions.
Here’s how it looks.
HEAVYWEIGHT – Tyson Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs): The best big man in the world is in talks to face the only other heavyweight who can argue he should be No. 1, Oleksandr Usyk. The winner of their prospective fight will leave no doubt as to who deserves to be on top.
No. 2 – Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs): Back-to-back victories over Anthony Joshua go a long way.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT – Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs): No brainer. The 175-pound champion was everyone’s 2022 Fighter of the Year after upsetting Canelo Alvarez and then outpointing Gilberto Ramirez. That made this choice about as easy as it gets.
No. 2 – Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs): Bivol’s fellow Russian is set to face Anthony Yarde on Jan. 28. If he wins, a showdown with Bivol would crown an undisputed champion.
MIDDLEWEIGHT – Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs): No one at 160 or 154 is as dominating as the junior middleweight champion. He was scheduled to fight Tim Tszyu on Jan. 28 but the fight was postponed after Charlo broke his left hand in training.
No. 2 – Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs): Jermell’s twin brother has fought only twice since December 2019 but he’s an excellent all-around fighter with a solid resume and a perfect record. He just needs to get busy.
WELTERWEIGHT – Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs). Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. have been unable to reach terms on a fight to determine the best 147-pounder, which is a shame. Crawford will remain on top until someone knocks him off or he shows clear signs of decline.
No. 2 – Spence (28-0, 22 KOs): Crawford’s fellow titleholder arguably should be No. 1 because he has a better resume than his rival. He falls just short in the eye test.
LIGHTWEIGHT – Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs): Davis’ combination of ability and punching power makes him the best in this top-heavy division, as he demonstrated again against Hector Garcia. “Tank” is expected to face a legitimate test against Ryan Garcia this spring.
No. 2 – Devin Haney (29-0, 15 KOs): Titles have limited meaning because there are so many of them but the undisputed champion has the goods. He’s a terrific boxer who is building a good resume.
FEATHERWEIGHT – Stephen Fulton (20-0, 8 KOs): The gifted junior featherweight titleholder appears to be on a collision course with rugged pressure fighter Brandon Figueroa, who gave him hell in their first fight. Stay tuned.
No. 2 – Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KOs): Cases could be made for any of the 126-pound champions but Figueroa is the one who pushed Fulton to his limits in a majority-decision loss.
BANTAMWEIGHT – Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19 KOs): The Japanese bantamweight just stopped Paul Butler to become the undisputed 118-pound champion, which keeps him a step ahead of 115-pound stalwarts Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez and Bam Rodriguez.
No. 2 – Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs: Who else? The Mexican star has defeated Roman Gonzalez twice in his last three fights, although both were close. Of course, “Chocolatito” is breathing down Estrada’s neck.
FLYWEIGHT – Julio Cesar Martinez (18-2, 14 KOs): The 112-pound titleholder came up short when he moved up in weight to challenge Roman Gonzalez but got back to his winning ways in December, outpointing Samuel Carmona.
No. 2 – Sunny Edwards (19-0, 4 KOs): A strong case can be made for Martinez’s fellow beltholder, who is a superb technician with a perfect record. Kenshiro Teraji, a 108-pound titleholder, also is right there.