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  • Who's the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world? With Alvarez-Fielding approaching, SI.com weighs all the factors and reveals its top-10 list.
By Chris Mannix
December 11, 2018

How do you determine the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world?

It's a question that journalists, pundits and scores of fighters, trainers and promoters have asked and debated for a decades. Skill, certainly. A fighter’s in-ring brilliance is visible, regardless of the competition. But what about that competition? Certainly the strength of a fighter’s resume should be taken into account.

The point—it’s subjective.

With that backdrop, we unveil SI.com’s pound-for-pound list for December 2018.

1. Vasyl Lomachenko

Record: 12-1
Last fight: UD vs. Jose Pedraza on Dec. 8
Next fight: TBD

Lomachenko picked up another piece of the 135-pound crown with a masterful performance against Pedraza, dropping the ex-champ twice in the 11th round and showcasing the pinpoint accuracy that has made him the most dangerous fighter in the lighter weight classes. Lomachenko is brilliant. How he showcases that brilliance is the question. With Mikey Garcia headed to welterweight early next year, there are few marketable opponents for Lomachenko in the lightweight division

2. Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez

Record: 50-1-2
Last fight: MD win vs. Gennady Golovkin on Sept. 15
Next fight: Dec. 15 vs. Rocky Fielding

Alvarez secures the No. 2 spot through the strength of his résumé. He burnished it early with wins over Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout, ended Miguel Cotto’s brief reign as middleweight champion and humanized boxing’s boogeyman, Golovkin, in two tough fights, the last of which he squeaked out by taking the fight to GGG in September. Alvarez will test himself at super middleweight on December 15th before returning to 160-pounds, where he will have the opportunity to unify the division in 2019.

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3. Terence Crawford

Record: 34-0
Last fight: TKO of Jose Benavidez Jr. on Oct. 13
Next fight: TBD

Crawford has No. 1 pound-for-pound talent; like Lomachenko, he needs opponents to showcase it. Crawford seamlessly transitioned to welterweight in 2018, stopping Jeff Horn and Benavidez. But Top Rank’s stable of available 147-pounders is weak—Crawford has an offer to face long–faded veteran Luis Collazo next year—forcing the promoter to make big offers to Danny Garcia (who rejected it) and Amir Khan (who is mulling), who operate outside Top Rank’s ESPN universe. If Crawford can lure top opponents into the ring, he could rise the rankings quickly.

4. Oleksandr Usyk

Record: 16-0
Last fight: TKO of Tony Bellew on Nov. 10
Next fight: TBD

Usyk—who completed a brilliant 2018 with a violent stoppage of Bellew in November—is a rising star. At 31, Usyk is the undisputed cruiserweight champion with an eye on a move to heavyweight next year. Usyk told SI.com he would like to lure Andre Ward out of retirement for a cruiserweight defense, but believes he has the size and skill to beat the top heavyweights. Aligned with Eddie Hearn—the promoter of unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua—Usyk will get those opportunities

5. Gennady Golovkin

Record: 38-1-1
Last fight: MD loss to Saul Alvarez on Sept. 15
Next fight: TBD

Edge, Canelo Alvarez in the rivalry between Alvarez and Golovkin, after Alvarez topped Golovkin in September. A pair of razor close fights between the two top middleweights has not diminished Golovkin’s standing, and he enters 2019 with a loaded 160-pound division and a chance to reclaim his titles—and the top spot in it. Who Golovkin fights will depend on what network he aligns with. The middleweight belts—and a third fight with Alvarez—are with DAZN, while a showdown with Jermall Charlo is available if Golovkin signs with Al Haymon.

6. Mikey Garcia

Record: 39-0
Last fight: UD vs. Robert Easter Jr. on July 28
Next fight: Mar. 16 vs. Errol Spence Jr.

Garcia has been on a tear since returning in 2016 from a 2 1/2 year layoff, racking up a 5-0 record, winning titles in two weight classes and unifying belts in the lightweight division. In March, he will jump up two weight classes to challenge 147-pound titleholder Errol Spence. Win or lose against Spence, there will be a huge market for a Garcia-Lomachenko showdown in 2019—if Garcia is willing to come back to 135-pounds.

7. Errol Spence Jr.

Record: 24-0
Last fight: KO vs. Carlos Ocampo
Next fight: Mar. 16 vs. Mikey Garcia

A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Spence appears to be the total package, blending power—particularly to the body—with emerging skills. It was a frustratingly slow year for Spence—his last fight, a mandatory title defense against Ocampo, ended in the first round—but 2019 is shaping up to be a big one. Spence will have a huge size advantage against Garcia, and if he wins a unification fight with Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman will be available to him.

8. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

Record: 47-4-1
Last fight: UD win vs. Iran Diaz on Oct. 6
Next fight: TBD

Rungvisai put his stamp on the super flyweight division in 2017, when he knocked off Roman Gonzalez, twice. He added three wins in 2018 but a unification fight—something fighters in the smaller weight classes badly need for recognition—eluded him. That could change in early 2019, when Rungvisai could get a shot at fellow titleholder Jerwin Ancajas.

9. Naoya Inoue

Record: 17-0
Last fight: KO vs. Juan Carlos Payano on Oct. 7
Next fight: TBD

Inoue—dubbed, simply, “Monster”—hits hard; his knockout percentage is 88%. Inoue is hoping the World Boxing Super Series will force the kind of fights he needs to become more mainstream, though the tournament has been plagued recently by financial issues. Regardless, Inoue’s crushing power—he has finished his last six opponents inside six rounds has elevated him to a top spot in the bantamweight division.

10. Leo Santa Cruz

Record: 35-1-1
Last fight: UD win vs. Abner Mares on June 9
Next fight: Feb. 16 vs. Miguel Flores

Santa Cruz’s style doesn’t scream style; the featherweight titleholder is a banger who wears opponents down with pressure. But he owns a pair of wins over Abner Mares and one over Carl Frampton and his ability to overwhelm with a barrage of punches is an effective skill. The featherweight division is one of boxing’s best, and Frampton could face titleholder Gary Russell and/or a rubber match with Frampton in 2019.

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