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  • Terence Crawford might be the best fighter in the world, but until he faces more top-level opponents, we won't know for sure.
By Chris Mannix
April 30, 2019

To watch Terence Crawford is to watch a master at his craft. On April 20, against Amir Khan, Crawford’s most notable opponent to date, Crawford was brilliant, knocking Khan down, beating the will out of a fighter known for going out on his shield. 

It was the kind of win that should elevate a fighter in boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings. 

Well… 

It isn’t hard to believe Crawford is the best fighter in the world today. It’s that we need to see it—against top-level opponents. Khan is a big name, but has not been seen as an elite fighter since he left the 140-pound division. Crawford cleaned out the 140-pound division and has now won three fights in a row at 147. But unlike Canelo Alvarez, Crawford is short on significant wins; unlike Vasyl Lomachenko, Crawford doesn’t have the deep amateur background to support his claim for No. 1. 

Crawford can get there, and it says here that if Top Rank can make fights with Al Haymon’s PBC fighters, he will get there. He has the talent—he just needs opportunities to showcase it. 

On to SI.com’s pound-for-pound list for April 2019. 

1. Vasyl Lomachenko
Record: 12-1
Last fight: KO win vs. Anthony Crolla on 4/12
Next fight: TBD

As expected, Lomachenko rolled to a blowout win over Crolla, his overmatched mandatory opponent for the 135-pound title. Now, the hunt for top opponents continues. A Gervonta Davis fight isn’t happening; Mayweather Promotions, Davis’s promoter, has no interest in making that fight. A Mikey Garcia clash won’t happen anytime soon, with Garcia considering what weight class to fight in after a decisive loss to Errol Spence in March. Lomachenko is scheduled to return in September, and fellow titleholder Richard Commey looms as the most appealing option in a thin field of available candidates. 

2. Canelo Alvarez
Record: 50-1-2
Last fight: KO win vs. Rocky Fielding on 12/15
Next fight: 5/4 against Daniel Jacobs (DAZN)

Alvarez’s 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. After an easy win over Rocky Fielding in December, Alvarez will step right back in with a top middleweight in Daniel Jacobs, with a third fight against Golovkin penciled in for September. The biggest star in boxing continues to seek out the biggest fights. 

3. Terence Crawford 
Record: 35-0
Last fight: TKO of Amir Khan on 4/20
Next fight: TBD

Crawford has settled in nicely in the 147-pound division, proving in three fights that his power has come up in weight with him. But with all the top welterweight talent in PBC’s stable, Crawford’s promoter, Bob Arum, will have to get creative to make something happen. One option could be Danny Garcia, who bounced back from a loss to Shawn Porter last year to stop Adrian Granados on April 20th. Top Rank has pursued Garcia as a Crawford opponent before—could the right offer get a fight done now?

4. Oleksandr Usyk
Record: 16-0
Last fight: TKO of Tony Bellew on 11/10
Next fight: 5/25, vs. Carlos Takam (DAZN)

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 who will make the jump to heavyweight in May. Usyk told SI.com he would have liked 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. He’ll get a softer touch next month when he takes on the journeyman Takam, after which bigger fights against Alexander Povetkin or Michael Hunter loom later this year. 

5. Gennady Golovkin
Record: 38-1-1
Last fight: MD loss to Saul Alvarez on 9/15
Next fight: 6/8 vs. Steve Rolls (DAZN)

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 his decision to align with DAZN opens the door for several significant middleweight fights over the next few years. Golovkin will get a shake off the rust fight in June against Rolls, with a third fight with Alvarez penciled into the DAZN schedule in the fall. 

6. Errol Spence Jr. 
Record: 25-0
Last fight: UD vs. Mikey Garcia
Next fight: TBD

A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Spence appears to be the total package, blending power—particularly to the body—with emerging skills. Those skills were on display against Garcia, who was outclassed. Spence wanted a shot at Manny Pacquiao, but with Pacquiao eyeing a fight with Keith Thurman, Spence is closing in on a title unification fight against Shawn Porter. The big question: Will Spence ever test his skills against Terence Crawford? 

7. Mikey Garcia
Record: 39-1
Last fight: UD loss vs. Errol Spence Jr. 
Next fight: TBD

Garcia dared to be great in moving up two weight classes to face Spence, and paid the price, taking significant punishment for 12 rounds en route to losing a lopsided decision. The question now is what weight class Garcia will campaign in moving forward? He vacated his lightweight belt, though he did not close the door on a return to 135-pounds. A showdown with Vasyl Lomachenko is still among the best fights to be made in boxing—if promoters and networks can cross the political divide to make it. 

8. Naoya Inoue
Record: 17-0
Last fight: KO vs. Juan Carlos Payano on 10/7
Next fight: 5/18, vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez (DAZN)

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. 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. His next chance to showcase that power will come against Rodriguez, who will put his piece of the 118-pound title on the line in the WBSS semifinals. 

9. Juan Francisco Estrada
Record: 39-3
Last fight: UD win vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Next fight: TBD

Estrada broke through against Sor Rungvisai, outpointing the hard hitting former champ in an entertaining rematch of their 2018 fight. Estrada was the aggressor early on, pressing the action against the more naturally stronger Sor Rungvisai. Estrada would like to unify the super flyweight titles next, with a third fight against Sor Rungvisai likely to happen down the road. 

10. Leo Santa Cruz
Record: 35-1-1
Last fight: UD win vs. Rafael Rivera
Next fight: TBD

Santa Cruz picked up an easy win over Rafael Rivera in February, and has eyes on a unification fight against Gary Russell Jr. later this year. The volume-punching Santa Cruz threw a whopping 1,273 punches against Rivera, proving again he is both talented and fan friendly. 

Chris Mannix is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and an on-air boxing analyst and host for DAZN.

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