Boxing Pound for Pound Rankings: Tyson Fury becomes a crossover star in grabbing heavyweight title
The 'Gypsy King' has a unique skillset at heavyweight that makes it hard to keep him off this list
Thanks to the very reason why the term was created in the first place, it has always been difficult for heavyweight fighters to find a consistent home on most boxing pound-for-pound lists.?
An unofficial rankings system to decide the 10 best fighters in the world at any given moment, P4P was designed to level the playing field for smaller boxers to achieve comparison against the larger fighters -- namely heavyweights -- they would never get the chance to face due to their overwhelming size.?
Although the P4P criteria remains a regularly debated formula that is anything but scientific, there's typically thought given to the idea of taking two fighters and mythically putting them in the same division using the strengths and weaknesses they have on their own. Under that line of thinking, most heavyweights simply don't have the craft to match up against their smaller brethren, especially during much of the last two decades when the division was unavoidably inept and shallow.
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Wladimir Klitschko certainly deserved a brief stay at the back end of the top 10 toward the end of his lengthy reign five years ago, if anything to reward his consistency despite porous competition. Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder also picked up a few votes now and then in recent years while being credited with reviving the division.?
But along with Aleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion who moved up in weight and retains a claim to his current P4P rank until he can prove us otherwise in his new division, Tyson Fury might be the most deserving of any in the group thanks to his biggest performances.?
Both Fury's inactivity in the aftermath of his 2015 upset of Klitschko and his inconsistent matchmaking need to be held against his P4P claim. His ability, however, and how that compares to those in other weight classes shouldn't be. And it took until the self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" achieved what was deemed the impossible last weekend that rewarding said skills felt justifiable.?
Going back to how he snake-charmed Klitschko as a major underdog, we always knew the 6-foot-9 Englishman of Irish Traveller decent possessed incredible technical and improvisational skill that belie his massive size. But his lack of finishing power was perceived as his lone weakness until he boldly switched trainers and philosophies just two months out from his rematch with Wilder and somehow did everything he said he would do.?
By adding nearly 20 pounds of muscle and seeking out the teaching of Kronk Gym disciple SugarHill Steward, Fury walked down one of the most dangerous sluggers in boxing history and the same man in Wilder who floored him twice in their 2018 disputed draw. By landing right hands at will and mesmerizing him with creative feints, Fury also pounded him into submission as Wilder's corner threw in the towel in Round 7.?
The boxer became the puncher in Las Vegas with a victory so resounding that it made Fury an instantaneous crossover star in the U.S. and quickly forced critics to reconsider historical potential as far as legacy is concerned provided he stays active. While the end game of that distinction will need to wait, it's hard to deny Fury right now his placement among the very best in the game.?
Not only does Fury have multiple ways to win a fight and a genius mind to break down his opponents, he possesses the kind of mental toughness and iron will that the majority of his competition has never seen. That combination packaged inside of such an imposing frame is hard to beat, even if the comparison to smaller weight classes becomes difficult considering Fury has weight advantages over opponents that aren't comparable to smaller divisions.?
Make no mistake about it, however, should Fury prove able to defeat Wilder in their trilogy bout and become an undisputed champion by topping unified champion Anthony Joshua, it will become hard to keep him away from the conversation of the sport's P4P best.?
Pound for Pound Rankings
| 1. Canelo Alvarez||52-1-2, 31 KOs||Middleweight (unified), light heavyweight champion||--|
| Winning a title in his fourth division by stopping 175-pound titleholder Sergey Kovalev in November has Alvarez approaching the status of all-time great. Already the biggest star in boxing, he has made a compelling case as its best fighter overall thanks to his willingness to seek the toughest challenges available.?|
| 2. Vasiliy Lomachenko|| 14-1, 10 KOs|| Unified lightweight champion||--|
|Despite fighting in a division far above his optimal weight, Lomachenko continues to dazzle. He secured a third 135-pound title in August by outpointing Luke Campbell in a sensational duel. Up next is a unification bout with unbeaten Teofimo Lopez Jr. that could be Loma's most dangerous fight to date.|
|3. Naoya Inoue ? ??|| 18-0, 16 KOs||Unified bantamweight champion||--|
|Each time the Japanese "Monster" moves up in weight, he seems to carry his power in even scarier ways. His decision win over Nonito Donaire in the World Boxing Super Series final was the fight of the year and allowed Inoue to show his true character. A must-see unification bout with John Riel Casimero is up next in April.?|
|4. Terence Crawford|| 35-0, 25 KOs||Welterweight champion||--|
|The only thing that appears to be stopping the sublime Crawford's ascension of the P4P throne is a lack of access to the best welterweights in the world. The network and promotional divide continues to keep Crawford on an island. Here's to hoping business picks up in 2020.?|
|5. Errol Spence Jr.|| 26-0, 21 KOs|| Unified welterweight champion||--|
|Fresh off a split-decision win over Shawn Porter to unify titles, Spence survived a high-speed car crash in which he was ejected from his vehicle. The hard-hitting southpaw has vowed to return this spring and wants to face the very best available to him.?|
| 6. Aleksandr Usyk|| 17-0, 13 KOs||Heavyweight/undisputed cruiserweight champion||--|
|The former undisputed cruiserweight champion dominated late replacement Chazz Witherspoon in his heavyweight debut amid a handful of injuries that have slowed him down. The southpaw still needs to prove he has the chin and power to compete with elite heavyweights and appears to be closing in on a stern test against Dereck Chisora in May.?|
|7. Manny Pacquiao|| 62-7-2, 39 KOs||Welterweight champion||--|
|At the age of 40, Pacquiao produced one of his most impressive wins to date by outpointing Keith Thurman last July. Rumors of his much-anticipated 2020 return have nearly every network, promoter and potential opponent looking to join the sweepstakes. Whichever direction he goes, Pacquiao has earned the rights to call his own shots and cash in doing so.?|
|8. Tyson Fury||30-0-1, 21 KOs||Heavyweight champion|
|By calling his shot and stopping unbeaten slugger Deontay Wilder in their PPV rematch, Fury achieved folk hero status by achieving such an unlikely result. Only his lack of consistent elite competition prevents him from climbing this list. He proved he can win using any style and might be the mentally toughest fighter today.?|
| 9. Juan Francisco Estrada|| 40-3, 27 KOs||Junior bantamweight champion|
|At 29, "El Gallo" remains one of the most unsung elite competitors in the sport. His hard-fought decision win over 115-pound king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in their April rematch was a reminder of just how great Estrada is.?|
| 10. Artur Beterbiev|| 15-0, 15 KOs||Unified light heavyweight champion|
|Welcome to the Beterbiev era at 175 pounds. The Russian slugger unified a pair of titles and captured the lineal crown with an October dismantling of fellow unbeaten Oleksandr Gvodzyk, and did so with the perfect mix of power and craft. ?|
Dropped out: Gennadiy Golovkin
Honorable mention: Golovkin, Josh Taylor, Mikey Garcia, Regis Prograis, Leo Santa Cruz, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Donnie Nietes
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