After his thorough domination of Callum Smith to claim 168-pound gold, is there any question that Canelo Alvarez is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world? A legitimate four-division world champion with arguably the best resume in the sport, Canelo has proven himself as not only the biggest attraction in the sport, but also the best fighter.
And it’s not even close.
If you disagree, what does he have to do to prove it? It is also imperative for his detractors to find another fighter who has both the resume and degree of dominance that Canelo has had over the competition.
There will always be someone who will attempt to make a case for another fighter to top the pound-for-pound list ahead of Canelo. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find another 30-year-old who has done what Canelo has accomplished. And it’s not just the fact that he’s winning, it’s how he goes about getting the job done.
Pitching a shutout against previously unbeaten Callum Smith while giving up both a significant height and reach advantage speaks in volumes to Canelo’s ability. But Canelo has been consistent in making the best the sport has to offer look out of their league when tasked with facing him. Whether that is his thunderous knockout of Sergey Kovalev, the boxing lesson he gave Daniel Jacobs or the dominance against the likes of James Kirkland, Liam Smith and Amir Khan, Canelo rarely disappoints.
There are arguments that can be made for Errol Spence Jr., Naoya Inoue, Terence Crawford, Teofimo Lopez Jr. and Oleksandr Usyk when it comes to topping the pound-for-pound list. But those arguments end up being paper-thin. Usyk became the undisputed cruiserweight champion but hasn’t faced an opponent who is sniffing the top 10 pound-for-pound list. The same can be said for Inoue, and the way he was challenged by a Nonito Donaire, who was thought to be on the wrong end of his 30s, didn’t help matters any.
Lopez has a case after his impressive performance against Vasiliy Lomachenko, but he’s still very early in his career and hasn’t racked up wins against the biggest and toughest names in the sport just yet.
As for Spence and Crawford, it’s almost impossible to make the case for either until they fight each other. Remember, when Canelo fought Gennadiy Golovkin, they were both perched on the pound-for-pound list. And regardless of whether you thought Canelo won those fights, the fact remains that they were both nip and tuck affairs against the perceived boogeyman of boxing. Without those fights, Canelo wouldn’t sit on top of the pound-for-pound list. And just like Canelo and GGG, Spence and Crawford need each other.
Canelo occupies a space all to his own. He’s rampaging through divisions impressively and routinely turns back the challenges of either previously undefeated opponents, champions or a combination of both. What he does next is anybody’s guess. He’s expressed interest in unifying the titles at super-middleweight, so the names Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders could be next in line. If he decides to venture back up to light heavyweight, tantalizing showdowns with Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol are intriguing.
And then there’s always the unfinished business he has with Golovkin.
At this point, there is no other fighter who comes close to Canelo’s accomplishments. And unless there is a precipitous fall off over the next few years, it doesn’t look like Canelo is going to be giving up that top spot anytime soon.