Boxers of 2017

By Cain Bradley on December 31, 2017
Boxers of 2017
It became clear early that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was too strong. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Entering the year, the debate was between Andre Ward and Roman Gonzalez for pound for pound number one. Neither man is in that conversation now…

1. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Wins: Roman Gonzalez (2)
This can only go one way for me. Entering the year, the debate was between Andre Ward and Roman Gonzalez for pound for pound number one. Neither man is in that conversation now. Ward retired, while Gonzalez was beaten twice by the same man. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was seen as a tough good fighter who would ultimately lose to Gonzalez. Instead, he dropped Gonzalez and won a majority decision in the first fight. A rematch was soon arranged and even as champion, he was the underdog again. This time he brutalized Gonzalez, it became clear very early that he was just too strong and he went on to stop Gonzalez violently in the fourth.

2. Terence Crawford
Wins: Felix Diaz and Julius Indongo
Maybe a surprise to a few people, but the way Crawford dispatched tough foes was magnificent. If it turned out these were the two best boxers in the division I would not be wholly surprised. He barely lost a round, stopping Diaz in the tenth and Indongo in the third. He looked incredibly classy and has now headed up to Welterweight where he will hopefully get a big bout with Spence or Thurman.

3. Vasyl Lomachenko
Wins: Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga, Guillermo Rigondeaux
Up there with Crawford for the most dominant performer of the year is Lomachenko. He also barely lost a round and saw three men quit against him. The only criticism would be slightly less impressive opposition. Marriaga is a relative journeyman whilst Sosa would be a gatekeeper. I am a huge Rigondeaux fan and think he is spectacular but moving up two divisions is tough on anyone. It does not take away that watching Lomachenko is breathtaking. It really is like nothing else in the sport.

4. Andre Ward
Wins: Sergey Kovalev
Last year I ranked him number one, basically for beating the same foe in a close decision. He won it more convincingly this time, really damaging the aura of Kovalev by stopping him (although at least the final shot was a low blow). Other boxers have done more this year though so he drops a little bit. He also retired this year, struggling to find his next bout, so will presumably never make this list again.

5. Gennady Golovkin
Wins: Daniel Jacobs
Draws: Canelo Alvarez
6. Canelo Alvarez
Wins: Julio Cesar Chavez
Draws: Gennady Golovkin
Funnily enough, I thought Golovkin got edged out in both of his fights this year. But the results stand. Beating Jacobs is a better result than beating Chavez and they both get a similar amount of credit for the draw, regardless of who you believe deserved to get the win. Avoiding defeat against unquestionably a top ten pound for pound opponent deserves a lot of credit and is more than anyone below them on the list has managed. (I predict this ranking to be the one I get the most stick for.)

7. Mikey Garcia
Wins: Dejan Zlaticanin and Adrien Broner
Mikey Garcia is an easy boxer to watch and fall in love with. His style is wonderful to watch and he has such obvious power in his fists. He showed the devastating power against Zlaticanin at the beginning of the year, in what is still one of the best knockouts of the year. Moving up in weight to fight Broner, he won a comfortable decision. It is crazy to think what he could have done in the years where he did not box and how high in the weights he could go considering he begun at Featherweight.

8. Errol Spence
Wins: Kell Brook
The long heralded prospect made good on all the promise when he won the IBF Welterweight Title against Kell Brook. He stopped the Brit in the eleventh round after physically wearing him down and injuring his retina again. He showed his class against Brook, a man who no other welterweight has beat.

9. Luis Nery
Wins: Jesus Martinez, Arthur Villanueva and Shinsuke Yamanaka
Despite a failed test for zilpaterol, Nery has some superb wins for the year. He stopped undefeated, dominant champion Yamanaka in the fourth round. Martinez and Villanueva were also brutally stopped. He has made a strong claim for being the best Bantamweight in the world and hopefully in 2018 he will prove it.

10. Ken Shiro
Wins: Pedro Guevara, Ganigan Lopez and Gilberto Pedroza
Another young boxer who has impressed with his performances this year. He won the title belt off Ganigan Lopez with a close decision and then consolidated with a win over Pedro Guevara. These two boxers were ranked as the best two in their division entering the year and Ken Shiro beat them both.

11. Anthony Joshua
Wins: Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam
The British Heavyweight had a star making year. His popularity has ascended to crazy levels in the United Kingdom and he makes any fight must watch TV. He got a superb fight out of Wladimir Klitschko showing his heart and resolve. He got up from a huge knockdown to win by stoppage in the eleventh round. Against Takam, he flattered to deceive, something showing the high expectations as he dominated throughout the fight. It was eventually stopped in round ten although almost everyone agrees the stoppage came very early.

12. Keith Thurman
Wins: Danny Garcia
Unfortunately we only managed to see Thurman once as he was injured during his only fight. That fight was an impressive win over Danny Garcia, a highly rated Welterweight in his own right. That was one of the most impressive wins of the year and unfortunately he could not build on it.

13. Miguel Berchelt
Wins: Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura
Another young fighter who won a world title in 2017. He beat the previously unbeaten Vargas entering the year, stopping him late on after comfortably winning. He then won a wide decision against Miura, barely losing a round. Having people mention him in big unification bouts shows himself as an important fighter in the division.

14. Mairis Breidis
Wins: Marco Huck and Mike Perez
The Latvian is the highest ranked Cruiserweight in a buzzing division. He dominated Huck, a win which I value slightly over Usyk as he did it first. He also got a victory over Perez quite comfortably and will enter 2017 preparing for a major clash with Usyk.

15. Leo Santa Cruz
Wins: Chris Avalos and Carl Frampton
The early front runner with his win over Carl Frampton. He did not follow it up, ending up defeating an overmatched Avalos. The rumors early in the year suggested a rematch with Frampton or Mares was most likely and perhaps the let down aspect of that and recency bias of other boxers have pushed him down the list.

16. Juan Francisco Estrada
Wins: Carlos Cuadras and Anuar Salas
A participant in the groundbreaking ‘Super Fly’ fight card. He beat a tough opposition in Carlos Cuadras putting him in line for a shot against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. His win over Salas does not really impact his ranking here.

17. Oleksandr Usyk
Wins: Marco Huck and Michael Hunter
The second and final member of the Cruiserweight WBSS tournament on this list, Usyk never fails to impress me. He was dominant against both Huck and Hunter. Despite neither being top tier opponents, the way he went about that win was definitely impressive. His 2018 schedule could see him fight Mairis Breidis and Murat Gassiev or Yunier Dorticos which would put him in pole position for 2018 boxer of the year.

18. Badou Jack
Win: Nathan Cleverly
Draw: James DeGale
In hindsight this looks less impressive. I just can’t get by what I saw as two stunning performances. He engaged in a brutal battle with DeGale, splitting knockdowns and perhaps leaving DeGale as a shell. Against Cleverly he looked a class above, dominating a world champion. He is another set up for a big 2018 with a bout against Adonis Stevenson and potentially the winner of Eleider Alvarez and Oleksandrr Gvozdyk.

19. Danny Jacobs
Win: Luis Arias
Loss: Gennady Golovkin
The only man with a loss to find himself on this list, Jacobs upped his stock when taking Golovkin to a tight decision that I had him winning. That is a great performance against a highly ranked opponent. He also dominated a Middleweight gatekeeper in Luis Arias and signed with Eddie Hearn. Mouth-watering clashes await in 2018.

20. Ryoichi Taguchi
Wins: Milan Melindo and Robert Barrera
I had Melindo penciled for a top ten position if he could beat Taguchi but Taguchi ended up dominating Melindo in their unification bout. His other win, a stoppage over Robert Barrera was a tad less impressive but still he has done enough to make the list.

21. Jermell Charlo
Wins: Charles Hatley and Ericsson Lubin
Finally a separator exists for the Charlo twins who share all but one letter. Jermell is the Light Middleweight and he has a year that has moved him up the pound for pound rankings. He stopped two good opponents in devastating fashion. Hatley was a good test, but Lubin was seen as a potential superstar and Charlo finished him with a superb punch.

22. Ryan Burnett
Wins: Joseafat Reyes, Lee Haskins and Zhanat Zhakiyanov
He entered 2017 as the British champion and ended it as a unified world champion. Reyes and Haskins saw him win one-sided contests whilst against the tough Kazakhstani he did enough to get a clear cut victory.

23. Jorge Linares
Wins: Luke Campbell and Anthony Crolla
Linares continues his role as the Brit conqueror. In his rematch with Crolla, he showed just how good he can be, barely losing a round. He was taken in to deeper waters by Luke Campbell but had banked early rounds to get the decision.

24. Gervonta Davis
Wins: Jose Pedraza, Liam Smith and Francesco Fonseca
I feel inclined to mention that I love Davis every time his name is brought up. He stopped all three opponents impressively. The way he beat Pedraza as a 22-year-old stunned me. Against Fonseca though he missed weight, losing his belt and did not put on the show that many expected.

25. Daigo Higa
Wins: Diomel Diocos, Juan Hernandez Navarette and Thomas Masson
Another boxer who did not enter the year as a world champion but left as one. He won all his bouts by stoppage having only turned 22 in August. Andrew Selby could be next.

26. Jeff Horn
Wins: Manny Pacquiao and Gary Corcoran
This bit of the list gets a bit tougher. Horn arguably lost to the Philippine superstar who is no longer the same but it was one of the most talked about victories of 2017.

27. Eleider Alvarez
Wins: Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal
Two names who are probably past their best, but the way he went about the victories were impressive. He has been clamoring for a big fight, likely with Stevenson, but it has still not happened.

28. George Groves
Wins: Fedor Chudinov and Jamie Cox
Perhaps a sentimental pick, I’ve been impressed with Groves this year. He has taken Chudinov and Cox out, showing how impressive his offense can be at times.

29. Jarrett Hurd
Wins: Tony Harrison and Austin Trout
Perhaps the underrated breakout boxer of 2017. He stopped two well rated opponents although showed weaknesses in both that make me believe he is beatable.

30. Jonas Sultan
Wins: John Riel Casemiro and Sonny Boy Jaro
The Filipino defeated two former world champions and has really put himself in a position to challenge for a Super Flyweight World Title. Both of the wins were in an impressive fashion over country mates.

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  1. Andre Roussimoff 12:30pm, 01/01/2018

    Holly Holm is the archetype….none come close….she is bad to the bone….hard core….she is the American fighter!

  2. Andre Roussimoff 04:12pm, 12/31/2017

    Not to worry…. both Andre Ward and Wladimir Klitschko will be on this list for 2018!

  3. Lucas McCain 02:34pm, 12/31/2017

    Though everyone will have his own list or argue with the order (as I do), the year-end column is a nice reminder of how deep the field is in pro boxing as we head into 2018.  And keep in mind the big names who didn’t make the list—Naoya “Monster” Inoue, and the other Charlo twin among them—it looks like plenty to follow over the coming season.

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