Top 30 Boxers of 2019

By Cain Bradley on January 12, 2019
Top 30 Boxers of 2019
Usyk utterly dominated Gassiev, in one of the performances of the year. (Matt Horton)

Oleksandr Usyk will look towards the heavyweight division where his work-rate, speed and movement can cause trouble…

1. Oleksandr Usyk
Wins: Mairis Breidis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew
Usyk is the man I expect to be the consensus number one. He went away from home three times and beat highly ranked opponents. The start of the year saw him in the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals, where he went to Riga and won a close decision in a tough bout. In the final, he was utterly dominant against Murat Gassiev, in one of the performances of the year. To end his year, he went over to Manchester and took on Tony Bellew. He showed his boxing ability after a slow start and stopped Bellew with a vicious left hand. He will look towards the heavyweight division where his work-rate, speed and movement can cause trouble.

2. Saul Alvarez
Wins: Gennady Golovkin and Rocky Fielding
The biggest fight of 2018 came in a rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. It was delayed from May after Canelo failed a drug test, so instead took place in September. This time, Canelo looked like a different fighter. Instead of looking to counterpunch on the backfoot, he chose to stand and trade often forcing the powerful Kazakh back. There was controversy about the result, but he was given a majority decision victory. To end the year, he moved up to Super Middleweight and took a world title from Rocky Fielding with a vicious stoppage.

3. Vasyl Lomachenko
Wins: Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza
Lomachenko started the year by moving up to his third weight division. He would take on Jorge Linares, the WBA Lightweight champion. He was dropped in the sixth round and with three rounds remaining, the scorecards were tied up. Lomachenko would not need the scorecards, instead finishing Linares with a vicious body shot in the tenth. An arm injury suffered in the bout caused him to have some time off. He would end the year as unified world champion after defeating Jose Pedraza. It was a performance that disappointed some as he only won a clear decision, but Lomachenko will no doubt be satisfied with his year.

4. Josh Warrington
Wins: Lee Selby and Carl Frampton
I’ve doubted Warrington for as long as I can remember. Overrated because he gets a good home crowd buying tickets. I was badly wrong twice. He bullied two of the best fighters on British shores as heavy underdog. He applied pressure, with a high work rate and used his underrated power to keep both men on the back foot.

5. Eleider Alvarez
Wins: Sergey Kovalev
Alvarez had only one fight in 2018, but it was a huge one. He wrestled the titles away from Sergey Kovalev with a stunning performance which saw him stop the feared Russian in the seventh round. He was down on the scorecards, but a big punch changed the fight and Alvarez managed to capture the WBO World Title by finishing off Kovalev.

6. Mikey Garcia
Wins: Sergey Lipinets and Robert Easter Jr.
Mikey Garcia won world title fights in two divisions. He got a win earlier in the season over Lipinets, the unbeaten Russian. It was comfortable for him, with a knockdown in the seventh round just sealing the victory. Even better, was his unification bout against Robert Easter. He nullified the long reach to win a comfortable decision and even knocked down Easter early on.

7. Donnie Nietes
Wins: Juan Carlos Reveco and Kazuto Ioka
Draws: Aston Palicte
Weird year for Nietes. He got a brilliant win to start the year, stopping Reveco. On the Superfly card, he could only draw with Aston Palicte despite many believing he had done enough to get the win. Then to end the year, he got a win over Ioka but many disputed whether he deserved that.

8. Jarrett Hurd
Wins: Erislandy Lara and Jason Welborn
I did not believe in Hurd before his fight with Lara. Against a seriously skilled operator in Lara, he showed that his talents match up against the best fighters in the division. He kept up with Lara throughout the fight and dropped him in the last round to win himself a decision. An injury kept him out almost the rest of the year, until he fought Jason Welborn who, after a shaky spell, he stopped with a vicious body shot.

9. Deontay Wilder
Wins: Luis Ortiz
Draw: Tyson Fury
10. Tyson Fury
Wins: Francesco Pianeta and Sefer Seferi
Draw: Deontay Wilder
After their incredible performance to welcome in December, these two men have to be grouped together. A close fight was judged to be a draw as the power of Wilder helped him knock down Fury twice. Wilder gets the nod in these rankings, despite the majority of observers believing Fury was the one who deserved the victory, because of his superb victory over Luis Ortiz earlier in the year. He is a top five fighter in the division and Wilder showed a lot to overcome him whilst Fury labored to wins over two poor opponents.

11. Naoya Inoue
Wins: Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano
Just missing out on the top ten is Naoya Inoue. They may not have been the highest quality wins, but he looked utterly dominant in destroying two very good fighters. He won a world title in his third weight division when viciously stopping Jamie McDonnell and then repeated the feat in the World Boxing Super Series quarter final against Payano. Both were superb finishes which showed just how dangerous Inoue is.

12. Callum Smith
Wins: Nieky Holkzen and George Groves
Another World Boxing Super Series winner, although not as impressive. His semi final was supposed to see him take on Juergen Braehmer. Unfortunately, the German pulled out and was instead replaced by unknown Nieky Holkzen. In the final he was underdog against George Groves. He used his size and power to bully Groves and finished him with a punishing combination in the seventh round.

13. Kazuto Ioka
Wins: McWillams Arroyo
Losses: Donnie Nietes
Ioka was the most impressive performer on the Superfly card when dominating Arroyo and then was perhaps unlucky when losing to Nietes. He outworked the Filipino and landed good work at distance but the judges felt he had not done enough.

14. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Wins: Juan Francisco Estrada, Iran Diaz and Young Gil Bae
After a career defining year last year, Srisaket enjoyed a solid year. His big win came at the start of the year, on the Superfly 2 card. He took on Juan Francisco Estrada, rated by most as the Super Flyweight most likely to beat him. Srisaket was too strong and accurate, winning a majority decision in a slugfest. His two fights over the rest of the year were most non-competitive affairs as he was a class above Iran Diaz and Young Gil Bae.

15. Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Wins: Adonis Stevenson and Mehdi Amar
Gvozdyk started his year by capturing the interim WBC Title with a lopsided decision victory over Mehdi Amar. His big win came in December. He went to Canada and won the full title off Adonis Stevenson. It was a back and forth fight that saw Gvozdyk stop Stevenson when down on admittedly poor cards.

16. Kosei Tanaka
Wins: Sho Kimura and Ronnie Baldonado
This is the place where the emphasis of the list shifts. Anyone above this has a great win whereas from here on they might merely be good wins. Tanaka’s defeat over Kimura comes somewhere in the middle. He went to war, with the powerful Kimura, winning a majority decision to win a world title in his third weight division in only twelve fights.

17. Gennady Golovkin
Wins: Vanes Martirosyan
Losses: Saul Alvarez
He has to be further down this list because at the end of the day he lost his big fight of the year and only managed to beat a faded Light Middleweight. He reached a higher level than most fighters on the list when running Canelo incredibly close. A number of people believed he won, I was not of that opinion, but cannot argue that he run one of the best fighters in the world very close.

18. Ken Shiro
Wins: Milan Melindo, Saul Juarez and Ganigan Lopez
Ken Shiro showed his destructive power even down at Light Flyweight. It started when he stopped old foe Ganigan Lopez in the second round with a vicious liver punch. He followed it up by also stopping former world champion Milan Melindo on cuts. He finished off by beating Saul Juarez. Two good wins over impressive contenders in his division and another over a gatekeeper.

19. Terence Crawford
Wins: Jeff Horn and Jose Benavidez
This may be a little low for Crawford. He moved up to his third weight division and although he didn’t necessarily take on the best opposition; he looked impressive. He beat up Horn for eight rounds before stopping him in the ninth. Against a tough Benavidez, he dominated with his accuracy before finishing him in the last round.

20. Hiroto Kyoguchi
Wins: Vince Paras, Tibo Monabesa and Hekkie Budler
Kyoguchi started the year with a good defense at Minimumweight against Vince Paras. He followed that by moving up to Light Flyweight. After a comfortable win to acclimatize to the division, he beat Hekkie Budler, who was on the shortlist for this list, and become the first man to stop the South African with a vicious display.

21. Anthony Joshua
Wins: Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin
I feel a bit for Joshua, everyone is being forced to pick a side in the heavyweight division and he has become the target for increasing disillusionment. His year has been impressive though. A dominant performance in a unification bout against an unbeaten rival. Then against someone most people considered to be a top five fighter, he stopped Povetkin despite a rocky start.

22. Knockout CP Freshmart
Wins: Toto Landero, Byron Rojas and Chaozhong Xiong
Two top ten wins, with one arguably being against a top five opponent has arguably cemented his reputation as the best strawweight right now. Rojas was seen as the tougher opponent and probably best non belt holder in the division. Freshmart wore him down with body punching and pressure.

23. Shawn Porter
Wins: Danny Garcia
The best win of this section of the list, but it was close and maybe not as respected as it once would have been. He did get a decision over Garcia, despite the flashier work from Garcia. Porter just kept on coming though, wearing down Garcia with his pressure, throwing almost 700 punches.

24. Dmitry Bivol
Wins: Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba and Jean Pascal
Maybe I am overrating the Sullivan Barrera victory. He became the first man to stop Sullivan Barrera after dominating him throughout the fight. When considered next to Gvozdyk and Alvarez, his year does not actually look that impressive with workmanlike victories over Chilemba and Pascal following. However, I cannot shake the impression of the Barrera win, which told me Bivol has the tools to dominate this division.

25. Regis Prograis
Wins: Julius Indongo, Juan Jose Velasco and Terry Flanagan
26. Josh Taylor
Wins: Victor Postol, Winston Campos and Ryan Martin
Very similar years for the two men who I believe sit atop the Light Welterweight divisions. Both have one win against someone who was rated as a top contender in the division. Prograis fought Indongo whilst Taylor took on Postol. Both men had only been beaten by Crawford and were probably considered the top two with his removal from the division. Prograis wasted Indongo in two viciously dominant rounds whilst Taylor showed his class when pulling away from Postol. Both had a win over an overmatched opponent in Velasco and Campos respectively, before finishing the year with a World Boxing Super Series quarter final. Taylor stopped a poor Ryan Martin while Prograis dominated his way to a decision victory over Flanagan. I give the edge to Prograis but both have very strong years and will hope to go even better next year with the completion of the World Boxing Super Series.

27. Jaime Munguia
Wins: Sadam Ali, Liam Smith, Brandon Cook, Johnny Navarette and Jose Carlos Paz
One of the breakout stars of 2018 (especially after the loss of Isaac Dogboe who was tentatively slotted in at 12 on this list when I wrote it up on December 3rd). Most people were first exposed to him when he was referenced as a potential Canelo replacement to fight Golovkin. The Nevada Commission (wrongly, in hindsight) nixed him as an opponent. He ended the year as a well regarded world champion. He stepped up on short notice to take on Sadam Ali, crushing the American in the fourth round. He defended it twice, winning comfortably against Liam Smith before stopping Brandon Cook to end a year where only one of five opponents managed to get into the fifth round.

28. Chayaphon Moonsri
Wins: Leroy Estrada, Pedro Taduran and Mekitson Marganti
The diminutive Thai extended his unbeaten record to 52-0, earning some well deserved credit from the media which is usually happy to ignore the strawweight division. The first two wins were actually quite impressive. He stopped Estrada and ground out a comfortable decision over Taduran. Marganti didn’t belong in the same ring as Moonsri, but his first two wins get him his place on this list.

29. Mo Hooker
Wins: Terry Flanagan and Alex Saucedo
Hooker was seen by many as a soft touch for Terry Flanagan to win a world title in his second weight division. Instead his length and jab took him past the smaller man, winning a tough split decision. Once again as underdog, in his opponent’s hometown, Hooker defended his title with a big win over Saucedo. He was knocked down in the second but got up and finished Saucedo in the seventh.

30. Danny Jacobs
Wins: Maciej Sulecki and Sergiy Derevyanchenko
A last minute addition to this list, after the loss of Cristofer Rosales. It wasn’t an electrifying year for Jacobs and he had two close victories. Both were against underrated opponents though. Sulecki is a potential danger at the weight whilst Derevyanchenko is a great boxer with a strong amateur pedigree. Jacobs overcame both and is looking for a bigger fight next year.

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  1. fan 09:12am, 01/15/2019

    we should have a pound per pound best of all time and be able to compare with current champ.

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