Our very own attempt at the mythical Pound for Pound Ranking system. As it is totally subjective, there isn’t really a set criteria for selection. With that in mind we’ve looked at a combination of the recent accomplishments of our nation’s boxers and how we rate their ability.
1. Carl Frampton (23-0) – Featherweight
It was a coming out year on the world stage for The Jackal in 2016. Having outclassed domestic rival Scott Quigg in February to cement his place at the top of the Super Bantamweight division, he went on to win his third* world title in 2 divisions. His impressive tactical away win in Manchester was followed by a quality boxing display on foreign soil as he conquered WBA Featherweight king Leo Santa-Cruz. A lot is made of unbeaten records today and Frampton kept his, while taking those of his biggest rivals. Next up is a rematch with LSC in Vegas.
*Depending on how highly you regard the WBA belt he took from Scott Quigg.
2. James Degale (23-1) Super Middleweight
The sole blemish on Degale’s record probably bothers him a lot more than it does us. Since losing a razor thin decision to bitter rival George Groves in 2011, “Chunky” has gone from strength to strength. He has been accused of easing off during fights and coasting but his recent resume is not to be sniffed at. His last three wins, all on the road, have seen him win decisions against Andre Dirrell, Lucien Bute and Rogelio Medina. The former two in particular mean that Degale arguably deserves more respect than he gets from the British boxing public. A win in his next encounter, a unification with WBC Champ (and Groves conqueror) Badou Jack will surely see the former Olympic Gold medallist receive adulation from boxing fans.
3. Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1) – Bantamweight
We’ve made no secret that we admire one half of the McDonnell twins (we don’t mind Gavin either) but he really deserves to be in the mix at the top end of this discussion. He never lost the IBF title in the ring, defeated much respected Tomoki Kameda twice and has remained undefeated for over 7 years. The only slight blot on his recent copybook was a poor performance last time out against Liborio Solis in Monte Carlo, where he was fortunate to keep his WBA title. Gavin has the chance to make history next month and join his twin brother as a world champion. Meanwhile Jamie will be looking for a big response and a rematch with IBF title holder Lee Haskins has been mooted.
4. Lee Selby (23-1) – Featherweight
The Welsh Mayweather has followed the James Degale route recently and performed Stateside under the watchful eye of Al Haymon. On his day the IBF Featherweight supremo is phenomenal and remains firmly in the mix here. The build up to a big money defence against Josh Warrington appears further away than ever if rumours are to believed, however the Welshman is believed to in line for the winner of Frampton-Santa-Cruz II in what would be the biggest bout of his career.
5. Kell Brook (36-1) – Welterweight
While many feel that Brook’s stock has never been higher following his brave defeat to GGG, we feel that it was higher when he wrested the IBF Welterweight title from Shawn Porter. Porter has gone on show his class in victories over Adrian Broner and a narrow loss to Keith Thurman while Brook has largely fought subpar opponents (with GGG the obvious exception) and struggled to build on his win. Talk of settling the score with Amir Khan has seemingly gone on forever and has become boring. From BIG Kell Brook fans, his welterweight reign has been largely frustrating and if he is to stay at 147lbs he surely needs to box Khan or Errol Spence next, to cement himself as one of the elite.
6. Amir Khan (31-4) – Welterweight
What a decision this was. Based on his past accomplishments, both as an amateur and professional, “King” Khan could be number one on this list. Unfortunately it is 2016 and you could argue his last significant win was a Super Lightweight ugnification against Zab Judah. We feel Brook’s best win at 147lbs (Porter) is better than any of Khan’s Welterweights wins, although his general body of work (Collazo, Alexander and Algieri) compares favourably with that of his rival. Ultimately though, Khan has not been active enough to rank any higher on our list and continues to flirt with other ventures. Hopefully, a long overdue matchup with Brook is next, if not he remains as the number one contender to for the winner of Garcia-Thurman.
7. Terry Flanagan (32-0) Lightweight
Manchester’s current Lightweight world champion has been guided perfectly by Frank Warren thus far. “Turbo” is unbeaten in 32 contests and has progressed well to become one of the best boxers in a deep Lightweight division. An all Manchester clash with Anthony Crolla appears to be off the cards, due to promotional difficulties as much as Crolla’s scheduled rematch with Jorge Linares. While he has developed strongly, Flanagan is in the need of a career defining fight.
8. Billy Joe Saunders (24-0) Middleweight
Another boxer on the list who is coming off a rather disappointing performance. BJS just about did enough to hold onto his WBO Middleweight title but has admitted himself that he is treating the performance as a defeat. Hopefully it is the wake up call he needs because Saunders is a supreme technician in the ring with a tough chin and slick skills. The WBO has recently announced Canelo as the mandatory challenger which could lead to a wonderful opportunity should the Mexican wish to regain gold at 160lbs. We may be in the minority here but a fully fit and focussed Saunders gives Canelo fits if he boxes to order (hopefully the order of Jimmy Tibbs)
9. Tony Bellew (28-2-1) Cruiserweight
The ‘Bomber’s world title win was third time lucky for the Evertonian. Taking out the emotion of winning it at Goodison Park, Bellew’s victory over the much favoured Ilunga Makabu catapulted him to the top of a very deeply talented Cruiserweight division. Despite claims he wanted to unify the division, he has been drawn north of 200lbs to face ‘rival’ David Haye. We have little interest in that particular matchup, yet win lose or draw, Bellew’s body of work at Cruiserweight warrants his place on this list and leaves him in a great position to take on some of his fellow champions in the future.
10. Anthony Joshua (18-0) Heavyweight
As the places on the list are judged on a combination of achievements and our perception of ability, it is impossible to ignore the PPV machine that is AJ. It is also impossible to determine his best win. The 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist has blown away all opposition to date. He has been unstoppable thus far, claiming the IBF strap in the process, but has not benefitted from Tyson Fury’s recent hiatus. The division isn’t particularly clear (which is the case in many, it’s just rare for the Heavyweight scene as we are used to Klitshcko, and then Fury, being the man to beat) which means that we may need several unification bouts to see just how good AJ can be.
George Groves, Callum Smith, Nathan Cleverly, Kal Yafai, David Haye, Ricky Burns.