Canelo Alvarez added another world title to his collection by defeating Billy Joe Saunders on May 8 in Arlington, Texas. After an extended run at No. 2, the victory finally pushed him to the top spot in ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings. Terence Crawford, the former No. 1, hasn't been in the ring in 2021 and currently doesn't have a fight scheduled.
Alvarez has three of the four major super middleweight world titles (WBC, WBO and WBA) and hopes to become undisputed champion against IBF titleholder Caleb Plant in a fight proposed for Mexican Independence Day weekend in September.
Boxing analyst Bernardo Pilatti, a fierce critic of Alvarez, was one of the voters that moved him up on his list, largely because of the way he handled Saunders.
"Alvarez defeated an opponent that he needed to fight in Saunders -- and he beat him easily," Pilatti said. "He had a good strategy and was able to handle Saunders's elusiveness and finished him. This victory was legitimate, so that's why I decided to move him up on my list."
Josh Taylor made his debut in the top 10 after an impressive victory over Jose Ramirez to become the undisputed junior welterweight champion. Taylor dominated Ramirez, sending him to the canvas in the sixth and seventh rounds, to earn a unanimous decision victory.
ESPN boxing analysts Timothy Bradley Jr. strongly believes Taylor deserves a place in the P4P rankings, noting as the main reason the fact that Taylor beats undefeated fighters and he does it in impressive fashion.
"If you really look at his résumé, he takes people's unbeaten records," Bradley said. "Look at his opponent's records in his last five fights, all of them were unbeaten before facing Taylor [Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis, Apinum Khongsong and Ramirez]. And he beat them all. It is unbelievable."
And then there is the case to be made for Taylor as a top fighter by being the king at 140 pounds.
"Taylor is undisputed, he conquered the entire division. If you clean up your whole division, of course you should be top 10 pound-for-pound," Bradley said. "And he's fought some great opponents, it's not that he fought guys that can't fight. He fought the best in his division, people that haven't lost before. And he's done it in a short period of time. Going into this fight with Ramirez, Taylor only had 91 rounds as a professional fighter. What he's done in this short period of time is unbelievable.
"The skills are there, he can do a little bit of everything, he can fight -- he fought Ramirez at spots -- he can box, he can counter, he moves, he has good punching power, speed, great body punching, he has so many levels to his game. He's a pound-for-pound fighter -- no question."
Ben Baby agrees and puts Taylor at No. 5 on his list. Baby believes Taylor deserves his top 10 spot based on the way he's been winning fights over the past few years.
"When you look at Josh Taylor's body of work, you have to include him in the pound-for-pound conversation," Baby said. "It is not just the fact that he's now the undisputed champion at junior welterweight, but the way he got there. He beat everybody that was in his path, won titles and then convincingly beat Jose Ramirez.
"And when you look at what Taylor's done over the last few years, he has one of the most impressive résumés in boxing, which was what made that unification fight against Ramirez so special. I had to move him up over other top fighters on my list because he has been willing to stay active and he has made the fight that we want to see in boxing, and in this era, that should be commendable."
Hall of Famer and former two division champion Andre Ward also likes Taylor's mentality of looking to fight the best competition available, and winning in the process.
"Taylor cracked my list at No. 9 because he has a very strong résumé," Ward said. "He performs very well against top competition and continues to look to fight the best."
Our panel of Bradley Jr., Joe Tessitore, Cameron Wolfe, Eric Raskin, Ward, Teddy Atlas, Nick Parkinson, Michelle Joy Phelps, Baby, Eric Woodyard, Kel Dansby, Pilatti, Charles Moynihan and Salvador Rodriguez share their votes.
Note: Results are through May 26.
Josh Taylor drops Jose Ramirez twice on way to winning belts
Josh Taylor knocks down Jose Ramirez twice on his way to winning the junior welterweight undisputed championship.
1. CANELO ALVAREZ Previous ranking: No. 2
RECORD: 56-1-2, 38 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (champion), super middleweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO8) Billy Joe Saunders, May 8
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
2. TERENCE CRAWFORD Previous ranking: No. 1
RECORD: 37-0, 28 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO4) Kell Brook, Nov. 14
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
3. NAOYA INOUE Previous ranking: No. 3
RECORD: 20-0, 17 KOs
DIVISION: Bantamweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (KO7) Jason Moloney, Oct. 31
NEXT FIGHT: June 19 vs. Michael Dasmarinas
4. ERROL SPENCE JR. Previous ranking: No. 4
RECORD: 27-0, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Danny Garcia, Dec. 5
NEXT FIGHT: Aug. 21 vs. Manny Pacquiao
5. TEOFIMO LOPEZ JR. Previous ranking: No. 5
RECORD: 16-0, 12 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: Aug. 14 vs. George Kambosos Jr.
6. TYSON FURY Previous ranking: No. 6
RECORD: 30-0-1, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Deontay Wilder, Feb. 22, 2020
NEXT FIGHT: July 24 vs. Deontay Wilder
7. JOSH TAYLOR Previous ranking: NR
RECORD: 18-0, 13 KOs
DIVISION: Junior welterweight (undisputed champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Jose Ramirez, May 22
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
8. OLEKSANDR USYK Previous ranking: No. 7
RECORD: 18-0, 13 KOs
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Dereck Chisora, Oct. 31
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
9. VASILIY LOMACHENKO Previous ranking: No. 8
RECORD: 14-2, 10 KOs
LAST FIGHT: L (UD12) Teofimo Lopez Jr., Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: June 26 vs. Masayoshi Nakatani
10. JUAN FRANCISCO ESTRADA Previous ranking: No. 9
RECORD: 42-3, 28 KOs
DIVISION: Junior bantamweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (SD12) Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, March 13
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
The rankings are based on a descending points system, with a first-place vote receiving 10 points, a second-place vote receiving nine points and so on. A tie goes to the fighter with the highest ranking and then the one with the most votes at that ranking.
Others receiving votes: Gervonta Davis (6), Gennadiy Golovkin (5), Oscar Valdez (3), Jermell Charlo (3), Roman Gonzalez (2), Artur Beterbiev (2).
How our writers voted
Atlas: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Spence, 5. Lomachenko, 6. Usyk, 7. Pacquiao, 8. Lopez, 9. Fury, 10. Estrada
Bradley: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Spence, 5. Lopez, 6. Taylor, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Fury, 9. Usyk, 10. Davis
Ward: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Fury, 4. Spence, 5. Inoue, 6. Usyk, 7. Lopez, 8. Estrada, 9. Taylor, 10. Valdez
Tessitore: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Taylor, 5. Lopez, 6. Spence, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Usyk, 9. Valdez, 10. Estrada
Parkinson: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Lopez, 5. Taylor, 6. Fury, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Spence, 10. Estrada
Baby: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Taylor, 6. Usyk, 7. Fury, 8. Estrada, 9. Lopez, 10. Lomachenko
Wolfe: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Spence, 5. Lopez, 6. Fury, 7. Estrada, 8. Usyk, 9. Lomachenko, 10. Taylor
Woodyard: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Spence, 5. Lopez, 6. Lomachenko, 7. Usyk, 8. Estrada, 9. Fury, 10. Taylor
Raskin: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Spence, 5. Lopez, 6. Lomachenko, 7. Fury, 8. Estrada, 9. Gonzalez, 10. Taylor
Dansby: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Spence, 5. Lopez, 6. Fury, 7. Taylor, 8. Usyk, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Davis
Moynihan: 1. Alvarez, 2. Spence, 3. Crawford, 4. Inoue, 5. Usyk, 6. Golovkin, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Fury, 10. Estrada
Pilatti: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Alvarez, 5. Estrada, 6. Lopez, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Fury, 9. Davis, 10. Taylor
Rodriguez: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Taylor, 7. Estrada, 8. Lopez, 9. Usyk, 10. Lomachenko
Phelps: 1. Alvarez, 2.. Crawford, 3. Taylor, 4. Lopez 5. Spence, 6. Inoue, 7. Estrada, 8. Charlo, 9. Davis, 10. Lomachenko
ESPN experts' poll
First place: Alvarez (10), Crawford (3), Inoue (1)
Second place: Crawford (10), Alvarez (3), Spence (1)
Third place: Inoue (8), Spence (3), Crawford (1), Fury (1), Taylor (1)
Fourth place: Spence (7), Inoue (3), Lopez (2), Alvarez (1), Taylor (1)
Fifth place: Lopez (6), Taylor (2), Inoue (1), Spence (1), Fury (1), Usyk (1), Lomachenko (1), Estrada (1)
Sixth place: Fury (3), Usyk (3), Taylor (2), Lomachenko (2), Inoue (1), Spence (1), Lopez (1), Golovkin (1)
Seventh place: Lomachenko (3), Estrada (3), Lopez (2), Fury (2), Usyk (2), Taylor (1), pacquiao (1)
Eighth place: Estrada (4), Usyk (3), Lopez (2), Fury (2), Lomachenko (2), Charlo (1)
Ninth place: Fury (3), Usyk (2), Davis (2), Spence (1), Lopez (1), Taylor (1), Lomachenko (1), Valdez (1), Gonzalez (1), Beterbiev (1)
10th place: Taylor (4), Estrada (4), Lomachenko (3), Davis (2), Valdez (1)