Pound-for-Pound Top 10: Crawford claims top spot, but Inoue has supporters


In last month’s update, we said that all eyes were on Spence-Crawford and Inoue-Fulton as far as pound-for-pound goes, and boy, did we get some showings.

Terence Crawford and Naoya Inoue both did everything they could do to prove they deserved the top spot, and we do have a new No. 1 man this month, with Oleksandr Usyk falling by the wayside.

So who has the top spot, and is it a clean sweep? (Terence Crawford. And no.)

August 2023

The voters: Scott Christ, Wil Esco, John Hansen, Patrick Stumberg, and Lewis Watson

Also Receiving Votes: Errol Spence Jr 7, Jaron “Boots” Ennis 6, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez 5, Vasiliy Lomachenko 2, Juan Francisco Estrada 1

Scott Christ

(1) Terence Crawford, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Dmitry Bivol, (5) Gervonta Davis, (6) Artur Beterbiev, (7) Shakur Stevenson, (8) Devin Haney, (9) Kenshiro Teraji, (10) Vasiliy Lomachenko

To me, it’s gotta be Bud Crawford. But Naoya Inoue made his own case.

Poor Usyk. Sorry, bubba. You didn’t do anything wrong. These other lads just did something so, so right.

I’m going with Crawford because he embarrassed Spence to a degree that made Fulton-Inoue look almost competitive. Pretty simple. But we’re witnessing two incredibly special fighters.

Pretty static past the big ones. Errol Spence falls out for me because P4P is really competitive. But Spence was still in my mind for the back end. I went with Lomachenko for now, because I still think he beat Devin Haney, but that No. 10 spot in particular can be taken. I’ve got my eyes on Emanuel Navarrete as someone who might take it; I’ve mentioned him before, and how he rarely gets included in these conversations, but if he has a great showing against Oscar Valdez, he has to be taken more seriously in the P4P context.

I still don’t think the current version of Canelo belongs here. It’s just that I saw him against GGGrandpa and Ryder, is all.

Wil Esco

(1) Terence Crawford, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Dmitry Bivol, (5) Jaron “Boots” Ennis, (6) Artur Beterbiev, (7) Canelo Alvarez, (8) Shakur Stevenson, (9) Devin Haney, (10) Gervonta Davis

Big time housekeeping this month. You know, I still think Stephen Fulton Jr is a really good fighter, and the way he was broken down and stopped by Naoya Inoue, I was fully prepared to put Inoue at the top of the list. A man alone. It’s kind of funny because in the immediate aftermath of that Tuesday fight I saw plenty of comments about how Inoue was clearly No. 1 and there was no possible scenario to change that.

I mentioned that it was easy to say at the moment, but in a hypothetical scenario if Spence or Crawford were able to dominate the other then that might change the outlook. And boy, oh boy did that change things for me! I picked Crawford to stop Spence, but the dominating fashion in which he did it squarely places him to the No. 1 pound-for-pound on my list, even above Inoue. And not only did Crawford’s performance blast him to the top of the list, it completely blows Spence off my list entirely. You just can’t have the brakes beaten off of you that comprehensively and still rate P4P. Sorry, not sorry.

In other news, Jermell Charlo loses his place on the list due to a combination of inactivity and allowing his carbon copy to get slapped by Caleb Plant, Jaron Ennis makes his return to the list after another dominant showing, Shakur Stevenson elevates past Devin Haney because Haney is ducking that smoke, and Gervonta Davis sneaks in at No. 10. I’d probably rank Davis higher otherwise, but the fact is he’s not only not fighting elite competition, he also isn’t even trying to as far as I can tell.

John Hansen

(1) Naoya Inoue, (2) Terence Crawford, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Dmitry Bivol, (5) Artur Beterbiev, (6) Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, (7) Kenshiro Teraji, (8) Errol Spence Jr, (9) Gervonta Davis, (10) Devin Haney

Let’s start at the top. I suspect most of the guys will have Terence Crawford at the No. 1 spot, and there’s really no wrong answer as far as I’m concerned. Both Crawford and Inoue put on master performances, both of them look levels above other P4P level fighters. I watched Fulton-Inoue and Spence-Crawford in reverse order from their actual broadcasts, which might have influenced my pick.

Basically, I asked myself who I’d pick if Crawford and Inoue were equal size and fought each other, and decided I’d favor Inoue. That’s why he’s my number one this month. I really don’t think there’s a wrong answer, and I think we’re all fortunate to see both of these men performing at this level at the same time.

I took Fulton out, but kept Spence in. Again, I won’t argue with anyone that drops him from their list. I think this fight was an illustration of how amazing Crawford is, not a retroactive stain on the rest of Spence’s accomplishments. If Spence isn’t a worthy P4P guy, that diminishes what Crawford showed us, and I think that’s a bad take on the outcome. I’d still favor Spence over Boots Ennis, I’d still favor him over a 154 lb Jermell Charlo, I’d still favor him over anyone I can think of in his general range other than Terence Crawford. Spence is still a great fighter to me, even if Crawford proved himself an all-time sort of great. It’s up to everyone how much they want to punish a guy so much for daring to take a challenge. I can’t quite bring myself to put Tank Davis above Spence yet.

At the bottom of my list, Haney is in, which is something I never thought I’d say. If I so much as yawn or look at my watch the next time he fights, I’ll Rigondeaux Rule his ass right back out. I mean it.

Patrick Stumberg

(1) Naoya Inoue, (2) Terence Crawford, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Canelo Alvarez, (5) Dmitry Bivol, (6) Shakur Stevenson, (7) Errol Spence Jr, (8) Artur Beterbiev, (9) Devin Haney, (10) Kenshiro Teraji

As someone vehemently against 10-10 rounds, I can’t betray my principles by having Inoue and Crawford share the top spot. It’d definitely save me some waffling, though.

Here’s my thinking, which I’ll admit could be tainted by my admitted bias towards Japanese fighters. Both Inoue and Crawford humiliated unified champions, but Errol Spence Jr boasted a far stronger body of work than Stephen Fulton. In a vacuum, Crawford’s was the better performance. Thing is, we have to acknowledge that Inoue walked into a new weight class, immediately challenged the toughest guy there, and absolutely wiped the floor with him. That, to me, deserves some weight when considering “pound-for-pound” status. Plus, Crawford straight-up brutalizing Spence may have been more visually spectacular, but it’s worth considering that Inoue outclassed Fulton’s best weapon and beat him in a mid-range battle when most expected him to struggle there but take over against the ropes.

On a more subjective note, I personally still have an easier time imagining Crawford losing than Inoue losing, though both have the potential to be three-weight undisputed.

Lewis Watson

(1) Terence Crawford, (2) Naoya Inoue, (3) Oleksandr Usyk, (4) Dmitry Bivol, (5) Artur Beterbiev, (6) Devin Haney, (7) Canelo Alvarez, (8) Kenshiro Teraji, (9) Kenshiro Teraji, (10) Juan Francisco Estrada

Inoue was my P4P king on Tuesday night for roughly four and a bit days until Terence Crawford put on an ATG performance against Errol Spence. It’s rare that you see such a perfect, complete performance in a fight that was pitched as a 50-50 super-fight, making Spence look like just another welterweight contender. For that reasoning, Spence drops out of the top 10, just, and kind of begrudgingly, but despite his bravery he took a hell of a beat down from Bud, and there are plenty of fighters on the periphery that can benefit and jump in (Estrada).

Inoue can feel hard done by if he is reading this over a morning matcha. He’s my favourite fighter and absolutely terrifying, but Crawford’s complete skill-set and dominance over Spence is impossible to ignore.

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