There are legends, and there are legends in the making.
Going from the latter to the former is the last step in cementing an athlete’s legacy in the highest echelons of the sport, which is the case for several boxers currently plying their trade in the precarious world of boxing.
Here’s a look at the current greatest active boxers, according to BoxRec, in every weight class primed to join the absolute legends of the sport in the promised land.
In the land of the heavyweights, Tyson Fury reigns supreme. Fresh off a spellbinding trilogy with Deontay Wilder, ‘The Gypsy King’ has won over the few detractors that were on the fence. A record of 31 wins in 32 fights (one draw) is quite an achievement, but Fury’s legacy goes beyond numbers. The two-time world heavyweight champion has been outspoken about his mental health troubles, setting an example for future generations of boxers.
In the cruiserweight scheme of things, Mairis Briedis is the man to talk to. The IBF and Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion has 28 wins in 29 bouts, an astonishing 20 of them have come via knockout. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, they say, but Briedis is having none of it, having recently offered undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez a shot at his title.
Over in light heavyweight, Callum Smith has a thing or two to say. Having previously held the WBA (Super) and Ring Magazine super middleweight titles, the Liverpool-born boxing icon certainly has pedigree on his side. Not even a defeat to Canelo can take the sheen off a career currently spanning 29 fights (28 wins, 20 KOs).
Speaking of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the world’s first undisputed super middleweight champion is the king of the ring in his division. Fresh off a scintillating victory over Caleb Plant, Canelo has 57 wins to his name, not to mention that belt on his waist. When it comes to super middleweight, Canelo is front and centre.
The middleweight division also has a clear frontrunner; Gennady Golovkin. While boxing fans are waiting with bated breath for his trilogy with Canelo, Golovkin is ruling the middleweight division with an iron fist, which he lands with laser-guided precision on his opponents. ‘Triple G’ has just one loss to his name, but if we’re talking about icons in the sport today, the Kazakh middleweight is the man of the hour.
Super welterweight’s ruler is one Jermell Charlo. The unified world junior middleweight champion is ranked as the world’s top active boxer in his division by multiple outlets, including Ring Magazine. While his fight against Brian Castano ended in a controversial stalemate, the sequel to the fight promises to be box office. Until then, Charlo will sit pretty at the top of his division.
A blockbuster win was the only thing missing from Terence Crawford’s resume, but even that was ticked off last weekend when he beat Shawn Porter via 10th-round TKO. Crawford is 16-0 in title fights since 2014, with 13 of them ending in knockouts. The man has cemented his legacy as a welterweight icon.
With the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO belts in his grasp, Josh Taylor has the super lightweight division in the palm of his hands. The first British boxer to unify a division in the four-belt era, Taylor has won all 18 of his fights. Here’s to number 19, which will see him go up against Jack Caterall in February next year.
Vasyl Lomachenko strikes fear in the heart of his opponents, so it’s only right that he’s comfortably top of the lightweight division. The 5-foot-7 Ukrainian southpaw has 15 wins in his 17 fights. Drawing praise from even his most ardent rivals, Lomachenko has a special place in the lightweight division and doesn’t seem likely to be knocked off his perch anytime soon.
Few will have a grudge with seeing Oscar Valdez top of the super featherweight world. The WBC champ retained his title earlier this year by beating Robson Conceicao by unanimous decision, notching his 30th win in as many fights. Him failing a drugs test in training camp may be a slight blot on his record, but the Mexican star is firmly top of his division.
Emanuel Navarrete takes no prisoners, as was evident in his title defence against Joet Gonzalez. The Mexican featherweight faltered a number of times in that fight, but the mark of a true champion is how you recover from setbacks. The WBO featherweight champion did that with aplomb, so it’s only right that he takes top spot in his division.
Over in super bantamweight, Brandon Figueroa lords over his rivals. Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) is scheduled to go up against Stephen Fulton this weekend, but has momentum on his side and bags of ability to back it up. ‘The Heartbreaker’ admitted that this might be his last fight at 122 pounds, and the fan-favourite boxer from Philadelphia will look to put on a show, if that’s the case.
In the bantamweight scheme of things, Naoya Inoue is the man to speak to. If you caught his last fight against Michael Dasmarinas in Sin City, you’ll know why. Having demolished Dasmarinas in three rounds in Las Vegas, Japan’s WBA and IBF bantamweight champion has developed a reputation as a fearsome fighter. 21 fights, 21 wins. Nuff’ said.
The world of super flyweight is a competitive one, but it doesn’t get any better than Juan Francisco Estrada. A deal for the trilogy fight between him and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez may be on the cards, but even on the off chance that Estrada falters in that fight, the 31-year-old Mexican icon has done more than enough in his 45-fight career to be classed the current GOAT of his division.
Sunny Edwards is just 25 years old and still top of the flyweight division. Yep. Having nicked the IBF flyweight title off Moruti Mthalane in 2021, ‘Showtime Sunny’ is 16-0 with four knockouts to his name. Make no mistake, Edwards is here to stay.
Over in light flyweight, Japanese champ Masamichi Yabuki was the star of one of boxing’s biggest upsets this year when he beat WBC champ Kenshiro Teraji in the 10th round of a fight for the ages. With 13 wins in 16 fights, few have come close to knocking Yabuki off his perch. By the looks of it, that trend is primed to continue.
Minimumweight champion of the world Panya Pradabsri is a serious, serious man. The Thai champ survived a scare in the seventh round of his fight against Danai Ngiabphukhiaw, but quickly pivoted to his trademark aggressive style late in the fight to notch the win. In January, Wanheng Menayothin will be the latest to try and take the belt off Pradabsri, but that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?