Can anyone beat Canelo Álvarez?
He doesn’t think so. “Nobody can beat this Canelo,” Álvarez said minutes after a lopsided decision win over Jermell Charlo. This Canelo is a healthy Canelo, one that’s rested (after fighting four times in 11 months en route to collecting all four super middleweight belts, Álvarez is back to a twice-per-year schedule) and healthy, with his surgically repaired hand at full strength. This Canelo, at 33, believes he is still at the top of his game.
He may be right. While Álvarez isn’t the predator he was between 2018 and 2021, he’s still dominant. Against Charlo, Álvarez flexed all his still considerable skills. Speed, power, sturdy defense. That he didn’t score a knockout had more to do with Charlo’s unwillingness to engage than what Canelo brought into the ring.
Who beats him? No one at 154-pounds; Álvarez just toyed with the top dog there. The middleweight division is the weakest it has been in years. David Benavidez has won over many at 168 but let’s see if Benavidez throws as many punches against Álvarez as he has against some of his lighter hitting opponents.
And Terence Crawford? A Canelo-Crawford fight would be a fascinating test of skills. But while Crawford, like Charlo, can get up to 168 pounds, he, like Charlo, would likely struggle to fill out the frame. And Álvarez has arguably the best chin in boxing.
Álvarez is no longer the unquestioned pound-for-pound No. 1, but after defeating Charlo it’s clear his place atop the middle weight classes is secure. This Canelo still has a lot left.
On to Sports Illustrated’s latest pound-for-pound rankings.
1. Terence Crawford
Last Month: 1
Last Fight: TKO win Errol Spence Jr.
Next Fight: TBD
Crawford’s anticipated showdown with Errol Spence Jr. in July proved anticlimactic, with Crawford battering Spence over eight-plus rounds, dropping the unified champion three times before the referee waved it off. Crawford has knocked out every opponent he has faced since moving up to 147-pounds—eight in total—and at 35 established himself as the unquestioned welterweight king. Spence activated an immediate rematch clause, but Crawford’s ability to control the weight—Spence is unlikely to run it back at 147—makes the future of that fight murky. Crawford prefers to move up—way up—to super middleweight to challenge Álvarez.
2. Naoya Inoue
Last Month: 2
Last Fight: TKO win vs. Stephen Fulton
Next Fight: TBD
Inoue made his debut at 122-pounds in style, knocking out the No. 1 fighter in the division and claiming two belts in the process. Inoue bullied the bigger Fulton from the opening bell, slashing him with hard jabs to the head and body while rocking Fulton with blistering combinations. By the second round the only question was if Fulton would see the final bell. Marlon Tapales, super bantamweight’s other 122-pound titleholder, climbed into the ring for a photo-op after the fight. An Inoue-Tapales matchup is tentatively ticketed for December, which would give Inoue a chance to match Crawford as an undisputed titleholder in a second weight class.
3. Oleksandr Usyk
Last Month: 3
Last Fight: TKO win vs. Daniel Dubois.
Next Fight: TBD vs. Tyson Fury
Only Álvarez can claim a better resume than Usyk, whose accomplishments includes wins over Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis and Tony Bellew at cruiserweight and a pair of wins over Anthony Joshua at heavyweight. In August, Usyk stopped Daniel Dubois in the ninth round to retain his three versions of the heavyweight title. Soon, he will get a chance to add a fourth, with a unification fight with Tyson Fury officially signed for later this year or early 2024.
4. Saul “Canelo” Álvarez
Last Month: 4
Last Fight: UD win Jermell Charlo
Next Fight: TBD
Against Charlo, Álvarez silenced the skeptics who suggested the Mexican star has lost a step. Álvarez no longer overwhelms opponents with combination punching and his defense has evolved to be more about parrying than slipping shots, but he remains a force in the middle weight divisions. Álvarez would appear to have three options for his next fight: Jermall Charlo, the middleweight champion and brother of Jermell; Benavidez, the former two-time super middleweight champion viewed as Álvarez’s toughest 168-pound test; and Crawford, the undisputed welterweight champion who is clamoring for the fight.
5. Tyson Fury
Last Month: 5
Last Fight: KO win Derek Chisora
Next Fight: 10/28 vs. Francis Ngannou
A December matchup against British rival Chisora went as expected, with Fury battering Chisora for the better part of 10 rounds before the referee mercifully stopped the fight. Fury, 35, is unquestionably the class of the heavyweight division, with a deep resume that includes a win over Wladimir Klitschko and two over Deontay Wilder. In October, Fury will face ex-UFC star Francis Ngannou in a non-title fight before moving on to the big one: Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship.
6. Dmitry Bivol
Last Month: 6
Last Fight: UD win Gilberto Ramírez
Next Fight: TBD
Bivol locked up the 2022 Fighter of the Year with an impressive performance against the undefeated Ramírez last November. After outmuscling the smaller Álvarez months earlier, Bivol did the same to Ramírez, a physically bigger fighter, backing Ramírez up with the jab and battering him with combinations. Talks of a rematch with Canelo ultimately fizzled, leaving Bivol without a clear option. There have been discussions about Bivol returning in a stay-busy fight in December, but 2023 will go down as a lost year for the 175-pound champion.
7. Devin Haney
Last Month: 7
Last Fight: UD win vs Vasyl Lomachenko.
Next Fight: 12/9 vs. Regis Prograis
Haney, 24, continues to build an impressive resume, following up back-to-back wins over George Kambosos with a narrow decision win over Vasyl Lomachenko. He will continue to build that resume in his next fight: Haney is in set to face 140-pound titleholder Regis Prograis. It would give Haney an opportunity to win a title in a second weight class—and beat arguably the top man in the division to do it.
8. Shakur Stevenson
Last Month: 8
Last Fight: TKO win vs. Shuichiro Yoshino
Next Fight: 11/16 vs. Edwin De Los Santos
Stevenson, 26, began his journey to become a three-division world champion by dominating the unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino in his 135-pound debut. While Stevenson’s defense continues to be near impregnable, he has shown a willingness to stay in the pocket. He landed 50% of his punches against Yoshino, per CompuBox, including 104 power shots. Negotiations for a fight against Frank Martin publicly fell apart. Instead, Stevenson will face Edwin De Los Santos for a vacant title in November.
9. Gervonta Davis
Last Month: 9
Last Fight: KO win vs. Ryan Garcia
Next Fight: TBD
For years, Davis, 28, has been one of boxing’s biggest draws. A win over Garcia has firmly established him as one of boxing’s top talents. Facing the heavy-handed Garcia, Davis was dominant. He dropped Garcia with a counter left in the second round and finished him with a body shot in the seventh. He showcased defense, skills and patience while reaffirming his status as one of the sports top finishers. Davis announced recently he will not fight again in 2023.
10. Artur Beterbiev
Last Month: NR
Last Fight: TKO win vs. Anthony Yarde
Next Fight: 1/13 vs. Callum Smith
Beterbiev is walking violence, the only world champion who has won every fight by knockout. He delivered as savage beating of the durable Joe Smith to collect a third piece of the 175-pound title in 2022 and defended it in a battering of Yarde last January. A unification fight against Bivol remains elusive—money remains the primary obstacle—so Beterbiev will defend his titles in January against Smith, who has a pair of knockout wins since moving up to light heavyweight in 2021.