Pound for pound: Ranking the top 10 British boxers

Tom Dunstan

Fear not boxings fans, the break is nearly over and another thrilling boxing season is just around the corner. With the UK currently boasting a roster that holds eight world champions, it begs the question, who is Britain’s pound for pound king?

As any boxing fan will know, nothing quite starts a debate like discussing who tops the pound for pound charts. So, it’s nothing that can be taken too seriously. Here’s the criteria that gets you on our pound for pound list!

1. Results – The official results always stand and ultimately trump the other factors.

2. Performances – The manner in which a fighter wins or loses.

3. Résumé – The opponents beaten/titles won.

4. Activity – How often a fighter is fighting against top level opposition.

#1 Carl Frampton (23-1-0)

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The ‘Jackal’ must be thinking that there is no way that the second half of 2017 could go as bad as the first. Following his first professional defeat and simultaneously losing his belt to his arch nemesis Leo Santa Cruz in January, Frampton made a string of bold decisions. In the last month he has split with his trainer of eight years Shane Maguin and after his homecoming fight in Belfast was scrapped 24 hours before the bout, the 30-year-old parted ways with his manager Barry McGuigan and Cyclone promotions, making him the hottest free agent in boxing.

Now we have the cons out the way, let’s look at why the two-weight world champion tops our charts. Despite a loss in his last outing, Frampton has proven over the years just why he is universally regarded as one of the kings of boxings lighter divisions. The Northern Irishman has handed both Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz their first professional losses and last year Frampton was voted Fighter of the Year by The Ring Magazine, the Boxing Writers Association, and ESPN.

With Sky and Eddie Hearn eager to bring him over to the Matchroom stable, the man ranked as the second best featherweight on the planet has numerous options, the trilogy with Santa Cruz? Or even a domestic super fight with Welshman Lee Selby?

#2 Anthony Joshua (19-0-0)

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For some reason, despite being the unified heavyweight champion of the world, it’s almost a rarity to find Anthony Joshua this high on a pound for pound list. Granted, AJ might not be perfect, but he is a great boxer who is capable of beating anyone put in front of him, just ask Wladimir Klitschko.

He is currently ranked 16th in the world’s pound for pound charts and although he might still be considered a novice by some, Joshua still ticks every box. An Olympic gold medalist, undefeated, 100% knockout rate and retired the great Wladimir Klitschko in April.

With mouth watering fights against the likes of Dontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and a rematch against Dillian Whyte all being rumored, boxing’s most lucrative fighter is quickly becoming the face of world boxing.

#3 James DeGale (23-1-1)

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After not boxing on British soil since 2014, some fans tend to forget just how talented the current IBF super-middleweight champion is. But, for those in the game, Chunky is considered a grizzled vet and the London born fighter is currently ranked as the world’s best super-middleweight by The Ring Magazine, the Transitional Boxing Rankings Board and BoxRec.

In terms of his resume, DeGale has been in with the best and he has beaten the best, defeating the likes of Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute in their backyards, the explosive southpaw is not afraid of a challenge.

As for his most recent fight, DeGale and fellow world titleholder Badou Jack battled out a draw in a bout listed as a fight of the year contender. Still holding his IBF title, Chunky will be seeking a second shot at unifying the division, George Groves perhaps?

#4 Kell Brook (36-2-0)

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Despite coming in at fourth, Kell Brook the fighter will feel that this is somewhat a fall from grace. A year ago some would have argued that he deserves the spot as Britain’s number one, but like Frampton, Brook has had a tough year. With two consecutive losses, granted the losses came at the hands of world class competition, ‘The Special One’ hasn’t won a fight since March 2016.

Although he came out second best against GGG and Erroll Spence Jnr, Brook gained credit for his efforts and put on a string of stellar performances. Now 31, the former IBF welterweight champion looks set to move up in weight, an in ring master who fears nobody, Brook even has the scalp of Shawn Porter on his list of victims.

Recovering from his second serious eye injury, the news regarding his recovery is good. Expected to return to the ring by the end of the year, could we finally see Brook vs Kahn?

#5 Tony Bellew (29-2-1)

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Is there anyone in British boxing who has turned their career around in more emphatic style? Four years on from the man who was embarrassed against Adonis Stevenson and looked set to retire, his turnaround is a testament to the mentality of the man.

Since his last defeat in 2013, ‘The Bomber’ has won his previous nine fights and has given his beloved Everton crowd some of their most memorable evenings.

After stepping up from light-heavyweight the heavy handed Scouser has flourished in the sports upper divisions, winning the WBC cruiserweight title in devastating fashion in front of his adoring Goodison crowd, Bellew took the fairy tale one more step further when he stepped up to heavyweight and defeated David Haye.

#6 Terry Flanagan (33-0-0)

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Even from here I can hear people saying “who’s this guy?”. Having held the WBO lightweight crown since 2015 and with a stunning record of 33-0, is there a more underutilised world champion than Terry Flanagan?

His fights are often under promoted and under hyped, still only aged 28 it’s amazing that Eddie Hearn hasn’t snapped up a fighter who turned professional only aged 20.

Although Flanagan has proven his talents as a slick southpaw, his main problem is that the promise of big name fights have never materialised. But, despite never mixing it with the divisions elite, Flanagan is only ranked behind Mickey Garcia and Jorge Linares in the lightweight charts and 2017 could finally be the year that we see ‘Turbo’ get his career defining fight.

#7 George Groves (26-3-0)

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For as long as George Groves has been a household name it always seems that we associate him with a man trying to restore his reputation. After three hard fought defeats against world-class competition, in May Groves finally lost the tag of ‘nearly man’ as he captured the WBA super-middleweight title with a glittering display.

Although Groves’ defining fights may have resulted in a loss, ‘Saint George’ still holds IBF king James DeGale’s only professional defeat and also has a win over Martin Murray.

As for his most recent career path, Groves was the first man to announce himself in the inaugural Boxing Super Series, unbeaten since 2015, Groves enters the tournament as the number one seed and is the understandably the bookies favourite. A unification rematch with James DeGale would no doubt be another Wembley sellout.

#8 Lee Selby (25-1-0)

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Poor Lee Selby, he’s another extremely talented fighter who has endured a tough year (or two). Along with the rest of the world, his big night under the Vegas lights seemed secured, but, he’s opponent failed medical 24 hours before the bout and the dream were snatched away.

Despite his American horror story, the man dubbed ‘The Welsh Mayweather’ is the current IBF featherweight champion and has beat a string of decent contenders. Currently ranked as the third best featherweight on the planet, there are plenty of big money fights out there for the 30-year-old, a scrappy box-fighter with allot of grit, a fight with Carl Frampton on British soil would be a mouth watering prospect.

#9 Khalid Yafai (22-0-0)

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Unlike some on this list, the past 12 months couldn’t have gone any better for ‘Kal’ he is Birmingham’s first ever world champion and really is a man to watch. Signed by Matchroom in 2012, Yafai has brought boxing to the Midlands and could become Brtians next pay-per view star. Currently holding the WBA super-flyweight title, the former Olympian has looked devastatingly convincing in his professional career.

After dominating a very good fighter in Luis Concepcion, nobody has climbed the pound for pound charts quicker than the 28-year-old. His homecoming fight saw an easy win against another resilient test. Hopefully, now he can step up and fight the elite of the division. Can Eddie Hearn tempt John Riel Casimero to return?

#10 Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1)

Much like Terry Flannigan, Jamie McDonnell is another fighter on the list who doesn’t hold a household name, but the current WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight champion is an experienced tactician who has shown on numerous occasions he can climb back from adversity in fights and come away with the decision.

With two cracking wins against the formerly unbeaten Tomoki Kameda in America, the former IBF world champion is still ranked as the second best bantamweight in the world. Unbeaten since 2008, the 13-year veteran could really announce himself on the PPV stage this year.

The prospect of stepping up a division could see McDonnell face off against the likes of Lee Selby, Carl Frampton or even Leo Santa Cruz?

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