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It may not seem like a golden era for US boxing as the sport’s biggest star right now is clearly Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez, but the strength in depth of American fighters is still incredible. How else to explain that world champions both unbeaten (Demetrius Andrade) and underrated (Jamel Herring) don’t crack the current US pound-for-pound top 10?
Then there’s rising stars Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Shakur Stevenson, Vergil Ortiz and Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis. Each has the potential to achieve pound-for-pound status worldwide - but they aren’t quite at that level yet.
These are the male boxers who have been there and done it to prove themselves the best American fighters of today (and with neither a Paul brother in sight).
Other content in this series:
W: 35 (17 KOs), L: 3, D: 1
Other boxers have shinier records and flashier skills but ‘Showtime’ has been fighting the best in the most competitive division in boxing for a decade. It’s actually a close defeat, his split-decision loss to Errol Spence Jr in 2019, that sums him up: Porter went toe-to-toe with one of the very best across the sport and didn’t give Spence room to breathe. The 33-year-old boasts an all-action style and impressive wins over the likes of Danny Garcia and Yordenis Ugas.
W:31 (18 KOs), L:1
Inactivity is the great holdup on the career of the planet’s No 1 featherweight. ‘Mister’ Gary Russell has fought exactly once a year from 2015 to 2020 and the frustrating thing is in almost every one of his infrequent fights, he shows off his world-class skill. The southpaw’s only defeat came via decision to Vasyl Lomachenko in 2014 - no shame there - and he still looks sharp at age 33. We just wish Russell would step in the ring a bit more often to prove that.
W:40 (30 KOs), L:1
A four-weight world champion with proven pedigree but somehow Garcia is incredibly difficult to place in any pound-for-pound list. That’s because his leap up to 147lb in 2019 led to a one-sided points loss to Spence that was as much to do with size as it was ability - but the Californian is apparently staying put at welterweight, despite 140lb looking a far better fit. Got back to winning ways against Jessie Vargas but we don’t exactly know whether Garcia is still the elite-level boxer-puncher he was when compiling a 39-0 record.
W:26 (22 KOs), L:1
Strangely, the sole defeat on Prograis’ record might be the greatest indication of just how good he really is. The stylish southpaw engaged in a see-saw battle with Britain’s Josh Taylor and lost a tight majority decision in the UK in 2019. But Taylor’s subsequent success in unifying the 140lb belts has shone an even greater light on the class of Prograis, who’s rebounded with two stoppage wins of his own. Versatile and fluid, Prograis deserves a Taylor rematch to see if he can even the score.
W: 34 (18 KOs), L: 1, D: 1
Some were starting to call Jermell the better of the Charlo twins and put him on pound-for-pound top 10s but that steadied a little in July when Jermell drew with unbeaten Argentine Brian Castano in a 154lb unification bout. Charlo hurt Castano late on and closed the show well, but let the initiative slip away from him in the middle rounds. Still, this is top-level boxing and Jermell has shown he can come back from a setback before, when he avenged his narrow points defeat to Tony Harrison by KOing his rival in 2019.
W: 32 (22 KOs), L: 0
A fine boxer-puncher, we’re putting the 160lb Jermall ahead on the two-man ‘Charlo pound-for-pound list’ (and not just in alphabetical order). A two-weight world champ, Charlo could have been moved along a bit faster but he’s still in his prime at 31 and victories over Julian Williams and Sergiy Derevyanchenko are proof of his ability. With the great Gennady Golovkin creeping up on 40, Jermall is almost certainly the best middleweight on the planet right now.
W: 25 (24 KOs), L: 0
Outside the ring chaos and struggles to make weight can’t hide the explosive brilliance of the perfectly nicknamed ‘Tank’ once he steps through the ropes. The punching power is as fearsome as the 96% knockout percentage suggests (just ask Leo Santa Cruz) but it’s the skill the 5ft 5in southpaw shows to open foes up that really impresses. The only question for the 26-year-old, Floyd Mayweather-managed Davis is: which division is he actually going to stick to? Surely June’s light-welterweight debut has to be a one-off for a fighter who would be better off sticking to 135lb (if possible).
W: 16 (12 KOs), L: 0
The red-hot prospect did what we want all young fighters to and dared to be great last year when he dethroned the mighty Vasyl Lomachenko over 12 absorbing rounds. Before that, the 24-year-old Brooklynite had shown power, poise, a solid chin and superb post-fight gymnastics. But victory over Lomachenko, hard-fought but sealed with a brilliant final round, showed ‘The Takeover’ has world-class boxing gifts. Now we just wait to see them again.
W: 27 (21 KOs), L: 0
A torn retina is a huge blow to Spence just as he was set for a legacy-enhancing showdown against Manny Pacquiao. The surgery will keep Spence out until 2022 and - coming after his car accident in 2019 - it’s not been an easy run for ‘The Truth’. But no disputing his class. Spence has speed, slickness, good power and one of the sport’s best jabs. Has beaten elite opponents - Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia - in his last three fights. We just need him to get healthy then, if possible, fight the No 1 on this list.
W: 37 (28 KOs), L: 0
What does it say about the state of boxing that the two best American fighters in the sport share a weight division, are both over 30, yet have never come close to fighting? Crawford’s career has been sublime inside the ring and, recently, frustrating outside of it. A balanced offensive and defensive boxer, the switch-hitting ‘Bud’ is the total package - and unlike many boxers he’s unafraid to try for a knockout finish. He’s 33, a three-weight world champion - but you want the laid-back Nabraskan to really push for the fights his incredible gifts deserve.