25) Josh Warrington
A scrappy featherweight with a loyal following, Warrington’s best win is over the lanky Japanese puncher who managed to drop Guillermo Rigondeaux twice, but was ultimately beat down and stopped in the 11th. Unfortunately, what Warrington possesses in terms of sheer grit and work rate, he lacks in a stiff punch and world class ability. On top of that, he competes in one of the most loaded divisions.
24) Martin Murray
With his clear loss to George Groves, Murray is now confined to the outer reaches of his class’ top-10. He’s back to a restarting point. Only this time it’s doubtful he pulls himself back into contention. He looks worn and had a hard time pulling the trigger. But he deserves full credit for his toughness and strength of schedule. He has faced many top guys and performed admirably in the process.
23) Ovill “The Upsetter” McKenzie
The nickname is fitting and it was nearly more so when he fought titlist Victor Emilio Ramirez, earning a split draw. Many thought he won. He was slated to enter the ring against another hitter in Dmytro Kucher, but it didn’t come off. It would not be surprising if something like it came about soon.
22) Luke “Coolhand” Campbell
Maybe a risky pick here, as some may have dropped his stock following his first loss. But I’m confident. He wasn’t blown out in that defeat, has made positive changes in his training, and stepped up quickly to get right back into the mix of things. A quality performance against Argenis Mendez does just that. The way in which he wins (granted he does) allows us to assess him against another highly-touted lightweight prospect, Robert Easter Jr.
21) David Haye
A bit bulkier than before, Haye still seems to possess some of the goods that made him a threat in his prime. He has taken incremental steps to get where he wants and his upcoming fight with Shannon Briggs should be another indicator of just where he is at. Can he make into title contention? I’m not sure, but I figure he gets near it, at the very least.
20) Callum “Mundo” Smith
One of four fighting brothers, Callum may turn out to be the best of the bunch. Stylistically they all bear similarities, but this 168-pounder seems more refined and harder hitting, though Liam can wallop, too. It’s now just a matter of progression. We are all hoping for a proper step up soon.
19) Nathan “Clev” Cleverly
Like a number of these guys, he just can’t quite get over the hump. But he hasn’t been an easy outing either. The Fonfara bout was close, as was his last fight with Bellew. I figure that still keeps him near the thick of things.
18) Liam “Beefy” Smith
Liam places ahead of Callum for two simple reasons: he holds a belt and has a better resume, and it will be improved soon, win or lose. He is slated to take on Saul Alvarez in a showdown on the Vegas strip. This fight is a leap in competition for Smith and should tell us something about what Liam is really made of.
17) Ricky “Rickster” Burns
The vet is still ticking, still hanging in there with some topnotch fighters, though he falters against the best. However, not embarrassingly so. His recent efforts in the Omar Figueroa Jr., Dejan Zlaticanin, and Raymundo Beltran fights show that he’s still capable. And after his recent win over Michele Di Rocco, it means more big bouts are on the way, domestic or foreign.
16) Lee “Playbody” Haskins
A poor man’s Naseem Hamed is how I would describe his style. Haskins has come back from the fringes with nice performances against Ryosuke Iwasa and Ivan Morales to pick up a bantamweight strap. Next up is Stuart Hall, a man Haskins has already conquered, but has improved since their last outing.
15) Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla
What a showing against the hard punching Ismael Barroso, right? Many, after seeing Barroso stop Mitchell, thought Crolla was next to fall, but he found a way. He pressed and banged to the body and eventually got him out of there. Can he do the same against Jorge Linares, we will see.
14) Chris Eubank Jr.
The son of a well-known super-middleweight, Junior is attempting to carve out his own legacy in a division below. He made progress to get there when he nearly had the Gennady Golovkin fight, but negotiating complications saw it fall through. He’s a talented fellow with quick hands and good pop, so a bout with a top guy has to be upcoming.
13) “Saint” George Groves
Groves’ victory over veteran Martin Murray again puts him into position to challenge for a title. A lot of us wouldn’t mind a rematch with DeGale, who he beat on his way up the paid ranks. It’s a big domestic showdown, so sign us up.
12) Tony “Bomber” Bellew
Bellew has spent a good deal of the last 5 years scrapping with some of the best at 175 at 199. He has won some, lost some, but his last outing and his 7-fight win-streak indicates that he is here to stay.
11) Anthony Joshua
Seemingly the best young heavyweight in the business, Joshua has shown steady progression. He is technically sound, has big power, quick hands, and a good sense of distance. The only thing we need now is for him to test himself against better and better fighters.
10) Terry “Turbo” Flanagan
Flanagan won the title on a Jose Zepeda dislocated shoulder, but since then he has come within working distance of being the top guy. His southpaw style and surprising punching power have given men all sorts of issues. A washed up Mzonke Fana poses little threat, but his class is stocked with British talent, which will lead to some interesting showdowns. Especially if Crolla gets one over on Linares.
9) Lee “Lightning” Selby
The Welsh defensive slickster is a Haymon signee, so his options are aplenty. Who is next isn’t yet known, but the hope is that he will take on a top-10 guy, at the very least.
8) Jamie McDonnell
An underrated resume reads the names of: Tomoki Kameda twice, Julio Ceja, and Stuart Hall. He’s a big and skillful pugilist and the sanctioning body he fights under has ruled that American Rau’shee Warren has to be on the menu. Assuming it happens, that is a high-quality bout in a traditional division. Boxing needs more of them.
7) Scott Quigg
Falling just short of a win against fellow countryman Carl Frampton, Quigg maintains his position as one of the best in his division. The go-getter has years left at his best, so hopefully he makes the most of it.
6) “Superb” Billy Joe Saunders
Superb is a stretch at this point, but there is little doubt that he is one of the best middleweights in the world. Watching him take the zeroes off of five of his opponents was pleasant viewing. His last performance with Andy Lee was a bit unremarkable, but that happens when you are facing a certified bomber. His next foe is undetermined, but I expect it to be a relatively easy one, though now that Eubank is free…
5) James “Chunky” DeGale
Arguably the best 168-pounder in the world. DeGale has shown himself versatile, well-rounded. A fight with Jack would crown a new champion, so let’s have at it.
4) Amir “King” Khan
A throwback, no matter how you look at it. He has shown consistently that he will take on the best of the best, and sadly, that is more than you can say for a lot of these boxers. As of now, he is a top-10 welterweight and will likely have an easy time finding an opponent.
3) Carl “The Jackal” Frampton
Giving up his belt in an effort to avoid Guillermo Rigondeaux was most unfortunate, but many will leave that in the rear-view mirror if he overcomes Leo Santa Cruz on the 30th of July. It will be one of the biggest wins by a British small-man in recent years and I reckon he has the skills to do it, though it will test his mettle.
2) Kell “The Special One” Brook
Rated the top guy in a loaded class, Brook surprised us all with his acceptance of a bout against Golovkin. Many look at this as a mismatch, but I think many will notice, come fight night, that the size difference isn’t as big as perceived. Brook has struggled to make 147 for a while now and is said to walk around bigger than GGG. Regardless of what happens, kudos to him for taking on a massive challenge.
1) Tyson Fury
Likely not the most gifted of the bunch, but a win over longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko stamps his place at the top. The victory made him one of only a handful of real, undisputed champions populating boxing’s ranks, and furthermore, one of the few British-borne boxers to ever accomplish it. The way he did it may not have been flashy, but he got the job done, and when he is carrying the tradition of immortals around his waist, I think the U.K. can forgive him.