By Eddie Ikin
Prior to his eagerly-anticipated January rematch against Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton was regarded as Britain’s pound-for-pound best fighter.
Undefeated in 23 bouts, and undisputed super-bantamweight champion of the world, life was sweet for the Irishman.
So when that rematch ended in a first professional loss for the ‘The Jackal’, did it knock him off the top spot?
Lets take a look…
Firstly, his status at the top of the pile was already up for debate, even after a superb win against Mexico’s Santa Cruz in New York.
Critics claimed Barry McGuigan’s protégé hadn’t fought a real world-class opponent. Instead, the fighters he’d faced, especially early on in his career, were there to take a beating.
But who can blame his team? A young talent destined for stardom; why risk an early loss on his record?
The Belfast man’s first noted scalp came in the form of Englishman Scott Quigg.
An underwhelming contest in Quigg’s native Manchester saw Frampton win via a split decision.
His win over Santa Cruz also failed to receive a unanimous verdict from the judges. Perhaps the manner of those victories didn’t satisfy British fight fans and the media.
Top pound-for-pound fighters should be strolling to victory, right?
In an era when British boxing is thriving and competition is strong, one slip-up could mean dropping not just one place in the rankings, but two or three.
So, if not Frampton, who else could take top spot?
Like Frampton, the Sheffield-born fighter has only recently lost his unbeaten record.
The 30-year old’s well documented two steps up ended in heartbreak as he was stopped by Kazak superstar Gennady Golovkin.
Despite this loss, Brook has shown what a world class fighter he is.
Four comfortable defences of his IBF welterweight title have elevated his status as a much-feared fighter.
Dominic Ingle’s man looks set to defend his 147lb belt in a summer showdown with mandatory challenger Errol Spence.
The undefeated IBF world heavyweight champion is one of the most feared fighters in boxing at present.
A staggering start to his career has seen 18 wins, all of which have come via knockout.
Similarly to Frampton, ‘AJ’ has only really shot to stardom over the last 18 months.
With wins over only mid-ranked opponents, the Watford-born fighter now has a chance to prove that it is he who is Britain’s pound-for-pound star.
‘AJ’ is currently preparing to face former world champion Wladimir Klitschko in April.
After an early blemish on his record against London rival George Groves, the fighter nicknamed ‘Chunky’ has fought hard to re-establish his career.
After wins over Andre Direll and Lucian Bute, which saw him win and retain the IBF belt, he is now a main player in the super-middleweight division.
Despite a draw in his January unification bout against WBC belt-holder Badou Jack, the southpaw has plenty of options.
One is a rematch with his nemesis Groves. Another is facing newly-crowned IBO champion Chris Eubank Jnr.
The future is exciting for DeGale, and by the end of 2017 he could be Britain’s pound-for-pound king.
Any of the boxers mentioned have a case for being worthy of that mantle.
For me, Frampton edges it. Why? Because he’s beaten two undefeated (at the time) world champions (Quigg and Santa Cruz) at their peak.
Yes, his position at the summit is in real danger. But if he can beat the Mexican in a third and final fight, he will surely cement his position.