Pound for pound lists intrigue some fans and frustrate others, but there’s a general consensus that names like Naoya Inoue, Terence Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk and Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez are hovering around the top two. Not for Stephen A Smith.
The boxing broadcaster has been in sports media since 1994, and regularly interviews the very best fighters in the world.
Asked recently by FightHype who he considered the pound for pound best fighter on the planet, Smith named the WBC Heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, and former super-middleweight titlist, David Benavidez.
“The safe bet would be Tyson Fury, to me, I don’t think we could sneeze at that. I look at cats like Benavidez and I’m wondering, everybody running from him. I understand why Canelo didn’t fight that monster. I’m a David Benavidez guy though man. I just am. Those two definitely come to mind.
Of course I can’t ignore Tank Davis, I can’t ignore a few guys, it’s a lot of cats that you gotta give love to. But I would tell you to me it’s between Fury and Benavidez.”
The lists are subjective, and Smith will have his own case for each man.
Fury is a two-time heavyweight champion, undefeated, and a marvel in the sense that he can move like a much lighter man.
He’s rarely looked uncomfortable in the ring, and his career-best victories came away from home in the shape of dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in Germany and then Deontay Wilder in the States.
His rival belt-holder, Usyk, is commonly featured on these lists given his undisputed achievement at cruiserweight before a pursuit of the same in the top division.
Benavidez is a two-time 168lbs belt holder who is currently a challenger, but he remains undefeated. He lost his title on the scales and due to a ban for cocaine.
‘The Mexican Monster’ is looking to cement his case as one of the very best in the world by chasing undisputed champion, Canelo, but has so far been unsuccessful.
Smith’s picks are surprising given most have Inoue in the conversation following recent events.
The Japanese fighter known simply as ‘The Monster’ became a four-division world champion in just 25 fights with a demolition of Stephen Fulton in Tokyo. He has an 88% knockout ratio – rare for a ‘smaller’ man – and looks almost unbeatable under the lights.
Therein lies the intrigue of P4P rankings – there’s never a correct answer.