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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: MAGNO'S TOP 10 AMERICAN FIGHTERS

By Paul Magno | July 05, 2021
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: MAGNO'S TOP 10 AMERICAN FIGHTERS

The Magno’s USA Top 10 has been a Fourth of July tradition for years, dating back to even before I started writing for FightHype.com. These last few years, though, the rankings have been tough to put together. 

The U.S. boxing scene, right now, has a surplus of talent, but a dearth of big, legacy-defining, best vs. best showdowns to help in establishing any real, firm pecking order. These last two years have been especially rough due to a general slowdown of activity because of Covid-19 restrictions. 

But here I am, anyway, with my yearly stab at who’s who and who’s where among American fighters-- albeit one day too late to be a Fourth of July column. And, per usual disclaimer, this is all very subjective and 100% my point of view, based on my take on a fighter’s inherent talent/skill, recent body of work, and overall resume. If you disagree, good for you.

1. Errol Spence (27-0, 21 KOs)

“The Truth” was no. 1 last year and, IMO, has done enough with his unanimous decision victory over Danny Garcia to keep the top spot. A tricky, risky bout with Manny Pacquiao awaits him, though, and some strong competition for Top Dog, USA in Gervonta Davis and Terence Crawford, is just a half-step behind.

2. Gervonta Davis (25-0, 24 KOs)

If anyone deserves a 1b. to Errol Spence’s 1a., it’s “Tank” Davis. The Baltimore native not only continued to prove his live gate star power since last rankings, he also banged out impressive stoppage victories over Leo Santa Cruz and Mario Barrios. 

3.Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs)

“Bud” may be the best fighter on this list, but one win over the faded Kell Brook in 18 months or so is not going to help your standing in the public eye. Patience is running thinner and thinner, even among hardcore Crawford fanatics.

4. Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs)

I know I’m going to have to fight my way through the critics for this pick, but what Jermell has done at  154 is almost criminally underappreciated by fans and media. In two weeks’ time, he’ll be looking to add the WBO junior middleweight belt to his three other belts when he faces Brian Castano. Becoming a 4-belt unified world champ in a division as talented and as competitive as 154 is a major, major accomplishment. 

5. Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs)

Jermall had some rough patches against tough and mega-unorthodox Juan Macias Montiel in his last fight, but he looked wicked-good against Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the fight right before that. Forget the politics and Q-Rating likability/appeal BS, give the man his just due. 

6. Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs)

Teofimo notched the biggest American fighter victory over the last year when he decisioned pound-for-pound darling Vasiliy Lomachenko last October. And, while that win was enough to push him immediately to the top 6, he’s yet to add anything to that Lomachenko feat. 

7. David Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs)

Wins over Alexis Angulo and Ronald Ellis since last Fourth of July rankings weren’t huge deals, but the talent and skill of the 24-year-old Benavidez are clearly evident. Also clearly evident is the fact that he may be the only fighter currently at 168 who could wage a winning war against cash cow Canelo Alvarez.

8. Shawn Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs)

Porter has been a top dog at 147 for a long while now and deserves that high-end placement. Not only does he hold some key victories at welter, he’s been very competitive in each of his three losses, with decision losses coming down to judges’ opinions on very close rounds. 

9. Joe Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs)

There are many fighters outside my Top 10 who are infinitely more skilled than the full-time tree trimmer from Long Island. Smith is a modestly skilled fighter with big power and a will to win, but he makes the grade here based on the depth of his resume and a 2020-2021 run that was better than most American fighters. This past year, the 31-year-old-- who holds career wins over Bernard Hopkins, Andrzej Fonfara, and Jesse Hart-- stopped Eleider Alvarez in nine and then finally captured a world title when he decisioned Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO light heavyweight strap. 

10. Jaron Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs)/Vergil Ortiz Jr. (17-0, 17 KOs)

Why not kick up some early rivalry buzz by listing these two young gun rising welterweight stars in a shared no. 10 spot? The 24-year-old Ennis just bagged his first “big” victory over a top 10 welter when he stopped Sergiy Lipinets in April. Prior to that, he stopped the usually durable Juan Carlos Abreu in six rounds and was on his way to making very quick work of Chris Van Heerden when a first-round headbutt made things an official No Decision. The 23-year-old Ortiz, meanwhile, also scored a “big” win this past year by stopping Maurice Hooker in March. Prior to that, he wrecked journeyman Samuel Vargas in seven. Ennis and Ortiz SHOULD be on a collision course-- if politics and a piss-poor business model don’t stand in the way, of course.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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