Boxing Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Shakur Stevenson holds firm as questions about his star power get louder



shakur stevenson p4p july 2024

While the criteria which often goes into a fighter gaining inclusion within the top 10 of boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings is often debated by fans and media, popularity has never had anything to do with it. 

That’s good news for Shakur Stevenson (22-0, 10 KOs), the three-division champion and reigning WBC lightweight titleholder, who has become a bit of a pariah of late after back-to-back performances that have seen his critics call him boring, question his punching power and declare his commercial stock outright dead as he exits his Top Rank promotional deal and enters free agency. 

The 27-year-old Stevenson certainly didn’t help his popularity by the aggressive nature of which he snapped back at his many detractors, which has led to social media beefs against everyone from Ryan Garcia and former world champion Ishe Smith to rapper and podcaster Mase. 

All of that makes for good internet fodder, of course. But it takes nothing away from how technically brilliant the southpaw from Newark, New Jersey, remains some eight years after he won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Last weekend, Stevenson was dominant in limiting Artem Harutyunyan to single-digit connects in 11 of 12 rounds while thoroughly outclassing him over 12 rounds. But it has been understandably hard for fans to separate that from the huge expectations coming in as Stevenson, an overwhelming betting favorite, was unable to finish Harutyunyan, which led to a chorus of boos in his hometown as groups of fans walked out of the Prudential Center before the fight was even over. 

Fans will always prefer knockouts, which is an easy way to raise one’s profile and demand large salaries. And an argument could certainly be made that Stevenson could’ve (or even should’ve) risked more danger in order to create an opening to finish an opponent who was demonstrably out of his league.

Boxing, however, is just as much about the idea of “hit and not get hit” as it is about violence and the thrill of the knockout. And love him or hate him, Stevenson remains in discussion as quite possibly the best pure boxer in the game as a fighter who rarely gets hit clean despite largely operating within punching range directly in front of his opponents. 

There will never be another Floyd Mayweather, which is why making comparisons to him can be difficult. But Stevenson remains the closest thing to a southpaw version of the boxer Mayweather became in his later years at welterweight when he used his personality to sell huge pay-per-views and then his sublime defensive skills to remove all of the danger by dissecting his opponents en route, typically, to a wide decision win. 

If the debate here is whether Stevenson was wrong to turn down a guaranteed minimum of $3 million per fight over five bouts by Top Rank, that’s one thing. As is, a debate whether Stevenson’s reaction to the hefty criticism placed against him is the right move from a public relations standpoint. 

Once again, however, that has nothing to do with his P4P ranking or whether or not the potential for him to fight in an exciting manner depends upon the style of the opponent across from him. 

Need more proof? Look back on the three biggest wins to date in Stevenson’s career, which came over a three-fight stretch beginning in 2021. 

Stevenson captured a 130-pound title by dismantling Jamel Herring in a stoppage win before taking wide decisions from Oscar Valdez in their unification bout and later against Robson Conceicao. All three of those fights saw Stevenson walk down his opponents as the aggressor by landing big shots and avoiding the majority of the counter fire coming his way, all the while operating at close range. 

Should Stevenson had so boldly predicted a knockout of hard-hitting Edwin De Los Santos last November while knowing he was entering their vacant lightweight title bout with only one healthy hand? Again, from a commercial standpoint, that’s all in fair play to critique. But Stevenson still dissuaded De Los Santos from going for broke while limiting him to a CompuBox record for fewest punches landed in lightweight division history.

As free agency looms, Stevenson still holds huge potential to land breakthrough fights against a number of big names, including Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz and Devin Haney. And while we can continue to debate all we want whether he will ever become a true A-side as a PPV brand given his defensive ways (both inside the ring and in his response to criticism), until someone finds a way to land big punches against him cleanly on a consistent basis, Stevenson remains a threat to disarm and decode every single one of them.

Using a criteria that takes into account everything from accomplishments to current form, let’s take a closer look at the top fighters inside the ring. Below is the latest Pound for Pound rankings update after Rodriguez’s win in June.

Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Oleksandr Usyk

Undisputed heavyweight champion (22-0, 14 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 1

Usyk’s professional run has been as decorated as it has been perfect. The former undisputed cruiserweight champ scored a pair of resounding victories over Anthony Joshua to unify a trio of heavyweight titles before finally getting his undisputed clash against WBC champion Tyson Fury in May. An exciting, split-decision victory made Usyk just the third male boxer to become undisputed champion in two divisions during the four-belt era. 

2. Naoya Inoue

Undisputed junior featherweight champion (24-0, 22 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 2

The four-division champion who has reached undisputed status in at two different weight classes only continued his legendary takeover of the sport by rising from the canvas to finish Luis Nery in their May title bout at the Tokyo Dome. “The Monster” may have endured a brief misstep but he made up for the error by scoring three thrilling knockdowns en route to a sixth-round knockout. Unbeaten mandatory challenger Sam Goodman looks to be next.

3. Terence Crawford

Undisputed welterweight champion (39-0, 29 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 3

If you wondered how great Crawford truly was, his dismantling of Spence in their undisputed title bout provided those answers. Crawford, who proved he would be a handful for any welterweight in history will move up to 154 pounds in August when he challenges WBA champion Israil Madrimov.

4. Artur Beterbiev

Unified light heavyweight champion (20-0, 20 KOs) | Previous ranking: 5

Beterbiev turned away any whispers that he was getting old by dismantling former 168-pound champion Callum Smith in January. With his mandatories out of the way, an undisputed showdown against WBA champion Dmitry Bivol was scheduled for June 1. But the 39-year-old Beterbiev pulled out in May with a ruptured meniscus, which moved the fight to October.

5. Dmitry Bivol

WBA light heavyweight champion (23-0, 12 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 6

Following an incredible 2022, which included a victory over Canelo Alvarez and almost universal acclaim as the fighter of the year, Bivol sat out most of 2023 in hopes of facing unified champion Artur Beterbiev. Their undisputed title clash was set for June 1 until Beterbiev suffered a major injury, forcing Bivol to face replacement Malik Zinad, which he handled with ease.

6. Canelo Alvarez

Undisputed super middleweight champion (61-2-2, 38 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 4

The former P4P king is still the undisputed champion of one of the sport’s hottest divisions and he proved just that by brilliantly outdueling countryman Jaime Munguia in May. That doesn’t mean the Mexican icon stands alone without criticism, however, as the boxing world continues to push for a superfight against two-time champion David Benavidez that Alvarez is outright avoiding.

7. Gervonta Davis

WBA lightweight champion (30-0, 28 KOs) | Previous ranking: 7

Davis’ body-shot knockout of Ryan Garcia in their superfight last April looks even better now that “King Ryan” became the first boxer to drop and defeat former undisputed lightweight king Devin Haney. With a 2023 jail sentence behind him, “Tank” returned in June to obliterate unbeaten Frank Martin. Davis wants champions from here on out, which could mean unification fights against Shakur Stevenson or Vasiliy Lomachenko.

8. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez

Flyweight, junior bantamweight titleholder (20-0, 13 KOs) | Previous ranking: NR

The 24-year-old phenom from San Antonio landed just shy of 50 percent of his power shots to dismantle 115-pound titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada in July. Rodriguez added the name of Estrada, a future Hall of Famer, to the list of great fighters he has toppled, which include 115-pound stalwarts Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and super flyweight standout Sunny Edwards.

9. Shakur Stevenson

WBC lightweight champion (22-0, 10 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 9

Even though he was nearly booed out of the arena – in his hometown, no less – while defending his title against Artem Harutyunyun in July, Stevenson limited his opponent to just 17 percent of punches landed overall and single digits in all but one round. The three-division champion remains under fire from boxing’s court of public opinion who demand more in-ring excitement as he enters promotional free agency. Yet, Stevenson remains among the purest practitioners the sport has to offer.

10. David Benavidez

Interim light heavyweight titleholder (29-0, 24 KOs) | Previous ranking: No. 10

Frustrated with waiting around for his shot at undisputed 168-pound king Canelo Alvarez, “El Monstro” moved up in weight to outclass former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk in June. Benavidez, who later revealed injuries to both hands during training camp (which may have prevented him from scoring a stoppage), said he’s open to big fights in either division moving forward.

Dropped out: None
Honorable mention: Teofimo Lopez Jr., Vasiliy Lomachenko, Tyson Fury, Devin Haney, Junto Nakatani





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