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Naoya Inoue scored an impressive second-round TKO victory over Nonito Donaire in their rematch of the ESPN 2019 fight of the year and solidified his spot as the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs), 29, of Japan, received more votes than ever before from our 16-member panel, but couldn’t take the top spot from Terence Crawford. However, the gap between them shrank from 40 votes to just 10.

ESPN writer Mike Coppinger moved Inoue to No. 1 on his list citing the way he disposed of Donaire.

“Inoue was No. 2 on my list behind Canelo for years,” Coppinger said. “But as other boxers fought better opposition, the “Monster” feasted since his fight-of-the-year win over Donaire in 2019.

“Donaire turns 40 later this year, but the future Hall of Famer was on a roll at bantamweight. For Inoue to make such easy work of Donaire prove that Inoue isn’t just the fighter we thought he was as he sliced through the divisions. He could be getting even better. He’s still just 29.”

However, ESPN writer Ben Baby believes moving Inoue after defeating an older Donaire is an overreaction.

“Inoue’s greatness and inclusion in the pound-for-pound rankings has never been in question,” Baby said. “But the three guys ahead of Inoue on my list have all become undisputed champions, moved up a weight class and then won titles.

“Inoue has done some of that, winning titles in three divisions, lives up to his ‘Monster’ nickname and is well on his way to becoming a certified star. If he continues on his current trajectory, he’ll have the credentials to be on the top of the pound-for-pound list. Not just yet.”

Devin Haney, who became the undisputed lightweight champion by defeating George Kambosos Jr. by unanimous decision on June 4, got enough votes to make the top 10. Jermell Charlo, who unified all the junior middleweight belt with a TKO victory over Brian Castano on May 14, is knocking on the door, as is Gervonta Davis after his TKO victory over Rolando Romero on May 28.

Our panel of Coppinger, Timothy Bradley Jr., Joe Tessitore, Michael Rothstein, Teddy Atlas, Nick Parkinson, Andre Ward, Baby, Eric Raskin, Eric Woodyard, Claudia Trejos, Kel Dansby, Bernardo Pilatti, Charles Moynihan and Salvador Rodriguez share their votes.

More rankings: Divisional rankings and ESPN’s women’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Note: Results are through June 9.


1. TERENCE CRAWFORD     Previous ranking: No. 1

RECORD: 38-0, 29 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO10) Shawn Porter, Nov. 20
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


2. NAOYA INOUE     Previous ranking: No. 2

RECORD: 23-0, 20 KOs
DIVISION: Bantamweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO2) Nonito Donaire, June 7
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


3. ERROL SPENCE JR.     Previous ranking: No. 3

RECORD: 28-0, 22 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO10) Yordenis Ugas, April 16
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


4. CANELO ALVAREZ     Previous ranking: No. 4

RECORD: 57-2-2, 39 KOs
DIVISION: Super middleweight (undisputed champion)
LAST FIGHT: L (UD12) Dmitry Bivol, May 7
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


5. TYSON FURY     Previous ranking: No. 5

RECORD: 32-0-1, 23 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO6) Dillian Whyte, April 23
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


6. OLEKSANDR USYK     Previous ranking: No. 6

RECORD: 19-0, 13 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Anthony Joshua, Sept. 25
NEXT FIGHT: July 23 vs. Anthony Joshua


7. VASILIY LOMACHENKO     Previous ranking: No. 7

RECORD: 16-2, 11 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Richard Commey, Dec. 11
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


8. DMITRY BIVOL     Previous ranking: No. 8

RECORD: 20-0, 11 KOs
DIVISION: Light heavyweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Canelo Alvarez, May 7
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


9. SHAKUR STEVENSON     Previous ranking: No. 9

RECORD: 18-0, 9 KOs
DIVISION: Junior lightweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Oscar Valdez, April 30
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


10. DEVIN HANEY     Previous ranking: N/R

RECORD: 28-0, 15 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight (undisputed champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) George Kambosos Jr., June 4, 2021
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


The formula

The rankings are based on a descending points system, with a first-place vote receiving 10 points, a second-place vote receiving nine points and so on. A tie goes to the fighter with the highest ranking and then the one with the most votes at that ranking.


Others receiving votes: Gervonta Davis (17), Jermell Charlo (9), Juan Francisco Estrada (8), Josh Taylor (3), Gennadiy Golovkin (2), Stephen Fulton (2), Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (1), Artur Beterbiev (1).


How our writers voted

Atlas: 1. Crawford, 2. Bivol, 3. Inoue, 4. Usyk, 5. Spence, 6. Alvarez, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Fury, 9. Davis, 10. Beterbiev

Bradley: 1. Crawford, 2. Inoue, 3. Spence, 4. Alvarez, 5. Fury, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Stevenson, 9. Davis, 10. Haney

Coppinger: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Fury, 4. Alvarez, 5. Spence, 6. Usyk, 7. Bivol, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Stevenson, 10. Haney

Tessitore: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Usyk, 4. Alvarez, 5. Spence, 6. Stevenson, 7. Fury, 8. Bivol, 9. Haney, 10. Charlo

Parkinson: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Alvarez, 4. Fury, 5. Spence, 6. Usyk, 7. Bivol, 8. Haney, 9. Lomachenko, 10. Charlo

Raskin: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Bivol, 5. Alvarez, 6. Fury, 7. Usyk, 8. Stevenson, 9. Lomachenko, 10. Gonzalez

Ward: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Inoue, 4. Alvarez, 5. Usyk, 6. Bivol, 7. Stevenson, 8. Haney, 9. Davis, 10. Charlo

Baby: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Usyk, 4. Inoue, 5. Spence, 6. Lomachenko, 7. Fury, 8. Haney, 9. Stevenson, 10. Fulton

Rothstein: 1. Crawford, 2. Inoue, 3. Fury, 4. Alvarez, 5. Spence, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Bivol, 9. Davis, 10. Stevenson

Woodyard: 1. Crawford, 2. Fury, 3. Spence, 4. Alvarez, 5. Inoue, 6. Usyk, 7. Davis, 8. Haney, 9. Stevenson, 10. Taylor

Trejos: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Inoue, 4. Fury, 5. Alvarez, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Stevenson, 9. Taylor, 10. Davis

Dansby: 1. Usyk, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Alvarez, 5. Spence, 6. Fury, 7. Haney, 8. Charlo, 9. Stevenson, 10. Fulton

Moynihan: 1. Spence, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Fury, 5. Alvarez, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Bivol, 9. Golovkin, 10. Estrada

Pilatti: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Fury, 5. Lomachenko, 6. Alvarez, 7. Davis, 8. Usyk, 9. Estrada, 10. Stevenson

Rodriguez: 1. Inoue, 2. Fury, 3. Crawford, 4. Spence, 5. Usyk, 6. Alvarez, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Charlo, 9. Bivol, 10. Haney


ESPN experts’ poll

First place: Crawford (7), Inoue (6), Spence (1), Usyk (1)

Second place: Crawford (7), Inoue (2), Spence (2), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Bivol (1)

Third place: Inoue (5), Spence (4), Fury (2), Usyk (2), Crawford (1), Alvarez (1)

Fourth place: Alvarez (7), Fury (4), Inoue (1), Spence (1), Usyk (1), Bivol (1)

Fifth place: Spence (7), Alvarez (3), Usyk (2), Inoue (1), Fury (1), Lomachenko (1)

Sixth place: Usyk (7), Alvarez (3), Fury (2), Lomachenko (1), Bivol (1), Stevenson (1)

Seventh place: Lomachenko (6), Fury (2), Bivol (2), Davis (2), Usyk (1), Stevenson (1), Haney (1)

Eighth place: Haney (4), Bivol (3), Stevenson (3), Charlo (2), Fury (1), Usyk (1), Lomachenko (1)

Ninth place: Stevenson (4), Davis (4), Lomachenko (2), Bivol (1), Haney (1), Taylor (1), Estrada (1), Golovkin (1)

10th place: Davis (3), Charlo (3), Stevenson (2), Estrada (2), Fulton (2), Davis (1), Beterbiev (1), Gonzalez (1)

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