5:31 AM ET
Timothy Bradley Jr.
There are 17 men's boxing divisions (not counting WBC's new bridgerweight) that are sanctioned by the four major organizations: WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF. They range from 108 pounds to unlimited weight after 200 pounds.
Some of those divisions include some of the best fighters in the world. Others have some of the best young talent in the sport. A few include both, top pound-for-pound fighters and blue chip prospects.
But which division is the best?
Naoya Inoue is one of the best fighters in the world. He's also ESPN's No.1 bantamweight and No. 2 P4P. His division includes former champions Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero, as well as up-and-comers Lee McGregor and Gary Antonio Russell. But the 118-pound division couldn't even break into the top 10. That shows how strong the divisions in boxing are at the moment.
The same could be said about the junior lightweight division, which includes names such as Shakur Stevenson, Oscar Valdez and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, but made it only to No. 12 on the list.
Looking at the fighters in each weight class, former two-division champion and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. ranked all 17 weight classes based on the strength of their fighters.
Champions: WBO: Terence Crawford, IBF: Errol Spence Jr., WBA: Spence, WBC: Spence
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Jaron Ennis
This division once held the greatest fighter that ever lived, Sugar Ray Robinson, and still today it includes arguably the greatest boxer of this generation. Welterweight is, top to bottom, the sport's most profound and skilled division. It includes ESPN's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Terence "Bud" Crawford, who holds one piece of the welterweight championship. However, fellow champion Errol "The Truth" Spence has collected three belts and is considered the third-best fighter on the planet. Many sources say the two are still knee-deep in negotiations as we await their showdown for the undisputed 147-pound championship. Additionally, there are two names in the division worth mentioning. Many boxing experts, including myself, see Jaron "Boots" Ennis, a multidimensional, switch-hitting power puncher, and ferocious, high-intensity, hard-hitting pressure fighter Vergil Ortiz Jr. as formidable threats to the champions, making this division the most powerful in boxing.
Champions: WBO: Oleksandr Usyk, IBF: Usyk, WBA: Usyk, WBC: Tyson Fury
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Fury, 2. Usyk, 3. Anthony Joshua
It's been more than 22 years since we have had an undisputed champion in this division (never in the four-belt era). The last one was Lennox Lewis in 1999. The heavyweight division has always been the most appealing and glamorous in boxing. These athletes' sheer size and punching power have always captivated the imaginations of hardcore boxing fans as well as casual fans. This division nowadays includes three of the biggest heavyweights in boxing history: "The Gypsy King" Tyson Fury stands at 6-foot-9, "The Bronze Bomber" Deontay Wilder at 6-foot-7 and Anthony Joshua at 6-foot-6. Plus, there's one unique fighter, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. He now holds three out of four heavyweight titles after defeating Joshua and is awaiting his rematch on Aug. 20. If Usyk wins again, the lineal and WBC champion Tyson Fury may be intrigued to come out of retirement for the right price to add to his legacy in an epic showdown with the always dangerous Usyk. Hence, making this division No. 2 on my list.
3. Light heavyweight
Champions: WBO: Artur Beterbiev, IBF: Beterbiev, WBA: Dmitry Bivol, WBC: Beterbiev
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Beterbiev, 2. Bivol, 3. Gilberto Ramirez
The 175-pound division is so good it could easily be higher on the list. Every fighter in the top 10 possesses punching power that can change an outcome of a fight in a second. However, another top-10 P4P fighter, Dmitry Bivol, hovers over this division. He is aided by his impressive defeat of Canelo Alvarez last May. But the jury is still out. Bivol is the superior boxer/puncher, but Artur "The Terminator" Beterbiev is a concussive-punching pressure fighter. Beterbiev has cleaned up most of the division by knocking out champions and winning three titles in the process. A showdown between the two would again add to boxing's deep history, as there has never been an undisputed champion at light heavyweight in the four-belt era.
Champions: WBO: Devin Haney, IBF: Haney, WBA: Haney, WBC: Haney
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Haney, 2. Gervonta Davis, 3. Vasiliy Lomachenko
The lightweight division is the birthplace of legends. In addition, the fighters in this weight class tend to have the most remarkable attributes and skills for longevity and prosperity in the sport. Things like quickness, agility and speed.
As a result, legends such as Pernell Whitaker, Roberto Duran and many more started at 135 pounds before parading up through multiple divisions and cementing their legacies. This division already has produced an undisputed champion in young, slick, quick and rangy Devin Haney, but the best fighter in the division may be Vasiliy "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko, also known as "The Matrix." Lomachenko, No. 9 in ESPN's P4P rankings, has vowed for years to conquer the undisputed lightweight championship, and stylistically, a matchup between him and Haney would be a high-speed chess game. But then, a third fighter brings this weight class to another level. Gervonta "Tank" Davis may be the most diminutive hard-hitting fighter on earth, combined with skill and speed, making this division No. 4.
5. Junior welterweight
Champions: WBO: Josh Taylor, IBF: Taylor, WBA: Vacant, WBC: Vacant
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Taylor, 2. Ryan Garcia, 3. Teofimo Lopez Jr.
I once ruled this division. It combines strength, length, height and girthy bodies. However, stylistically, you get a little of everything here: speed, power and mental toughness. Josh Taylor oversees this division, as he is the former undisputed champion. Taylor won all four belts in a unification fight against Jose Ramirez in 2021, but the WBC and WBA stripped Taylor of the belts after Taylor decided to go for a rematch against Jack Catterall after a controversial decision win, instead of fighting his mandatory challengers. He is tall, athletic and highly competitive, but what happens when new blood enters the domain? The division quickly becomes more vibrant and alive. Rising star Teofimo Lopez Jr., known as the "Takeover," has shifted his energy from 135 pounds to 140, and also joining the circuit is the young and talented Ryan "Kingry" Garcia, followed by a plethora of hungry top contenders awaiting their turn at a title shot. The 140-pound division could be the subsequent welterweight division. So it comes in at No. 5.
6. Junior bantamweight
Champions: WBO: Kazuto Ioka, IBF: Fernando Martinez, WBA: Juan Francisco Estrada, WBC: Jesse Rodriguez
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Roman Gonzalez, 2. Estrada, 3. Rodriguez
The 115-pound division holds two future Hall of Famers who can easily be considered legendary small men. Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada never fail to impress as we await them to complete their trilogy, hopefully later this year. But in recent months, an invader in this weight class has displayed pugilistic skills. Last-minute replacement Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez, just 23, dominated Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to win the WBC title back in June and has shown great promise. His footwork, angles and punching power have made him a fan favorite. Timing is everything in this sport, and this may be the time for a new superstar in this division.
7. Super middleweight
Champions: WBO: Canelo Alvarez, IBF: Alvarez, WBA: Alvarez, WBC: Alvarez
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Alvarez, 2. David Benavidez, 3. Demetrius Andrade
Although Canelo is the undisputed champion in the 168-pound division, some new rivals are looking to sink their teeth into the weight class. David Benavidez is a badass, unbeaten and a fearless all-action slugger with hand speed and punching power, supported by height (6-foot-½-inch) and reach (74½ inches). This division also includes a superb middleweight champion looking to test himself against the best, Demetrius Andrade. He is a skilled southpaw with a transportation system better than Amtrak. But anytime Canelo Alvarez is inside those ropes, boxing -- and the super middleweight division -- remain in a great place socially and economically.
8. Junior featherweight
Champions: WBO: Stephen Fulton, IBF: Murodjon Akhmadaliev, WBA: Akhmadaliev, WBC: Fulton
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Fulton, 2. Akhmadaliev, 3. Brandon Figueroa
The 122-pound division is guarded by two dominant styles in boxing. Stephen Fulton, the undefeated unified champion, is a skillfully well-rounded boxer. However, standing beside him is another unified champion, Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who has a must-see power-punching style, making him a dangerous foe every second during a fight. Brandon Figueroa, a formidable, rugged top contender with height, length and a high-revving motor, is underneath them. Figueroa got a nasty taste in his mouth after losing a close-fought battle to Fulton in 2021. Figueroa recovered with a TKO victory over Carlos Castro in July, and earning a rematch against Fulton is the only thing on his mind right now. Meanwhile, Fulton and Akhmadaliev should pursue an undisputed showdown to determine who is the best junior featherweight in the world.
9. Junior middleweight
Champions: WBO: Jermell Charlo, IBF: Charlo, WBA: Charlo, WBC: Charlo
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Charlo, 2. Sebastian Fundora, 3. Tim Tszyu
The 154-pound division has a newly crowned undisputed star, Jermell Charlo, sitting on the throne. However, Charlo has some serious company at his doorstep. Sebastian "The Towering Inferno" Fundora is a 6-foot-6 junior middleweight with a wingspan of 80 inches. In comparison, LeBron James is 6-foot-9 with a wingspan of 84 inches, but at 250 pounds, he is almost 100 pounds heavier than Fundora! Fundora's father and trainer, Freddy Fundora, was adamant about teaching his son how to fight inside because he knew every opponent would look to crowd him there. Fundora's size, reach, power and tenacity make him a potential threat to Charlo. Then there is the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, Tim Tszyu, knocking on the door. His supreme confidence and hereditary boxing instincts add a little more flavor and interest to this division.
Champions: WBO: Demetrius Andrade, IBF: Gennadiy Golovkin, WBA: Golovkin, WBC: Jermall Charlo
Bradley's top fighters in the division: 1. Golovkin 2. Charlo 3. Jaime Munguia
Closing out our top 10, we have a division featuring the old, the still young and the new.Unified 160-pound titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin, 40, is far older than the other champions in the division, Jermell Charlo, 32, and Demetrius Andrade, 34. However, 25-year-old fast-rising star Jaime Munguía makes things fun and exciting in this division. Besides, the prominent names lurking beneath the surface are talented, hungry middleweights looking to make the mark on the big stage -- fighters such as Chris Eubank Jr., Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, Erislandy Lara and Carlos Adames all have a chance in this loaded division.
The rest of the best
Champions: WBO: Emanuel Navarrete, IBF: Josh Warrington, WBA: Leo Santa Cruz, WBC: Rey Vargas
Bradley's top fighters in the 126-pound division: 1. Navarrete 2. Vargas 3. Gary Russell Jr.
Champions: WBO: Paul Butler, IBF: Naoya Inoue, WBA: Inoue, WBC: Inoue
Bradley's top fighters in the 118-pound division: 1. Inoue, 2. Nonito Donaire 3. John Riel Casimero
13. Junior lightweight
Champions: WBO: Shakur Stevenson, IBF: Joe Cordina, WBA: Roger Gutierrez, WBC: Stevenson
Bradley's top fighters in the 130-pound division: 1. Stevenson, 2. Oscar Valdez 3. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov
Champions: WBO: Junto Nakatani, IBF: Sunny Edwards, WBA: Artem Dalakian, WBC: Julio Cesar Martinez
Bradley's top fighters in the 112-pound division: 1. Nakatani, 2. Edwards, 3. Martinez
Champions: WBO: Lawrence Okolie, IBF: Jai Opetaia, WBA: Arsen Goulamirian, WBC: Ilunga Makabu
Bradley's top fighters in the 200-pound division: 1. Opetaia, 2. Mairis Briedis, 3. Makabu
16. Junior flyweight
Champions: WBO: Jonathan Gonzalez, IBF: Felix Alvarado, WBA: Hiroto Kyoguchi, WBC: Kenshiro Teraji
Bradley's top fighters in the 108-pound division: 1. Teraji, 2. Masamichi Yabuki, 3. Hekkie Budler
Champions: WBO: Masataka Taniguchi, IBF: Rene Mark Cuarto, WBA: Knockout CP Freshmart, WBC: Petchmanee CP Freshmart
Bradley's top fighters in the 105-pound division: 1. Petchmanee CP Freshmart, 2. Knockout CP Freshmart, 3. Masataka Taniguchi