Champion: Saul Alvarez Canelo has never actually fought at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. He won the lineal title at a catchweight and defended it at a catchweight–and also fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a catchweight of 165 pounds. But history says: he’s the man who beat the man.
No. 1: Gennady Golovkin His big shot comes this weekend, when he finally gets a shot at the middleweight title against Canelo. To most fans, he is already the best 160-pound fighter in the world.
No. 2: Daniel Jacobs I hate seeing this guy get overlooked. He has come back from cancer to become a true, elite fighter at middleweight. I thought he actually deserved the verdict against GGG. He definitely should get the winner of Canelo and Golovkin.
No. 3: David Lemieux He was tough in defeat when he fought Triple G, getting stopped while still standing. He came back with a sensational knockout win over Curtis Stevens.
No. 4: Sergiy Derevyan The Ukrainian has had just 11 professional fights, so maybe I am a bit early ranking him in the top five in the division. But he has been sensational as a pro, stopping nine of his opponents. His last win was a stoppage of the tough Tuerano Johnson.
No. 5: Billy Joe Saunders He has the WBO belt, but that is a mere trinket. He has two good wins over Chris Eubanks Jr. and Andy Lee, but has been inactive since winning the belt. I am actually picking him to lose to Willie Monroe Jr. this weekend in England.
No. 6: Jermall Charlo He has only fought once at middleweight, but his debut was terrific. And his resume at jr. middleweight should earn him a spot inside the top 10.
No. 7: Avtandil Khurtsidze His indictment this year in connection to a sweep of organized Russian crime figures may have derailed what was developing into an impressive late career run–he had back-to-back knockouts of undefeated, top-10 contenders. His short stature and rugged build make him a nightmare for most opponents.
No. 8: Andy Lee Has fought just once since losing the WBO belt to Saunders in 2015. He remains one of the best fighters in the world at 160 pounds.
No. 9: Hassan N’Dam A perpetual gatekeeper in the division. He has a rematch on tap in October against tough Japanese star Ryota Murata, who he beat in May by split decision.
No. 10: Ryota Murata He won a gold medal for Japan in London in 2012. He has good size and length for a middleweight and could be a factor if he can get by N’Dam in their rematch.