Ben Randall and Geoff Poundes independently ranked their top 20 active British boxers and then consolidated their lists into the one below. Both agreed that to be eligible for consideration the boxer needed to hold a current, valid boxers licence from the British Boxing Board of Control.
1. Carl Froch
Earned his place at the top of the pile by putting his nose to the grindstone and taking a string of world class fights home and away that no other active boxer can compete with. Froch’s ferocious handling of Bute has contextualized the Ward loss 6 months earlier and with the prospect of a Kessler rematch in the UK looming, Carl can cement his place in the top 2 of the division this year.
Froch deserves top billing because of the level of his recent opposition. No-one else in Britain, Khan included, can point to such consistently difficult challenges. That said, Ward exposed him, and I seem to be the only one around who thinks that top super-middleweights have been of poor quality stretching back to Calzaghe, so that in any other era I’m not sure that Froch would have featured as high as this. Froch’s handling of Bute appears to have extinguished the memory of the Ward loss, and I guess with Ward moving up to fight Dawson, he’s now the legitimate top super-middle.
2. Amir Khan
Like Froch, Khan has found success on foreign shores having established himself as a primarily US based fighter. After being blitzed at lightweight by a ‘B level’ Breidis Prescott Khan won a junior welterweight title against a solid Kotelnik and made worthy defences against the likes of Malignaggi, Maidana and Judah. Sadly, the Bolton fighter hasn’t yet managed to slow his motor mouth down which continues to detract from his overall fan appeal. The extent to which Peterson’s Testosterone use influenced Khan’s loss remains to be proven but unless he can adapt his style and deal with aggressive come forward fighters with smart in-fighting he could struggle to become a ‘great’.
I’ve had a dim view of Amir, ever since Frank Warren’s cynical live TV extravaganza, when he brought Mario Kindalan over from Cuba to take part in Khan’s last “amateur” contest – and Kindalan, who had not lost in something like ten years, didn’t throw a punch in the final round, thus handing Khan a kind of Olympic revenge, and launching his professional career. I then felt Khan was too carefully matched, his promoter acknowledging he had a china-chinned fighter, which made the Prescott exercise all the more surprising. I was ringside for that fight – and came away believing that Khan was this era’s Errol Christie. Three years on, I have to give the boy tremendous credit, and he’s our #2 fighter by virtue of the fact that he’s had some tremendous wins abroad. I guess we have to discount the Peterson loss in light of recent revelations. Having said all that, I still think Amir’s one big bang on the chin away from another beating.
3. Ricky Burns
Despite misgivings about the quality of opposition in some of his defences, the Coatbridge lightweight has become a world titlist in two weight divisions and that’s not something that many British fighters can say let alone active ones. His win over Super Featherweight champion Rocky Martinez was the big one. He also schooled an always game Michael Katsidis. Other than that he has largely fought tomato cans and needs to get his passport out sometime soon to earn real credibility. Kevin Mitchell would be a stern test.
Has taken what at times appeared to be limited talent an awful long way, and has grown into the role of champion. He’s not a legitimate world presence, and his win over Katsidis entitles him to this rating, even if I believe he’d lose to Kevin Mitchell should they ever tangle.
4. Nathan Cleverly
Britains ‘other’ world title holder. It’s no coincidence that Boxrec rates Cleverly behind Ola Afolabi and Tyson Fury where ratings are based on results against strength of opponent. Cleverly was gifted the WBO strap after Jurgen Braehmer had a meltdown and, apart from a razor thin victory over the talented but still developing Tony Bellew, the Welshman has yet to step in a ring with anyone of any real substance despite constant chatter from both himself and his promoter about the big names in the division. One who needs to get on an airplane and go challenge himself.
Yet to be properly proven, and probably did more harm than good to his rating here with his performances against Bellew and Karpency. He’s young, I like his attitude and approach, and I think he’s better than those performances suggest. He’s also operating in a poor division, and doesn’t have the frame to move up to cruiserweight, so may languish at 175 pounds fighting the likes of Karpency unless he can manoeuvre Chad Dawson into a fight. I think he’d out-work Froch should they ever fight, but doesn’t deserve to be rated above The Cobra just yet.
5. Kell Brook
Kell comes in at number 5 but he promises much more and could be a world title holder and top 3, maybe even top 2 pick within 2 fights. The undefeated welterweight is closing in on the best in the division not named Floyd or Manny and has shown power, skill and intelligence in spades thus far. Could ultimately top the list he he maintains current trajectory.
Love the way he fights – he’s taken the best of the Ingle style, and rejected the worst of it, and he punches like a mule. Hatton was a decent test, and he handled the Mancunian with ease. Brook is in a talent-laden division internationally, and will get every opportunity to realise his potential. Probably too late to mix it with Mayweather or Pacquiao, and undoubtedly would take a beating today, but in two years time …?
6. Matthew Macklin
Matt beat Felix Sturm. Matt knows it. Felix knows it. And everybody else knows it too. He didn’t beat Sergio Martinez. But he gave it a bloody good go. Matt is Britain’s best middleweight right now. And it’s a strong field.
Matthew’s attitude and intelligence set him apart – he’s a guy who deserves his top ten rating having given one of the world’s very best a decent ride. I’m afraid I’m not one of those who thought he was handed a raw deal in Germany – I had Sturm up by two rounds. But Macklin will give any middleweight in the world a run.
7. Kevin Mitchell
In my opinion, Britain’s most talented boxer, but is sitting on the sidelines rotting. If he can get his head in the right place then this lad can dominate 135. Made Breidis Prescott look silly. Beat Murray as impressively as Rios. The Katsidis loss was a disappointment, but Kevin wasn’t mentally in the building that night.
Possibly, for me, our finest talent. His dismantling of John Murray was exquisite, and he only finds himself down at seven because of the awful Katsidis performance. I’m prepared to put that down to the undoubted personal issues Mitchell was going through, as every time he’s laced on the gloves before or since he’s been different class. I’d back him against any lightweight in the world, IF his head’s right.
8. Tyson Fury
It’s time we brought a heavyweight in and Tyson is here because he beat Chisora who was robbed by Helenius and lasted against an albeit one armed Vitali. Chisora has had his licence suspended and is therefore ineligible for this list until he is legally active again. Same for Haye. Surrendered his licence in a publicity stunt retirement. Hasn’t been reinstated yet. Fury at least comes to fight and is a more likeable person to boot , so he trumps both.
The first heavyweight on this list, and included principally because I thought he was very, very impressive in destroying tough-guy Martin Rogan last time out. It’s a rare heavyweight that can turn himself inside-out for an entire fight, and still look impressive. In this dire era of big men, Fury has a tremendous opportunity to make a name for himself, and a huge fortune. I’d take him to beat either Klitschko right now, which isn’t saying much, and he’s shown enough quality to be included here.
9. Martin Murray
Martin has come through the pack like the original dark horse and is now ranked well in the world middleweight ranks. He followed Macklin to Germany and gave the WBA champion, Sturm, a run for his money as well as actually earning a majority draw in a fight I thought he just lost. Nevertheless, he showed he can box really intelligently and with no losses on his record will surely have his hands on a world title at some point.
Geoff had Martin ranked outside his top 10 before the consolidation so no comments were given.
10. George Groves
Talented kid, needs to quit being “injured” and start fighting again before his talent goes to waste. But he could be Britain’s next great super middleweight once Froch is done.
George has yet to fulfill his full potential, but his win over Degale was justified and beautifully constructed. I think he would have destroyed Stieglitz had that fight happened, and maybe then merited a higher place in this list. One of our brightest future stars – and I look forward to the Degale rematch, as I think these two could embark upon a “series” in the Minter-Finnegan, Eubank-Benn class. Clever boy, too, and handles himself well.
And then, the ‘best of the rest’.
11. Ola Afolabi
12. James DeGale
13. Gavin Rees
14. Scott Quigg
15. Ryan Rhodes
16. Darren Barker
17. Tony Bellew
18. Rendall Munroe
19. David Price
20. Carl Frampton