Turki Alalshikh Questions Pound-For-Pound Rankings After Inoue Climbs Above Crawford

May 7, 2024
3 weeks
Turki AlShaikh with Terence Crawford

Saudi Arabia’s boxing chief Turki Alalshikh has called into question the legitimacy of pound-for-pound rankings after Naoya Inoue climbed above Terence Crawford in the latest list.

Inoue (27-0-0 24 KO) continued his history-making career with a spectacular sixth-round stoppage of former two-weight world champion Luis Nery in Tokyo.

The Japanese star did have to climb off the canvas for the first time in his career after getting shockingly dropped in the opening round, but his class soon shone through. Victory ensured a first successful defense of his undisputed super-bantamweight world titles.

Inoue, a four-weight world champion, is only the second male fighter to become undisputed in two weight classes. The other fighter is Crawford.

‘Inoue A Great Boxer’

After the statement win over Nery, Boxrec – the prominent boxing records website – updated its pound-for-pound rankings to have Inoue in top spot above Crawford, which prompted a response from Alalshikh on social media.

“Inoue is a great boxer, but Crawford is the pound-for-pound number one,” he wrote. “I don’t know how the ranking works or if there’s a clear criteria, but it seems like there are some personal opinions and inaccuracies involved.

“I believe that boxing needs one entity to evaluate with transparency and credibility. Soon, I will support a project for that matter…!”

Pound-for-pound rankings are purely subjective and hold no real significance beyond paper status. For what it’s worth, ESPN and The Ring Magazine both still have Crawford at the top of their rankings, with Inoue in second.

Alalshikh Backs Crawford

There is, however, plenty of logic behind Boxrec’s change in its rankings. Crawford is, in many people’s eyes, the best fighter on the planet, but the American has been inactive since his mesmeric victory over Errol Spence to become undisputed middleweight champion in July last year. By the time Crawford returns to the ring on August 3, it will be 13 months since he last fought.

In that time, Inoue has fought twice, first becoming the undisputed super-bantamweight champion last December and then defending his belts against Nery this week.

It’s also no surprise that Alalshikh is throwing his support behind Crawford. The man leading Saudi Arabia’s super-charged entry into elite boxing has recently partnered with Crawford by organizing and promoting his next fight.

Crawford’s return on August 3 in Los Angeles tops a bill organized and financed by Riyadh Season – the months-long entertainment festival that has hosted all the big fights in Saudi Arabia in recent years. This will be Saudi Arabia’s first foray into boxing in the United States.

Crawford Aims To Become Four-Weight World Champion

‘Bud’ is making his debut at super-middleweight where he faces WBA world champion Israil Madrimov. Victory for the unbeaten Crawford would see him collect a world title in a fourth weight class. It would also surely see him return to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings across the board.

In addition to his views on the pound-for-pound rankings, Alalshikh’s revelation about supporting a project for one boxing entity is interesting.

Boxing has no doubt struggled to unite over the years, with four major world governing bodies all possessing their own world titles and their own sets of standards and rules. It has often led to failure and frustration as major fights don’t get made.

Saudi Arabia’s involvement is already helping to solve the problem of matchmaking, with several massive events – particularly in the heavyweight division – taking place in the wealthy Arab nation in recent years.