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Top 12 best super middleweights in boxing: Rankings for 168lb weight class starring Canelo, Benavidez, Munguia

Jaime Munguia served notice of his intention to come for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s crown at super middleweight with a destructive display against John Ryder in Phoenix.

British warrior Ryder gamely battled to the final bell in a wide points loss to Canelo in Guadalajara last year, setting up another money-spinning showdown with his compatriot Munguia.

But the younger man was too fresh and too good, flooring Ryder four times en route to a ninth-round stoppage.

Alvarez remains the undisputed champion at 168lbs, but Munguia has now established himself in the pack alongside fellow undefeated star David Benavidez.

Will either of them get a shot at Canelo in 2024? Here’s hoping, at which point the list below might shuffle around again.

The Sporting News gathered opinions from members of its combat team to produce a top 12 list at super middleweight.

MORE: What’s next for Canelo? Benavidez minus Jaime Munguia equals Jermall Charlo

12. Edgar Berlanga

Berlanga holds the distinction of scoring the most consecutive first-round knockouts in the modern era. “The Chosen One” halted 17 opponents inside the first three minutes before being taken the eight-round distance by Demond Nicholson in October 2021.

That fight began a trend with Berlanga being extended the 10-round distance in his subsequent four outings. The fact that the knockout streak ended when the New Yorker’s competition level increased has many fans believing that he’s lacking in other areas.

The 26-year-old recently signed with Matchroom Boxing, who still have high hopes for one of boxing’s biggest hitters.

Next Fight: Padraig McCrory, February 24

11. Zach Parker

Parker had crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” in a six-and-a-half pro career but ran out of luck against former world title challenger John Ryder in November 2022. With the bout just warming up, Parker broke his right hand in the fourth round and was unable to continue.

The Derby-based fighter had shown promise in wins over Sherzod Khusanov (KO 1) and Marcus Morrison (UD 10). He’s still rated high by the WBO and should walk into something meaningful soon.

Next Fight: TBA

10. Anthony Dirrell

The last time we saw Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell in the ring, he’d been knocked out in spectacular fashion by one Caleb Plant. However, the 39-year-old boxer-puncher is a former two-time WBC champ and has shared the ring with some solid competition.

However, despite holding wins over the likes of Sakio Bika (UD 10), Caleb Truax (TKO 1), and Avni Yildirim (UD 10), Dirrell is still chasing an authentic career-defining win. Unfortunately, Father Time is likely to intervene because the clock is ticking on the Michigan-based veteran.

Next Fight: TBA

9. Vladimir Shishkin

Despite having been a professional since 2016, it’s a bit early to predict Shishkin’s ceiling in the sport. But in terms of the eye test, the Russian fighter has impressive punch variety, excellent judgement of distance, and ample ring craft.

Shishkin took a step up in class when he faced former world title challenger Jose Uzcategui in December. He passed that test with flying colours, posting a 12-round unanimous decision over the durable Venezuelan.

The 31-year-old Shishkin has called out Canelo, but he’s still on a learning curve and needs to keep his feet on the ground.

Next fight: TBA

8. John Ryder

It’s been a rough ride for John Ryder (excuse the pun). Following four losses at the domestic level — to Billy Joe Saunders, Nick Blackwell, Jack Arnfield, and Rocky Fielding — the London-based southpaw improved his game and ascended the ranks.

In November 2019, after turning in a career-best performance, Ryder suffered what many felt was a bogus decision loss to then-WBA and Ring Magazine champion Callum Smith. Not to be outdone, the 34-year-old Ryder bounced back with quality wins over Daniel Jacobs and Zach Parker to set up the opportunity of a lifetime.

Canelo proved a step up in class too far, but Ryder secured another big payday through a performance of unbending will. Munguia won more emphatically than his countryman, meaning Ryder’s days at the elite level might be at an end. If that prove to be the case, he has admirably wrung the maximum out of a fine career.

Next fight: TBA

MORE: Female pound-for-pound rankings

7. Erik Bazinyan

This Armenia-born Canadian has put together an excellent winning run and although he’s yet to mix with top-level competition, this experience will serve him well going forward.

Promoted by Camille Estephan’s Eye of the Tiger Management, Bazinyan is now in a position to seek out big fights. The 27-year-old holds a top-5 position with three of the four main governing bodies, so he is right in line for an eliminator or a world title shot.

Either way, expect something significant from Bazinyan sooner rather than later.

Next fight: TBA

6. David Morrell

With an eye-popping 130-2 record as an amateur, it was decided early that Morrell would be fast-tracked as a pro

The Cuban Star took part in a 12-rounder in just his third professional fight and claimed a unanimous decision win over Lennox Allen to win the WBA interim title. The 25-year-old then picked up the lightly regarded WBA “regular” belt at the expense of Mario Cazares. Three knockout wins in title defences followed: Alantez Fox (TKO 4), Kelvin Henderson (TKO 4), and Aidos Yerbossnuly (TKO 12).

Southpaw Morrell, who has gone back and forth with the ever-outspoken David Benavidez recently, enjoyed what could prove to be a breakout mainstream win on the Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia undercard in April 2023, when he demolished Yamaguchi Falcao inside a round. His Brazilian opponent had never previously been stopped.

Next fight: TBA

5. Jaime Munguia

In many respects, Munguia’s statement performance against Ryder has been a long time coming. 

His July 2018 victory over Liam Smith to win the WBO super welterweight title came three months before Munguia turned 22. Hopes were high over a rising star who could capture one of boxing’s most passionate fanbases. Four defences and an unforgettable run at middleweight followed, with the overwhelming sense of a career in stagnation.

Munguia’s thrilling points victory against Sergiy Derevyanchenko at super middleweight last June reignited things. A fight-of-the-year contender secured the lightly regarded WBC silver title that he retained with destructive ease against Ryder. Next, he surely has to be going for gold.

MORE: SN’s Top 12 pound-for-pound boxers list

4. Christian Mbilli

Mbilli is yet another thunderous hitter in the super middleweight division. Out of the Frenchman’s 21 knockout victories, 13 of them have come in three rounds or less.

As is the case with some of the other contenders on the list, Mbilli is yet to be matched against a truly elite opponent. However, all the signs suggest that the 28-year-old knockout artist is for real and that his time is coming. For evidence, see Mbilli’s one-punch knockout of Nadjib Mohammedi.

He was forced to go the 10-round distance in his first outing of 2023 against Ecuador’s Carlos Gongora, but Demond Nicholson fell in four.

Next fight: TBA

3. Caleb Plant

Plant burst onto the world scene in 2019 when he claimed the IBF championship at the expense of Jose Uzcategui (UD 12). Three accomplished title defences followed before the Nashville, Tennessee, native was matched with pound-for-pound superstar Canelo Alvarez in November 2021.

Despite boxing well early, Plant was worn down and stopped in the penultimate round of boxing’s first-ever undisputed super middleweight title fight. It was a tough loss, but the 30-year-old got back on the horse, hired Stephen “Breadman” Edwards as chief second, and sought new challenges.

Last October, Plant scored a brutal one-punch knockout of former two-time champ Anthony Dirrell. However, his loss to Benavidez and the nature of it gave the 168-pound division a clear one and two.

Next fight: TBA

2. David Benavidez

Boxing’s ultimate bogeyman, Benavidez is the popular choice among many fans to dethrone undisputed champ Canelo Alvarez. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but the lightning-quick slugger from Phoenix by way of Las Vegas is game for it.

Benavidez, 26, defeated two former world champions this year — Caleb Plant by unanimous decision and Demetrius Andrade by crushing TKO. Despite the fact that he’s twice held the WBC title in this weight class, the feeling is that his biggest nights lie ahead.

Next fight: TBA

1. Canelo Alvarez

Canelo moved into the super middleweight division in December 2018 and less than three years later he was anointed as the first undisputed champion in that weight class. The Mexican star defeated three previously unbeaten opponents to confirm his supremacy: Callum Smith (UD 12), Billy Joe Saunders (TKO 8), and Caleb Plant (TKO 11).

In truth, Canelo was a nailed-on Hall of Famer long before he entered the 168-pound division and anything he achieves now is just icing on his Canastota cake.

His most recent victory over Jermell Charlo was far from spectacular, but Canelo remains the man to beat at super middleweight.

Next Fight: TBA

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