20) Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KO’s)
The Cuban-born boxer has been down in four of his last five fights, but besides his introduction to the world level by maybe the savviest boxer at the time in Andre Ward, he has managed to come back and outbox his foes, thanks to his fine jab. It’s technically good and helped setup the counter-punches that landed regularly on ranked opponents, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Joe Smith Jr.
19) Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KO’s)
I’m not certain how the 30-year-old light-heavyweight got his nickname, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a reference to his nail gun-like left hand. He has looked tremendous with it so far and in a division full of quality jabbers, his may prove to be the best of them all.
18) Viktor “The Iceman” Postol (29-1, 12 KO’s)
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has a long, educated jab that has been the bane of most guys he has squared off with. He was even tit-for-tat with Terence Crawford for three rounds. The utter dominance he exhibited with it against Lucas Matthysse was the strongest case for his inclusion.
17) Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs (33-2, 29 KO’s)
The knockout ratio only serves justice to how good of a boxer he really is because it’s the fundamentals which help bring them about. He works nicely behind the jab and right hand, and his recent showing against Gennady Golovkin highlights how he’s one of the three best middleweights on the planet.
16) “Saint” George Groves (28-3, 20 KO’s)
Most of us had questions about how Chris Eubank Jr. would handle a world class jab, but few predicted it would be such a decisive factor in what was seen as a 50-50 fight going in. Groves pecked and poked his way to a clear points verdict, supplanting Gilberto Ramirez as the world’s best super-middleweight. Don’t forget his quality showings with it against others either, namely Fedor Chudinov, Martin Murray and Carl Froch twice.
15) Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KO’s)
Outboxing Carl Frampton was a performance of a lifetime for him. He had always stuck nicely behind an active left hand as an aggressor, but to do it more so as a boxer, and against his highest-rated foe, was a thing of beauty.
14) Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara (25-2-2, 14 KO’s)
Say what you want about his recent opposition, but the slick southpaw has a damn good resume for a modern fighter. He is arguably undefeated, as well, as everyone, including Paul Williams’ mother, saw that as a wash for the him. Many favored him over Saul Alvarez, too. He can thank a lot of tools for that, including the straight right.
13) Lee “Lightning” Selby (26-1, 9 KO’s)
Selby has a big domestic showdown coming up. Josh Warrington is his opponent. Watch the Welshman win handily with a heavy dose of jabs. It’s the bread and butter to his game.
12) Oleksandr “I’m Very Feel” Usyk (14-0, 11 KO’s)
He has thrown more caution to the wind in his last few, but don’t ignore the efforts against guys like Glowacki, and don’t be surprised if it’s the defining feature of his World Boxing Super Series final with Murat Gassiev.
11) Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (39-0, 38 KO’s)
Whether you like him, whether you don’t, Wilder’s jab has been cashing checks his mouth has been writing. It’s long, active, and at times, technically good. We should see how much of a weapon it really is against an aged but formidable Luis Ortiz.
10) “Superb” Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KO’s)
Lemiuex was never going to be a contender for best middleweight in the world, but he was even money with the Brit going in. He was plain embarrassed come fight night. David was out-maneuvered by Saunders at every turn. The southpaw’s jab is going to be a handful for anyone.
9) Jermall Charlo (26-0, 20 KO’s)
The lesser jabber of the brothers, but the bigger hitter. Still, there is little about his stiff left not to like. It’s quick, accurate, and sets up his offense nicely.
8) Jorge “The Golden Boy” Linares (44-3, 27 KO’s)
The “Golden Boy” has been a fantastic jabber his whole career, from 126 to 135. He understands the importance of it, implementing it in various ways—to the head, to the body, with quality feinting mixed in.
7) Amir “King” Khan (31-4, 19 KO’s)
The wiry fighter has shown a potent left hand lead from lightweight to middleweight. He has exceptional quickness with it, can double and triple it up, and isn’t half bad feinter either. If only he had a sturdy chin to back up his high-quality boxing skills…
6) Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KO’s)
“Hi-Tech’s” right hand lead is just that, high-tech. It’s not a primary weapon because he has so many go-to options, but it’s become a wonderful weapon in its own right. You could call it a “smart jab”, as he applies it in many ways to get the result he needs.
5) Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (30-0, 15 KO’s)
Ronnie Shields doesn’t get enough credit for the groundwork that he laid for the Charlo brothers. Both have excellent fundamentals. Jermell begins most of his work with the left and knows well how to double it up if need be.
4) Terence “Bud” Crawford (32-0, 23 KO’s)
I’m splitting hairs for the top-4, but there should have been no doubt the Omaha-native would break rank. The ability to jab from either stance effectively is a rarity and the speed, power, and length of that stick has led him to place atop the pound-for-pound rankings for many people, namely Transnational Boxing Rankings.
3) Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KO’s)
His jab—it’s lightning-quick, pinpoint precise, technically flawless, and powerful. Mikey fences behind a tight, high-guard and pounds away with straight shots. His problem is they usually only comes in singles, but it’s enough to dominate just about every man he’s been in against.
2) Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KO’s)
The Russian showed that he could jab with the best of them when he went nip-and-tuck with the savvy Andre Ward through most of their two fights, winning the first on most people’s cards. He has great placement of his shots, mixing nicely to the head and torso. But what makes his jab stand out is the incredible power he has behind it. He allegedly broke one of Cedric Agnew’s ribs and put Ismayl Silla out cold with it.
1) Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33KO’s)
A 34+-year-old power-punching aggressor, with over 385 total bouts combined as an amateur and professional, was able to outbox his highest-rated—and younger—foes, largely with the use of a jab. That’s special.
The Kazakh-native’s poking stick is a phenomenal tool that dictates entire fights. The speed, the power, the form—they are all there. However, it is the timing and built-in defense that separates him from the pack. He is constantly able to beat quicker men to the punch because of his hair-trigger brain and he performs the rare feat of parrying effectively while jabbing himself.
Cherish what little time he has left in boxing.