Everton are top of the Premier League. Two weeks ago, they were top of the UK iTunes chart, knocking Miley Cyrus into second position, thanks to downloads of “Spirit of the Blues,” a song that usually reverberates around Goodison Park just before kick-off on matchday, by supporters determined to enjoy every moment of the club’s resurgence.
It’s been a while since things have been this good for Everton, Liverpool‘s neighbours and rivals, but when Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions visit Goodison for the Merseyside derby on Saturday, it will be the blues looking down on the reds for once. And there is a growing belief that it may not be a flash in the pan.
Right now, under manager Carlo Ancelotti, Everton sit atop the Premier League, with four wins from four games (seven in seven in all competitions), and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin joint-top of the scoring charts with six goals. Summer signing James Rodriguez has sprinkled stardust over Goodison Park, and belief and optimism is flowing through the club and its supporters.
Since winning 1-0 at Tottenham on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 season, Ancelotti’s team have been rampant, hitting five goals past West Brom and four past Brighton, racking up 12 goals in just four games. With Liverpool next up and managing a spate of positive COVID-19 tests within the squad, plus the after-effects of losing 7-2 at Aston Villa before the international break, there is a growing sense that Everton have what it takes to beat their old rivals and sustain a challenge for Champions League qualification.
But beating Liverpool isn’t quite so straightforward when you’re Everton. There is no major derby in world football that has become as one-sided as their Merseyside derby. You can scroll through the scorelines of big city rivalries in Manchester, Milan, Madrid or Buenos Aires, and you won’t find a winless run longer than Everton’s 10-year drought.
Saturday will mark exactly one decade since their last derby victory — a 2-0 win at Goodison Park, with goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta — and Everton’s fruitless ruin at Anfield stretches back to 1999. (Yes, they haven’t won at Anfield this century.)
During David Moyes’s 11-year spell as manager, between 2002-2013, Everton were dour, tough to beat and even qualified for the Champions League by finishing fourth in 2004-05, but they were rarely entertaining or cavalier. And they always seemed to finish seventh.
Since Moyes, a succession of managers — Ancelotti is their fifth permanent manager in seven years — have tried and failed to win and entertain. Some have been unable to do either, but 10 months after arriving to replace the sacked Marco Silva, Ancelotti has given Everton the confidence that they can challenge Liverpool again.
If they win on Saturday, don’t even think about telling Evertonians they can’t “do a Leicester” by emerging as champions this season. Everton are a big, historic club, and they’ve waited too long for the optimism generated by Ancelotti and his team.
But Saturday is big in so many ways. Winning is one thing, but getting rid of that inferiority complex against Liverpool is something Everton have been desperate to do for years.
You have to know the past to understand the present, so as a resurgent Everton prepare to face Liverpool in the 235th Merseyside derby on Saturday, it’s worth turning the clock back to October 1984.
Back then, Everton had grown tired of living in Liverpool’s shadow. At the time, they hadn’t beaten the Reds in the league since the 1970s — they also hadn’t won at Anfield for 14 years — and Evertonians had witnessed more false dawns than their neighbours had won trophies.
As a city, Liverpool was struggling. Unemployment was so high that, by the mid-1980s, fewer than 10% of school leavers were able to find a job within six months of leaving education. The docks on the River Mersey had fallen into decline and work dried up throughout the city.
– Connelly: How far can Everton go this season?
The only saving grace for the city in the 1980s was the success of its two football clubs. Liverpool were European champions in 1981 and 1984, and English champions six times in the 1980s. They also won four League Cups and two FA Cups during the decade. Everton would win two league titles, an FA Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup in the second half of the decade, but they had to wait until October ’84 to lay their marker down. They did it in spectacular fashion when Graeme Sharp scored a stunning goal at Anfield to seal a 1-0 victory against a Liverpool team that were reigning English and European champions.
The YouTube footage of the goal is notable not only for the technique displayed by Sharp in scoring, but the images of Everton fans running onto the pitch to celebrate it. It was a moment of relief and belief merged into one.
“People say I was 25 yards out, but as the years have passed, I prefer to say it was 35!” Sharp told ESPN. “Everybody still mentions that goal, but the big thing was that we beat Liverpool.
“Before that, there was an inferiority complex playing them. They were winning everything, and you had it in your mind that you weren’t going to get anything against them. But that game changed our mentality — it showed we could go head-to-head with them, and it was a turning point for us.”
Everton would win the title that season and again in 1987 as they emerged from the shadows to challenge Liverpool’s dominance. But it didn’t last, and the years since have been a tale of one disappointment after another, with the 1995 FA Cup Everton’s last piece of silverware.
Carlo Ancelotti is a regular at Il Forno, an Italian restaurant on Liverpool’s Duke Street, where they find a table close to the kitchen for the Everton manager, away from prying eyes, but the 61-year-old is not one for hiding away and being distant. Around the club, Everton staff talk of Ancelotti’s humility and easy nature, how he has put smiles back on faces that had become accustomed only to frowning under previous managers.
The supporters love him, too. Before coronavirus lockdown measures resulted in fans being denied entry to stadiums, Evertonians made a huge banner bearing Ancelotti’s image, alongside the words “Carlo Fantastico, Carlo Magnifico,” which was often unfurled at Goodison Park.
“Carlo loves it at Everton,” a source close to Ancelotti told ESPN. “He is having the time of his life there — he rides his bike on the path at Crosby beach, past Antony Gormley’s statues, and has really embraced life in Liverpool. But he also loves the old-school character of the club. There is a real family and community ethos at Everton and, despite everywhere he has been before, he has always been rooted in that family-club mentality.”
Ancelotti, sources say, is particularly taken by the Gormley statues. Named “Another Place,” they are 100 cast iron figures in the sand looking out to sea and over the horizon. He will stop and look out over the same scene and breathe in the air off the Irish Sea. After spending the majority of his managerial career in Milan, Madrid and Munich, Ancelotti enjoys the peace and tranquillity of his coastal home.
A three-time Champions League-winning coach with AC Milan and Real Madrid, Ancelotti has also won league titles with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. He has bagged 19 major honours in total, an elite coach with a glittering CV, and it was a surprise to many when he agreed to join Everton after leaving Napoli last December. Sharp describes it as a “massive coup” to land the Italian, with defender Michael Keane billing him as “one of the best managers in the world,” but Ancelotti’s son, Davide, who works as his father’s assistant at Goodison, says that outsiders shouldn’t be surprised by the decision to take the Everton job.
“We knew the history of Everton,” Davide told ESPN. “Everton is not a small club — it is a club with history and tradition and the squad has young players like Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate. It was a squad we could work on and the club is really ambitious to be a top team, but more importantly, my father wanted to come back and live the atmosphere of English football.
“It’s the way he is; his character is like this. He is not able to work in an environment where there isn’t this kind of family atmosphere. He feels comfortable in it.”
There is a misconception of Ancelotti being a coach who only works well with established squads at the biggest clubs. His early days with Reggiana and Parma in the 1990s have been largely overshadowed by his subsequent roles at some of Europe’s biggest clubs, but his principles have always remained the same: no egos, no superstars and the importance of a collective unit.
“In the training ground and in the locker room, there are no superstars,” Ancelotti told ESPN Brasil. “The name ‘superstar’ comes from the outside. Inside, they are players, and before being players, they are men. You deal with men, not with players. I’ve always dealt with men, not superstars.”
Ancelotti has changed Everton through man-management rather than the nuanced, tactical approach of a Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho. The Italian is not one for long speeches or hours spent in front of a tactics board; he prefers short words of encouragement and minor tweaks, such as urging Calvert-Lewin to be more selfish and head for the six-yard box rather than wasting his energy searching for the ball out wide.
He has also nudged Everton forward by managing those above him, too. When director of football Marcel Brands told him at the end of last season that there was no money for new signings, Ancelotti explained the necessity for signing midfielders Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure. He detailed how the pair would provide a solid platform in front of the back four, before going against his own methodology to present the case for recruiting James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
“Carlo has never relied on stats when judging a player,” a source close to Ancelotti said. “But with James, there were a few doubts at Everton. Carlo had worked with him before at Real and Bayern, so he used his knowledge of the player and statistics of his assists and involvement in goals to make a powerful case for the club to sign him. And he got his way.”
Allan, Doucoure and James have all been crucial elements in Everton’s flawless start to the season, but for Davide Ancelotti, one of the biggest factors in the team’s success this season, and since his father took charge, has been a less celebrated player.
“We have a great captain in Seamus Coleman, and this is really important for my father and his leadership model,” Davide said. “When he has a real captain, like with Sergio Ramos at Madrid and Paolo Maldini at Milan, it is really important for us because he creates a sense of belonging within the team.
“Seamus does that at Everton. He makes sure that every player coming in knows the history of Everton and what we want to achieve. It is a big factor to have a captain like this.”
Calvert-Lewin came of age at Everton on a November night in 2016, in front of a handful of spectators at Southport’s Haig Avenue ground. But the evening didn’t start well.
“The under-21 team were playing Manchester City and Dom was being dominated during the first-half,” an Everton source told ESPN. “Southport is an old ground and the changing rooms are right under the main stand, so you could hear every word of the bollocking Dom received from David Unsworth, the academy coach, at half-time. He really laid into him.
“But Dom has a tough edge. He’s not the type who will go into his shell after a dressing down and he responded by scoring a wonder goal. Word got back to Ronald Koeman, the manager at the time, and he put him into the first-team and Dom hasn’t looked back since.”
Calvert-Lewin’s path to the top is not that of a young prodigy who has been groomed for stardom since an early age. Born and raised in Sheffield, he signed for Sheffield United‘s Academy aged just 8, with one former coach at Bramall Lane telling ESPN that the youngster was “all arms and legs, no physical presence, fancied himself as a number 10.”
Loan spells at non-league Stalybridge Celtic and Northampton Town were important in physically toughening the teenager, but United manager Chris Wilder needed a seasoned striker, not a kid with potential, to get his side out of League One, so the Blades happily accepted Everton’s £1.5m offer for him in 2016.
Until Ancelotti took charge at Everton, Calvert-Lewin was promising rather than prolific, and according to 1980s hero Sharp, the victim of playing in a poor team.
“I felt sorry for Dom because he was playing in teams that didn’t create many chances,” Sharp said. “He was having to run the channels, hold the ball up and join in play and get into the box at the end of it. I played that role at times and it’s horrible for a striker because you know you are never going to score. You are doing everybody else’s job and end up out of position. But Carlo wants [Calvert-Lewin] in and around the six yard box and he’s now getting the goals he didn’t score because he has quality players like James Rodriguez behind him.”
Ancelotti also took Calvert-Lewin aside for a pep talk about Everton’s legendary No.9s, from Dixie Dean to Duncan Ferguson, and told him he could join that band of greats. Ancelotti also urged the 23-year-old to study the movement of another striker — former Juventus and Italy forward, Filippo Inzaghi.
“I think that idea is more an emphasis on being in the right place at the right time, not to say I’m a carbon copy of Inzaghi,” Calvert-Lewin said. “I had a little YouTube of his goals, and watched a 15-minute reel of him, and obviously a lot of his goals are one-touch finishes.
“He had great movement, you can always learn, and if there are elements of his game that I’ve been showing in my game at the moment, it’s one-touch finishes and being in the right place to put the ball in the back of the net.”
The influence of Ferguson, Everton’s assistant manager, has also been key, with Davide Ancelotti telling ESPN that the former striker works on the training ground with Calvert-Lewin to “make him hear the sound of the net every day.”
Sharp has also noticed a driven mentality in Calvert-Lewin and a determination to be the best, especially when it comes to his heading technique.
“He has really impressed the coaches with his dedication,” Sharp said. “He has really worked on building up the strength in his legs, to give him extra spring, and his aerial ability is second to none. I don’t know if there is a forward out there — maybe only Cristiano Ronaldo — who leaps like Dominic.”
Everton’s record against Liverpool is dismal. Saturday will be the 10th anniversary of their last derby win, when David Moyes’ team triumphed 2-0 at Goodison, and they haven’t won at Anfield since 1999. When a team of Liverpool youngsters beat Everton’s first-team in the FA Cup at Anfield last season, an Everton-supporting friend of Ancelotti told him he had just presided over “the worst result in Everton’s history.”
Simply put, Everton really need victory this weekend; it’s not just about ending that streak, but sustaining this season’s momentum and, of course, giving the blue side of the city something to shout about for once.
“The fans are desperate for some success,” Sharp said. “The last time they had a glimmer was probably under Roberto Martinez, six or seven years ago, but they have been crying out for something to happen and they can see that now.
“The signing of Allan has lifted the fans and he has brought the whole team with him. He sets the standards of what you need to reach — Everton lacked leaders and Allan and Doucoure lead by example.”
So can Everton finally get the victory they desperately want against Liverpool?
“I’m feeling more confident going into this game than I have for a long time,” Sharp said. “We just want to continue doing what we have done so far.
“Liverpool will be hurting after the [7-2] defeat against Aston Villa and they won’t want to suffer another loss. They allowed themselves to be got at too easily at Villa, and I’m sure Carlo will look at how we can get at them. But there is a genuine belief in the players now and they look like they are enjoying their football again.
“Because of Ancelotti, there is a really positive feeling about the club. It is on a roll at the moment.”
The top women’s college basketball prospects in the Classes of 2022, ’23 and ’24
We released our top 100 women’s college basketball prospect rankings in the Class of 2021 in early September, a list headlined by guard Azzi Fudd.
Each of those classes is rich in talent and has players with vast potential who can impact the women’s college basketball landscape in the years to come. But which players stand out the most as of right now? Here are the players to keep an eye on in each class.
Class of 2022
1. C Lauren Betts
Grandview High School (Colorado)
Size is a coveted premium in basketball, and the 6-foot-7 Betts has that. Couple that with her current talent and vast potential, and she is the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2022.
Defensively, her height and wingspan give her a chance to block — or at least impact — any shot within an 8-to-10-foott radius. She has improved her footwork and technique, gained strength and also learned how to foul less.
Offensively, she has developed considerably over the past year. Betts is finishing her shots better, rebounding more and extending her soft touch out to the top of the key. She understands the timing of the high-low game as a passer and is better at playing out of the double team.
Betts narrowed her list of schools to nine on July 31: Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, Baylor, Arizona State and South Carolina.
2. F Janiah Barker
Tampa Bay Tech Senior High School (Florida)
Barker is arguably the most naturally talented player in this class. She has been a skilled and smooth operator since she first burst on the scene. At 6-3, she has the frame and size to play the game for a long time.
Over the course of the last year, she has separated herself from the rest of the pack. Not only can she put the ball on the deck and play out of change of direction moves, but she can also catch opponents for an advantageous post up, pull up for a nice midrange jumper and attack the offensive glass.
On the defensive end, Barker is mobile enough to guard essentially anyone on the floor, a huge advantage now that there is so much switching and spacing in the game.
3. W Ayanna Patterson
Homestead High School (Indiana)
Much like her 2022 classmates mentioned above, Patterson has an elite combination of speed and jumping. Two months ago, she showcased that with a two-handed dunk after only a couple of approach dribbles.
— Ayanna Patterson (@ayannap34) August 7, 2020
Beyond that, Patterson has refined her skills and played more consistently. She plays well off the dribble to create her own shot and is almost impossible to guard in transition. The 6-3 Patterson has added a nice pull-up jumper and become a threat out to the 3-point line as well. That adds to her versatility, as she has a nice post-up game, too.
Defensively, she is a terror on the glass and is a great shot-blocker with her length and quick-jump ability, whether from the weak side or as the primary defender.
Patterson’s recruitment is wide open but includes schools such as UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Louisville, Texas, Maryland and Baylor, among others.
4. W Timea Gardiner
Fremont High School (Utah)
What makes Gardiner stand out is the poise she has displayed ever since she was a young player competing against people 3-5 years older. She plays within herself, which keeps her from playing too fast, and at 6-3 she rarely gets physically overmatched.
Gardiner is a confident ball handler who can control elements of the offense with her decision making and strong fundamentals. She has always battled on the boards and picks up defensive schemes very well.
She is immensely talented with a true jumper, and her potential to play at a high level for years to come is evident.
Stanford, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA are the finalists for her recruitment.
Class of 2023
1. G Judea Watkins
Windward School (California)
Watkins’ talent is undeniable. She has a smoothness to her game and a clear confidence on the court. She can score as well as anybody in the 2023 class and beyond thanks to her elite finishing abilities.
A 6-foot guard, Watkins knows how to use her body to keep defenders at bay. She plays for former Stanford star Vanessa Nygaard, who will only help Watkins refine her game as she enters her sophomore season.
As Watkins learns the nuances on the defensive end and becomes more consistent along the perimeter, she could become the complete package. She has a strong instinct for the game, something that separates her from the rest. Teams from each major conference are pursuing her.
2. C Aalyah Del Rosario
Trenton Catholic Academy (New Jersey)
Del Rosario is a highly coveted 6-6 post player in the 2023 class, and it isn’t just because there seem to be fewer true post players these days. She has a soft touch around the rim, passes the ball well, makes strong and aggressive post moves, and displays a solid understanding of the game as she navigates double teams and different zone defenses.
She made the leap to high school hoops as an eighth grader and has steadily improved over time. Her response to coaching helps her stand out. She is very receptive to feedback and shows a willingness to develop her game as much as she can.
Del Rosario has heavy recruitment from the likes of South Carolina, Oregon, Maryland, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina.
3. PG Milaysia Fulwiley
Keenan High School (South Carolina)
Usually when a young player plays with a lot of flair, they can lack fundamentals. That is not the case with Fulwiley. She dances through defenses with pristine footwork, as well as strong ballhandling and change-of-pace abilities. Combine that with her court vision and passing skills, and she is an elite prospect.
Not only can the 5-8 Fulwiley cross a defender and drop a dime, but she can also be patient enough to feed the post on the block. She is also skilled enough to freeze a post defender in a pick-and-roll scenario and hit the roller with a pocket pass for an easy layup.
Over time, her jumper has improved out to the 3-point line, and she finishes with contact against the best of them. Recently, she had it all on display at the famed Rucker Park in New York City. Defensively, she is smart and is now learning off-the-ball techniques that will only enhance her presence on the floor.
Among the teams recruiting Fulwiley include South Carolina, North Carolina, Miami, Florida State, Syracuse, Arizona, NC State and Ole Miss.
4. F Sammie Wagner
Reagan High School (Texas)
Wagner was extended an offer from Baylor coach Kim Mulkey relatively early, and she accepted it. That should indicate a lot about not just how talented Wagner is, but also about her intangibles. From her high school to her club team to USA Basketball trials to the prestigious camps to which she has been invited, Wagner possesses a unique confidence to her game.
She is a versatile 6-1 forward who could turn into more of a “point-forward” over time. She can stretch the floor out to the 3-point line with her ability to knock down triples. She has the frame and the strength to post up and battle inside for boards on both ends of the floor.
Defensively is where her competitiveness shines. She is often tasked with covering perimeter players and sometimes even bigs within the same game (or even the same possession). And she does not back down.
Class of 2024
Note: List is alphabetical
W Kendall Dudley
Sidwell Friends School (D.C.)
Dudley is in the discussion as the best player currently in the 2024 class. The 6-1 wing is already a unique combination of size and skill, and she has a maturity and poise to her game that separates her from many other players entering their freshman season. Dudley can finish above or through defenses, has a natural pull-up jumper, shoots the 3-ball well and distributes the ball effectively to teammates.
F Joyce Edwards
Camden High School (South Carolina)
Edwards competed among older players all summer to sharpen her skills and challenge her motor, and she was up for the task on some big stages, including when she took the court at Rucker Park earlier this month. The 6-2 Edwards is a natural when it comes to rebounding and possesses a high upside to her game.
PG Kiyomi McMiller
St. Vincent Pallotti High School (Maryland)
The 5-7 McMiller is a dynamic point guard at such a young age. She has a creativity to her game that sets up defenders for failure because they can’t keep up with her. She is a feisty on-ball defender as well and plays very well in transition. McMiller has the confidence and the ability to take over any game when she needs to.
F Taliyah Parker
Putnam City West High School (Oklahoma)
Parker has a motor that is hard to compare in the entire country, and her drive is endless. She, too, has competed against older and more experienced players during the summer. The 6-1 Parker is a relentless defender with the offensive skills to balance out things. Her jumper is sweet and she can rack it better than most.
Pound-for-pound: Teofimo Lopez Jr. turns rankings upside down
Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s impressive victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko earned him his first trip into ESPN’s pound-for-pound top 10.
“The Takeover” won a unanimous decision over Lomachenko to stay unbeaten. With the victory, Lopez unified the IBF, WBO and WBA world titles and the WBC “franchise” belt.
The win puts Lopez, 23, in good company, as he becomes the second-youngest boxer in history to win a third divisional belt (Mike Tyson holds the record, at 21 years, 37 days old in August 1987).
ESPN boxing commentator Joe Tessitore has Lopez at No. 2 in his list and noted that it’s time to reward fighters for taking — and winning — the toughest fights.
“I very much knew this would get people’s attention and bother people, by me putting Lopez at No. 2,” Tessitore said. “I believe boxing needs a massive paradigm shift, and Teofimo Lopez just delivered a sledgehammer blow to start creating that shift. We must reward results in boxing, not just status. The best fighters fighting the best fighters at the right time has to be rewarded greatly. Teofimo Lopez has the most significant current win in the sport — that’s undeniable.
“Pound-for-pound is a nebulous, strange mix of various subjective measurements, but I believe, currently on this day, that if everybody was at the same weight, and I considered skill, results, body of work, I’d have more reason to justify Crawford, Lopez, Inoue as the top three, even though others beyond Lopez might be more established and have a longer résumé.
“I clearly understand that my vote is an outlier, but we have to start rewarding and valuing big wins at big times, not just maintaining promotional or fan’s perceived status.”
Former two-division champion and ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr., who voted Lopez at No. 3, believes Lopez earned the right to be as high on his list.
“It was a historic event for both men Saturday night, and the one that persevered was a young 23-year-old with just 16 professional fights,” Bradley said. “In having limited big fight experience as well as making his first title defense against arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, Lopez showed the world that he is beyond his years in skill, mental toughness and supreme confidence. Therefore, the new multi-belt holder deserves to be at No. 3, in my opinion.”
ESPN writer Cameron Wolfe’s explanation for voting Lopez at No. 5 is very clear: Lopez’s win over Lomachenko is probably the best victory that anyone on this pound-for-pound list has had in recent years.
“His win over Lomachenko, coupled with his early KO of Richard Commey back in December, earns Lopez a top-five spot in my pound-for-pound list,” Wolfe said. “His résumé isn’t as deep as others on this list yet, which is why he isn’t higher, but more wins while taking these sort of challenges could help Lopez challenge Crawford for the top spot within a year or two.
“Lopez’s time is now, and his next milestone could be becoming pound-for-pound best. He’s much more than just a power puncher. Lopez is showing a willingness to take extremely risky fights early in his career and not worry about protecting his record, which is something boxing has been severely lacking in.”
Showtime boxing analysts Eric Raskin was tempted to put Lopez higher than his final No. 4 spot but explained why he decided to hold that thought — for now.
“We have a bit of a conundrum atop the pound-for-pound list right now, with nobody forcefully staking a claim to No. 1,” Raskin said. “Crawford hasn’t been fighting elite opposition the last few years, Canelo is entirely inactive right now, and Inoue most recently struggled more than expected in his win over Nonito Donaire. Still, I can’t quite place Lopez ahead of any of them, as his track record is extremely limited.
“You could make a case for placing Spence above Lopez, but I lean toward Lopez, given the exceptional ability of the fighter he just defeated (cleanly, in my view, eight rounds to four). In pound-for-pound rankings, beating ‘the man’ doesn’t automatically make you ‘the man.’ It’s not a lineal title. It’s based on a combination of accomplishment and perceived ability, with an emphasis on recent performances, and for me, that all adds up to No. 4 — for now — for Lopez.”
Our ESPN panel members — Bradley, Tessitore, Wolfe, Raskin, Andre Ward, Teddy Atlas, Steve Kim, Nick Parkinson, Ben Baby, Bernardo Pilatti, Charles Moynihan and Salvador Rodriguez — share their lists.
For a list of the current champions in all weight classes, click here.
Note: Results are through Thursday, Oct. 20.
1. TERENCE CRAWFORD Previous ranking: No. 2
RECORD: 36-0, 27 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO9) Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Dec. 14
NEXT FIGHT: Nov. 14 vs. Kell Brook
2. CANELO ALVAREZ Previous ranking: No. 3
RECORD: 53-1-2, 36 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (champion), super middleweight (“regular” titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (KO11) Sergey Kovalev, Nov. 2
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
3. NAOYA INOUE Previous ranking: No. 4
RECORD: 19-0, 16 KOs
DIVISION: Bantamweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Nonito Donaire, Nov. 7
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 31 vs. Jason Moloney
4. ERROL SPENCE JR. Previous ranking: No. 5
RECORD: 26-0, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (SD12) Shawn Porter, Sept. 28
NEXT FIGHT: Dec. 5 vs. Danny Garcia
5. TEOFIMO LOPEZ JR. Previous ranking: NOT RANKED
RECORD: 16-0, 12 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
6. VASILIY LOMACHENKO Previous ranking: No. 1
RECORD: 14-2, 10 KOs
LAST FIGHT: L (UD12) Teofimo Lopez Jr., Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
7. OLEKSANDR USYK Previous ranking: No. 6
RECORD: 17-0, 13 KOs
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Chazz Witherspoon, Oct. 12
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 31 vs. Dereck Chisora
8. TYSON FURY Previous ranking: No. 7
RECORD: 30-0-1, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Deontay Wilder, Feb. 22
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
9. JUAN FRANCISCO ESTRADA Previous ranking: No. 8
RECORD: 40-3, 27 KOs
DIVISION: Junior bantamweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO9) Dewayne Beamon, Aug. 24
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 23 vs. Carlos Cuadras
10. GENNADIY GOLOVKIN Previous ranking: No. 9
RECORD: 40-1-1, 35 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Oct. 5, 2019
NEXT FIGHT: TBA
The rankings are based on a descending points system, with a first-place vote receiving 10 points, a second-place vote receiving nine points and so on. A tie goes to the fighter with the highest ranking and then the one with the most votes at that ranking.
Others receiving votes: Manny Pacquiao (12), Artur Beterbiev (6), Josh Taylor (3), Jermall Charlo (3), Mikey Garcia (2), Miguel Berchelt (1)
How our writers voted
Atlas: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Lomachenko, 5. Spence, 6. Usyk, 7. Pacquiao, 8. Lopez, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Fury
Bradley: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Lopez, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Spence, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Pacquiao, 10. Beterbiev
Ward: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Fury, 4. Usyk, 5. Inoue, 6. Spence, 7. Lopeze, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Estrada, 10. Beterbiev
Tessitore: 1. Crawford, 2. Lomachenko, 3. Inoue, 4. Canelo, 5. Usyk, 6. Spence, 7. Estrada, 8. Berchelt, 9. Golovkin, 10. Beterbiev
Kim: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Alvarez, 4. Usyk, 5. Lopez, 6. Lomachenko, 7. Estrada, 8. Spence, 9. Golovkin, 10. Fury
Parkinson: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Fury, 5. Lopez, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Spence, 9. Golovkin, 10. Taylor
Baby: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Usyk, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Golovkin
Wolfe: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Lopez, 6. Fury, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Golovkin, 10. Pacquiao
Raskin: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Lopez, 5. Lomachenko, 6. Spence, 7. Estrada, 8. Fury, 9. Taylor, 10. Pacquiao
Moynihan: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Alvarez, 4. Inoue, 5. Usyk, 6. Golovkin, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Garcia, 10. Fury
Pilatti: 1. Inoue, 2. Lomachenko, 3. Spence, 4. Crawford, 5. Lopez, 6. Alvarez, 7. Golovkin, 8. Estrada, 9. Pacquiao, 10. Fury
Rodriguez: 1. Canelo, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Usyk, 5. Spence, 6. Fury, 7. Lopez, 8. Estrada, 9. Lomachenko, 10. Pacquiao
ESPN experts’ poll
First place: Crawford (7), Alvarez (3), Inoue (2)
Second place: Alvarez (5), Crawford (4), Spence (1), Lopez (1), Lomachenko (1)
Third place: Inoue (5), Spence (3), Alvarez (2), Lopez (1), Fury (1)
Fourth place: Inoue (4), Usyk (3), Lomachenko (2), Crawford (1), Lopez (1), Fury (1)
Fifth place: Lopez (4), Spence (2), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Inoue (1), Lomachenko (1), Usyk (1)
Sixth place: Spence (4), Usyk (3), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Lomachenko (1), Golovkin (1)
Seventh place: Lopez (4), Usyk (3), Estrada (2), Lomachenko (1), Golovkin (1), Pacquiao (1)
Eighth place: Lomachenko (5), Spence (2), Estrada (2), Lopez (1), Fury (1), Charlo (1)
Ninth place: Pacquiao (3), Golovkin (2), Beterbiev (2), Lomachenko (1), Fury (1), Estrada (1), Taylor (1), Garcia (1)
10th place: Fury (4), Golovkin (2), Pacquiao (2), Beterbiev (2), Taylor (1), Berchelt (1)
Ex-Wolverine Collins: Felt like ‘no-man’s land’
Former Michigan star wide receiver Nico Collins said Tuesday that while it would be “bittersweet” to watch his former team open the season at Minnesota on Saturday, he was focused on getting ready for the NFL Combine.
On “The Adam Schefter Podcast” Tuesday night, Collins talked about his decision to opt-out when the Big Ten postponed the football season in August, after deciding to return for his senior season.
“Everything was going smooth, just as planned, until this virus outbreak,” said Collins, who is currently training in Pensacola, Florida.
“They canceled the season and that was heartbreaking for me,” he said on the podcast. “They were saying in the spring, Thanksgiving, it was too many unknown questions to be answering. Nobody really had an answer to it.
“I sat down with my family, and I just made a business decision because I felt like I was in no-man’s land for a minute, because I came back to play my senior season and they canceled it.”
Citing daily testing capabilities and a stronger confidence in the latest medical information, the conference announced an eight-game season in September. Collins said he considered opting back in, but that the timing wasn’t right.
On Monday, coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn’t have “a crystal ball” as to whether Collins would change his mind. “I know he’s not currently on the team.”
“Getting my mind right and prepared for the combine was the right decision for me,” Collins said Tuesday.
Still, he said, “it will be bittersweet” watching as No. 18 Michigan opens Saturday at No. 21 Minnesota.
“I want to be out there competing on the football field with my brothers, my teammates, going out and having fun with them. I’ll be rooting for them 100 percent. I’m excited to see, hopefully they win – they will win. I believe in them. The grind they put in throughout the summer. I know they worked really hard and I know it’s going to pay off Saturday.”
Collins had 78 receptions for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns over his three-year career. He had 37 catches for 729 yards and seven scores last year.
Losing Collins was significant for a team that also had to replace quarterback Shea Patterson, four starting offensive linemen, and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Harbaugh on Monday said his other receivers have been “really good” this offseason, specifically giving praise to Giles Jackson, A.J. Henning, Cornelius Johnson, Ronnie Bell, Roman Wilson and Mike Sainristil.
“One of the really good things about our offense’s growth has been the receiving group,” Harbaugh said, “their ability to get separation, to gain separation, create separation, and to catch the contested catches.”
The question is who will be throwing for Michigan.
While Harbaugh said Joe Milton, a redshirt sophomore, has been practicing with the first-team offense, he declined to confirm he would start on Saturday. Harbaugh said quarterback Cade McNamara has “closed all gaps as well.”
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