Thursday, June 08, 2023  |



The Ring 100: the bottom 25

Fighters Network

When it comes to a promise of change, Barack Obama has nothing on THE RING 100.

The most obvious difference between THE RING 100 from 2007 and the list that was compiled at the end of 2008 is the absence of one Floyd Mayweather Jr., who announced his retirement last summer after topping these massive annual pound-for-pound rankings for three consecutive years.

Mayweather is not the only pound-for-pound mainstay missing. Winky Wright, who was rated sixth in ’07, and Marco Antonio Barrera, who checked in at number 11 in ’07, are gone as well due to their inactivity in ’08.

There are 26 new names in this 13th annual edition of THE RING 100. For the first time in a long time, there are two Klitschkos (and it wasn’t so easy to decide whom to rank higher), and also for the first time in a long time, there are no Castillos (unrelated Martin and Jose Luis are both out).

As always, there will be rankings that not every reader will agree with. That’s because the pound-for-pound list is highly subjective, much more so than the divisional rankings. Those division-by-division ratings are based almost exclusively on merit, whereas the pound-for-pound ratings factor in a combination of achievement, perceived ability, and even perceived potential. It isn’t easy to put the 100 best fighters in the world in order, but hey, that’s what THE RING is for.

Read on for the order (which was updated for the start of 2009) that THE RING staff determined to be most accurate in the first part – 100-76 – of this four-part feature.

Bantamweight 17-0 (10)
Last Year’s Ranking: not ranked
Status Report: The undefeated 2004 Olympian was enjoying a run of impressive performances against former flyweight titlist Isidro Garcia (RTD 7), rugged Argentine Damian Marchiano (W 12), dangerous veteran Diosdado Gabi (TKO 2) and prospect Jonathan Arias (W 10) before a torn retina sidelined him for the second half of 2008, shelving plans for a title shot until ’09.
Future: Aggressive 23-year-old boxer-puncher has been cleared by doctors to begin training again and promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, is looking to get him back in the ring by April before targeting 118-pound titleholders in the later part of the year.

Junior Bantamweight 26-4 (12)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Crafty and gutsy southpaw boxer has gone 3-3 in his last six bouts but the losses were close and/or competitive decisions to then-titleholders Cristian Mijares, Dmitri Kirilov and Masamori Tokuyama. The fourth loss on his record was a split decision to Japanese vet Katsushige Kawashima in a 2005 title fight most observers thought he deserved to win.
Future: Hasn’t fought since loss to Mijares last February, but the 27-year-old 2000 Olympian remains a worthy opponent for top junior bantamweights. However, his dilemma is that apart from Jorge Arce, who has trouble with lefties, his lack of power and counter-punching style will likely cost him more close losses to the division’s elite.

Junior Welterweight 32-2 (28)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Sort of an odd entry in THE RING 100, since he only had one fight since last year’s edition’s deadline and lost it in the first round, but if Kendall Holt is in here, Torres shouldn’t be far behind. Colombian had Holt on the canvas twice in the first 35 seconds of July fight, but was the victim of an unintentional butt that softened him up for a lights-out right hand. Prior to that, beat Holt in September ’07 by controversial 11th-round stoppage.
Future: Was set to challenge rival Holt in an anticipated rubber match last December but an illness during training camp prevented him from making weight, putting the kibosh on that fight. It looks like “Mochuelo” will have to wait for the outcome of the scheduled April 4th bout between Holt and Timothy Bradley before he gets back in the title mix.

IBF Junior Featherweight Titleholder 28-1 (11)
Last Year’s Ranking: 79
Status Report: Canadian lefty was enjoying a productive year, making four successful title defenses – versus Fahsan 3K Battery (W 12), Ricardo Castillo (W 12), Fernando Beltran Jr. (W 12), and Ceferino Labarda (KO 10) – before being absolutely dominated by towering fellow titleholder Celestino Caballero en route to an embarrassing fourth-round stoppage in front of a hometown crowd at the Casino Rama in Ontario.
Future: Faces a rebuilding year after losing all momentum with pitiful showing against Caballero.

Junior Welterweight 25-2 (13)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Probably the sport’s most wildly inconsistent fighter in terms of entertainment value, “Rated R” won an absolute stinker against Ben Tackie in February (W 10), then prevailed in a 61-second firefight against Ricardo Torres (KO 1) in July, before closing out the year with an uneventful split-decision over late-sub Demetrius Hopkins in December. Athletic but chinny Holt was dropped twice in the opening minute against Torres before rallying to crush the Colombian banger along the ropesÔÇöwith a little help from an accidental headbutt.
Future: Hopefully, he’s due for another thriller when he squares off with fellow titleholder Timothy Bradley in scheduled April 4th unification bout.

Featherweight 36-1-2 (26) with 1 no-contest
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Older brother of 108-pound beltholder Ulises Solis is a solid contender himself, his only loss coming against Manny Pacquiao in an April ’07 junior lightweight fight. Has scored three straight wins since, including victories over credible Miguel Roman (W 10) and Jorge Samudio (KO 4).
Future: Although Samudio fight was a 130-pound alphabet title eliminator, he’s now scheduled to face Monty Meza-Clay in a January 31st featherweight title eliminator in Mexico.

Lightweight 46-3 (40)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Mexico-based Colombian wasn’t anywhere near the RING 100 radar screen until September ’08, when he stunned “uncrowned champion” Jose Armando Santa Cruz via sixth-round knockout. Biggest victory on 38-year-old’s record prior to that was probably a 1999 points win over Cosme Rivera.
Future: Expected to face puncher Edwin Valero in Mexico for the vacant WBC 135-pound belt sometime in ’09, probably in March. Conventional wisdom says this is Pitalua’s first and last year in these rankings.

WBC Light Heavyweight Titleholder 25-0 (15)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: “The Shark” generally attacks with an aggressiveness worthy of his nickname, but in lone fight in the past 12 months, had to mix up his attack and even go on the defensive at times to get past fellow unbeaten Chris Henry. Ultimately, Montreal-based fighter pulled out a close unanimous decision in his native Romania to claim the interim WBC belt, which became the full title a few months later when Chad Dawson was stripped for fighting Antonio Tarver.
Future: Was set to face 42-year-old Silvio Branco in first defense last November, but suffered a hand injury that postponed the mandatory bout for sometime in the first quarter of ’09.

Bantamweight 22-2 (18)
Last Year’s Ranking: 98
Status Report: Best bantamweight of recent times never to hold a major title, South African scored a pair of good wins last year. Knocked down Eden Sonsona at the end of round eight in February and the Filipino didn’t come out for round nine, then TKO’d normally durable Argentine Damian David Marchiano (KO 5), who’d gone the distance with Abner Mares just a couple of fights earlier. Only two losses are against Rafael Marquez in ’05 and ’06.
Future: Now 31 years old and overdue for another shot at one of the division’s best. How about Mabuza vs. Joseph Agbeko in an all-African showdown?

WBC Light Flyweight Titleholder 34-5 (18)
Last Year’s Ranking: 96
Status Report: Busy beltholder tallied five defenses in the past year, all fairly convincing. Victims included used-up former 105-pound titlist Roberto Leyva (KO 4), Jesus Iribe (W 12), Takashi Kunishige (KO 8), Sonny Boy Jaro (W 12), and solid veteran Juanito Rubillar (TKO 7). Jaro fight included a brief scare, with Sosa suffering a ninth-round knockdown, but was otherwise one-sided. Rubillar, who was coming off an impressive upset win over Omar Nino, was stopped with a body shot.
Future: Could continue to rack up title defenses against modest opposition and the occasional mandatory threat but won’t turn heads outside of Mexico unless he challenges THE RING champ Ivan Calderon, or at least takes on countryman and fellow beltholder Ulises Solis, who beat him twice early in his career.

Junior Welterweight 17-2 (9)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: The reigning king of close decisions, “The Black Panther” added two more to his resume in the past year, an IBF title try against Paulie Malignaggi (L 12) that could have gone either way and a tight title eliminator against Souleymane Mbaye (W 12). In ’07, suffered a split decision loss to Jose Luis Castillo and a split decision win over Randall Bailey, both of whichÔÇöyou guessed itÔÇöcould have just as easily gone the other way. The key for Canada-based Cameroonian: Keep fighting in Quebec, where he’s undefeated.
Future: Scheduled to face former titlist Juan Urango for vacant IBF belt. Good thing the fight’s in Quebec, because it sounds like a close distance fight to us.

Bantamweight 21-1-2 (7)
Last Year’s Ranking: 90
Status Report: It’s hard to know whether to penalize him at all for first career loss because the man he lost to in May, Anselmo Moreno, might just prove to be something special, and it was a competitive points loss. Before that, made his sixth successful defense of the WBA 118-pound title, easily turning back Nobuto Ikehara (W 12) in Japan. Not much of a puncher, as kayo rate indicates, but a technically sound boxer.
Future: A Germany-based Ukrainian in a division full of Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans, there aren’t many obvious opportunities.

WBA Heavyweight Titleholder 24-0-1 (17)
Last Year’s Ranking: 89
Status Report: Lefthanded Uzbeki heavyweight emerged this year as the heir apparent ÔǪ to Vitali Klitschko’s crown as the most injury-prone fighter in the division. With all of the illnesses, injuries, postponements, and cancellations, Chagaev only fought once in the past year, a comfortable decision over unworthy challenger Matt Skelton. After his latestÔÇöand most seriousÔÇöailment, a torn Achilles tendon, was dubbed “champion in recess” by the overanxious WBA and had to watch two men he defeated, Nicolay Valuev and John Ruiz, fight for the vacant title.
Future: Comeback from latest injury begins with February 7th bout with undefeated and absolutely unproven Costa Rican Carl Davis Drumond in Germany.

WBA Super Lightweight Titleholder 30-2-1 (13)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Germany-based Ukrainian hadn’t done much of noteÔÇödecision losses to Junior Witter and Souleymane Mbaye and a rematch draw against MbayeÔÇöbefore surprising unbeaten Gavin Rees (KO 12) in Wales to claim WBA strap in March. Made easy first defense six months later in Ukraine against Japanese import Norio Kimura (W 12).
Future: Was supposed to face Dmitriy Salita at Madison Square Garden on Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones undercard, but had to withdraw with a rib injury. Tough luck as he is now scheduled to defend against murderous-punching Argentine Marcos Maidana in Germany February 7th.

Cruiserweight 33-4 (22)
Last Year’s Ranking: 48
Status Report: Two-time former RING world champion once looked a sturdy sort, but punch resistance is actually turning out to be a liability. Second reign ended last November via exciting seventh-round kayo against David Haye, and 36-year-old Frenchman hasn’t fought since. A match with Steve Cunningham was discussed but couldn’t be made.
Future: If he doesn’t get busy and get back to winning soon, this could be the last of a seven-year run in the RING 100. Here’s a decent match: Mormeck-Firat Arslan in a battle of bodybuilders.

Middleweight 29-3 (14)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: German was on a good run the last two years, reversing a 2006 TKO loss to Amin Asikainen by knocking his rival out in the 11th round in ’07 and culminating with a spectacular Knockout of the Year contender last April over veteran Javier Castillejo (KO 12), but was soundly outpointed by WBA titleholder Felix Sturm last November.
Future: Back to the drawing board after unanimous decision loss. Perhaps he can get a match with Germany-based Khoren Gevor for the European middleweight title he relinquished for his shot at Sturm.

Junior Featherweight 30-2 (18)
Last Year’s Ranking: 59
Status Report: Can’t be found in the current RING ratings because he’s been division-hopping, but in a pound-for-pound sense, former flyweight titlist still good enough to crack the top 100. In his one significant fight in the last 12 months, made a huge leap to 122 pounds to challenge excellent Celestino Caballero and suffered a TKO at the start of the 12th due to a broken jaw. Had easy fights before and after that one, against Benjamin Rivas (KO 2) and Eduardo Pacheco (W 10).
Future: Needs to figure out which weight class he belongs in, and our guess is bantamweight.

Junior Bantamweight 51-4-1 (39)
Last Year’s Ranking: 51
Status Report: You know that old saying about how top fighters get more exciting as they get older? Well, Arce was already pretty darned exciting, but now that his abilities are fading fast, every fight is a war. Used a dramatic bodyshot kayo to pull out a comeback win against Tomas Rojas (KO 6), splattered Medgoen Singsurat in 47 seconds, eked one out against Devid Lookmahanak (W 12), and prevailed in a Fight of the Year contender against Rafael Concepcion (KO 9) before capping the year off with a fun tussle with Isidro Garcia (KO 4) in November.
Future: Highly anticipated February 7th unified title showdown with THE RING’s No. 1 Junior Bantamweight contender Vic Darchinyan.

Lightweight 34-2-1 (17)
Last Year’s Ranking: 73
Status Report: Chicago veteran is the definition of an “honest” fighterÔÇöboth because of his no-nonsense fighting style and his hilarious postfight interviews. Had his modest talent exposed in brutal ninth-round kayo loss to pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao in June, costing Diaz his alphabet belt, but at least got paid well for the punishment. Before that, looked so-so winning a non-title tuneup against Ramon Montano in March. All in all, a forgettable title reign, but a nice late-bloomer story.
Future: Entertaining fighter fits in nicely in deep 135 class, just not against the elite.

IBF Bantamweight Titleholder 26-1 (22)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: This “King Kong” can’t be found atop the Empire State Building. In fact, the Bronx-based Ghanaian who made a big splash by demolishing respected Luis Perez (KO 7) for the IBF 118-pound belt in September ’07, couldn’t be found anywhere for most of 2008. However, Agbeko resurfaced to take on mandatory William Gonzalez in December, and in a rousing battle he won by majority decision, he reminded us of his considerable potential.
Future: If it were up to Agbeko he would face fellow titleholder Gerry Penalosa or South African contender Silence Mabuza by March, but who and when he fights next is mainly up to his promoter Don King, who hasn’t made him a priority in the past year. Hopefully that will change in ’09.

Super Middleweight 27-2 (21)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Rock-jawed brawler bounced back from his first career defeat (against Mikkel Kessler in early ’07), rising from a shocking knockdown to pummel Yusaf Mack (KO 7) in late ’08, beating up outgunned German Robert Stieglitz (KO 8) last March to earn a shot at titleholder Lucian Bute last October. After getting out-boxed for 10 out of the previous 11 rounds, Andrade pummeled a gassed Bute in the 12th, nearly stopping the Montreal-based Romanian in front of a hometown crowd. Andrade, who had Bute down in the final seconds of the bout, claimed a hometown referee (Marlon Wright) cost him a KO victory by issuing a long count. Andrade’s definitely limited, but a solid TV attraction who’s never in a bad fight.
Future: Although he was out-classed for much of his bout with Bute, his rugged and relentless nature make him a tough outing for any 168 pounder and a marketable opponent for any of the title holders brave enough to fight him. Bute, to his credit, said he would grant Andrade a rematch.

IBF Minimumweight Titleholder 25-0-1 (15)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: “Rayito” was quietly doing solid work in Mexico before enjoying a breakout year (at least by strawweight standards) in 2008 with three quality 12-round decision wins in a row. Handled fringe contender Ronald Barrera in an IBF eliminator in February, snagged IBF belt from heavy-handed Florante Condes in June, made a one-sided first defense over Jose Luis Varela in September, which was followed up by an even more one-sided decision over Varela in an unnecessary rematch in December.
Future: As long as all of the top 105-pounders are from different parts of the globe and haven’t been on U.S. television at all, there isn’t a money fight out there. Maybe a showdown with fellow titleholder Roman Gonzalez will make sense if they both stay unbeaten for another year or so.

Junior Flyweight 27-1 (21)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Came from out of nowhereÔÇö”nowhere” being Colombia, where his first 27 fights all came against unknownsÔÇöto surprise undefeated powerpuncher Giovanni Segura by unanimous decision and capture an interim title in July. Rose from a second-round knockdown and showed plenty of skill and toughness to win in his American debut.
Future: There’s talk of a late February rematch with Segura in Mexico.

WBC Welterweight Titleholder 23-0 (19)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: At 25, moving faster than most of the rest of the Olympic class of ’04 (no great feat there), and getting plenty of exposure with his last four fights all on HBO. Since a knockdown scare against Cosme Rivera in July ’07, was dominant against David Estrada (KO 11), Michel Trabant (KO 6), Miki Rodriguez (KO 7), and Steve Forbes (W 12). Berto looks like the goods, but he’s been a heavy favorite every time out, so there’s still a lot to prove.
Future: January 17th mandatory defense against Luis Collazo can go a long way toward proving his worth, as the southpaw represents Berto’s first real top-10 opponent.

Featherweight 36-1-1 (15)
Last Year’s Ranking: not rated
Status Report: Since winning vacant WBO title against Nicky Cook in July ’07, got busy as a pay-per-view undercard staple, defending against Antonio Davis (W 12 on the Pacquiao-Barrera II undercard), Terdsak Jandaeng (W 12 on the Pacquiao-Marquez II show), Mario Santiago (D 12 underneath Pacquiao-Diaz), and Billy Dib (W 12 on the Hopkins-Pavlik bill). Southpaw has plenty of skill, but maybe a little too willing to trade, as in his unexpected thriller against Santiago. Then again, we’ll take entertaining bouts like Luevano’s fight with Santiago over that awful snoozefest he had with Dib any day.
Future: A February or March title defense against amateur nemesis Rocky Juarez.

Tomorrow part two of this four-part feature will list the fighters ranked 75 through 51 of THE RING 100

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