RING Ratings Update
Edwin Valero (left), here attacking Antonio Pitalua, is one of three young lightweight contenders who entered THE RING's ratings this week. Valero, 27, crushed 39-year-old Pitalua in two rounds. Can he do the same to 35-year-old lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez?. Photo / Naoki Fukuda
The four bouts that made up “Lightweight Lightning” pay-per-view show Saturday featured three RING-rated lightweight contenders (Julio Diaz, Antonio Pitalua and Michael Katsidis), THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior lightweight (Edwin Valero), four former titleholders (Diaz, Valero, Jesus Chavez and Carlos Hernandez) and two talented up-and-comers (Rolando Reyes and Vicente Escobedo).
The result of the Golden Boy Promotions card at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas was bound to shake up the deep 135-pound division and indeed it did.
THE RING’s lightweight Top 10 is now a little bit younger and a lot more exciting.
With Valero’s surprisingly easy second-round knockout of battled-tested Pitalua, Katsidis and Reyes’ stoppages of Chavez and Diaz, and Escobedo’s hard-fought decision over a courageous Hernandez, the average age of THE RING’s lightweight Top 10 contenders was lowered by 2.3 years (from 29.7 to 27.4).
Katsidis and Escobedo’s victories prevented a 36-yer-old Chavez and 38-year-old Hernandez from working their way back into the Top 10. Reyes and Valero’s KO performances ousted 39-year-old Pitalua and 29-year-old Diaz. Valero replaced 32-year-old David Diaz at the No. 3 spot, which made room for 20-year-old Amir Khan to break in at the No. 10 spot.
With the addition of Valero, there are now three undefeated Top 10 contenders who are in their 20s. Valero (25-0, 25 knockouts) is 27 years old, No. 8 Breidis Prescott (21-0, 18 KOs) is 25 and No. 10 Anthony Peterson (28-0, 19 KOs) is 24. It doesn’t hurt the overall entertainment value of the division that all three young guns are aggressive boxer-punchers with healthy-to-sublime KO ratios.
“I can’t recall a recent card that shook up a single division as much as the ‘Lightweight Lightening’ card did last Saturday,” said RING magazine editor Nigel Collins. “It was also a reversal of recent form: This time it was the younger fighters who prevailed, though it should be noted that the men they beat were not in the same league as golden oldies Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez. Still, the addition of sensational knockout artist Edwin Valero is a huge plus for the division and sets up many intriguing possibilities for the future.”
Here’s a division-by-division look at THE RING contenders who were in action this past weekend:
Alexander Povetkin (17-0, 12 KOs) held on to his No. 4 ranking with a 10-round unanimous decision over unranked Jason Estrada (15-2, three KOs) in D├╝sseldorf, Germany on Saturday.
Adrian Diacanu (26-0, 15 KOs) stayed at No. 8 with an eight-round decision over journeyman David Whittom (10-8-1, six KOs) in a stay-busy cruiserweight match on the Tim Bradley-Kendall Holt undercard in Montreal on Saturday.
Librado Andrade (28-2, 21 KOs) was also in action on the Bradley-Holt undercard but in a more significant matchup, an IBF title elimination bout with unranked Vitali Tsypko (22-2, 12 KOs). Andrade won the 12-round bout by unanimous decision, setting up a rematch with IBF beltholder Lucien Bute and keeping his No. 3 RING ranking.
Forty one year-old Javier Castillejo (62-8-1, 43 KOs) stubbornly held on to his No. 7 rating with a majority draw over unrated Pablo Navascues (23-1, 16 KOs) in Madrid, Spain on Saturday.
Timothy Bradley (24-0, 11 KOs) retained his No. 1 position and unified two title belts with his gutsy unanimous decision over Kendall Holt (25-3, 13 KOs) in Montreal on Saturday. Holt, who scored a hard knockdown in the opening round and a flash knockdown in the 12th round, held on to his No. 6 spot.
“A loss doesn’t necessarily mean a demotion,” said Collins. “Even though Bradley won a 12-round decision over Holt, it was a close fight, with Bradley twice coming off the floor to prevail. Therefore, both men retain their previous ranking.”
Valero (No. 1 at junior lightweight last week) crashed the lightweight rankings at No. 3, thanks to his kayo of Pitalua (No. 5 last week). Pitalua (46-4, 40 KOs) exits.
Previously unrated Reyes (31-4-2, 20 KOs) also made his debut on the strength of his kayo of Diaz (36-5, 26 KOs). Reyes takes possession of Julio Diaz’ previous spot at No. 4, while Diaz departs.
Katsidis (25-2, 21 KOs) jumped from No. 7 to No. 5 based on his kayo of former IBF lightweight titleholder Chavez (44-5, 30 KOs).
David Diaz (No. 3 last week), who has not fought since he was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao on June 28, 2008, also exits.
The realignment also advanced Yuri Romanov (No. 8 last week), Prescott (No. 9 last week), and Peterson (No. 10 last week) one spot each, and made room for Khan (20-1, 15 KOs) to return at No. 10.
With last week’s No. 1 contender Valero now fighting at lightweight, everybody rated below him last week climbed one rung each, making Humberto Soto (47-7-2, 30 KOs), fresh from a fourth-round kayo of Antonio Davis, the new No. 1 contender for the vacant RING magazine championship belt.
The vacancy created by Valero’s move to lightweight was filled by Malcolm Klassen (23-4, 14 KOs) at No. 10. Klassen is scheduled to challenge Cassius Baloyi (No. 2) for the IBF 130-pound belt on April 18.
Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]