RING Ratings Update
A very busy weekend in boxing brought about a lot of changes in THE RING’s rankings this week.
On Friday and Saturday there were five title bouts (seven counting “interim” belts) in St. Louis, Missouri, Mashantucket, Connecticut, Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Germany and Thailand.
Some of these title bouts, like Felix Sturm’s WBA middleweight title defense over Japan’s inexperienced Koji Sato, were of little significance and had no effect on THE RING ratings, but others, like WBC super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch’s come-from-behind knockout of Jermain Taylor caused quite a shake up.
Froch (25-0, 21 knockouts) knocked out the former middleweight champ in the final round of their exciting title bout that took place in Connecticut on Saturday, advancing his status in the sport from mere beltholder to major 168-pound player, while putting Taylor’s future in jeopardy even though the American was ahead on two of the official scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
The brutal manner in which the Englishman dropped and finally finished off the fast-fading Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs) in the 12th round begs the question of how well the 2000 Olympian handles pressure from bigger, stronger fighters who are tough enough to take his punches and gutsy enough to apply constant pressure (even from those who may lack his talent).
Based on his success in the first 11 rounds — which included a third-round knockdown and a moment in which he rocked Froch at the end of the eighth — Taylor remains rated in THR RING’s super middleweight top 10, but there are ranked contenders who share Froch’s ability to take a shot as well as the Nottingham native’s stalking, pressure fighting style, such as Librado Andrade and Sakio Bika.
Only time will tell if Taylor can advance or even compete in the deep and talented 168-pound division.
For now, Froch has established himself as the No. 3-rated contender behind fellow title holders Mikkel Kessler (No. 1) and Lucian Bute (No. 2).
A potential opponent for Kessler, Bute, Froch or Taylor is Allan Green, who scored a much-needed KO of prospect Carlos DeLeon Jr. in the co-feature to the Cory Spinks-Deandre Latimore junior middleweight title bout on Friday.
Green (28-1, 20 KOs) justified his top-10 RING ranking with the electrifying second-round KO, which reminded fans of his talent and potential. Green is coming off a rather inactive 2008, in which he only fought twice — stoppages of fringe contender Rubin Williams and former 154-pound titleholder-turned journeyman Carl Daniels, who had lost five of his previous six fights.
Germany based 168-pound titleholder Karoly Balszay, also solidified his top-10 RING ranking by stopping aging former middleweight beltholder Maselino Masoe in the 11th round in the co-feature to the Sturm-Sato fight on Saturday. Balszay (21-0, 15 KOs) made the first defense of his WBO title.
The undefeated Hungarian, along with fellow contenders Kessler (Denmark), Bute (Canada by way of Romania) Froch (UK), Andrade (USA by way of Mexico), Anthony Mundine (Australia), Bika (Australia by way of Senegal), Green and Taylor (USA), helps make the super middleweight division one of boxing’s most international weight classes as well as one of the most competitive.
There were plenty of changes in the 168-pound rankings and other divisions this week:
Froch jumped from No. 6 to No. 3 on the basis of his dramatic, 12th-round knockout of Taylor, who fell from No. 5 to No. 9. Froch’s promotion pushed down Andrade from No. 3 to No. 4., and Mundine from No. 5 to No. 6.
Mundine, the former WBA 168-pound titleholder, has announced that he will campaign at middleweight, however he remains ranked at super middleweight by THE RING. The magazine’s editor Nigel Collins explains:
“THE RING is aware of the fact that Anthony Mundine fought his most recent bout at middleweight and is scheduled to fight Daniel Geale, THE RING’s No. 9 contender, at 160 pounds. However, we will wait until after the Geale match to decided whether or not to rate Mundine at middleweight. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of Mundine’s work has been at 168-pounds and his recent victory over unranked Shannon Taylor at middleweight did not earn him a rating at middleweight. Mundine stays in the super middleweight rankings for the time being because he had four wins in that weight class last year, the most recent in November 2008.”
Taylor’s demotion allows Bika (No. 7 last week), Green (No. 8 last week) and Karoly Balszay (No. 9 last week) to all move up one notch each. Green and Balszay’s advancements were also aided by victories over De Leon and Masoe, respectively.
JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT: Cory Spinks advanced from No. 4 to No. 3, thanks to his off-the-deck decision victory over hard-hitting but unranked Deandre Latimore. The move dropped Verno Phillips from No. 3 to No. 4.
“Even though Verno Phillips won a close decision over Cory Spinks last year, THE RING felt the fact that Phillips has since been stopped by Paul Williams, coupled with Spinks’ performance against Latimore, merited an advancement by Spinks,” Collins said.
“Even though James Kirkland (No. 9 at 154-pounds) is currently incarcerated, he has yet to be convicted. Therefore, THE RING will continue to rate him until it becomes clear that he will not be fighting for at least 12 months.”
Choi Tseveenpurev (No. 10 last week) exits because he has not fought in more than 12 months and has no bout scheduled. This makes room for undefeated knockout artist Yuriorkis Gamboa (15-0, 13 KOs) to debut at No. 10.
Despite his impressive ninth-round TKO of Gerry Penalosa, Juan Manuel Lopez (25-0, 23 KOs) stays at No. 3, as he still has not yet accomplished as much as Rafael Marquez (No. 1) and Celestino Caballero (No. 2).
However, the powerful but poised Puerto Rican star served notice to those two pound-for-pound players and other elite fighters that he’s close to taking their places and that he has the potential to surpass them.
Penalosa (54-7-2, 36 KOs) drops from No. 6 to No. 10 following his loss to Lopez at junior featherweight. Penalosa, who will turn 37 in August, may decide to hang up his gloves, but so far there has been no official announcement. Penalosa’s demotion allows Abner Mares (No. 7 last week), Nehomar Cermeno (No. 8 last week), Roberto Vasquez (No. 9 last week), and Fernando Montiel (No. 10 last week) to all move up one place each.
Jose Navarro (No. 4 last week) departs due to inactivity; his last bout was in February 2008. Navarro’s exit advanced all boxers rated No. 5 or below last week one slot each, and makes room for Simphiwe Nongqayi to enter at No. 10.
Julio Cesar Miranda (No. 9 last week) and Bernard Inom (No. 9 last week) trade places following Miranda’s decision loss to No. 3 contender Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (72-3-1, 38 KOs).
Wonjongkam, the former longtime WBC titleholder, picked up the organization’s “interim” belt with the victory. The Thai veteran has been rated by THE RING for 424 consecutive weeks, which amounts to a little over eight years.
Edren Dapudong replaces Bert Batawang at No. 10, thanks to Dapudong’d kayo of Batawang.
Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]