Monday, May 27, 2024  |


RING Ratings Update: Nishioka-Donaire for the championship?

Fighters Network

The question popped into my email box almost the minute it was announced: Should the fight between Toshiaki Nishioka and Nonito Donaire on Oct. 13 be for the vacant RING junior featherweight championship?

Nishioka, the polished veteran from Japan, is rated No. 1 among 122-pounders. Donaire, the pound-for-pound star, is the No. 3 junior featherweight. The complicating factor is former Cuban amateur star Guillermo Rigondeaux, who is rated No. 2.

I had my reservations. After all, Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 knockouts) is rated higher than Donaire and has looked sensational in recent fights, including knockouts of Rico Ramos (rated No. 2 at the time) and Teon Kennedy. He is considered a rising star.

Thus, THE RING Editorial board – with input from the Ratings Panel – had to make a strong case for Donaire before designating the Oct. 13 clash a championship fight. And it did.

In no particular order:

  • Donaire has fought only twice as a full-fledged 122-pounder but his two victories – over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Jeffrey Mathebula – carry a great deal of weight, probably more than the Cuban’s victories over Ramos and Kennedy.
  • Donaire holds two of the four major junior featherweight belts, those of the IBF and WBO. Rigondeaux is the WBA titleholder.
  • Donaire is rated No. 4 pound for pound, which gives him added credibility. Rigondeaux is not in the pound-for-pound Top 10.
  • Donaire, a four-time major titleholder in three weight divisions, has a sterling track record in lower divisions – certainly better than Rigondeaux’s professional resume. Past accomplishments have always been a consideration in rating fighters.

These are impressive credentials, making Donaire a worthy enough No. 3 contender to fight for the championship under a new RING policy that allows No. 1 or No. 2 to fight Nos. 3, 4 or 5 if the Editorial Board believes it makes sense.

In this case, it does. So this is it: Nishioka, the No. 1 122-pounder in the world, vs. Donaire, No. 4 pound for pound, for THE RING junior featherweight championship.

Then, if all the planets align properly, Rigondeaux – who shares a promoter with Donaire – will fight the winner.


There are no changes in the ratings this week.


Rated fighters in action this coming weekend (with current ratings)

Junior featherweight: Hugo Cazares (No. 4 junior bantamweight) vs. Daniel Diaz (Saturday)