Monday, September 25, 2023  |



RING Ratings Update: Kenichi Ogawa dropped from junior lightweight rankings

Kenichi Ogawa earned a split decision over Tevin Farmer for the IBF 130-pound title. Photo @HBOboxing
Fighters Network

With last week being a quiet one in boxing, resulting in no movement THE RING’s rankings, it gave the Editorial Board an opportunity to do a little house cleaning with the help of the Ratings Panel.

The Editorial Board brought up the merits and possibility of removing the following fighters – Kenichi Ogawa, Naoya Inoue, Kell Brook and Terence Crawford – from the divisional rankings.

Ogawa, who won the IBF junior lightweight title with a split decision over Tevin Farmer on December 9 in Las Vegas, tested positive for synthetic testosterone after his somewhat controversial victory. The tests (both the A and B samples) that Ogawa failed were administered before his HBO-televised bout with Farmer. His post-fight test was negative. The Nevada State Athletic commission suspended Ogawa and had scheduled a February 14 hearing to discuss the matter with the Japanese fighter’s legal representation.

If the NSAC finds him guilty of the infraction he would be fined and banned for up to two years, and he would be stripped by the IBF. At press time, nothing has changed of Ogawa’s status with the IBF or with the NSAC. However, he did compete with a banned performance enhancer in his system, and he is in violation of THE RING’s drug policy, so the Panel was asked if Ogawa should be dropped from the 130-pound rankings (he entered at No. 6 after beating Farmer).

Anson Wainwright suggested holding off on making a decision.

“The hearing is only a few days away so let’s see how that plays out and revisit next week,” said Wainwright.

He was overruled by the other Panel members.

“Drop Ogawa for sure,” said Martin Mulcahey. “I would bring in Christopher Diaz in at the No. 10 spot, although Russians Mikhail Alexeev and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov are hot on his heels.”

Added John Evans: “Ogawa has to go unless there is a miraculous revelation on February 14th.”

The Editorial Board decided not to wait to drop Ogawa. Whenever Ogawa’s commission hearing takes place (it was unknown at press time if it had), his legal representation might present a credible defense of why there was synthetic testosterone in his body, but as stated earlier, the fact remains that he competed with a banned substance in his system. Farmer did not. It was not an even playing field during their fight. It’s a similar to the situation the Ratings Panel was presented with when Luis Nery stopped Shinsuke Yamanaka to win THE RING and WBC bantamweight titles last year. After Nery’s victory it was revealed that the Mexican up-and-comer had failed a pre-fight test for a banned substance.

The drug is one of those supplements legally used with cattle for beef production in Mexico and other parts of the world, so Nery can claim ignorance and the WBC was within its rights to allow him to keep the belt. However, THE RING dropped Nery and reinstated Yamanaka as champ.

Bottom line, it wasn’t fair, and Nery violated RING policy, which states that a boxer who “has undergone testing in which the boxer provides two samples (‘A’ and ‘B’) and and the boxer’s A and subsequent B samples test positive… the boxer shall immediately be removed from the ratings.”

So, Ogawa is out, and Christopher Diaz is in at No. 10 in the junior lightweight rankings.

The other fighters – Terence Crawford, Kell Brook and Naoya Inoue – are rated in weight classes that they are expected to leave. Crawford, who is slated to make his welterweight debut on April 14 against WBO beltholder Jeff Horn, had held THE RING junior welterweight title. Brook, currently rated at welterweight, has a junior middleweight bout scheduled for March 3. Inoue, currently rated a junior bantamweight, has spoken publicly of moving up in weight and is reportedly in discussion to fight bantamweight standout Jamie McDonnell.

The Panel voted to remove Crawford, who has vacated all four of his 140-pound sanctioning organization belts, from THE RING’s junior welterweight championship, which is now officially vacant.

However, they opted to wait on Inoue and Brook. Inoue still holds his WBO 115-pound title and the fight with McDonnell has yet to be made. Brook, some Panel members believe, might consider dropping back down to 147 pounds after his March 3 bout against Sergey Rabchenko. His promoter Eddie Hearn recently signed Amir Khan to a three-fight deal and there is speculation that the two U.K. standouts could finally meet in the ring. That bout could happen at 154, but it could just as easily take place at 147 pounds.

“It seems wise to wait until after Brook has fought Rabchenko before removing him,” said Evans. “There hasn’t been an Inoue-esque statement from his team about the move being permanent. Maybe there will be a decision after his fight with Rabchenko.”

Said Wainwright: “With Brook, we could take him out but we’ve waited this long, so I have no issue waiting until after March 3. If he comes out, I’d go Egidijus Kavaliauskas.”

Mulcahey seconded that Kavaliauskas is ready to enter the 147-pound rankings.

With the business of who to drop (or not drop) out of the way, the Panel discussed the action among RING-rated fighters from the previous week, starting with the cruiswerweight division:

“Krzysztof Glowacki stays busy with an eight-round decision over Manroy Sadiki, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk stops Adam Gadajew in two rounds,” said Wainwright. “Neither should move in the ratings.

“At junior middleweight, Jaime Munguia was too big and powerful for Jose Carlos Paz, stopping the Argentinean in three rounds. Munguia dropped him in the first and third. Got tagged a few times in the third but knew his power would tell and didn’t respect Paz’s power. Munguia’s closing in on top 10 status but I want to see him step up the opposition first.

“At junior lightweight, Miguel Berchelt blew through Maxwell Awuku in three rounds. Berchelt did as was expected against a late-sub on his home return. He looks to have refined his style as he’s stepped up to the world level. But this was a show of his vaunted power. Also, Miguel Roman stopped Aristedes Perez in four rounds. No movement for either who will face each other next.”

Added Evans: “Berchelt did exactly what was expected. The second poor Ghanaian challenger in successive weeks. It’s reminiscent of the days of IBO and WBF ‘world’ title fights in Britain around the turn of the century!

“Munguia was way too big for Paz. I like that he’s been kept busy and whilst he’s aggressive and can certainly punch at this level, it’s time to see what he’s really capable of.

“Glowacki got dropped by a Ukrainian guy who was 6-0 beforehand although given what Lomachenko and Usyk have managed to achieve, Ukrainians don’t seem to be unduly affected by a lack of professional experience. He said he would like to face Vlasov next. Wlodarczyk blew his guy away.

“As I said last week, I think there is a gap in quality between the four cruiserweights who made up the semifinals of the WBSS and the rest at the moment (Lebedev remains in fourth position because we can’t really move Dorticos up after a defeat, no matter how good an attempt). The winner of  Glowacki-(Maksim) Vlasov (a fight that has been proposed) would certainly have an argument for leapfrogging both Lebedev and Dorticos into fourth position though.”

Added Mulcahey: “Agree no movement, and Evans makes good points on cruisweight logjam at top…. for me it’s the most fun division over the last five years though.

“Munguia seems to have everything, amateur pedigree, turned pro really young, spars with elite guys at young age, and plenty of sting to his punches…. but I don’t know, something I can’t put my finger on is missing. I agree he is on the top 10-radar though. He needs to beat a former champ for some more progression but otherwise he seems to be on the right path.

“I also agree with Anson on Miguel Berchelt and Roman. Their wins do not merit moves, but it’s good to see them keep busy. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov beat a still-tricky Malcolm Klassen and stopped him in the eighth round; he may be worth keeping an eye on but has yet to fight outside Russia.”