Tuesday, March 20, 2018  |


Ring Ratings Update: Canelo’s situation, Bivol climbs (175), Kovalev drops (P4P)


Before getting to the business of the previous week’s busy boxing schedule, which resulted in changes within THE RING’s pound-for-pound and divisional rankings, we must address the very big red-headed elephant in the room:

Canelo Alvarez testing positive for trace levels of clenbuterol, on February 17 and 20 while still in his native Mexico.

Alvarez is currently THE RING’s middleweight champion and rated in the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings (at No. 4). Should he remain in those positions given the positive tests for a drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)? For the time being, yes.

Hardcore fans that view the Mexican star as the poster boy for everything that’s wrong about boxing won’t like hearing that, but given the history of the drug in Mexico’s beef industry and within the sporting world, as well as THE RING’s previous rulings on meat contamination claims following positive clenbuterol tests, waiting for more information to come to light before judging Alvarez is the right thing to do.

News of Canelo’s test results were made public by a Golden Boy Promotions press release on March 5, two months out from his anticipated rematch with Gennady Golovkin. Team Canelo claims tainted meat is the reason the banned substance, which can be used by athletes as a performance enhancer but is also used to treat beef cattle in Mexico, was detected in the 27 year old’s system.

Alvarez has twice tested negative for any WADA-banned substances by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), which was hired to test both Alvarez and Golovkin for their first fight and the rematch. For the time being, the rematch, which takes place in Las Vegas, is on as scheduled and the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) has begun an investigation into the situation.

As noted, I’m fully aware of the legion of hardcore fans (and some members of the media) that want the rematch to be postponed or cancelled, and who also demand that Alvarez be stripped of THE RING middleweight title and dropped from the magazine’s rankings. Those would be rash and premature decisions in my opinion (which is not necessarily shared by THE RING’s Ratings Panel). More information on Alvarez’s case is needed before an educated judgement can be made and until then, the lineal middleweight champ deserves due process.

While THE RING does have an anti-drug policy, in which boxers that test positive for performing-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are dropped from the rankings, our stance in regard to tainted-meat claims (or claims of inadvertent ingestion of a PED) in past positive results has been to allow the governing bodies (athletic commissions and sanctioning organizations) to conduct their investigations and follow their lead on the ruling (provided the levels of the PED in the fighters bodies matches their claims).

This is what THE RING did with Francisco Vargas, when the former WBC 130-pound beltholder tested positive for clenbuterol one month out from his June 2016 showdown with Orlando Salido in California, and with Lucas Browne, when the heavyweight tested positive for the drug after his 10th-round stoppage of then-WBA “regular” beltholder Ruslan Chagaev in March 2016 in Russia.

Vargas, who agreed to move his camp from Mexico to Southern California and undergo more stringent VADA testing, was cleared by the California State Athletic Commission and the WBC to continue on with his fight with Salido, and thus the Mexican Olympian remained in THE RING ratings. Browne also remained in THE RING’s ratings until the WBA suspended him for six months and stripped him of their belt.

Tyson Fury also remained THE RING heavyweight champ after news of him testing positive for traces of nandrolone in early 2015 was made public in early 2016. Fury, who disputed the results, engaged in a bitter law suit with the British anti-doping authority (UKAD) that was admittedly dragged out for far too long.

Heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz was briefly dropped from the heavyweight rankings in late 2017 when he tested positive for a banned substance that he claimed was in his medication for high blood pressure.

Ortiz’s dropping from THE RING rankings coincided with a one-year suspension imposed by the WBA; however, he was reinstated after a WBC investigation into his situation allowed him to remain in their rankings and following a comeback fight in December 2017. Alexander Povetkin was also dropped from THE RING rankings after he was indefinitely suspended by the WBC for twice testing positive for banned substances (meldonium and osterine) in 2016, but, like Ortiz, the Russian veteran was reinstated when his ban was lifted by the sanctioning organization and he returned to ring in December 2017.

The only instances, so far, when THE RING has ruled differently from the commissions or sanctioning organizations is when the fighter who tested positive for a PED competes with the banned substance in his system. This situation recently occurred when Luis Nery won THE RING/WBC bantamweight titles from Shinsuke Yamanaka last August, and when Kenichi Ogawa earned the IBF 130-pound belt with a controversial decision over Tevin Farmer in December.

Despite their positive test results (zilpaterol for Nery; synthetic testosterone for Ogawa) the WBC and IBF continued to recognize them as beltholders. THE RING reinstated Yamanaka as its 118-pound champ and dropped Nery and Ogawa from the ratings because at that point it didn’t matter if their excuses were legitimate or not, the bottom line is that their title bouts were not conducted on an even playing ground.

This doesn’t seem to be the case with Alvarez. However, if the NAC’s investigation determines that Alvarez will carry an unfair edge into the ring against Golovkin on May 5 due to the clenbuterol that was in his system, the RING Ratings Panel will be asked to make a ruling on his RING championship and rankings status.

Onto the very late Ring ratings update (from the week of February 26-March 3):

Pound for pound: The Panel almost unanimously voted to significantly drop Sergey Kovalev in the mythical rankings after what more than one member described as a “sluggish” performance against unrated and unheralded Igor Mikhalkin in defense of his WBO light heavyweight title on March 3. The 34-year-old Russian was dropped from his lofty spot at No. 4 all the way down to No. 9.

Heavyweight: No. 2-rated Deontay Wilder and No. 5-rated Luis Ortiz held on to their rankings after engaging in their thrilling and dramatic WBC title bout on March 3.

Cruiserweight: No. 10-rated Kevin Lerena advanced to No. 8 after his 12-round unanimous decision over fringe contender Dmytro Kucher on March 3.

Light heavyweight: No. 1-rated Kovalev held onto the top spot, while Dmitry Bivol, who fought on the Kovalev-Mikhalkin undercard, climbed from No. 6 to No. 3 after his impressive 12th-round stoppage of Sullivan Barrera, who held onto his No. 7 ranking.

Super middleweight: Unrated Jose Uzcategui entered the rankings at No. 6 after his March 3 rematch stoppage of veteran Andre Dirrell, who dropped out of the top 10.

Welterweight: Kell Brook exited the 147-pound rankings after his successful move to the junior middleweight division (a second-round stoppage of well-traveled veteran Sergey Rabchenko on March 3), making room for streaking Cuban boxer-puncher Yordenis Ugas to enter at No. 10.

Junior featherweight: No. 6-rated Daniel Roman, the Southern California-based WBA beltholder who has won his last 16 bouts, advanced to No. 4 on the strength of his unanimous decision over Ryo Matsumoto on February 28, his second consecutive successful title bout in Japan.

Bantamweight: THE RING title was declared vacant after Shinsuke Yamanaka was stopped in two rounds by Luis Nery on March 1. Nery, who lost his WBC title on the scale when he weighed in three pounds over the division limit, was suspended indefinitely by the Japan Boxing Commission and the WBC. Yamanaka, the 35-year-old veteran who had reigned as WBC beltholder since November 2011 and earned THE RING title with his rematch stoppage of Anselmo Moreno in September 2016, retired following his second consecutive stoppage to the disgraced Mexican standout.

Flyweight: No. 8-rated Masayuki Kuroda advanced to No. 7 after scoring a 10-round decision over Katsunori Nagamine on March 3.


Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

  • Serving Soldier

    Oh dear Dougie your continued defence of Canelo is misguided and far removed from the mass public reaction.

    A shame as you are probably the most respected boxing journo out there, and if you (and The Ring Magazine) had come down on hard on him in your mailbag and this subsequent article then it would have been as damning in boxing circles as any potential punishment.

    Read Calvin’s reply to the original thread on 9th March, that should be published as a legitimate Ring Article in its own right. He hits the nail bang on the head.

    Canelo is now tainted – fact.

    • left hook

      What is respected about him? He is normally partial in his views. He writes and defend boxers he likes and diss the ones he dislikes.

      • ceylon mooney

        hes a damn good writer and does a great job covering boxing. he has his weak points, and we break his balls pretty hard for it.

        • left hook

          It’s ok if u see it the way u do…I feel he lies and his bias.

    • David T

      None of The Ring writers can be too critical of Canelo since GBP own them.

      Had this been Mayweather then it would’ve been a completely different story.

      • ceylon mooney

        well, there was some drama over mayweather and some IV a few years back. i could never make heads or tails of it. the article above pretty thoroughly covers. how theyve handled positive PED results.

        • David T

          Yep, and Doug gave Mayweather hell for it (probably rightly so) but this whole ‘contaminated meat’ excuse is laughable.

          The fact he tested negative in tests afterwards really proves nothing either.

          • Ten Count Toronto

            There is only a difference in tone – Mayweather was raked over the coals more for being a PED hypocrite than for getting a free pass on a doping violation. Even so, I don’t recall The Ring strippng Mayweather of any of his rankings or deeming him ineligible to fight for a Ring title, so there is no material difference compared to dealing with Alvarez.

    • Stephen M

      There is nothing Dougie loves better than being a contrarian.

  • Giuseppe

    Taken from Ring Magazine May 2021: Pending on the jury’s decision on Alvarez’s murder of 13 school children, The Ring panel will make a ruling on his Ring championship ranking and status.

    • ceylon mooney

      fought 2 fights at 160 before moving to 161, one loss and one draw, still ring champion

    • ciobanu catalin

      You re being harsh on the readhead…. They were dropouts…

  • Mike, Weymouth

    However much stock you put in them, the P4P ratings are a laughable shambles whilst Rigondeaux is in there. He’s done nothing to deserve his continued inclusion.

    • ceylon mooney

      man its hard to read that. im still disappointed by his non-performance against lomachenko. its hard to be a rigondeaux fan these days.

      • Mike, Weymouth

        I don’t hate on Rigo, just don’t understand at all how he is considered one of the ten best fighters in the world. Neither his performances nor his resume support this.

    • Standing8

      Definitely agree about the P4P stuff. P4P is soo subjective anyway that its really irrelevant. But they drop Kovalev significantly in the P4P ratings because of a “sluggish” performance? A sluggish performance in which he beat the guy into chopped meat and got a stoppage win. I realize the opponent wasn’t a top name but damn what does Kovalev have to do, put the guy into a coma in the first round? I bet Igor Mikhalkin didn’t feel like he took a “sluggish” beating. Agree about Rigo also.

  • ceylon mooney

    alvarez was awarded THE RING championship at 160 approximately 2 years before his first fight at 160, which was ruled a draw. as RING champion at 160, his one fight was ruled a draw by the 3 judges.

    he is, however, undefeated at 155.

    according to the rings own rules he should not be RING champ at 160.

  • ciobanu catalin

    Did alvarez, the best best active and one of the richest boxers eat the wrong food now and why not before? Or did he just think ‘i cant beat this iron chinned mf like the last time, so lets go for some good ole supplements and to be sure, do a repeat on that vegas judging’ …

    • Ten Count Toronto

      I have no experience evaluating the effectiveness of PEDs but from all I’ve read it doesn’t sound like the levels he tested for would be a real game-changer. That Canelo has too many rounds where he’s not busy enough is nothing new and no more connected to Golovkin that it was to light-hitting Austin Trout all those years ago. It’s either a cardio issue or a mental issue.

      For argument’s sake, iF he was using Clenbutrol professionally, I doubt it’s something he’s started just for this rematch but rather that it’s been part of his pre-camp strength & conditioning work for some time now and he’s just never been tested before it was out of his system up till now, That’s because I don’t believe that Canelo was dissatisfied with his performance last September nor that he accepts there’s a need to do anything especially better or different.

  • ceylon mooney

    “Hardcore fans that view the Mexican star as the poster boy for everything that’s wrong about boxing.”

    thats NOT what THE RING fans have been expressing here for the past few years.

    he gets preferential treatment and enjoys protected status afforded by THE RING, and thats cause for some consistent criticism on here by the fans.

    but hes HARDLY a villain, and by any standard hes one of the best boxers out there right now and will continue to be one of the best.

  • In Bud We Trust

    You all should give Canelo a break, after all its only a taco.

  • philoe bedoe

    I’m not going to make a judgement on Canelo until I hear all the facts.
    I couldn’t see too much wrong with Kovalev’s performance against a game opponent who changed his tactics during the fight.
    He’s still only been beaten by the then p4p no1 in controversial circumstances…………

    • Tramadol Jack

      Glad it wasn’t just me who thought that was being a bit harsh.

    • Ten Count Toronto

      Yes but his previous high ranking could have been considered highly inflated too, so the lack of an official win over a top quality opponent for a couple of years now leaves his ledger rather thin on recent P4P credits. Still good enough for the peak at his division, but not that high at P4P.

      • philoe bedoe

        Could have waited until his next fight to see who he was fighting before making a decision………….

  • Kag Ang

    After 5 members of the senior Mexican soccer team tested positive for clenbuterol, it was deemed due to meat ingestion. At the later U17 soccer world cup held in Mexico.

    – 109 out of 208 tests were positive for clenbuterol
    – players of 19 of 24 teams had positive tests
    – Mexico was NOT one of the teams with a positive test
    – FIFA tested the meat from the team hotels and found 30% was infected with clenbuterol

    The point is that the problem is well known enough that the entire Mexican U17 team knew not to eat meat as it was a potential problem in the tests. Sure enough, they were all put on fish and veggie diets just in case.

    Also, Chepo Reynoso used to be a butcher – Canelo and his handlers would know the meat problem just as well as the Mexican U17 soccer team, if not better. How then does Canelo ‘make a mistake’ ?

    If you are as high profile as Canelo, and you can’t stay off the tacos/steaks, how hard is it to tell mom to only buy US meat, and to also avoid meat from unknown sources (restaurants/hotels) ?

    Canelo is guilty. Either of juicing or stupidity – choose.

    • Tramadol Jack


    • Whitey Kincaid

      Yes. Agreed. Hard to pass it off as a mistake when it’s hardly the first time it’s happened. Drug testing doesn’t screw around with athletes. They should always know what they’re putting into their body

  • Stephen M

    Concerning Nery, was the banned substance ”in his system” during the fight? He was tested in Japan 3 times after the positive, and all 3 were negative. Now, I’m pretty sure that Nery is a cheater and the evidence is slim on Canelo, but on the face of it the two cases are quite similar ( unless Canelo continues to test positive ). From what I have read doping with clen is effective even if done outside of the training camp schedule.

    • Deleted Scenes

      Nery should have been, according to this article, considered ‘clean’ for the first Yama fight, yet Yama retained the Ring title. It’s being dressed up as consistency, but there are some obvious double standards on display.

      Not related to The Ring, but wasn’t Povetkin ‘suspended pending proper investigation’ after his failed tests, before being reinstated in the rankings later on? Yet the WBC and WBA come out fully in defence of Canelo, before any such investigation can take place… Money talks.

      It really should be zero tolerance. Tainted meat shouldn’t matter. As a professional athlete, you know you’re subject to drugs tests and you’re 100% responsible for what goes into your body. Fail a test, get banned. Simple.

  • ozzy

    Krusher has been dropped in the p4p ratings because of 1 fight, a fight he won by TKO in the 7th. Surely more than 1 so-called “sluggish”, performance should be required to drop a fighter 5 positions in any ratings category?

    • Ten Count Toronto

      Not that performance alone, but if they argued that his P4P credits had become old & stale since he hasn’t posted an official win over a top flight fighter since Pascal, then what would normally be a forgivable lackluster win in a stay-busy fight can be viewd as a missed opportunity to regain some P4P lusture.

    • James Otis

      Think he would have been dropped if he were a GB fighter?

  • Tramadol Jack

    After reading the first 2 paragraphs I had to stop myself skipping straight to the comments 😁

  • Markus Roland

    There is no way to prove, 100%, that the positive test came from meat or from intentional ped use. Unless he can regurgitate the meat in question and have it tested, then we either believe Canelo that it was an accidental meat thing or we don’t.

    Just because the trace amounts are within parameters that suggest meat contamination does not exclude the possibility that the trace amounts were from ped use. If the sport of boxing refuses to implement a zero tolerance policy for banned substances then I guess we have no choice but to move forward and accept Canelo’s version of events.

  • Guy Grundy

    Ignorance and negligence is no defense whatsoever for Alvarez and his entourage.

    The Ring has this one completely wrong.

  • Alan

    Ridiculous drop of Kovalev. He was fighting a friend who he knew that he could easily beat, and who he dominated with clearly evident superior skill. To drop him based on that (especially considering that Kovalev had previously killed a man in the ring, and must have been somewhat leery of that) is absolutely absurd.

    • Ten Count Toronto

      ” He was fighting a friend who he knew that he could easily beat, and who he dominated with clearly evident superior skill” << Maybe that was part of the problem?

      Also,how do you reckon Kovalev is so entrenched in the upper P4P because he beat Pascal, Cleverly & Chilemba yet Spence isn't remotely qualified by wins over Brook, Algieri & Peterson? I think that's roughly equivalent and Spence's are more recent.

      • Alan

        Crawford knocks out Spence within 4 rounds. Lipinets probably beats him if he moves up to Welterweight. Who is going to knock Kovalev out within 4 rounds?

  • Ten Count Toronto

    On some arguments I can see both sides of the “to strip or not to strip” debate. However I don’t see the logic in giving any weight to the decisions of other sanctioning bodies. Why have a Ring title and Ring ratings at all if you are going to be satisfied with the integrity of the process and judgement of the WBA, WBC & IBF? Isn’t it precisely because of their inability to stand up to business or political coercion that anyone cares about Ring’s ratings & titles in the first place?

    • Kag Ang

      The Ring ratings continue with the glaring inconsistency of having Golovkin over Canelo in the P4P ratings, yet Canelo over Golovkin in the MW rankings.

      The ratings simply need to have more common sense applied to have more credibility. When Cotto beat Martinez, it was clear and known to all that Cotto beat a hobbled version of Martinez, and applying some common sense at that point would have placed Cotto lower in the MW rankings until he demonstrated consistency at the weight, and also started fighting at 160. The problem compounded when Canelo fought Cotto at 155 and was then awarded The Ring 160 lineal, and that’s where the current inconsistency comes from.

      The P4P rankings are hypothetical and subjective, so by definition you see more logic applied. When that same logic doesn’t extend to the rankings in each weight, you get the Canelo inconsistency.

      eg lets say Groves fights Truax. No 1. vs No. 4. If Grove’s shoulder went out again in round 1 and he either had to quit or fight one-handed, so Truax wins, The Ring ratings rule puts Truax as the C, unless common sense is applied and the ratings remain as they are until Truax gets another legitimate win over a fully fit rated fighter. Who would argue against that ? (Truax’s mom maybe). That should have been the ruling with Cotto.

  • Ten Count Toronto

    There are obvious business and entertainment pressures that make it difficult to take a stand against a superstar “franchise” fighter’s doping violation.

    The more subtle consideration in this particular case is that if any of the major actors (RIng, NASC, WBC/WBA/IBF ) pushed for something like a cancellation of the fight and a 1-year suspension for Alvarez and succeeded in having the fight pushed back to the middle of 2019, the principal loser of this action would be Golovkin.