Ring Ratings Update: Josh Taylor climbs 140-pound rankings after gut check
Last week was a quiet one in terms of world-class boxing. As intrepid Ratings Panel member Anson Wainwright pointed out “a slew of top prospects, including (heavyweight) Daniel Dubois, (light heavyweight) Anthony Yarde, (welterweight) Thulani Mbenge and (junior welterweight) Vergil Ortiz all got wins but their victories do not affect THE RING’s top 10 (in their respective weight classes) at this point.”
Their time is coming – soon, in fact – but they aren’t legit contenders yet. So, let’s focus on the RING-
rated fighters who were in action, which included Scottish junior welterweight standout Josh Taylor receiving his first gut check from former beltholder Viktor Postol, THE RING’s No. 2-ranked junior welterweight. Taylor, who entered the bout as THE RING’s No. 6-rated 140 pounder, pulled ahead in the late rounds of a tough fight to earn the decision on his home turf of Glasgow on June 23, but not by the embarrassingly wide scores that official judges Fernando Barbosa (117-110), Victor Loughlin (118-110) and Eddie Pappoe (119-108) shamelessly turned in.
Still, Taylor (13-0, 11 knockouts), who scored a 10th-round knockdown, deserved to win. Postol (29-2, 12 KOs), whose only other loss is a decision to Terence Crawford in 2016, proved that he’s still a top contender to be reckoned with.
Junior welterweight – Taylor switched places with Postol, advancing to No. 2, while the Ukrainian veteran drops to No. 6.
Wainwright was impressed with both 140 pounders.
“Very good fight,” he said “I thought Postol was over the hill coming in, but he proved he still has something left, despite the cards. Excellent win and learning experience for Taylor.
“Taylor to No. 2. It feels a little high but the division has plenty of opportunities since Crawford moved up in weight. Postol to drop to No. 5.”
Associate editor Tom Gray, who was ringside for the showdown, was surprised by Postol’s bold stand and upset that official judges dismissed the veteran’s effort.
“I didn’t expect that level of performance from Postol,” said Gray. “He put up a terrific fight and the judges should be ashamed of themselves. He paced that 12 rounds brilliantly and the only real difference was punching power. With the exception of the seventh, Postol couldn’t put a dent in Taylor. I’d take Taylor up to No. 2 and I’d pull Postol down to No. 6. Regardless of his performance, he lost. Both fighters switch places.”
Longtime Panel member Martin Mulcahey agreed with Gray’s take on the fight, and added some praise for the 27-year-old Scottish southpaw.
“Josh Taylor proved his worth and erased any nagging doubts about his position,” he said. “Other than bad judging it was a great fight. He and Postol delivered.
“I agree with Taylor going to No. 2. I had a big internal debate about Kiryl Relikh (the No. 3-rated WBA beltholder), as he looked excellent in his last two outings against (Rances) Barthelemy. Postol’s inactivity was a consideration too, but Taylor just looked too convincing. I’d go with Postol to No. 6 since his last top-10 win was in 2015.”
Lightweight – No. 8-rated Dejan Zlaticanin was upset by unrated and unheralded Roberto Ramirez, who stopped the former WBC beltholder in two rounds on June 21 in Astoria, Queens.
“Take Zlaticanin out and bring in Jose Pedraza at No. 10,” suggested Wainwright.
Gray wasn’t sold on Pedraza (24-1, 12 KOs), the former IBF 130-pound titleholder who struggled to outpoint still-green Mexican prospect Antonio Moran on June 9.
“I get Pedraza coming in, but would we be totally out of line bringing in the guy who smashed Zlaticanin? Pedraza had two fights in the 18 months since his loss to Gervonta Davis and neither performance set the world alight. Ramirez (18-2-1, 13 KOs), despite having fought predominantly undistinguished opposition, just sparked a former world titleholder in two rounds. Food for thought.”
Mulcahey was OK with Pedraza.
“What a fall from grace for Dejan Zlaticanin! Agree he has to leave. I was never high on Jose Pedraza, but he was just edged out last week in the rankings by Lewis Ritson so a No. 10 spot seems fine.
Junior lightweight – No. 1-rated Miguel Berchelt stopped unrated Argentine veteran Jonathan Barros in three rounds, to retain his WBC title on June 23 in Merida, Mexico. The 26-year-old Mexican boxer-puncher remains in the top spot.
“Berchelt showed our faith was well placed in having him at No. 1 by demolishing the usually sturdy Jonathan Barros,” said Wainwright. He’s an underrated fighter. (No. 6-rated) Miguel Roman stopped Michel Marcano in two rounds (on June 23 in Juarez, Mexico). No movement but all roads lead to a Mexican uncivil war between Berchelt and Roman.”
Added Gray: “Looking forward to Berchelt-Roman.”