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Ring Ratings Update: Should Errol Spence drop in the pound-for-pound rankings?

Errol Spence Jr., holder of the IBF and WBC welterweight world titles. Photo by Ryan Hafey-PBC
02
Oct

The September 28 showdown between Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter delivered the kind of skill, action and drama boxing fans hope to see when two of the best fighters in boxing’s deepest glamor division go at it.

In fact, the welterweight unification bout exceeded expectations to the thrill and delight of more than 16,000 fans at Staples Center and those watching the FOX PPV broadcast. Going into the fight an overwhelming number of boxing media, insiders and fans believed that Spence, The Ring’s No. 1-rated welterweight and IBF titleholder, would handily defeat Porter, the magazine’s No. 5-rated 147 pounder and WBC beltholder.

They were half right. Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) won, but it wasn’t easy. The 29-year-old Texas southpaw earned a hard-fought split decision (two scores of 116-11 and a 115-112 tally for the 31-year-old veteran) in a strong Fight-of-the-Year candidate. More than a few ringside observers believed Porter (32-3-1, 17 KOs), as much as a 6-to-1 underdog according to some sports books, had done enough to edge an upset victory.

Errol Spence Jr. (right) scored a knockdown of Shawn Porter in the 11th and prevailed by scores of 116-111 on two cards to unify two of the welterweight title belts. Photo by German Villasenor

Errol Spence Jr. (right) scored a knockdown of Shawn Porter in the 11th and prevailed by scores of 116-111 on two cards to unify two of the welterweight title belts. Photo by German Villasenor

Spence exhibited class and character by withstanding a frenetic attack from Porter during the middle rounds and closed the fight strongly with the help of a technical knockdown scored in Round 11. He’s now the only unified titleholder at welterweight and the scalp of Porter, the most battle-tested standout at 147 pounds, furthers his claim as the top dog of the division. However, his struggle with a decided underdog caused some members of the Ring Ratings Panel to question his placement in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings.

“Pump them brakes on Spence,” declared Panelist Anson Wainwright. “It’s difficult to drop a fighter when he wins a unification fight, but it seems Spence (No. 6) should be behind Gennady Golovkin (No. 7) and Juan Francisco Estrada (No. 8).

“I suggest we wait on GGG-(Sergey) Derevanchenko and if GGG wins move him up and do the same with Estrada if he wins his next fight. That might be a good way of doing things.”

Although some fans agree with Wainwright’s pound-for-pound placement suggestions, he was quickly countered by his fellow Panelists and members of the Editorial Board.

“I’ve seen the case presented but I couldn’t disagree more with putting a negative slant on Spence’s pound-for-pound credentials,” stated Associate Editor Tom Gray. “And that’s coming from me, who didn’t want him as high in the first place. Can’t we just accept that Shawn Porter fought a great fight – probably his best fight ever – and still lost?

“For me, the balls Spence displayed in the last quarter of that fight increases his reputation. Styles make fights. In my opinion GGG, who I had losing to Jacobs and Canelo (in the rematch), is on the decline. Smashing through Derevyanchenko won’t change that opinion. Estrada is a hero of mine, but I’d like one more big win from before he moves up the pound-for-pound ladder.”

Gray was supported by Panelists Tris Dixon, Martin Mulcahey and Adam Abramowitz.

“I agree with everything Tom said,” Abramowitz. “Spence won a unification fight and it was a legit victory. That’s not a reason to drop a fighter.”

RING RATINGS UPDATE

Pound for Pound – Spence remains at No. 6.

Super middleweight – David Benavidez advances to No. 1 after regaining the WBC title with a ninth-round stoppage of No. 4-rated Anthony Dirrell.

Welterweight – Spence (No. 1) and Shawn Porter (No. 5) hold their spots in the rankings.

Photo by German Villasenor

Wainwright suggested moving Porter “closer” to Spence, from No. 5 to No. 4 (displacing Keith Thurman, who narrowly outpointed him in 2016) given the closeness of their fight but was outvoted other Panelists. He also suggested moving No. 2-ranked Terence Crawford into the No. 1 spot.

“Again, difficult to drop a fighter who wins a unification, but it seems Spence and Porter should be closer to each other,” he said. “I would have Crawford go to No. 1 or we wait until his next fight and if he wins and looks impressive against Kavaliuskus, move him to No. 1 then. Porter to move up one place.”

Gray disagreed.

“I wouldn’t move Spence off the No. 1 spot in a million years,” he said. “Ironically, I’d pick Crawford to edge him head to head, but Spence has just posted an authentic win over a super-strong, fully pumped Shawn Porter and his resume at the weight is better than Crawford’s. Fact!”

Junior welterweight – Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) enters at No. 10 following a controversial unanimous decision over Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6 KOs), who appeared to get the better of the San Antonio native over the second half of the fight but suffered two technical knockdowns.

“Can we bring in both Mario Barrios and Batyr Akhmedov?” asked Mulcahey. “I relate Barrios winning (the WBA’s secondary) title to the American Electoral College, where he won because of 10-point-must rule (because of knockdowns) while the majority of people voted for Akhmedov. All credit to Barrios for pulling out that big punch in the last round, and also absorbing a real beating over last seven rounds to give himself a chance. Agree Barrios enters at lowest mark of No. 10, but I would not be against dropping Jose Zepeda to make room for Akhmedov.”

Junior lightweight – Francisco Vargas, who has fought twice during the past 21 months (a stoppage of Rod Salka in his lone bout of 2018 and a one-sided TKO loss to Miguel Berchelt in May), drops out to allow Rene Alvarado to move up to the No. 9 spot and undefeated (15-0, 12 KOs) Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, who traveled to South Africa to best fellow unbeaten Azinga Fuzile 0n Sept. 29) to enter at No. 10.

Flyweight – Andrew Selby remains at No. 6 following a narrow eight-round decision over Fadhili Majiha, who scored two knockdowns, on Sept. 28.

“I wonder if my countryman has peaked?” asked fellow Welshman Wainwright. “I would suggest he drops a place but he has a win over Cristofer Rosales who is directly behind him and Masayuki Kuroda is coming off a loss so I think we should stick with things as they are for now.”

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

 

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