The Ring Magazine Ratings Reviewed: Junior Welterweight
The Ring Magazine first introduced its divisional ratings in 1925 and 95 years later they’re still going strong. It is no exaggeration to claim that these independent rankings are the most respected and accurate in world boxing today.
The ratings panel is made up of a dozen experts from around the world. Opinions are shared, debate takes place, and the final decision on who should be ranked where is decided democratically. It sounds easy but it can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
During the past few weeks, the sport of boxing, like the rest of us, has been on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It therefore makes sense for The Ring to use this time to revisit each and every division, analyze the fighters who are ranked and predict what they’re likely to do in the future.
Up next is junior welterweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
CHAMPION JOSH TAYLOR
RECORD: (16-0, 12 KOs)
THE PAST: The talented Scotsman claimed wins over former world titleholders Miguel Vazquez (KO 9) and Viktor Postol (UD 12) before being unleashed on the World Boxing Super Series. In a terrific run, Taylor beat the previously undefeated Ryan Martin (TKO 7), wrenched the IBF title from Ivan Baranchyk (UD 12) and unified against WBA beltholder Regis Prograis (MD 12). The latter victory saw the 29-year-old southpaw claim the Muhammad Ali trophy and The Ring Magazine championship.
THE FUTURE: Taylor had been scheduled to make a mandatory defense against unknown Thai Apinun Khongsong on May 2, however, the coronavirus put paid to that. Short-term goal is a unification bout with WBC and WBO counterpart Jose Ramirez.
No. 1 JOSE RAMIREZ
RECORD: (25-0, 17 KOs)
THE PAST: The 2012 U.S Olympian moved steadily in the pro ranks before hitting world level. Ramirez won the vacant WBC title against Amir Imam (UD 12) and has made three defenses against very good opposition: Antonio Orozco (UD 12), Jose Zepeda (MD 12) and Maurice Hooker (TKO 6). The Hooker win saw Ramirez add the WBO title to his collection in impressive fashion.
THE FUTURE: Hoping to face mandatory challenger Postol in an oft-postponed title defense. Has one eye on a fight with Taylor for all the marbles, but that won’t happen until late 2020 or, more likely, 2021.
No. 2 REGIS PROGRAIS
RECORD: (24-1, 20 KOs)
THE PAST: The southpaw boxer-puncher earned a reputation with some impressive performances on ShoBox against Amos Cowart (UD 8), Abel Ramos (RTD 8) and Joel Diaz Jr. (TKO 2). Built on those wins by stopping former unified 140-pound titleholder Julius Indongo (TKO 2) and dominating former lightweight titleholder Terry Flanagan (UD 12). Won the WBA title by taking apart the habitually tough Kiryl Relikh (TKO 6) in a career-best performance. Lost for the first time in an action-packed encounter with Taylor.
THE FUTURE: Had been scheduled to face Maurice Hooker on April 17. That fight will hopefully take place on a revamped schedule.
No. 3 IVAN BARANCHYK
RECORD: (20-1, 13 KOs)
THE PAST: Solid amateur who moved from Russia to America. The aggressive pressure-fighter beat rugged fringe contender Abel Ramos (UD 12), stopped two-time world title challenger Petr Petrov (TKO 8) and claimed the vacant IBF title by stopping Anthony Yigit (RTD 7). Lost his title to Taylor (UD 12) but has rebounded to stop Gabriel Bracero (TKO 4).
THE FUTURE: At 27, he’s more than capable of making another title run. A tough night for anyone.
No. 4 VIKTOR POSTOL
RECORD: (31-2, 12 KOs)
THE PAST: Learned his craft in Europe before breaking through with a stoppage of Selcuk Aydin (KO 11) in the U.S. on May 2014. The tall Ukrainian was highly impressive in systematically dismantling Lucas Matthysse (KO 10) to win the WBC title, but he lost a unification matchup against pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford (UD 12). Dropped the decision to Taylor but has repositioned himself with two wins since.
THE FUTURE: The Ramirez fight has been postponed twice. Hopefully rescheduled when boxing resumes.
No. 5 KIRYL RELIKH
RECORD: (23-3, 19 KOs)
THE PAST: This rugged puncher lost tough luck back-to-back decisions to Ricky Burns (UD 12) and Rances Barthelemy (UD 12) but proved that he belonged with the cream of the division. Beat Barthelemy (UD 12) in their rematch to become WBA titleholder and outboxed Eduard Troyanovsky (UD 12) in his first defense. Prograis did a number on him.
THE FUTURE: There are suggestions that he might go up in weight, but what does he have left after suffering a very bad loss to Prograis?
No. 6 MAURICE HOOKER
RECORD: (27-1-3, 18 KOs)
THE PAST: A solid fighter who broke out free of the pack with a stirring performance against Terry Flanagan (SD 12) in England. “Mighty Mo” earned further plaudits by getting off the canvas to stop Alex Saucedo (TKO 7) and easily outboxing fringe contender Mikkel LesPierre (UD 12). Lost an action-packed unification with Ramirez.
THE FUTURE: Looking to get straight back to action against Prograis.
No. 7 JOSE ZEPEDA
RECORD: (31-2, 25 KOs)
THE PAST: The Mexican-American sharpshooter suffered a dislocated left shoulder when he fought Flanagan (RTD 2) in a bout for the vacant WBO lightweight title. After recovering, Zepeda beat Ammeth Diaz (TKO 1), Miguel Zamudio (TKO 6) and the previously unbeaten Carlos Diaz Ramirez (KO 5) to earn a WBC 140-pound title shot against Ramirez. He gave a strong account of himself but dropped a close decision. Rebounded with a hard-fought win over former two-weight world titleholder Jose Pedraza (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Zepeda has to stay active and wait for his next opportunity.
No. 8 MARIO BARRIOS
RECORD: (25-0, 16 KOs)
THE PAST: The 25-year-old Texan has gained contender status over the past two years with solid wins over Jose Roman (RTD 8), Juan Jose Velasco (KO 2) and, more recently, Batyr Akhmedov (UD 12), who he edged by decision. Still a few fights from being ready for the best but he’s improving and looks to have improved his power.
THE FUTURE: Had been due to face his friend Ryan Karl on May 9. That will be rescheduled before a rematch against Akhmedov.
No. 9 ARNOLD BARBOZA
RECORD: (23-0, 10 KOs)
THE PAST: The 28-year-old Los Angeles native played American football in his teens, bulking up to 210 pounds, before dropping a huge amount of weight and returning to boxing. Barboza edged fellow prospect Mike Reed (UD 10) in 2018. He has since won the NABF title against Manuel Demairias Lopez (UD 10) and made two defenses, notably stopping former world titleholder Mike Alvarado (KO 3) and William Silva (KO 5). Has scored three stoppages in his last three fights, which suggests that his power is improving.
THE FUTURE: The late developer appears ready to step up and face one of the top fighters.
No. 10 BATYRZHAN JUKEMBAYEV
RECORD: (18-0, 14 KOs)
THE PAST: This vastly experienced amateur from Kazakhstan moved to Canada to turn professional. Since then, the 29-year-old southpaw has stopped Patricio Lopez Moreno (KO 7), Ricardo Lara (KO 2) and picked up valuable experience from savvy veteran and former lightweight titleholder Miguel Vazquez (UD 10).
THE FUTURE: The dark horse of the division is currently in Kazakhstan. Once he is able to get back to Canada, his team want to step up a level and make a title run.
ON THE CUSP: Batyr Akhmedov, Jack Catterall, Shohjahon Ergashev, Sandor Martin, Subriel Matias
THE RING RATINGS – Pound-for-Pound
THE RING RATINGS – Strawweight
THE RING RATINGS – Junior Flyweight
THE RING RATINGS – Flyweight
THE RING RATINGS – Junior Bantamweight
THE RING RATINGS – Bantamweight
THE RING RATINGS – Junior Featherweight
THE RING RATINGS – Featherweight
THE RING RATINGS – Junior Lightweight
THE RING RATINGS – Lightweight