Ring Ratings Update: Boxing returns, retirements (?), Rankings Flashback
Since the return of live boxing broadcasts in the U.S. two weeks ago, we’ve witnessed the upset of one Ring-rated fighter, one retirement and one fake retirement. It hasn’t been all that eventful, but it’s still good to have the sport back on the schedule.
This week’s offering from Top Rank’s ESPN-televised twice-a-week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) series in Las Vegas should spark a little more movement in The Ring’s rankings.
Australia’s Moloney brothers – Andrew (the No. 6-rated junior bantamweight) and Jason (No. 6-rated junior bantamweight) – headline tonight and Thursday (June 25).
Andrew (21-0, 14 KOs), who owns stoppage wins over former titleholder Luis Concepcion and fringe contender Miguel Gonzalez, faces No. 10-rated Joshua Franco (16-1-2, 8 KOs), who went 1-0-2 in three hotly contested distance bouts against bantamweight contender Oscar Negrete (who was originally scheduled to face Jason). I’m looking forward to this main event.
Jason (20-1, 17 KOs), a former title challenger, takes on Leonardo Baez (18-2, 9 KOs), an unrated spoiler and late-sub for Negrete, who had to pull out due to an eye injury. Baez is not as experienced as Negrete, but the Mexico native comes to fight and should make for a fun scrap.
The action of the previous two weeks resulted in minor changes in the featherweight and bantamweight rankings.
The first week’s headliners showcased Ring-rated featherweights Shakur Stevenson (No. 4) and Jessie Magdaleno (No. 9).
Stevenson, holder of the WBO belt, dominated overmatched late-substitute Felix Caraballo to a sixth-round stoppage in a non-title junior lightweight bout. Magdaleno, who was coming off a ninth-round technical decision to veteran Rafael Rivera (Stevenson’s original opponent), faced hardnosed Dominican slugger Yenifel Vicente, who repeatedly fouled the Las Vegas native until being disqualified in the 10th. Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs), a former 122-pound beltholder, scored knockdowns in Rounds 1 and 5.
Panelist Anson Wainwright’s suggested bumping Magdaleno up one spot off of the frustrating victory and his fellow panel members agreed.
Last Tuesday’s action featured bantamweight contender Joshua Greer vs. once-beaten junior featherweight fringe contender Mike Plania, who dropped the No. 7-rated 118 pounder twice en route to a 10-round majority decision.
Wainwright suggested Greer (22-2-1, 12 KOs) dropping from the rankings and Plania (24-1, 12 KOs) entering at No. 10, which no one on the Panel objected to, even though there is talk of the Filipino returning to the 122-pound division.
On Saturday, No. 2-rated junior featherweight Emanuel Navarrete stopped unrated Uriel Lopez in six rounds in a non-title featherweight match up in Mexico City. Obviously, beating a 13-13-1 journeyman results in no movement.
The only other change to the rankings was at light heavyweight following former WBC titleholder Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s surprising decision to retire from boxing. Gvozdyk, who hadn’t fought since suffering a punishing 10th-round TKO loss to Arthur Beterbiev last September, was ranked No. 2 at 175 pounds.
Wainwright admitted that there is “no obvious choice” among unrated light heavyweights to fill the void in The Ring’s top-10 but he nominated unbeaten (16-0) Fanlong Meng, the IBF mandatory challenger in line to face No. 1-rated Beterbiev.
Associate Editor Tom Gray suggested Anthony Yarde (but not with much conviction).
“I considered Yarde because Meng, despite being unbeaten, hasn’t really done anything,” said Gray, adding “With that said, neither has Yarde other than lose well to (Sergey) Kovalev.”
“I considered Yarde too, it’s difficult because things drop off a cliff after the top 10. No obvious choice and nobody who has a top 10 resume.”
Panelist Martin Mulcahey brought up the possibility of a former 168-pound titleholder filling the spot.
“This goes against my nature but given the weakness of the current top 10 maybe we should consider Gilberto ‘Zurdo” Ramirez? Yes, he’s only got one win at the weight and I was against (his being rated) last year, but some slim pickings now. I also argued against Maksim Vlasov in the past, but I think overall he is best choice to come in at No. 10 at time. Otherwise, I would back Yarde before Meng. I like the look of (Joshua) Buatsi, but he’s still too raw.”
Given the indecision, I backed Yarde (19-1, 18 KOs), who has at least faced a legit top-10 light heavyweight and, in my opinion, proved his mettle vs. Kovalev.
The only other discussion had by the Panel was who would replace The Ring’s No. 1-rated strawweight, Wanheng Menayothin, when it was briefly (not even a full day) believed that the undefeated (54-0, 18 KOs) Thai hero had retired.
I brought up a 20-year-old Japanese phenom.
“What do you guys think about this Japanese prospect, Ginjiro Shigeoka, replacing Menayothin at No. 10? Kid’s only got five pro bouts, but he’s being moved fast (as is the Japanese tradition with blue-chippers). He halted battle-tested veteran Rey Loreto in five rounds in his last bout. Loreto’s no world-beater but he’d only lost three bouts in his previous 20 (including a WBA title challenge that went the full 12; and he’d only been stopped once before).”
Wainwright, who had penned a New Faces on the kid, liked the suggestion.
“Huge advocate of Shigeoka and would agree with him coming in at No. 10.”
However, one of our Japan-based Panel members, Daisuke Sugiura, cautioned us to pump the breaks a pint-sixed body snatcher even though he was OK with the suggestion.
“Shigeoka is obviously very highly regarded in Japan,” said Sugiura. “But some people still question his defense since Loreto actually hurt him in his last fight. I thought it was kinda shaky performance. Still, he proved toughness against a credible opponent. His power was effective even after being hurt. And it’s not a very deep division. I won’t have a problem for him being No. 10.”
“Perhaps ranking Shigeoka, even at No. 10, is a bit premature given his age and lack of experience. He’s definitely a strawweight to keep an eye on but maybe there are more deserving 105 pounders for that No. 10 spot.”
Mulcahey brought up Samuel Salva (18-1, 11 KOs), whose only loss was a stoppage to No. 8-rated Pedro Taduran in an IBF title bout last year, but was also cool with Shigeoka (5-0, 4 KOs).
RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of Saturday, June 20):
Light heavyweight – No. 2-rated Oleksandr Gvozdyk announced his retirement. Anthony Yarde enters the rankings at No. 10.
Featherweight – Shakur Stevenson remains at No. 4. No. 9-rated Jessie Magdaleno advances to No. 8.
Junior featherweight – Emanuel Navarrete remains at No. 2.
Bantamweight – No. 7 Joshua Greer drops out. Mike Plania enters at No. 10.
And because it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Ring Ratings Update and there aren’t that many changes to the divisional rankings, I thought I’d offer the bonus of Ratings Flashback. (Ain’t I just the coolest editor?)
The current Ring Magazine is a special issue looking back on the celebrated trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, so I thought it would be fun to look back on the junior welterweight rankings a couple months following their epic first bout, won by Ward, on May 18, 2002.
The following 140-pound top 10 is from the December 2002 issue, which featured Gatti and Ward on the cover. The ratings period ended August 11, 2002.
Champ: KOSTYA TSZYU, Australia 29-1-1 (23)
- SHARMBA MITCHELL, Washington, D.C. 49-3 (29)
- ZAB JUDAH, NY 28-1
- DeMARCUS CORLEY, Washington, D.C. 27-1-1 (16)
- MICKY WARD, Lowell, MA 38-11 (27)
- DIOBELYS HURTADO, Miami, FL 35-2-1 (23)
- ARTURO GATTI, Jersey City, NJ 34-6 (28)
- JESSE JAMES LEIJA, San Antonio, TX 43-5-2 (17)
- OKTAY URKAL, Germany 30-1 (10)
- BEN TACKIE, Ghana 24-3 (15)
- OMAR WEIS, Argentina, 35-4-3 (16)
And, just for kicks, here’s the Pound For Pound rankings from the same issue:
- BERNARD HOPKINS, Middleweight
- ROY JONES, Light Heavyweight
- MARCO ANTONIO BARRERA, Featherweight
- VERNON FORREST, Welterweight
- KOSTYA TSZYU, Junior Welterweight
- FLOYD MAYWEATHER, Lightweight
- LENNOX LEWIS, Heavyweight
- ERIK MORALES, Featherweight
- SHANE MOSLEY, Welterweight
- OSCAR DE LA HOYA, Junior Middleweight