Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Women’s Ratings update: Mayer-Hamadouche for The Ring belt, Marshall to P4P

Mikaela Mayer will likely be appreciative that the Ring belt will be on the line when she fights Maiva Hamadouche.

Less than a year after the creation of the historic Women’s Ratings Panel by The Ring, there are already four Ring belts awarded to three fighters in four divisions, and soon there could be another one.

After an almost unanimous vote, the panel has decided that the Mikaela Mayer-Maiva Hamadouche junior lightweight title unification bout tentatively slated to happen between October and December 2021 will also have the legendary Ring belt at stake.

Hamadouche occupied the No. 1 position in the inaugural publication of the rankings back in September 2020, but she dropped to No. 2 when Terri Harper was chosen to top the list after defeating Katharina Thanderz.

During that time, Mayer went from No. 5 to No. 3 and then somersaulted all the way to the top after her extraordinary performance against Erica Farias in her last outing.

Since Hamadouche occupies the No. 3 position (for only one week, after being in the Top 2 for 10 months), the fight needed the panel’s approval to be a Ring belt championship bout.

The 31 year old Hamadouche, a native of France, holds a 22-1 record.

And of course, Hamadouche has been alternating in those top two positions for long enough to convince the panel that she is more than worthy of disputing the inaugural Ring belt in the junior lightweight division against one of the game’s fastest-rising stars.

Given the level of animosity already being exhibited by both future opponents on social media, and the “clash of styles” that this fight will bring about, the panel welcomed the chance to have a new undisputed champion in the division with open arms.

“I’m excited for this fight,” said boxing historian Malissa Smith. “It’s unfortunate that Harper’s (hand) injury delayed her fight with (No. 4 Hyun Mi) Choi, and at this point we do not know when that will occur, if ever. My sense is Mayer v. Hamadouche will be an exciting fight–and good for the sport.”

Harper’s injury was also mentioned as a reason for Mayer-Hamadouche to have the Ring belt at stake, since the return of the WBC titlist from England is still uncertain.

“Her team should have treated her injury with more care the first time around,” said Lupi Gutierrez-Beagle, who also pointed out that the four-way rivalry at the top of the division will provide plenty of fireworks in the future. “With Maiva in and out of the amateurs and the buildup between the four fighters, the excitement is there for these two world champions, just as much as (it would be for) Mikaela vs Terri.”

Furthermore, the hope that The Ring belt will somehow encourage a future bout between Harper and the winner of Mayer-Hamadouche was the deciding factor for one panelist – and a reason for the only negative vote as well.

“Mayer vs. Harper is a more high-profile fight, but its arbitrary if Harper fights this year and it’s not a given that she defeats Choi, who is the current longest reigning champion in female boxing,” said Mark Jones in his justification of his vote, while panelist Michael Montero expressed that “I don’t see it as a Ring title fight. After (Mayer) beats Hamadouche by decision, I want to see Mayer face Harper. That’s the best fight that can be made in the division. Sadly, politics may prevent it.”

In another development, a progressive revision of activity levels by ranked fighters generated the elimination of long-time flyweight and junior flyweight titlist Yesica Bopp from the pound-for-pound (No. 6) and junior flyweight (No. 1) rankings, due to more than two years of inactivity (the usual tolerance is only one year, but it had been expanded due to the pandemic).

In her place, the panel decided to elevate England’s Savannah Marshall to the No. 10 position in the mythical pound-for-pound ranking.

The April win by Marshall over Maria Lindberg impressed the ratings fashioners at Ring.

“An 80% knockout percentage in women’s boxing can’t be ignored regardless of who the opponents are,” said Mark Jones in his justification of his vote for Marshall (10-0, 8 KOs), the current WBO middleweight titlist.

“She stopped Mari Lindberg, who had never previously suffered a stoppage loss, and stopped Hannah Rankin, who lasted ten rounds with Claressa Shields and the heavy-handed Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa.”

“She maintains the style of an elite amateur mixed with the aggressiveness of professionalism,” said Argentina’s Yesica Palmetta, with the only dissent coming from Smith, who said that, “I am going to vote for Dina Thorslund. She had an impressive win (and) belts in two divisions — and while Marshall defended her middleweight title, I’d like to see who she fights in August before for putting her into the top ten.”

The “impressive win” mentioned by Smith was this past week’s most outstanding female bout, in which Denmark’s Thorslund improved to 16-0 and added a new belt to her collection when she defeated Mexico’s Jassieth Noriega with the WBO bantamweight belt at stake. In doing so, Thorslund may not have impressed the panel enough to be elevated to the pound-for-pound ranking, but she did manage to persuade them to rank her in two divisions at once – something that only a handful of other fighters (Marshall included) have managed to achieve.

With the victory, then, Thorslund came in at No. 5 at bantamweight, bumping out Shannon Courtenay in the process, while she remains ranked at junior featherweight – with an additional bump due to her performance but also due to a massive exit as well, in another instance of inactivity-driven exits.

Marcela Acuña (No. 2, inactive for two years) and Daniela Bermudez (who has announced that she is pregnant) were bumped out of the junior featherweight Top 5. Mayerlin Rivas (No. 3) was then moved up to No. 2, and Thorslund (No. 5) was promoted to No. 3.

The two vacant positions at the bottom of the list were occupied by Mexico’s Yamileth Mercado (who defended her WBC trinket against Angelica Rascon during the weekend) and France’s Segolene Lefebvre, who had improved her record to 14-0 last month with a win over Jasmina Nad.

Finally, Bopp’s exit from the junior flyweight ranks gave way to a general bump for everyone else, and the vacancy at the bottom was filled by Mexico’s Tania Enriquez in a very divided vote – and with a few asterisks and caveats even from her own voters.

“I suggest to be vigilant in this division, since in reality Tania Enriquez is very young, and although she looks good so far we must be vigilant,” said Palmetta, suggesting that Enriquez may not stay in the weight for too long.

Rincon Rojo magazine editor Irene Deserti disagreed by indicating that, “I would make Jesica Nery Plata enter at No. 5. She may not be the best as far as technique is concerned, but she has already been a titlist, she has only two losses in 27 bouts and she is a strong boxer with name rivals in her record.”

Meanwhile, Jones indicated that none of this may matter because “we might be removing her when Seniesa Estrada defeats Tenkai Tsunami” in a WBO 108-pound title bout scheduled for July 9. (Click here to read Ring story on that bout.)

Pregnancy clause: an ongoing debate

The demotion of long-time pound-for-pound entrant Daniela Bermudez due to her announced pregnancy generated a debate within the panel that promises to evolve into a set of rules that will undoubtedly generate, in turn, a measure of controversy.

The fact that the average timeline for a female fighter’s return after a pregnancy extends well over the one-year inactivity period (after which all fighters are dropped from the rankings, regardless of any personal situations) was taken into consideration, along with the fact that most women who return to boxing after a pregnancy do so in a different weight class.

On the other hand, the perceived injustice of eliminating a fighter from the rankings due to an event that is yet to materialize (unlike a defeat, a retirement or any other circumstance that has already happened) goes against previous practices. But at the same time, depriving active fighters of the opportunity to advance in the rankings (and thus receive their well-deserved exposure along with possible accolades such as earning a Ring belt, among other things) while a pregnant fighter is taking such a long time off is another injustice of sorts.

The debate is just beginning, and a rule will be drawn soon. But for now, there are already strong opinions on the matter.

“To me, it makes me a bit of noise to remove boxers due to pregnancy,” said Deserti, “but I understand that maternity-led inactivity must be taken into account so that the ranking represents ‘the best’ at any given time.”

Palmetta, however, begs to differ.

“I do not agree with eliminating female boxers who are in this situation from the ranking,” said the Argentine writer, and she goes on to mention the policies established by several sanctioning bodies in this regard, but only for titlists (who are declared “champions in recess” during their pregnancy) and not for other ranked fighters. “They have a tolerance limit according to each sanctioning body, but I think that in general it is the same.”

The fact that The Ring Ratings Policy is not inspired on any of the sanctioning bodies’ rules, and the sensitivity of the subject, promises to make this a very compelling debate going forward. And just as it happened with our historic, trail-blazing independent Women’s Ratings, The Ring will continue being in the forefront of the struggle to give women in boxing their proper place and the respect that their efforts demand.

Pound for Pound
1 – Katie Taylor
2 – Claressa Shields
3 – Amanda Serrano
4 – Jessica McCaskill
5 – Delfine Persoon
6 – Cecilia Braekhus
7 – Mikaela Mayer
8 – Chantelle Cameron
9 – Seniesa Estrada
10 – Savannah Marshall

122 pounds (junior featherweight)
The Ring Champion: VACANT
1 – Jackie Nava
2 – Mayerlin Rivas
3 – Dina Thorslund
4 – Yamileth Mercado
5 – Segolene Lefebvre

118 pounds (bantamweight)
The Ring Champion: VACANT
1 – Zulina Muñoz
2 – Yulihan Luna Avila
3 – Mariana Juarez
4 – Maria Cecilia Roman
5 – Dina Thorslund

108 pounds (junior flyweight)
The Ring Champion: VACANT
1 – Kenia Enriquez
2 – Tsunami Tenkai
3 – Evelyn Bermudez
4 – Kim Clavel
5 – Tania Enriquez