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Ring Ratings Update: JoJo Diaz and Tank Davis climb the divisional rankings

Davis swung for the fences with almost every shot he launched at Barrios. Photo by Amanda Wescott-SHOWTIME
17
Jul

Two Ring-rated junior lightweights recently invaded the weight classes north of the 130-pound division with impressive success.

Joseph Diaz Jr., the No. 4-rated junior lightweight, established himself in the 135-pound division by outpointing Javier Fortuna, The Ring’s No. 6-rated lightweight, over 12 competitive rounds on July 9.

Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs), a former featherweight contender/title challenger, shot up the junior lightweight rankings by outpointing Tevin Farmer for the IBF title last January. However, in February, the 2012 U.S. Olympian lost his title on the scales prior to his first defense against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, who held him to a majority draw.

Joseph Diaz Jr. did not allow a cut or the Javier Fortuna’s difficult style to keep him from making a successful lightweight debut. Photo by Sye Williams / Golden Boy Promotions

Diaz was in limbo for a few months but when Ryan Garcia withdrew from a scheduled bout vs. Fortuna, the 28-year-old Southern Californian seized the opportunity to add the scalp of a legit 135-pound contender to his already impressive ledger (and to perhaps make up for his disappointing performance vs. Rakhimov). He did that via scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.



Two weeks prior to Diaz’s lightweight debut, the No. 1-rated junior lightweight Gervonta Davis wore down Mario Barrios, The Ring’s No. 7-rated junior welterweight, to an 11th-round stoppage.

Davis’ 140-pound debut was his third consecutive fight contested at a different weight class. In December 2019, Davis (25-0, 24 KOs) fought at lightweight, stopping faded veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa in the 12th round to mixed reviews. However, the 26-year-old Baltimore native’s next bout, a chilling one-punch stoppage of Leo Santa Cruz in the sixth round of a junior lightweight title bout, produced The Ring’s 2020 KO of the Year.

He followed up the Santa Cruz victory by jumping 10 pounds north to take on the previously unbeaten Barrios, a gutsy young gun who had considerable height and reach advantages but was still overwhelmed by the stalking southpaw boxer-puncher.

Davis was just as formidable at 140 pounds as he was at 130. Photo by Amanda Westcott/ Showtime Boxing

The Ring Ratings Panel had much to discuss and deliberate following Diaz’ and Davis’ victories. Where does Diaz rank among Ring’s top 10 lightweights? Should he remain ranked at junior lightweight? Was Davis’ successful 10-pound jump, from junior lightweight to junior welterweight, worthy of cracking the pound-for-pound rankings? Should Davis, who has struggled to make 130 pounds in the past and appears to have big-fight options at 135 and 140 pounds, continue to be ranked at junior lightweight? Where should he be ranked in the loaded junior welterweight division?

After a lengthy back-and-forth between panelist Anson Wainwright and Managing Editor Tom Gray, it was determined that Davis would remain outside the pound-for-pound top 10, but the Panel agreed that he could be ranked at both junior lightweight and junior welterweight (No. 6). Diaz would exit the 130-pound rankings and make his place among the top 10 lightweights (at No. 6).

Read on for details on Davis and the pound-for-pound top 10, and see the Ring Ratings Update section for the changes that have taken place in almost every weight class over the past 40 days as well as the Panel’s comments on significant movement. [Editor’s note: these rankings do not include results from the week of July 17.]

***

As usual, Wainwright got the conversation started by offering his opinion on Davis’ pound-for-pound merit (as well as the placement of Vasiliy Lomachenko, who also fought on June 26); Gray was eager to make it a debate.

“Lomachenko showed he’s still plenty good enough by stopping Masayoshi Nakatani. I’d move him up one place (in the pound-for-pound rankings),” said Wainwright. “I hear talk of Davis entering the pound-for-pound lists growing but not yet for me.”

Seeing that both beat the same level of opponent (solid contenders) in a similar manner (late stoppage), Gray didn’t feel right about advancing Lomachenko without at least considering Davis.

“This is an awkward one,” said Gray. “We all expected Loma and Tank to prevail – I’d picked both guys to win on points – but while there’s no shocks, I was still impressed that they secured stoppages. Both Nakatani and Barrios were Ring ranked in their respective divisions, but there are differences. Stylistically, I thought Nakatani was tailor-made for Loma who was always going to be multiple steps ahead and have his way. Davis, for me, faced the tougher challenge because the size differential was even bigger, and Barrios proved a tough nut to crack. If I’d to pick one guy to move forward it would be Tank to No. 10. I hate the idea of moving (Kazuto) Ioka out – as in REAL hate – but those are the breaks. If Davis doesn’t come in, then I’d be against Loma moving up.”

Wainwright stated that he was in favor of keeping Ioka at No. 10 (“over Davis”).

“(I know it’s) not a popular move to our American fans, but Ioka is a real four-weight world champion,” said Wainwright. “His win over Kosei Tanaka is better than anything Tank has done so far.

“I always enjoy watching Tank, however, his resume isn’t as impressive (as Ioka’s). He’s not a (real) two-weight world champion, let alone three-weight champion. His WBA title wins are bogus. The real lightweight champ is Teofimo and the real champ at junior welterweight is Josh Taylor. I’m not a hater, just keeping it real.

“Tank is probably next in, though if Jermell Charlo looks impressive (vs. Brian Castano) he’ll enter that conversation.”

Gray replied: “I’m ignoring governing body belts. The whole situation is a farce and I’m as vocal about that as anyone out there. We’ve just had a WBA junior welterweight title fight when there’s an undisputed champion at that weight. I don’t do crazy – never did! That aside, Davis KO’d the No. 7-rated fighter at 140. That’s impressive.

“Anyway, I rate Ioka strongly, but we need to keep some balance here. A lot of people pissed on Tank’s win over Santa Cruz because Leo had come up in weight. Newsflash: Tanaka was DEBUTING at 115 against Ioka. What’s different? Santa Cruz was also a more decorated fighter than Tanaka. Add in Pedraza and Barrios, and I don’t think there’s much in it.

I’m not all-in on Tank hitting the list, but if he isn’t, then I can’t promote Loma with a straight face. Nakatani was made to order.”

Wainwright defended Tanaka’s rank and resume.

Kazuto Ioka, No. 10 in The Ring’s P4P rankings, finishes Kosei Tanaka in dramatic fashion. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

“Yes, Tanaka was debuting at 115 but he was a three-weight world champion seeking to join his countryman as a four-weight world champion. Many favored Tanaka coming in. Tanaka, in some people’s eyes, was pound-for-pound worthy in his own right. Ioka was absolutely brilliant against him, in my eyes that was a pound-for-pound worthy knockout. Nobody expected that spectacular and definitive a win.

“Tank beat a guy he was widely favored to beat. Wasn’t Tank a 5/1 betting favorite? I appreciate he still had to go in there and do it. He had some issues before getting the KO. I think the move up in weight was calculated and they picked Barrios because he had a belt. We all know Tank isn’t fighting Taylor anytime this decade.

“To me, I’d have Loma above (Juan) Estrada because many believed Estrada was fortunate to get the decision over Chocolatito. Lomachenko is a generational talent. The most sublimely talented fighter in the world. He still dominated a fighter who gave Teofimo (Lopez) a difficult night’s work. I’d have it: No. 8 Lomachenko, No. 9. Estrada, and No. 10. Ioka.”

Panelist Michael Montero weighed in:

“Casual fans will get caught up in the moment, but let’s keep it 100 here. The reality is that Tank has not fought an elite opponent in their prime since Jose Pedraza in 2017. He’s got pound-for-pound explosiveness, excitement and star potential, but a rather pedestrian resume thus far. Fighters like Jermall Charlo are far more worthy of P4P consideration. Lomachenko dominated a more proven fighter than Barrios last night, hardly losing a round, while Davis was behind heading into the second half of his bout. Sure, both opponents were tailor-made for them, but one fight was competitive, the other wasn’t. I vote for our P4P list to remain the same. Teddy Atlas may not like it, but oh well.”

Panelists Adam Abramowitz, Daisuke Sugiura and Diego Morilla (and Yours Truly) agreed with Montero’s suggestion to leave the pound-for-pound rankings unchanged.

 

RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of July 9):

Pound for pound – Naoya Inoue remained at No. 2 following his body shot clinic and third-round KO of unrated Michael Dasmarinas. Lomachenko remains at No. 9.

“Inoue did what top guys do against less than stellar opponents,” remarked Wainwright.

Heavyweight – Alexander Povetkin exited the rankings after announcing his retirement. Joe Joyce (12-0, 11 KOs) entered at No. 10.

Light heavyweight – Lyndon Arthur advanced to No. 9 following a ninth-round stoppage of unrated Davide Faraci. Gilberto Ramirez (42-0, 28 KOs) entered at No. 10 following a four-round stoppage of former contender Sullivan Barrera. Umar Salamov, previously No. 8, exited the rankings.

[Jean Pascal, who had a No. 5 rating, was dropped from the rankings after testing positive for multiple PEDs prior to his scheduled June 6 rematch with Badou Jack (24-3-3, 14 KOs), who advanced from No. 6 to No. 5 following a four-round stoppage of late-sub Dervin Colina and Pascal’s exit.]

“Really good win for Zurdo, who I’d like to see enter the top 10,” said Wainwright. “Lyndon Arthur seemed to be going through the motions until the stoppage. I toyed with a move up but think Arthur should stay put at No. 10, and Ramirez to enter at No. 8 with Umar Salamov, who struggled last time (vs. Sergei Ekimov), to exit.”

Retorted Gray: “I’ve not seen Zurdo-Barrera yet, BUT Sullivan, 39, was having his first fight in two years and hadn’t won a fight in almost three years. It’s great to have Zurdo back, but based on consistency, that is not the type of victory that earns you a Ring rating.”

Replied Abramowitz: “I like Arthur at No. 9 and Ramirez at No. 10.”

Montero and Mulcahey (as well as Yours Truly) agreed with Abramowitz’s suggestion.

Super middleweight – David Lemieux remained at No. 7 following a two-round TKO of unrated David Zegarra. Feder Chudinov remained at No. 8 following a 12-round unanimous decision over former contender Ryno Leibenberg.

Middleweight – Jermall Charlo remained at No. 2 following a dominant but tougher-than-expected unanimous decision over unrated Juan Macias Montiel. Jaime Munguia advanced to No. 6 following a six-round stoppage of former contender Kamil Szeremeta. Zhanibek Alimkhanuly moved to No. 7 by stopping Rob Brant after eight rounds. Brant exited the rankings following the loss. Felix Cash (14-0, 10 KOs), the British/Commonwealth champ, entered at No. 10.

The majority of the Panel agreed with Cash entering the rankings, except for Mulcahey and Morilla, who preferred Esquiva Falcao.

Junior middleweight – Jarrett Hurd remained at No. 1 despite dropping a 10-round split decision to unrated Luis Arias in a middleweight bout. Tim Tszyu remained at No. 7 following a third-round TKO of unrated Steve Spark. Erickson Lubin advanced to No. 4 following an impressive sixth-round KO of former unified titleholder Jeison Rosario, who exited the rankings. Magomed Kurbanov (22-0, 13 KOs) entered at No. 10.

Wainwright: “Hurd was fighting up at 160. He (is) our No. 1 (but after this) damaging loss, I would take him (out) as he lost up in weight and we don’t know if he’ll be back at 154 and it certainly won’t be for a fair while.”

Abramowitz: “I don’t think we can punish Hurd for losing a fight at the next weight class limit.”

Wainwright: “I went back and forth on this. It’s difficult to keep (him) at No. 1. He lost to a guy who isn’t close to the top 10 at middleweight.”

Abramowitz: “At middleweight.”

Gray: “Yeah, I guess Hurd should stay put, but it’s an extra couple of pounds that’s keeping him there. He didn’t look top level and after a listless showing at 160, I doubt he’s going to look any better at 154. I also doubt he’ll ever be that low again. Let’s keep an eye on it and keep him where he is for now.”

Some Panel members believed Jarrett Hurd should have dropped in the 154-pound rankings after being upset by middleweight Luis Arias. Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Mulcahey: “It feels odd that if a boxer fights a keep busy bout and losses we simply ignore it just because he fought it at a slightly higher weight. I can understand not lowering King Tug (who jumped from featherweight to face Chris Colbert in a junior lightweight bout) since he moved up a class and did it on very short notice against a top 10 opponent. However, with Hurd, he just did not want to fight at his ranked weight (not that he could not make the weight), had plenty of time to prepare and still lost to Luis Arias who came off a two-year layoff and a defeat and not even rated in the top 20, all of which is harder to ignore. We are basically rewarding Hurd just for not making weight. It is not like they announced a trial run at middleweight (like a Munguia last year) with plans to return to 154, they just did not want to struggle to make 154 for a non-title fight.”

Abramowitz: “Hurd-Arias was never supposed to be a junior middleweight fight, (it was) always at middleweight. To suggest he didn’t want to make weight is unfair in my opinion. Fighters can fight wherever they choose. He wanted to fight at middleweight and he did, so be it. Lesson learned. (It) has no bearing on what he did at Junior middleweight.”

Gray: “I get both sides, BUT it’s no biggie. If Hurd was to schedule another fight at 160, then we know where his future lies. I personally think the weight drop to 154 was killing him, and the fact that he lost at middleweight isn’t great news for his career going forward. He might just be on the decline.”

Wainwright: “In a battle of former Jermell Charlo victims Erickson Lubin recovered from a shaky moment to stop Jeison Rosario for a career best win. Lubin up to No. 4. Rosario had his Buster Douglas moment against Julian Williams to win the IBF/WBA titles. He’s 0-2 since and though he’s been in big fights hasn’t looked close to the level he was when he beat Williams. I’d take him out. Carlos Adames impressively took out Alexis Salazar in three-rounds. Adames seems to have rebounded from the Patrick Teixeira loss well. Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time and I’d bring him back in at No. 10.”

Mulcahey: “I second Lubin going up to No. 4, and also am for Rosario dropping out since he seems more of a gatekeepter type than contender who has moments but nothing sustained. Adames’ foe had a pretty built up record, Alexis Salazar had not beaten anyone of note for five years but credit to Adames for taking him out in fine fashion. I would vote for Magomed Kurbanov to enter before Adames.

“By the way, I am liking Tszyu’s mini-me kid more and more. It seems he inherited that assassin mentality as well as his looks. No movement of this particular win, but I see many more in his future.”

Junior welterweight – Davis entered at No. 6 with an 11th-round stoppage of Barrios, who dropped to No. 9. Subriel Matias re-entered at No. 8 by stopping Batyrzhan Jukembayev after entertaining round. Jukembayev exited the rankings.

Wainwright: “Barrios had his moments but Davis came alive in the eighth and finally got the job done in the 11th. I don’t think he’s as good at 140, (but it’s) still going to take a really good fighter to beat him. There are several of them at 140, notwithstanding the real champion in the division Josh Taylor. I’d have Davis at No. 8 and Barrios to drop to No. 10.”

Mulcahey: “Tough call on Tank. These one-good-win-at-a-weight-and-nothing-more are hard to judge but he has also beaten Pedraza (at lower weight) whom we have had rated in the top 10 at 140. I would say he takes the place of Barrios at No. 7 and can see him as high as No. 6 since (Ivan) Baranchyk is pretty limited. I see Barrios dropping to No. 10, he showed he belonged but could not deal with physicality of Tank.”

Montero: “So what do we do with Tank here? do we rate him at 140? I believe (Mayweather Promotions’ Leonard) Ellerbe himself said this was a ‘one and done.’ They’ll be going back to 135, but who knows? As for Barrios, he showed tremendous heart last night, but I’m not sure I’d favor him to beat Matais, Ergashev or Pedraza. Could see him dropping to No. 9, or should we take him out entirely and bring in Davis at No. 10?”

Morilla: “I can see Davis as high as No. 6 here. He has more than enough to be the favorite against anybody in the 6-10 range in our rankings right now. I am not sure he’ll stay in this weight, though. As for Barrios, I’d bring him down to No. 9. He won more than enough rounds (at least three, in my card) against Davis to earn that spot.”

Lightweight – Lomachenko remained at No. 1 following his ninth-round stoppage of Nakatani, who dropped to No. 10. Devin Haney remained at No. 3 following a unanimous decision over Jorge Linares, who remained at No. 7. Diaz entered at No. 6 following his UD over Fortuna, who Fortuna dropped one spot to No. 8.

Wainwright: “I could see Diaz behind veterans Campbell and Linares on work at the weight but am also looking a little to the future with both those guys coming off loses and appearing to be high-level gatekeepers. I propose the following 135-pound ratings order: C. Lopez, 1. Loma, 2. Garcia, 3. Haney, 4. Commey, 5. Diaz, 6. Campbell, 7. Linares, 8. Fortuna, 9. Kambosos and 10. Cruz.”

Gray: “I like Anson’s ratings here. I toyed with moving JoJo above Commey, but Commey has a few notable wins at the weight.”

Daisuke: “I’d like Diaz behind Campbell and Linares, so at No. 7 at 135. A good win for JoJo for sure, but for now I like the two veterans experience at this weight more. I still think Linares can beat Diaz.”

Mulcahey and Abramowitz suggested a No. 7 and No. 8 rating for Diaz, respectively, but Montero agreed with Wainwright’s “lightweight realignment” (as did I).

Junior lightweight – Davis remained at No. 1. Diaz exited the rankings. Chris Colbert advanced to No. 7 following a unanimous decision over featherweight contender (and late sub for Yuriorkis Gamboa) Tugstogt Nyambayar. Shakur Stevenson remained at No. 8 following a unanimous decision over unrated Jeremia Nakathila. O’Shaquie Foster (18-2, 11 KOs) re-entered No. 10.

Wainwright: “Gervonta Davis fought at 140 so he can come out, everyone moves up a spot and bring O’Shaquie Foster back in at No. 10.”

Abramowitz: “I strongly recommend not removing Tank from the rankings. He said he still may compete at 130. We have been lenient with others who compete at multiple divisions, and we should do the same here.”

Everybody agreed with Foster in at No. 10, except for Mulchaehy who went with Azinga Fuzile.

Featherweight – Nyambayar remained at No. 8.

Junior featherweight – Angelo Leo remained at No. 5 following a majority decision over unrated Aaron Alameda. Azat Hovhannisyan remained at No. 8 following a unanimous decision over unrated Jose Santos Gonzalez.

Bantamweight – Inoue remains champion. Nonito Donaire remained at No. 1 following an impressive fourth-round KO of Nordine Oubaali, who dropped to No. 4.

Flyweight – Julio Cesar Martinez remained at No. 1 following a sixth-round stoppage of Joel Cordova. Ricardo Sandoval entered at No. 7 following an eighth-round KO of Jay Harris, who exited the rankings.

Junior flyweight – Esteban Bermudez entered at No. 9 following a sixth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Carlos Canizales in a tremendous upset. Canizalez dropped to No. 10 but was then replaced by Daniel Matellon (12-0-2, 6 KOs, who re-entered the rankings with a unanimous decision over 105-pound contender Jose Argumedo.

Strawweight – Argumedo exited the rankings. Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9 KOs), the national champion of Japan, entered the rankings at No. 10.

 

ON THE FRINGE (by Anson Wainwright):

Cruiserweight: Efetobar Apochi and Brandon Glanton served up a treat in an excellent give and take 10-rounder. Both showed they belonged and are likely in the 11-15 range. Although Apochi lost he doesn’t lose any standing on this showing.

Age and experience beat youth and power when King Gabe Rosado blasted Bektemir Melikuziev in the third round of their crossroads bout.

Super middleweight: David Morrell flattened Mario Cazares in a round. Despite just five fights Morrell is probably our next guy in, not so much for the win but the manner, that was eye-catching. Old warhorse Gabe Rosado proved too battle-hardened for Bektemir Melikhuziev, bouncing back from an early knockdown to knockout the previously well-regarded prospect in three-rounds.

Junior welterweight: Batyr Akhmedov stopped Algenis Mendez on an injury in eight rounds. Solid win for Akhmedov, who is in the 11-15 range.

Lightweight: William Zepeda impressively stopped Hector Tanajara in six rounds and is in the 11-15 range in an ever increasingly strong division. Michel Rivera rose from a knockdown to knockout Jon Fernandez in eight rounds. I could see him entering at No. 10.

Featherweight: Isaac Dogboe battled to a 10-round majority decision win over Adam Lopez. On the fringes of things but this keeps him relevant.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s or Doug’s IG Live every Sunday.

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