Ring Ratings Update: Jesse Rodriguez crashes 115, Keith Thurman returns to 147
Keith Thurman and Daniel Jacobs returned to action in February and both acquitted themselves well considering the amount of ring rust they had to knock off. However, Thurman fared better than his fellow veteran in terms of the official result and Ring ranking.
Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs), who hadn’t fought since a split-decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019, outpointed determined former junior welterweight contender Mario Barrios in a 12-round welterweight bout on February 5 in Las Vegas.
Jacobs (37-4, 30 KOs), who was coming off a split-decision victory over Gabriel Rosado in November 2020, dropped a close split-nod to John Ryder in a 12-round super middleweight bout on February 12 in London. Most observers thought Jacobs had done enough to win the fight.
Both former world titleholders had been dropped from The Ring’s rankings due to inactivity. Their performances posed the same questions to the Ring Ratings Panel: Did he look good enough to re-enter the rankings, and if so, where?
Thurman, 33, dominated Barrios, who was coming off a 11th-round stoppage to lightweight contender Gervonta Davis. However, Barrios is not a rated welterweight.
Jacobs, 35, boxed effectively for the first half of his bout with Ryder. However, The Ring’s No. 5-rated super middleweight came on strong down the stretch of the fight to the delight of his hometown fans. Ryder (31-5, 17 KOs) had won six of his previous seven bouts coming into the Jacobs fight. The recent loss was a controversial unanimous decision to then-Ring super middleweight champ Callum Smith in November 2019.
Despite the difference in the level of competition, the panel voted to reinstate Thurman but not Jacobs.
Wainwright was impressed with Thurman’s performance.
“Thurman knocked off a lot of ring rust and looked pretty sharp against Barrios,” he said. “‘One Time’ only lacked the knockout. I’d bring him back into our rankings, I would say No. 6.”
Panelist Martin Mulcahey agreed with Wainwright’s suggested placement.
“Thurman looked very good, but I’m not sure if that is because Barrios is such a predictable foe who tries hard but is easy to figure out,” Mulcahey said. “I think No. 6 is the correct placement, since I still value activity over well thought through matchmaking. Yes, Thurman is probably better than still-developing (Vergil) Ortiz and (Jaron) Ennis but I want him to show it against a boxer who has more dimensions than Barrios before pushing him into the top 3.”
The Panel was less certain about what to do about Jacobs.
“For my money Jacobs deserved the nod,” said Wainwright. “Jacobs came out of the ratings due to inactivity, (but I’m) not sure we bring him back. I would keep Ryder where he is.”
Managing Editor Tom Gray admitted to being on the fence, not only regarding Jacobs’ ranking, but Ryder’s as well.
“It’s a brain-buster this one,” said Gray. “I didn’t score the fight round by round, but while there are those who thought Ryder won, the vast majority appear to have sided with Jacobs.
“I didn’t think Jacobs looked like a top 10 168-pounder (Saturday) night. I gave Ryder a serious shot of winning because, for me, The Miracle Man is a part-timer and he’s on the descent. With that said, if the majority of the panel believes he won, then why would we keep Ryder in? I don’t know – it’s a weird one.
“Let’s see what the rest of the panel thinks about the decision. I might try and watch it again, too.”
Panelist Adam Abramowitz gave his two cents:
“I can’t move Ryder down (even though I thought he lost), because no one beneath him in the division has done anything to distinguish themselves recently.”
Panelist Diego Morilla concurred with Abramowitz.
“It’s bad practice to move people DOWN after a win, regardless of how close it was. If it was a blatant, disgusting, Fox-Maestre-level robbery, then so be it… otherwise, it’s not good.”
“I’m good with all of this. With no other (super) middleweight making a top-10 case, it’s hard to punish a close verdict in my opinion.”
The Panel had no trouble at all welcoming Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez to the junior bantamweight rankings. The 22-year-old phenom accepted a late-notice shot at Carlos Cuadras when the former titleholder’s original opponent Srisaket Sor Rungvisai pulled out of their rematch for the vacant WBC 115-pound belt on February 5 in Phoenix, Arizona. Rodriguez (15-0, 10 KOs), who had yet to fight past eight rounds, went for it – rising from the 108-pound division to do so – and dropped a determined Cuadras en route to outclassing the 33-year-old veteran over 12 rounds, earning the coveted green belt in the process.
The only debate was whether to keep Rodriguez rated at junior flyweight (108), where he held the No. 5 spot prior to his unexpected world title opportunity at junior bantamweight (115).
Wainwright assumed that Rodriguez was done with junior flyweight now that he holds a major world title at junior bantamweight.
“Huge credit to Rodriguez jumping from 108 to 115 at late notice, hugely talented,” Wainwright said. “Rodriguez to enter at No. 6. Cuadras to drop to No. 10. We list (Ring champ Juan Francisco) Estrada as the WBC champion, he’s not anymore.
“Rodriguez fought at 115, take him out and bring in Carlos Canizales.”
Abramowitz didn’t understand the rush to drop “Bam” from the junior flyweight rankings (or how the WBC could recognize both Estrada and Rodriguez as “champion”).
“Anson, Bam said he wants to go back to 108. I would not remove him from that division at all until he made his intentions clear,” stated Abramowitz. “Also, Estrada is the Franchise Champ at 115 with the WBC. It’s incorrect to say he’s not a champion there. If anything, Bam has the secondary belt there.”
The Editor-In-Chief (Yours Truly) piggy backed on Abramowitz’s comments:
“I agree that we should keep Rodriguez ranked at 108 until his next move or an official announcement that he’s no longer fighting at junior flyweight.
“Regarding the WBC Franchise belt vs. the ‘regular’ WBC title. We recognize Devin Haney as the WBC titleholder at lightweight. If he’s recognized, Bam should be too.
“I don’t think we’ve got a choice until the WBC becomes clearer on what exactly the Franchise title is, and whether they’re transferable (originally they were not, but the WBC made an exception for the lightweight division).”
Rodriguez kept his No. 5 rating at junior flyweight and entered the junior bantamweight rankings at No. 6 (right behind his brother Joshua Franco).
RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of Feb. 12)
Cruiserweight – Ilunga Makabu remains at No. 2 following a rematch split-decision over Thabiso Mchunu, who remains at No. 4.
“IIunga Makabu squeaked by Thabiso Mchunu to retain his WBC title,” said Wainwright. “I felt Mchunu did enough to win an engaging encounter. Makabu up one (no issues with him staying put) and Mchunu to remain at No. 4 after a strong showing.”
Gray thought Makabu should stay put.
“Makabu didn’t really prove that he was better than the No. 4 rated cruiserweight, therefore he doesn’t need to move up from No. 2. I agree that Mchunu should stay put at No. 4.”
Super middleweight – John Ryder remains at No. 5 following a split-decision victory over Daniel Jacob.
Middleweight – Chris Eubank Jr. advances to No. 6 after scoring a unanimous decision over Liam Williams, who exits the rankings. Felix Cash re-enters the rankings at No. 10 and holds onto that last spot after getting up from two knockdowns to outpoint unrated Magomed Madiev.
Welterweight – Keith Thurman re-enters the rankings at No. 6 after scoring a unanimous decision over unrated Mario Barrios.
Junior welterweight – Barrios exits the rankings. Montana Love enters the rankings at No. 10.
Junior lightweight – Robson Conceicao advances to No. 7 following a wide 10-round decision over Xavier Martinez, who exits the rankings. European champ Samir Ziani (33-3-1, 8 KOs), of France, enters at No. 10.
“Conceicao is a problem for anyone at 130,” said Wainwright. “Conceicao to No. 7 and Martinez to drop out. Bring in Mahammadhuja Yaqubov at No. 10. How long are we not ranking Oscar Valdez? Did we decide to (ban him) until he next fights?”
Gray answered Wainwright’s question about Valdez and offered his two cents on who should replace Martinez.
“I’m good with Anson’s suggestions on Conceicao and Martinez. I think European champ Samir Ziani is a good choice to fill the void. In terms of the Valdez situation, if you’re out of the ratings, then you need to do something to get back in the ratings.”
Junior featherweight – Luis Nery enters at No. 10 after dropping and outpointing unrated Carlos Castro.
Bantamweight – Lee McGregor remains at No. 10 despite a draw with unrated Diego Alberto Ruiz.
“It looked like McGregor won the stay-busy fight,” said Wainwright. “Keep him where he is.”
Junior bantamweight – Jesse Rodriguez enters at No. 6. Carlos Cuadras drops to No. 10.
“Bam Rodriguez sure impressed a lot of people,” said Mulcahey. “Carlos Cuadras is a good scalp with name recognition. The jump in weight did not make any difference it seems, Bam took the punches and pressure of Cuadras well. So I agree with Anson that Rodriguez should enter at No. 6. Also, Cuadras’ performance shows he is still a viable, if fading force, so No. 10 is acceptable until new blood proves better.”
Flyweight – Cristofer Rosales remains at No. 7 after a fifth-round disqualification win over unrated Jerson Ortiz.
Strawweight – Rene Mark Cuarto remains at No. 6 after scoring a seventh-round technical decision over Pedro Taduran, who remains at No. 7.
“Rene Mark Cuarto retained his IBF title in an action packed rematch against Pedro Taduran by seventh round technical decision,” recapped Wainwright. “Taduran was down twice and Cuarto was deducted two points for an intentional headbutt. It was close on the cards. I would keep them at No. 6 and No. 7 respectively.”