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Ring Ratings Update: Shakur Stevenson earns Ring title, Oscar Valdez re-enters 130-pound rankings

Shakur Stevenson is the new Ring Magazine junior lightweight champion. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
05
May

Shakur Stevenson proved without a doubt who the man is in the 130-pound division on Saturday in Las Vegas, dropping Oscar Valdez in Round 6 and outclassing The Ring’s previous No. 1-rated junior lightweight en route to a unanimous decision (117-110, 118-109, 118-109).

Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) handed Valdez his first pro defeat in 31 bouts, unified the WBO and WBC world titles, and earned the vacant Ring Magazine championship with his dominant performance. In his previous bout last October, the 24-year-old former amateur star, stopped respected veteran Jamel Herring in 10 rounds.

Those back-to-back victories were impressive enough for Managing Editor Tom Gray to propose that Stevenson crack the pound-for-pound rankings.

Stevenson boxed a masterclass vs. Valdez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

“I wouldn’t mind seeing Stevenson displace Ioka at No. 10,” said Gray. “In his last two fights, Shakur has fought 22 rounds total against Jamel Herring and Oscar Valdez and won at least 19 of them.”

Panelist Anson Wainwright agreed.

“I can see Stevenson entering at No. 10, too,” said Wainwright. “He certainly passes the eye-test and has the recent wins to back it up.”

Panelists Diego Morilla and Adam Abramowitz did not agree.

“I don’t like the idea of Stevenson coming in at P4P,” stated Morilla. “I can wait until he wins a fight in which he does not stick and rub his glove on his opponent’s face for the better part of 12 rounds. At least 10% of his success was due to that illegal tactic on Saturday. True, the remaining 90% was impressive enough, but P4P has to have that component of sportsmanship that I honestly didn’t see from him. In the fight for the No. 10 spot, this is a 10-7 round for Ioka. Game over. Sorry, Shak!”

Added Abramowitz: “Shakur doesn’t yet have the resume for p4p. The talent is there, but not yet.”

The Ratings Panel was also divided on where Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), who had been dropped from the rankings for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug prior to his unanimous decision over Robson Conceicao last September, should re-enter the junior lightweight top 10 following his return to the ring on April 9. Some members wanted him to retake the No. 1 spot he held prior to being dropped, while others believed that he should re-enter lower in the rankings to reflect the one-sided nature of his loss to Stevenson.

Wainwright was of the opinion that there’s no shame in losing to Stevenson, who has the looks of a generational boxing talent.

“Stevenson is head and shoulders above everyone at 130-pounds,” Wainwright said. “(Now that Stevenson is champion) bring back Valdez at No. 1. To bring a guy in so high off a loss sounds weird but it’s not the strongest supporting cast (at junior lightweight) and Stevenson is that good.”

Abramowitz and panelist Michael Montero agreed with Wainwright.

Oscar Valdez (right) battles Robson Conceição. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Oscar Valdez (right) battles Robson Conceição. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

“It’s a touchy situation with Valdez,” admitted Montero. “It’s true, he did pop for PEDS and we dropped him from the ratings. But The Ring sanctioned his fight with Stevenson as a ‘No. 1 vs. No. 2’ matchup for our belt.

“Now, right after the fight, if we bump Valdez all the way down to No. 5, some fans might give us grief for crowning Stevenson as the champ for ‘beating the fifth best in the division.’

“Truth is, 130 pounds isn’t the deepest division right now. It’s Stevenson, and then the field. I’m not sure if Valdez is a better junior lightweight than Jamel Herring, but he did last the distance with Stevenson, while Herring did not.”

Gray, who disagreed with placing Valdez in the top spot, was supported by Morilla and panelist Martin Mulcahey.

“We should re-rank Valdez because we allowed him to contest the Ring title, but moving him to No. 1 after he was taken to school is beyond charitable,” said Gray. “I’ll go for No. 5 with the expectation that his subsequent performances will move him up. He’s better earning his spot than being gifted it.”

Added Mulcahey:

“Didn’t Valdez pop positive for steroids last August? Shouldn’t we at least keep Valdez out a year in terms of ranking him like a real ban would have?

“I am not for Valdez entering just yet, on merit of his ring performances, yes, but both samples coming back positive makes it a hard ‘no’ for me.”

Wainwright was respectful but adamant about Valdez being the top contender.

Oscar Valdez (right) vs. Miguel Berchelt. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

“I would prefer Valdez to enter at No. 1,” he said. “Herring, who will come out in a couple of weeks when he heads to lightweight, was stopped by Shakur. Valdez overall did better. Valdez has a win, albeit controversial, over current No. 5 Conceicao. Valdez’s win over Berchelt was also mighty impressive. I know Berchelt had Covid coming in but he was our No. 1 and had been WBC champ for four years. To me, Valdez is the best fighter after Stevenson.”

Gray questioned Wainwright’s criteria for Valdez’s re-entry.

“Does the fighter re-enter based on past achievements and what we ‘think,’ or is he required to earn his stripes again?” asked Gray. “If Valdez beat Stevenson, then he’d have been a worthy Ring champion, because it was a very difficult fight for him. However, he was chewed up over 12 and had very little success.

“I know Valdez wrecked Berchelt, but that was pre-PED test. Since then, he’s looked less than stellar against Conceicao and was just dominated by Stevenson. Let’s put it this way: if Valdez-Stevenson went ahead with the fighters at No. 1 and No. 2, would Valdez have taken a ratings hit due to the one-sided nature of the loss? If not, why not? We’ve dropped fighters way down the ratings for less.”

Replied Wainwright: “Excellent points, Tom.

“Stevenson is on another planet to every other 130 pounder in the world currently. This was the only fight that would have allowed us to crown a Ring champion. I know and support that Valdez was taken out for the PED issue last year. Although he was dominated, I think every other fighter would be too. He did better against Stevenson that Herring did so that’s where I’d have him. I see your reasoning for a lower ranking and in some divisions I would be all for that but 130 pounds isn’t a strong division. Herring, Rakhimov and Gutierrez. I’d have Valdez before them.”

Ring Ratings Update (as of April 30):

David Morrell has become a fan favorite in Minneapolis, where’s fought multiple times. Photo by Sean Michael Ham/Premier Boxing Champions

Super middleweight – Fedor Chudinov exits the rankings after dropping a 10-round bout to unrated Azizbek Abdugofurov. David Morrell (6-0, 5 KOs) enters at No. 10.

“Amazing how Chudinov could keep himself in the top 10,” quipped Mulcahey. “I have backed David Morrell entry earlier so am on board with his ascendancy to No. 10. The other guy who deserves mention is Vladimir Shishkin. Both are excellent but Morrell is a bit more dangerous with his Cuban background and southpaw stance.”

Junior middleweight – Liam Smith moves to No. 9 following a 10-round stoppage of former 140- and 147-pound beltholder.

“I’m OK with Smith going up a spot, even though Vargas had been off for two years and is a spent force in my opinion,” said Mulcahey.

Junior lightweight – Stevenson elevated to champion. Valdez returns to the rankings at No. 1.

 

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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