Ring Ratings Update (Dmitry Bivol knocks Canelo from the P4P peak, enters mythical rankings)
Dmitry Bivol’s masterful decision victory over Canelo Alvarez is already old news in the Boxing Twittersphere. Fans have moved on from being impressed with/shocked by Bivol, lamenting/celebrating Canelo’s loss and wondering what’s next to sharing their updated pound-for-pound rankings along with various media outlets.
The Ring Ratings Panel debated how the outcome of Canelo-Bivol should be reflected in the venerable magazine’s mythical rankings for more than half the week. The seemingly easy part was removing Alvarez from the No. 1 spot he’s occupied for the past few years. Not so easy was determining how far the four-division boss should drop, and even more difficult was agreeing upon where Bivol should rank.
Panelist Anson Wainwright initially suggested dropping Alvarez to No. 4 and having Bivol enter at No. 3. And some members of the Panel voiced that they were OK with that new order.
However, your favorite Editor-In-Chief thought that was a rather lofty position for Bivol’s pound-for-pound debut. It made me think of past occurrences when a fighter who had only established himself as world-class in one weight division crashed into the P4P top 10 off of a victory over a P4P-rated fighter – think Vernon Forrest over Shane Mosley and then Ricardo Mayorga over Forrest and then Cory Spinks over Mayorga during the early 2000s – and I recalled that sometimes The Ring (and other boxing media) jumped the gun in granting “elite boxer” status.
“At the risk of sounding like a Dmitry Bivol hater (which I am definitely not, I have a lot of respect for him and his team and I’m happy for them), does he really HAVE to enter the pound-for-pound rankings?” I asked, just to get a dialogue going (and, boy, did it get going).
“It was a brilliant performance and he beat the odds (as well as biased Vegas judging) in besting the reigning super middleweight champ, but it’s ONE victory. Canelo should be knocked off his No. 1 perch, but he earned his way up the mythical rankings by climbing weight classes and winning multiple world titles vs. top-rated fighters. It took Canelo several years to get inside of the P4P top five, it didn’t happen with ONE FIGHT, one great performance. I know we ranked Teofimo Lopez in the P4P top 10 after his victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko, but look how well that aged.”
Managing Editor Tom Gray wasn’t sure where Bivol should rank in the P4P but was sure that he knew that the undefeated light heavyweight titleholder is worthy of the top 10.
“It crossed my mind not to rate Bivol P4P, but the manner of victory was so decisive that I find it hard,” Gray said. “I know the official scores were close, but Bivol was dominant in that fight. The most popular scores I’ve seen are 10-2 or 9-3.
“I do remember that we didn’t rate (Srisaket) Sor Rungvisai after he whacked out then-No. 1 Chocolatito (Roman Gonzalez in 2017), but I didn’t buy that then either. We can say Canelo was too small, but few were confident that size would be decisive coming in. And, being honest, I think Bivol’s movement, feints, defence, jab and temperament were solid keys to victory. We’ve seen Canelo struggle against those attributes before, and I don’t want to take anything away from Bivol’s triumph.”
Panelist Martin Mulcahey agreed with Gray.
“My first instinct was to agree with Dougie after also looking back on Teofimo entering the top 10; I remember arguing against it,” Mulcahey said. “However, (Bivol) did have a really good run beating top-10 rated guys in Joe Smith and (Jean) Pascal, and fringe (contenders) (Isaac) Chilemba and Sullivan Barrera. So, I’m much more likely to recommend Bivol than Teofimo. Plus, Bivol is also a very decorated amateur.”
Panelist Adam Abramowitz agreed that Bivol should be in the rankings but not in the top five.
“Bivol doesn’t belong above (Naoya) Inoue or (Errol) Spence,” Abramowitz said. “(My suggested order:) Usyk, Crawford, Inoue, Spence, Bivol, Estrada, Canelo.
“I think that’s a better reflection of recent activity.”
Panelist Tris Dixon agreed with Abramowitz’s order. Other panelists shared their P4P rankings.
“Oh boy is this a tough one!” said Michael Montero. “No matter what we do, we’re gonna get slaughtered by Boxing Twitter. Truth is, although Bivol defeated Canelo, you could make a case that the Mexican still rates higher in a pound for pound sense. Sounds crazy, but some will make that argument. Either way, I can’t see Bivol cracking the top three based on one victory. Here’s my humble suggestion:
“1. Usyk, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Bivol, 5. Canelo, 6. Spence, 7 Estrada, 8. Chocolatito, 9. Taylor, 10. Ioka.”
The Editor-In-Chief chimed back in:
“I’m OK with Montero’s P4P ranking order, but I want to repeat what he said about a case being made for Canelo being rated ahead of Bivol. For the record, I don’t believe that a victory over a P4P-rated fighter automatically means that the winner should be placed above the loser as it does in a divisional rankings, but I also recall that when I didn’t immediately rank Manny Pacquiao above Marco Antonio Barrera when the PacMan upset Barrera in 2003 (back when I bothered to do my own P4P rankings), fans lost their s__t and some media members just couldn’t wrap their heads around that.
“To be clear, I’m not against Bivol entering the P4P rankings or being ahead of Canelo. I just wanted to pose the question of whether that should be automatic to the Panel.”
Panelist Daisuke Sugiura presented his P4P order:
“Usyk, Crawford, Inoue, Spence, Bivol, Canelo, Estrada.
“I agree that Bivol shouldn’t be ranked above Inoue and Spence. Dropping Canelo to 6th may be a little harsh but it was a pretty decisive loss, so. But, oh boy, this is difficult. I might go with a different order tomorrow, but here it is today.”
Senior Editor Brian Harty made a rare (but always welcome) appearance to share his thoughts on how to rank Bivol among the elites, as well as the baffling pound-for-pound concept.
“More on Doug’s side here – in my opinion Bivol is in the bottom of P4P at best,” Harty said. “Canelo can’t climb the scale forever; he hit the ceiling against a boxer who has fought in a range of like half a pound for almost his entire pro career. Bivol was already at the top of the division, which again says more to me about Canelo’s P4P claim than Bivol’s. Not ripping on Bivol, he’s the top 175-pounder and it’s a great victory, but I think part of Tom’s statement sums up the basis of my opinion: ‘We can say Canelo was too small, but few were confident that size would be decisive coming in.’ This is hindsight, but could also be post-hype clarity. It is possible that this was not the shocking upset the headlines suggest? The fighters in our P4P list have cleaned out divisions, conquered multiple weights. When we bring in one-weight fighters who take down a top pound-for-pounder, their run is almost always short-lived. To me this is the difference between a division champ and a pound-for-pound entrant.”
Gray was moved to respond to Harty’s thoughts.
“This is brilliantly explained, Brian, but my main gripe is that size was only part of the problem,” said the Managing Editor.
“Bivol’s movement was terrific, and he was accurate with the jab. And because he was accurate, Canelo was biting on a lot of the feints coming his way. As well as that, Bivol’s defensive work was almost awe-inspiring. He negated Canelo’s lead left hook; his big right hand and he caught most of the body shots on the elbows. Canelo’s most effective shot was the right uppercut and that probably landed half a dozen times.
“When I read that summary back, it reads like someone being a better boxer and not a bigger boxer. It wasn’t a physical fight in my opinion. We can’t say that Canelo’s punches didn’t have the same effect that they’d have against a smaller man. The main problem for Canelo was that he couldn’t find the target. I know Bivol is tall, but Canelo has taken six footers to the woodshed before.
“Based on the counter argument, I’d still expect Bivol to get a place even if it’s not a lofty one.”
Abramowitz agreed with Gray and didn’t understand why anyone would have a problem with Bivol entering the P4P with a high ranking.
“I think it’s a great point (Tom made), it was about skill more than size,” Abramowitz said. “It was an elite performance against perhaps the best fighter in the sport. I don’t understand the doom and gloom. I love rewarding performances and fighters like that.”
Retorted Harty: “If you’re referring to me, Adam, doom and gloom is sort of my thing.
“But I think this is actually the opposite, because the post-fight narrative here is largely influenced by how Canelo ‘failed’ to satisfy the mainstream prediction when maybe it was more that Bivol wasn’t given enough credit. So I’m sort of trying to be negative by pointing out a positive, downplaying the P4P significance by praising Bivol’s 175-pound credentials. Before the fight, this was seen as the smartest choice and softest target. In our fight picks on the site, it was 19-0-1 in favor of Canelo winning. But maybe that was just wrong. Why that matters to me is that Bivol was the one fighting in his comfort zone while Canelo had all the benefits of being ranked No. 1 P4P. People just expect that guy to beat anyone because he’s ‘the best fighter in the world.’
“If you turn the P4P shrink ray on Bivol, do his boxing skills still protect him from Canelo’s ability to inflict attrition, even by hitting elbows? Quite possibly. Maybe his defense is good enough to make up for a loss in mass. You’re a much deeper analyst than me, Tom, and I can happily get in line with your logic. It seems to me that Canelo’s success has always come through his own skills as much his ‘don’t care if you’re a better boxer than me’ approach, a mix that makes him special. At some point he has to encounter a boxer with superior skills and superior size, and then he’s in trouble. So I think it’s a combination.
“Doug and Michael have questioned whether Bivol should automatically go above Canelo, and I agree with that. In my mind, Canelo still has the superior P4P resume. The problem is that because P4P is a thought experiment masquerading as a one-weight battle royale in the real world, it’s impossible to imagine any commentator explaining to an audience how Canelo is still above Bivol. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but we’re constantly getting mail from people complaining about how Crawford can be above Spence in P4P but below him at welterweight. The difference here is of course we’re talking about two guys who actually fought each other, but I think the current situation is proof of concept that P4P is its own beast.”
Mulcahey checked back in with a P4P opinion that did not include Bivol in the top 10.
“These P4P (rankings) are rough and I use the (Thomas) Hearns-(Iran) Barkley line of thinking… where we know one boxer is superior but just can’t beat a specific foe. No one now would rate Barkely higher when both careers are taken into account. When doing my P4P ranking I like the Olympic diving method of judging, where the best and worst scores are thrown out and the main in-between is used to judge. My top 10 is:
“1. Usyk (winning in other guys’ back yard matters to me and that edges him to #1) 2. Spence (was Crawford until last Spence performance) 3. Crawford (can see #2 easily, really are 2A and 2B) 4. Inoue 5. Canelo (thought he lost to GGG as well, but I bow to the majority) 6. Estrada 7. Gonzalez (beaten twice by Rungvisai but ranked higher on overall achievement and recent form) 8. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (see #7 and 3-1 against P4P foes, but did lose the most recent Estrada fight) 9. Loma 10. Taylor (I thought he won the Catterall bout and did not see outrage justified… but OK)
“Just outside are Bivol (next in having beaten a P4P guy, but not cleaned out his division like Taylor), Gervonta, and Ioka (in that order probably), and I view Fury as retired.”
Added Montero: “Food for thought – a couple of recent examples:
“Ring named Tyson Fury the FOTY based off of one fight, his win against Klitschko.
“Ring rated Teofimo Lopez P4P based off of one fight, his win against Lomachenko.
^^ I could keep going ^^
“In the case of Lopez, it could be argued that he benefited from many of the physical advantages over Loma (natural size, strength, power, etc), a former featherweight, that Bivol did over Canelo.
“Yet, I can’t remember anyone on this panel having an issue rating Teo P4P. Is Bivol being treated/viewed differently here? And, if so, why?”
Harty, who maintains the rankings pages on the website and pens a ratings analysis every month in the magazine, had a comprehensive follow-up on Montero’s question (and Gray’s note about Sor Rungvisai).
“Lopez beat the No. 2 guy and came in at No. 6, was unanimously ousted when he lost his next fight, and the guy who beat him was given no serious P4P consideration at all,” said Harty. “It was a really interesting mix of eye test- and result-based decision making. And Bivol’s win is even more so. I’m contradicting my own beliefs about P4P, as I think I’ve always leaned more heavily toward eye tests than some people and Bivol has always been an eye-test candidate – though I went back through the archived threads and ‘pound-for-pound’ has never been mentioned along with Bivol. In fact, there’s never been much discussion about anything at all following his fights; the response has pretty much been great boxer, maybe the best in the division, pretty boring, needs a real challenge. And now it’s really hard to argue against the combination of obvious talent and obviously overcoming a big challenge. But still, I don’t think he belongs above Canelo in the list.
“I still think Bivol needs room to rise. Serious question for the panel: How do you guys think he’d do against Beterbiev? It seems to me that a lot of people still favor Beterbiev. As Anson put it: ‘Beterbiev deserves his No. 1 rating but Bivol just beat the pound-for-pound king and so has to move up and that makes him the No. 1.’ As Doug put it in his post-fight column: ‘Thanks to his inspired performance against Alvarez, Bivol might enter that potential bout as the favorite.’ (italics mine) If Bivol is placed at No. 3 P4P and then loses to Beterbiev, we’d pretty much be obligated to make Beterbiev No. 1 after a fight between two career light heavyweights. It would probably be a great fight, but would you be comfortable with that?
“I pretty much agree with the ranges Diego just sent (see below). I can’t wrap my head around how Canelo’s past success in multiple divisions against multiple high-quality opponents wouldn’t mean more than him pushing up yet another division and losing one fight. But he’s sort of cursed by his ambition now, because any move back down would be seen as a kind of surrender.
“BTW Tom, I went back and looked at the lists following Sor Rungvisai’s wins. I remember back then you were his No. 1 champion and I was not because I thought he was more of just a big puncher, but it does look pretty absurd now that he didn’t even crack the list after knocking out the No. 1 guy (essentially, since Gonzalez was only given a symbolic drop after the first fight). And it’s a pretty good example to bring up here, because doesn’t Bivol’s lack of power also sort of make him a limited fighter? His advantages just happen to be the opposite of Sor Rungvisai’s.”
Wainwright and Abramowitz doubled down on their opinion that Bivol’s dominant performance against the P4P King merits entering the rankings high and above Alvarez.
While other panel members took in Harty’s and Mulcahey’s arguments and suggested that Bivol should enter the P4P rankings behind Alvarez.
“I agree with Doug’s original take on this,” said panelist Diego Morilla. “P4P is all about being the best possible all-around boxer out there, cleaning up one or more entire divisions (which Canelo did at 168 pounds and to some extent at 160), racking up titles in impressive fashion, maybe a come-from-behind win (Kovalev) and more. Canelo has been checking those boxes for years. Bivol hasn’t checked one yet.
“Obviously, that makes Bivol’s win more impressive, but if he makes the right adjustments, Canelo remains the (slight) favorite against anyone 175-ish or below not named Beterbiev.
“A rematch would go a long way in clearing this up, but there are a lot of HOF fighters who had at least one fighter they couldn’t get past (Jofre with Harada, Barrera with Junior Jones, and many others) and in the long run it didn’t affect their standing. On the other hand, we are drawing a ‘picture of the moment’ here, and right now Bivol dominated clearly in a fight against an established, long-time P4P entrant. So having Bivol entering the Top 10 is definitely a good decision here.
“I’d say Canelo in the 5-6 region and Bivol somewhere in the 8-10 range would do it for me.”
Added Montero: “I’m also good with rating Bivol below Canelo in the P4P ratings, even though the Canelo haters are gonna be ENRAGED (hahaha).
“Maybe keep Canelo at the No. 4 or No. 5 spot, with Bivol somewhere around No. 6/7ish?”
Added Gray: “Guys, sorry to be a pain in the ass. I’m starting to see sense in bringing Bivol in low P4P and dropping Canelo a few rungs.
“We can’t ignore Canelo’s brilliant multi-weight resume before this fight and Bivol has just broken through.
“If that means Canelo is still higher P4P, then so be it. Apologies…”
Added Dixon: “Regarding what Tom said…. valid point now the dust is settling.
“Bivol was asked on the DAZN Boxing Show where he should be in the pound-for-pound list: ‘I don’t like questions like this. I don’t know. I just beat the pound-for-pound man, but I don’t feel that I take his place as pound-for-pound… I need more good names.’
RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of May 7):
Pound-for-pound – Canelo Alvarez drops to No. 6. Dmitry Bivol enters at No 8.
Light heavyweight – Bivol advances to No. 1.
“Dmitry Bivol stayed true to himself and beat Canelo Alvarez by 12-round unanimous decision,” said Wainwright. “Beterbiev deserves his No. 1 rating but Bivol just beat the pound-for-pound king and so has to move up and that makes him the No. 1. I think Canelo comes in at No. 3.”
Gray didn’t agree with Wainwright’s suggestion to rank Alvarez at 175 pounds.
“We need to be really careful about awarding lofty positions on the back of decisive losses,” said Gray. “I still can’t get my head around Oscar Valdez moving to No. 1 at 130, but that’s another story. I had Canelo losing 9 rounds to 3, and while I still believe he can be a force at light heavyweight against a more accommodating style, there was nothing in that performance that should lead to a Top 10 rating. He’s the main man at super middleweight and a pound for pound entrant. He doesn’t need a false rating in this division after being beaten like that.
Added Montero: “We should not rate Canelo at 175. He’s the SMW champ and that’s where he belongs. Beating a shot Kovalev coming off a short camp, and winning 2-3 rounds against Bivol, isn’t enough to rate top 10.
“I concur with Bivol at No. 1 light heavy, but it will be brief. I’m 99% sure that the Beterbiev vs Smith winner will immediately take that spot from him next month.”
Added Morilla: “I agree with Bivol being No. 1. Anything below that would negate the purpose of placing him anywhere in the P4P list. If he can’t be the No. 1 in the one division in which he always campaigned, giving him a P4P rating sounds shady, at best.
“I could see Canelo rated at 175 but I am sure he’ll drop back down to 168 and stay there for a while licking his wounds. If need be, I’d place him at around 8 at 175. He dropped a decision to the (likely) new No. 1 in the division, looking better than most people in that 8-10 range would have looked against Bivol.”