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The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2022: Bantamweight

Japanese star Naoya Inoue is just one belt away from undisputed honors at 118 pounds. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)
19
Aug

The Ring first introduced its divisional ratings in 1925. Almost a century later, it’s no exaggeration to claim that these independent rankings are the most respected and accurate in world boxing.

The ratings panel is made up of a dozen experts from around the world. Opinions are shared, debate takes place, and the final decision on who should be ranked where is decided democratically every week. It sounds easy, but this can be an arduous and time-consuming process.

A couple of years ago, during the pandemic, we reviewed and broke down each division in full. In a two-pronged approach, we looked back at the respective achievements of the finest fighters in the world and analyzed what lay ahead.

Now, with enough time having elapsed, and with a busy final quarter to 2022 ahead of us, we’ve decided to compile another divisional breakdown.



Next up is bantamweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.

CHAMPION: NAOYA INOUE

RECORD: 23-0 (20 KOs)

THE PAST: The big punching Japanese “Monster” has lived up to his moniker, devouring all before him en route to claiming world titles at 108, 115 and 118 pounds. The 29-year-old holds wins over Omar Narvaez (KO 2), Jamie McDonnell (TKO 1), Juan Carlos Payano (KO 1) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (KO 2). However, it’s his triumphs over four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire that provided Inoue with considerable acclaim. He edged Donaire (UD 12) in an instant classic that was later named Fight of the Year and stopped him in the second round of recent rematch. Inoue is Ring, IBF, WBA and WBC bantamweight titleholder.

THE FUTURE: Inoue would like to become undisputed champion. For that to happen, he would have to face WBO counterpart Paul Butler, and that bout could happen in the fall. A step up to 122 pounds would likely follow.

Naoya Inoue and Jason Moloney. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

No. 1 JOHN RIEL CASIMERO

RECORD: 31-4 (21 KOs)

THE PAST: Casimero rebounded after losing to IBF flyweight beltholder Moruti Mthalane (L TKO 5) to win world titles at 108 and 112. The globetrotting Filipino power-puncher has outpointed Pedro Guevara (SD 12), scored a revenge win over Amnat Ruenroeng (KO 4) and halted Charlie Edwards (TKO 10). Moved up to junior bantamweight but lost to compatriot Jonas Sultan (UD 12). Following a period of reflection, Casimero moved to bantamweight and, as underdog, stopped Zolani Tete (TKO 3) to win the WBO 118-pound title. Made two defenses, which included edging past Guillermo Rigondeaux (SD 12) in an ugly battle. Casimero was due to face mandatory challenger Paul Butler in Dubai, but succumbed to a mysterious stomach ailment at the 11th hour.  The bout was rescheduled for April, but Casimero broke BBBofC rules when he used a sauna during fight week and got himself pulled from the card. The WBO decided enough was enough and stripped the Filipino.

THE FUTURE: Clearing up his past misdemeanors before looking to get back into the world title picture.

No. 2 JASON MOLONEY

RECORD: 24-2 (19 KOs)

THE PAST: Moloney comfortably climbed the rankings and stopped former titleholder Kohei Kono (TKO 6) in 2018. The 31-year-old then took part in the WBSS, and although he lost to IBF titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez (SD 12), the Australian boxer-puncher showed more than enough to suggest that he belongs. He rebounded with four wins to earn a shot at Ring, IBF and WBA titleholder Naoya Inoue. It proved a bridge too far and he was stopped in seven-rounds. He has returned to the win column with three wins.

THE FUTURE: Has been ordered by the WBC to face largely unknown Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai. A win would see him in prime position with the WBC for when Inoue moves up in weight. Will likely fight on the Haney-Kambosos Jr. undercard on October 18. Though it’s not known if it will be against Nawaphon or not.

Nonito Donaire (right) celebrates his victory over Reymart Gaballo. Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

Nonito Donaire (right) celebrates his victory over Reymart Gaballo. Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

No. 3 NONITO DONAIRE

RECORD: 42-7 (28 KOs)

THE PAST: The big-punching Filipino won world titles at 112, 118, 122 and 126. Scored impressive wins over the likes of Vic Darchinyan (TKO 5), Fernando Montiel (TKO 2), Toshiaki Nishioka (TKO 9) and Jorge Arce (KO 3). In 2018 “The Filipino Flash” surprisingly dropped back down to bantamweight and took part in the WBSS. He beat Ryan Burnett (RTD 4) and late substitute Stephon Young (TKO 6) before giving Inoue all he could handle in a decision loss. Picked up the WBC title by impressively knocking out Nordine Oubaali (KO 4). After one defense the 39-year-old met Inoue in a rematch and was stopped in two-rounds.

THE FUTURE: Has recently spoken about dropping down to 115-pounds and facing fellow legend, Roman Gonzalez.

No. 4 EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ

RECORD: 20-2 (13 KOs)

THE PAST: The former Olympic youth champion claimed the vacant IBF title with a masterclass performance to shut out Paul Butler (UD 12). In his lone defense, the Puerto Rican boxer-puncher edged Jason Moloney (SD 12) in the WBSS before losing in startling fashion to Inoue (KO 2) in the semi-final. Rodriguez, 30, has since been plagued by bad luck. After spending 18-months on the sidelines due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he was robbed versus Reymart Gaballo (SD 12). In his very next start, he met Gary Antonio Russell but a head-clash inside 20 seconds curtailed that fight before it had begun. Has since returned with a win in Mexico.

THE FUTURE: Like most other fights here, waiting for the titles to be fragmented after Inoue moves up. In the meantime, will try to stay busy.

Raushee Warren vs McJoe Arroyo – Photo by Ed Diller-DiBella Entertainment

No. 5 RAU’SHEE WARREN

RECORD: 19-3 (5 KOs)

THE PAST: Warren was a highly decorated amateur, medaling at three World Championships, including claiming gold in 2007. However, it was at the Olympics he most craved a medal, unfortunately for the Cincinnati native he fell short on three occasions. Warren won his first 13 professional fights before dropping a close decision to WBA 118-pound titleholder Juan Carlos Payano (SD 12). The two met in a direct rematch and Warren claimed the title by close 12-round majority decision. His title tenure didn’t last long, dropping the title to Zhanat Zhakiyanov (SD 12) in his first defense. Two wins later Warren lost to Nordine Oubaali (UD 12) when they contested the vacant WBC title. The 35-year-old has returned with three wins.

THE FUTURE: Will face journeyman Francisco Portillo, whilst also maintaining his rankings on Saturday.

No. 6 GARY ANTONIO RUSSELL 

RECORD: 19-0 (12 KOs)

THE PAST: Russell, who is the younger brother of for former WBC 126-pound titlist Gary Allen and older brother of rising junior welterweight Gary Antuanne, turned professional in 2015 but hasn’t received the push his talent deserves, fighting 19 times in seven-years. Holds a win over former titleholder Payano (Tech. Dec. 7) and his fight with Rodriguez abruptly ended before it began. The 29-year-old southpaw hasn’t fought this year.

THE FUTURE: Likely to appear on a PBC undercard in the next couple of months.

Lee McGregor (L) lands a left on Diego Ruiz – Photo by Warren Little/ Getty Images

No. 7 LEE MCGREGOR

RECORD: 11-0-1 (9 KOs)

THE PAST: The 25-year-old won the Commonwealth title in just his fifth fight and added the British title by edging past domestic rival Ukashir Farooq (SD 12) a few fights later. Completed the traditional route by impressively annexing the European title from Karim Guerfi (KO 1). The Scottish fighter got off the canvas to retain his European title by stopping previously unbeaten Vincent Legrand (KO 4). His progress was slowed when he was held to a controversial draw by Diego Alberto Ruiz (D 10).

THE FUTURE: He has spoken about moving up in weight and recently said that he has news coming.

No. 8 VINCENT ASTROLABIO

RECORD: 17-3 (12 KOs)

THE PAST: The unheralded Filipino fought largely at home and was unbeaten through 10 fights before losing three out of five fight fights. He found some form to win four fights, against middling opponents, before his big break came against Guillermo Rigondeaux. The 25-year-old dropped the ageing Cuban in the eighth and went on to pick up a 10-round unanimous decision.

THE FUTURE: Yet to capitalize on the Rigondeaux win but will likely fight this fall.

Paul Butler (R) lands a right on Sebastian Sanchez – Photo by Action Images / Andrew Couldridge

No. 9 PAUL BUTLER

RECORD: 34-2 (15 KOs)

THE PAST: Won a handful of domestic and sanctioning body titles on the way up before edging Stuart Hall (SD 12) to become IBF 118-pound titlist. Vacated the title to drop down to junior bantamweight but was given a rude awakening when he was stopped by IBF beltholder Zolani Tete (TKO 8). Got back to winning ways at bantamweight but was widely outpointed by Rodriguez (UD 12) when he tried to regain his old IBF title. The 33-year-old was due to face Casimero in Dubai, but the Filipino pulled out with a mysterious gastric problem. The bout was rescheduled for April, but Casimero broke BBBofC rules when he used a sauna during fight week, and then the WBO then stripped the Filipino. All the while Butler beat late sub-Jonas Sultan (UD 12) for the Interim title and was later upgraded to full champion.

THE FUTURE: Hoping to face Inoue this fall for the undisputed bantamweight title.

No. 10 ALEJANDRO SANTIAGO

RECORD: 26-3-5 (13 KOs)

THE PAST: Santiago has overcome a couple of early setbacks to establish himself as a solid professional. The 25-year-old Mexican is already a 10-year veteran. In his lone world title attempt he gave then-IBF 115-pound titlist Jerwin Ancajas (D 12) all he could handle. Santiago has since given Russell (SD 10) a stern examination in late 2021 and had rebounded with two wins since.

THE FUTURE: The battle-hardened Mexican has just fought so doesn’t have anything lined up as yet.

YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2022: Pound for Pound – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2022: Strawweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Magazine Ratings Reviewed: Junior Flyweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring’s Ratings reviewed 2022: flyweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2022: Junior Bantamweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on [email protected]

 

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