The Ring ratings reviewed 2022: Lightweight
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 whom 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 lightweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
CHAMPION: DEVIN HANEY
RECORD: 28-0 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: Haney turned professional at 17 in Mexico. This super talent has scored wins over Mason Menard (RTD 9), Juan Carlos Burgos (UD 10) and Antonio Moran (TKO 7). After being upgraded to full WBC titleholder, following his dominant win over Zaur Abdullaev (RTD 4), he defended his title, notably beating former three-division titlist Jorge Linares (UD 12) and former 130-pound titlist Joseph Diaz Jr. (UD 12). Most recently scored a dominant win over IBF, WBA and WBO titleholder and then-The Ring champion George Kambosos Jr. (UD 12) to become undisputed champion.
THE FUTURE: Will face George Kambosos Jr. in a rematch in Australia on October 16.
No. 1: GEORGE KAMBOSOS JR.
RECORD: 20-1 (10 KOs)
THE PAST: The Australian worked his way up the local scene collecting a slew of regional titles along the way. Fought a couple of times in America but didn’t catch the eye. His big break came when he traveled to the UK to edge past Lee Selby (SD 12) in an IBF title eliminator. That earned him a shot at The Ring, IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez. As a huge underdog, he remained calm and composed to upset the gifted American by 12-round split decision. Was comprehensively outboxed and lost his titles to Haney (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Has a direct rematch with Haney for October 16.
No. 2: VASILIY LOMACHENKO
RECORD: 16-2 (11 KOs)
THE PAST: The supremely gifted Ukrainian southpaw was one of the most decorated amateurs ever, claiming Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. An early setback to Orlando Salido (SD 12), in his second professional outing, was followed by a rapid ascent. Loma claimed the vacant WBO featherweight title at the expense of Gary Russell Jr. (MD 12) and he has won further titles at 130 and 135. Owns solid victories over Roman Martinez (KO 5), Nicholas Walters (RTD 7), Guillermo Rigondeaux (RTD 6) and Jorge Linares (TKO 10). He lost to Teofimo Lopez (UD 12) but has bounced back with comprehensive wins over Masayoshi Nakatani (TKO 9) and Richard Commey (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Passed up a shot at then undisputed lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. to continue defending his country in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He will return against unbeaten Jamaine Ortiz on October 22.
No. 3: GERVONTA DAVIS
RECORD: 27-0 (25 KOs)
THE PAST: Impressively ripped the IBF 130-pound title from Jose Pedraza (TKO 7). Since then, his star has risen and he is one of the most popular attractions in America, regularly selling out areas across the country and performing on Showtime Pay-Per-View. He owns a highlight reel knockout over Leo Santa Cruz (KO 6) and showed his vaunted power carries up in weight when he came on strong to stop the much larger Mario Barrios (TKO 11) at 140 pounds.
THE FUTURE: Has spoken about facing Ryan Garcia but there seems to be more posturing than actually working toward the fight from both sides. Will return in December against an as yet unknown opponent.
No. 4: RYAN GARCIA
RECORD: 23-0 (19 KOs)
THE PAST: Garcia is every bit the new-age fighter; he’s a social media phenom, with millions of followers (8.8 million on Instagram). There were question marks as to whether Garcia’s achievements would live up to his outside-the-ring persona. He has since allayed some of the doubters by showcasing his vaunted power against Romero Duno (KO 1), Francisco Fonseca (KO 1) and two-time title challenger Luke Campbell (TKO 7). The 24-year-old didn’t fight for 15 months due to mental health concerns but knocked off the ring rust when he dominated Emmanuel Tagoe (UD 12) and, in his most recent outing, “King Ry” looked very impressive knocking out wily campaigner Javier Fortuna (KO 6).
THE FUTURE: Doesn’t have a fight scheduled at the time of this writing but it’s fair to expect he will return later this year.
No. 5: ISAAC CRUZ
RECORD: 23-2-1 (16 KOs)
THE PAST: Cruz stopped one-time contender Diego Magdaleno (KO 1), took the unbeaten record of Jose Matias Romero (UD 12) and beat the more experienced former 130-pound titleholder Francisco Vargas (UD 10). Those wins helped earn him a late substitute’s call to step in and face Gervonta Davis. The 24-year-old Mexican was extremely competitive but lost a 12-round unanimous decision. In defeat, he showed he belongs in the upper echelons of the division. “Pitbull” bounced back to winning ways by stopping former unified featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa (TKO 5).
THE FUTURE: Takes on Eduardo Ramirez on Sunday.
No. 6: JOSEPH DIAZ JR.
RECORD: 32-2-1 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: The 2012 U.S Olympic representative was an amateur standout before switching to the professional ranks. Lost in his first world title attempt, when he challenged WBC 126-pound titleholder Gary Russell Jr. (UD 12) in 2018. The talented southpaw moved up to 130 pounds and outboxed Tevin Farmer (UD 12) to become the IBF titleholder. “JoJo” missed weight for what would have been his first defense against unheralded Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and had to settle for a 12-round draw. The 29-year-old beat Fortuna (UD 12) but lost to Haney (UD 12) in a WBC title tilt.
THE FUTURE: Will face dangerous puncher William Zepeda on November 5.
No. 7: WILLIAM ZEPEDA
RECORD: 26-0 (23 KOs)
THE PAST: The hard-hitting Mexican southpaw won his first 20 fights in Mexico before signing with Golden Boy Promotions. Since then, the 26-year-old has continued to impress, notably bludgeoning previously unbeaten Hector Tanajara (RTD 6) into defeat and, most recently, gained quality rounds with seasoned veteran Rene Alvarado (UD 10).
THE FUTURE: Gets his big chance in an acid test against Diaz Jr. on November 5.
No. 8: FRANK MARTIN
RECORD: 16-0 (12 KOs)
THE PAST: He won his first 11 fights and started working with unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. and his trainer Derrick James. The leg-up has benefited Martin, who has gone from strength to strength, taking the unbeaten record of Jerry Perez (KO 7), stopping one-time contender Romero Duno (TKO 4) and Jackson Marinez (TKO 10).
THE FUTURE: The 27-year-old is ready to step up and face a former titleholder or contender. He will likely close out his breakthrough year in the fall.
No. 9: MICHEL RIVERA
RECORD: 23-0 (14 KOs)
THE PAST: Earned his strips fighting at home in the Dominican Republic before heading to America, where his last eight fights have taken place. The 24-year-old holds wins over once-beaten Ladarius Miller (UD 10), an off the canvas knockout over Jon Fernandez (KO 8), a shut-out decision over Jose Matias Romero (UD 10) and, most recently, outboxing previously unbeaten Joseph Adorno (UD 10).
THE FUTURE: Is aligned with Premier Boxing Champions and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him face Davis later this year.
No. 10: GUSTAVO LEMOS
RECORD: 28-0 (18 KOs)
THE PAST: Lemos worked his way through the ranks, claiming an IBF regional title. The 26-year-old is on a run of nine consecutive stoppage wins. He holds solid wins over Jorge Paez Jr. (KO 2) and former featherweight titlist Lee Selby (TKO 5) in an IBF eliminator.
THE FUTURE: As the IBF mandatory challenger, he is waiting on his title shot, though may have to stay busy in the interim.
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Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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