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The Ring ratings reviewed: light heavyweight

Dmitriy Bivol - Photo by Matt Heasley
27
Sep

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 light heavyweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.

 

No. 1 DMITRY BIVOL

RECORD: 20-0 (11 KOs)

THE PAST: Bivol was a standout amateur before turning professional in November 2014. The 31-year-old Kyrgyzstan-born technician claimed the WBA light heavyweight title in 2017 and has reeled off nine successful defenses. He holds wins over Sullivan Barrera (TKO 12), Isaac Chilemba (UD 12), Jean Pascal (UD 12) and Joe Smith Jr. (UD 12). However, a career-best win over Canelo Alvarez (UD 12) is what vaulted Bivol into the pound for pound ratings.

THE FUTURE: Will face his mandatory challenger Gilberto Ramirez in the United Arab Emirates on November 5.

 

No. 2 ARTUR BETERBIEV

RECORD: 18-0 (18 KOs)

THE PAST: Beterbiev was a standout amateur, winning gold at the 2009 World Championships and competing at the 2012 Olympics. The physically imposing Russian moved quickly as a professional. He won the IBF light heavyweight title, stopping Enrico Koelling (KO 12) and defended against Callum Johnson (KO 4) and Radivoje Kalajdzic (KO5). His breakout win came against then-WBC titleholder Oleksandr Gvozdyk (TKO 10) in a unification bout. The 37-year-old marked time against Adam Deines (TKO 10) and Marcus Browne (KO 9) before demolishing WBO counterpart Joe Smith Jr. (TKO 2).

THE FUTURE: Likely to face WBO mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde in England in early 2023.

Joe Smith Jr (L) and Artur Beterbiev (R) exchange punches during their WBC,IBF and WBO light heavyweight Championship fight, at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

No. 3 GILBERTO RAMIREZ

RECORD: 44-0 (30 KOs)

THE PAST: Ramirez won the WBO super middleweight title by shutting out two-weight world champion Arthur Abraham (UD 12). “Zurdo” went on to make five successful defenses, notably twice beating Jesse Hart (UD 12/ MD 12). However, the strain of making 168 pounds forced him to vacate and move up in weight. Has settled nicely with five wins, all inside the distance, including a pair of wins over experienced Cuban’s Sullivan Barrera (KO 4) and Yunieski Gonzalez (TKO 10) to become the WBA mandatory challenger.

THE FUTURE: Called out Bivol for a while and will get his wish when they collide on November 5.

 

No. 4 CALLUM SMITH

RECORD: 29-1 (20 KOs)

THE PAST: Smith won the British and European super middleweight titles in impressive fashion and got his big break in the WBSS. He defeated Erik Skoglund (UD 12) and late substitute Nieky Holzken (UD 12) to earn safe passage to the final where he stopped George Groves (KO 7) to become The Ring Magazine champion and WBA titleholder. The Englishman struggled to capitalize on that momentum, easily defeating the undersized Hassan N’dam N’Jikam (TKO 3) and laboring against John Ryder (UD 12) in subsequent title defenses before losing to boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez (UD 12). The 32-year-old has since moved up to 175-pounds and won both outings and looks a real threat.

THE FUTURE: As the WBC mandatory will likely get his shot in 2023 but may have to take a stay busy fight first.

 

No. 5 MARCUS BROWNE

RECORD: 24-2 (16 KOs)

THE PAST: The 2012 U.S Olympian has scored impressive wins over Thomas Williams Jr. (KO 6), Sean Monaghan (KO 2) and Fracy Ntetu (KO 1) before securing an impressive win over Jack (UD 12). However, he was immediately stalled by Jean Pascal (TD 8) but rebounded with a win over one-time contender Denis Grachev (UD 10). The New York native gave a good account of himself before wilting against Beterbiev (KO 9) in an IBF/ WBC title tilt.

THE FUTURE: Needs to get back into action soon or ruin the risk of losing his world rankings.

Jean Pascal catches Marcus Browne.

No. 6 JOE SMITH JR.

RECORD: 28-4 (22 KOs)

THE PAST: The Long Island native shocked Andrzej Fonfara (TKO 1) and became the first fighter to stop the legendary Bernard Hopkins (KO 8). However, Smith went 2-2 since, dropping decisions to Sullivan Barrera (UD 10) and WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol (UD 12). Scored a much-needed win over Jesse Hart (SD 10) and then impressively stopped former WBO titlist Eleider Alvarez (TKO 9). Edged past Maxim Vlasov (MD 12) to claim the vacant WBO title. Had been due to face Callum Johnson but instead fought late-sub Steve Geffard (KO 9) in his lone title defense before losing to Beterbiev (TKO 2) in their unification earlier this year.

THE FUTURE: Taking some time out after the loss to Beterbiev. Likely to then return in 2023 and then try to work his way back into title contention.

 

No. 7 JOSHUA BUATSI

RECORD: 16-0 (13 KOs)

THE PAST: Buatsi won bronze at the 2016 Olympics before turning professional. Won the vacant British title in his 10th fight but never defended it. Began training with Virgil Hunter in California and has shown promise but has seen his career stagnate. Holds wins over unbeaten Marko Calic (TKO 7), Richards Bolotniks (TKO 11) and, most recently, Craig Richards (UD 12).

THE FUTURE: Had hoped to face Bivol but the WBA ruled in favor of the Russian instead facing Ramirez. That lead to him going in the IBF direction. Was tabbed to face Jean Pascal. However, when the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement a purse bid was called for which was won by Lou DiBella. When Matchroom didn’t do their part, by not signing the contract they defaulted Buatsi’s position leaving Buatsi on the outside looking in.

 

No. 8 ANTHONY YARDE

RECORD: 22-2 (21 KOs)

THE PAST: The power-punching Londoner steamroller through moderate opposition to earn a shot as the WBO mandatory against Sergey Kovalev in Russia. Unperturbed, he put forward a solid effort and rocked Kovalev before being stopped in the 11th round. Returned to the winner’s circle before being edged out by the slick Lydon Arthur (SD 12). However, a year-later he exercised his demons by being extremely aggressive and knocked out Arthur in the fourth-round.

THE FUTURE: Waiting on Beterbiev to face him in early 2023.

Anthony Yarde (left) lands a hard hook on Lyndon Arthur – Photo courtesy of BT Sports – Queensberry

No. 9 JEAN PASCAL

RECORD: 36-6-1 (20 KOs)

THE PAST: In 2009, the popular Canadian won the WBC title by outpointing Adrian Diaconu and made four defenses. However, losses to Bernard Hopkins (UD 12), Kovalev (TKO 8 and RTD 7) and Bivol (UD 12) suggested that his time at the top had come to an end. To his immense credit, Pascal, now 39, has revived his career by posting wins over Marcus Browne (TD 8), Badou Jack (SD 12) and Fanlong Meng (UD 12).

THE FUTURE: Will most likely face Michael Eifert in an IBF eliminator at a date and venue to be decided.

 

No. 10 CRAIG RICHARDS

RECORD: 17-3-1 (10 KOs)

THE PAST: Richards lost his first attempt at the British title against Frank Buglioni (UD 12). He learnt from the experience and wouldn’t be denied in his second shot against Shakan Pitters (TKO 9). That was enough to receive a world title shot at WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol. Richards gave a good account of himself by lost a 12-round unanimous decision. That performance helped him get a fight with compatriot Joshua Buatsi. Again, Richards exceeded expectations losing a narrow 12-round unanimous decision.

THE FUTURE: Could return late this year or early 2023. Can he become the bride or is he destined to be the nearly man?

 

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)

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

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

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

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

The Ring ratings reviewed 2022: Lightweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring magazine ratings reviewed: junior welterweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

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

The Ring ratings reviewed: junior middleweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

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

The Ring ratings reviewed: super middleweight – 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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