Tuesday, January 31, 2023  |



Ring Ratings Update: Estrada re-enters the P4P, Crawford and Inoue hold their rankings

Naoya Inoue capped 2022 with an 11th-round TKO of Paul Butler that crowned him undisputed bantamweight champ. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

The traditional New Year’s Eve showdown in Japan is upon us – this year it’s the Kazuto Ioka-Joshua Franco junior bantamweight title unification – but for the most part, 2022 has come to a close and some of the best boxers in the world were in action during the final month.

Juan Francisco Estrada outpointed arch-rival Roman Gonzalez in their anticipated rubber match, Terence Crawford made his annual late-year appearance with a sixth-round KO of David Avanesyan, reminding the boxing world of his brilliance, and Naoya Inoue earned undisputed champion status at bantamweight with an 11th-round KO of reluctant WBO beltholder Paul Butler.

There’s still some dispute on who got the better of the epic Estrada-Gonzalez trilogy, but the official scorecard reads: 2-1 in favor of Mexico’s “El Gallo,” who got the nod in the rematch last March via split decision and a majority decision after their December 3 rubber match.

Juan Francisco Estrada delivered the performance of the week at the start of December.

However, what can’t be argued is the elite-level of Estrada’s boxing (especially on Dec. 3) or the depth of The Ring junior bantamweight champion’s resume.

To date, Estrada has faced Gonzalez three times, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai twice and Carlos Cuadras twice, splitting bouts with the Thai veteran and going 2-0 against his countryman. All of the aforementioned bouts have been entertaining, some are modern classics.

Adding to that sensational four-man round robin, are Estrada’s victories over decorated champions Brian Viloria, Giovani Segura and Hernan “Tyson” Marquez. The Sonora native has the resume of a first-ballot hall of famer right now, but more glory awaits him with the Ioka-Franco winner.

The Ring Ratings Panel thought enough of Estrada’s victory over Chocolatito and his body of work to suggest that he re-enter the pound-for-pound rankings.

Estrada and Gonzalez put on another masterclass, two real maestros,” said Anson Wainwright. “I’d like to see Estrada re-enter our rankings. He came out for inactivity, now he’s back and looking good. I’d suggest No. 7. Hate to see Artur Beterbiev come out through no fault of his own though.”

Tom Gray and Diego Morilla agreed with Wainwright.

“I scored Estrada-Chocolatito 3 a draw, but I don’t have the priority on the truth here,” said Gray. “I thought Estrada boxed a terrific fight and earned a close decision win. I wouldn’t be opposed to him re-entering at No. 7.”

Adam Abramowitz suggested that Estrada come in at No. 10, and was supported by Daisuke Sugiura.

“I don’t think Estrada has to re-enter,” said Sugiura. “I was at the fight, ringside, and personally thought Chocolatito edged it. We can make a case for Estrada losing all three of his fights against Gonzalez.

“That said, he got two official wins against his rival and his track record speaks for itself. So I don’t oppose ranking him again, but I prefer No.10.”

Added Tris Dixon: “It’s tough. That 10-17 range in the P4P is jam packed and you could make a case for Estrada at No. 9 and Chocolatito at No. 10, yes, even in defeat.

“Estrada has to go in at No. 10 for me, so it looks like Beterbiev’s only way back in is via Bivol.

That said, we have been fair to Beterbiev keeping him in for three years after that one outstanding win.”

Later in the month of December, the Panel debated advancing Inoue and Crawford from their current pound-for-pound placements of Nos. 2 and 3.

“Inoue dominated and stopped Butler in 11 rounds,” said Wainwright. “We said we’d look at his and Crawford’s fights and assess things. Both won emphatically. Crawford’s was more of a highlight-reel knockout but I’d probably keep things as they are.”

Gray, Morilla, Sugiura and Abramwoitz all agreed to keep the three-division titleholders where they are in the mythical rankings.

Senior Editor Brian Harty provided his two cents and a vote for The Monster to regain the top spot.

Naoya Inoue is king of the bantamweights. Should he be P4P King? Photo by Naoki Fukuda

“What makes most sense to me at No. 1 P4P right now is Inoue. And some part of that is wishing I’d voted to keep him on top in the first place,” said Harty.

“I also think Crawford has a claim for No. 2, but it’s hard to imagine moving him up in P4P without also giving him No. 1 at 147 (where Errol Spence is currently rated above him). Personally I like Crawford over Spence in the ‘manner-vs.-who’ department and would give him the top spot, but the great welterweight debate really only has one solution.”

Added Abramowitz: “I’d vote for Oleksandr Usyk to remain No. 1.”

Wainwright concurred: “And me. I’d keep them as they are.

“However, I can see an argument for any combo of Usyk, Inoue and Crawford. I don’t lose sleep over this or who can’t crack the pound-for-pound top 10. I prefer to think that speaks volumes for the current quality in boxing. Though, of course, I hope some of those guys, namely Crawford and Spence, end any arguments and debates in the ring.”

Harty agreed: “I think that’s true, Anson – those three are pretty much interchangeable. Usyk blew me away with his last performance, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep either. Stagnant lists just bother me, and we’ve had situations in the past where the only way a list can change is for the guy on top to fail. We can’t move Inoue or Crawford up for looking amazing against a 5-to-10-rated guy, but history also says we wouldn’t lower Usyk if he were to fight someone like Dubois and struggle in beating him. On one hand I’d rather go by what we’ve seen lately, but I also get that it looks like indecision or being swept up in the moment (and I’m speaking for myself there; I’m often guilty of both).”

Wainwright, who usually leads the discussion, had the last word: “Excellent point, Brian. It does tend to be one of the top guys failing that allows others in.

To me, Usyk’s repeat win over Joshua trumps Inoue’s and Crawford’s recent wins. However, I was more impressed by Crawford than Inoue. Crawford got the more eye-catching stoppage over a more dangerous opponent than Inoue did. Yes, Butler was rather reluctant but he managed to frustrate and take Inoue rounds. I wouldn’t say he was disappointing because he dominated to such a degree, hence keeping the status quo.”


RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of December 24):

POUND-FOR-POUND – Inoue remains at No. 2. Crawford remains at No. 3. Estrada re-enters the rankings at No. 10.

HEAVYWEIGHT – Tyson Fury re-enters at No. 1 following a one-sided drubbing of unrated veteran Derek Chisora.

Tyson Fury nails Derek Chisora during their WBC heavyweight title fight at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

“Fury, as expected, beat up Chisora for 10 rounds until the referee ended the public sparring session,” said Wainwright. “Daniel Dubois got off to a near disastrous start being dropped three times by Kevin Lerena but the South African couldn’t put him away and Dubois was able to recover and score a third-round stoppage. Nice comeback but the fact he got dropped is a clear warning.

“Jared Anderson scored an impressive knockout over Jerry Forrest. He’s still on his way up but he’s someone who has a bright future and is closing in on the top 10.”

The Panel unanimously agreed that Fury, who had been removed from the rankings after doubling down on his retirement claims months after his title defense against Dillian Whyte, be reinstated as the No. 1-rated heavyweight.

CRUISERWEIGHT – Yuniel Dorticos is dropped due to inactivity. Chris Billam-Smith, fresh off a chilling fifth-round KO of unrated Armend Xhoxhaj, advances to No. 9 (based on Dorticos’ removal). New Zelander David Light (20-0, 12 KOs) enters at No. 10.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT – Marcus Browne is dropped due to inactivity. Londoner Dan Azeez (18-0, 12 KOs), fresh off an eighth-round stoppage of veteran Rocky Fielding, enters at No. 10.

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT – Christian Mbilli remains at No. 5 following a 10-round decision over grizzled gatekeeper Vaughn Alexander. Vladimir Shishkin advances to No. 8 with a 12-round unanimous decision over former beltholder Jose Uzcategui. Lerrone Richards is dropped due to inactivity. Kazakhstan native Ali Akhmedov (19-1, 14 KOs), who scored a 10-round decision over veteran Gabriel Rosado in September, enters at No. 10.

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT – Magomed Kurbanov remains at No. 6 following a 10-round decision over unrated once-beaten Johan Gonzalez.

“Josh Kelly scored an impressive 12-round unanimous decision win over Troy Williamson to become British champion,” said Wainwright. “Kelly had his detractors, I personally doubted he could do what he did for 12 rounds. Credit where credit is due, he got over the hump and put the David Avanesyan loss behind him, for now anyway.”

WELTERWEIGHT – Crawford remains at No. 2. Avanesyan drops to No. 10.

“Crawford looked really good en route to scoring a highlight-reel late knockout of the year contender over Avanesyan,” said Wainwright. “I would move Crawford to No. 1 and Avanesyan to drop to No. 10.”

Other panelists disagreed with moving Crawford to No. 1.

“I would keep Spence at No. 1 at 147,” said Abramowitz. “I think he has a much better resume in the division.”

Added Morilla: “I still think Spence is a step above Crawford here.”

Added Wainwright: “Souleymane Cissokho edged past Thulani Mbenge by 12-round unanimous decision. Solid win for Cissokho and puts him on the fringes of the top 10.”

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT – Teofimo Lopez enters at No. 10 following a close split nod over formerly Ring-rated Sandor Martin.

“Lopez edged past upset-minded Martin by 10-round split decision,” said Wainwright. “Lopez didn’t look great but enough to come in at No. 10.”

Pondered Gray: “Would it be worth considering Sandor Martin’s effort? If Lopez looked poor in winning, then it might be worth acknowledging the quality of the guy who lost.”

Replied Wainwright: “Martin is worth consideration but I wouldn’t take out Alberto Puello for him. Just top heavy at 140. The strength and depth is good for boxing.”

LIGHTWEIGHT – Frank Martin advances to No. 5 following an impressive decision over fellow unbeaten contender Michel Rivera, who drops out of the rankings. Maxi Hughes enters at No. 10.

Frank Martin (right) dominated Michel Rivera. Photo by Esther Lin / SHOWTIME

“Martin dominated Ring-ranked Rivera over 12-rounds,” said Wainwright. “Excellent display. Move him up two spots and Rivera to drop out. Harsh but he was well beaten. Perhaps bring back Jamaine Ortiz, who gave Vasily Lomachenko a tough fight recently, at No. 10.”

Other panelists, including Abramowitz and Gray, favored British standout Maxi Hughes (26-5-2, 5 KOs), currently riding a seven-bout win streak, to take the No. 10 spot.

Added Wainwright: “Denis Berinchyk won a 12-round unanimous decision over Yvan Mendy to capture the European lightweight title. Solid win for Berinchyk, who puts himself in play in the white-hot division.”

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT – Samir Ziani is dropped due to inactivity. Albert Bell (22-0, 6 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, enters at No. 10.

FEATHERWEIGHT – Luis Alberto Lopez enters at No. 5 following his split-decision over Josh Warrington, who drops to No. 7. Michael Conlan remains at No. 10 after blitzing unrated Karim Guerfi in the opening round. Gary Russell Jr. drops due to inactivity.

“Warrington and Lopez fought a tough back-and-forth encounter,” noted Wainwright. “Lopez did well early and Warrington came back at him late. It was very close and I was shocked they gave it to Lopez in Leeds. Not that he didn’t deserve it, it was very close. Suggested new 126-pound ratings order:

“1. Navarrete 2. Vargas 3. Magsayo 4. Lara 5. Lopez 6. Wood 7. Warrington 8. Kiko Martinez 9. Robeisy Ramirez 10. Conlan

“I took Russell Jr. out, he’s on the sidelines injured and there’s no clue when he’ll be back, so it makes the most sense.”

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHT – Takuma Inoue remains at No. 10 following an eighth-round stoppage over unrated Jake Bornea.

BANTAMWEIGHT – Inoue remains Ring champion. Butler drops to No. 8. Vincent Astrolabio advances to No. 4 after stopping Nikolai Potopov in six rounds. Keita Kurihara drops from the rankings after suffering a 12th-round TKO to Kai Chiba, who enters the rankings at No. 10.

“Naoya Inoue will move up to junior featherweight in 2023,” noted Sugiura. “His brother Takuma announced that he will move down to 118 pounds, so the brothers will switch divisions next year, but they should stay as they are (in The Ring rankings) for now.”

JUNIOR BANTAMWEIGHT – Estrada remains champion. Gonzalez remains No. 1. Kosei Tanaka remains at No. 8 following a 10-round decision over unrated Yanga Sigqibo.

“Estrada and Gonzalez went at it again and produced another classic,” said Wainwright. “These two could fight 100 times and we’d still not be sure who was the better man, so evenly matched. This was the real trilogy fight of the weekend (in reference to Fury-Chisora III) and the one real boxing fans wanted to see. In this instance Estrada’s better start won him the fight. Estrada adds the WBC title to his Ring championship. Keep both men where they are.”

FLYWEIGHT – Julio Cesar Martinez remains at No. 2 after a difficult points win over unrated former amateur standout Samuel Carmona. Former beltholder Cristofer Rosales to re-enters at No. 10 after an impressive and hard-fought decision over undefeated fringe contender Joselito Velazquez.

“Martinez struggled mercifully with largely unknown Carmona,” reported Wainwright. “He was lucky the Spaniard injured his hand midway through otherwise he’d have surely lost. As it was, he won a 12-round majority decision to retain his WBC title. Martinez looked horrible, if it wasn’t for Dalakian being inactive, I’d say switch them. As it is, keep Martinez at No. 2. No chance he goes anywhere near (No. 1-rated) Sunny Edwards on this display. Carmona is a shout for the top 10, he advanced his claims but is just on the fringes, in the 11-15 range.

“Chocolatito’s cousin Cristofer Rosales breathed new life into his career by winning a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Joselito Velazquez. Rosales to re-enter at No. 10, I’d take out Jackson Chauke. Although he’s active, he’s fighting at a local level when others are fighting on the world scene.”


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 most Sundays.