Ring Ratings Update: ‘Retired’ Lopez and Franco remain ranked (for now), Edwards-Rodriguez debate
Much has occurred in the squared circle since our last Ring Ratings Update article was posted (listing changes made up until July 10), but the bulk of the discussion among the Ratings Panelists centered around what happened after two world title bouts – Teofimo Lopez’s Ring/WBO junior welterweight championship victory over Josh Taylor and Kazuto Ioka’s WBA 115-pound belt-winning performance against Joshua Franco.
Lopez announced his retirement following his victory. Franco announced his retirement following his defeat (and losing his WBA strap on the scales before being outpointed in his rematch with the accomplished Japanese veteran).
These guys are young, still in their primes (Lopez is probably just entering his). Do we take them at their word and drop them from the rankings, or do we give them a little time? That was the crux of the discussion.
“Teo has apparently dumped the WBO,” said Tom Gray. “Can someone find out if he’s relinquishing The Ring title? I know he’s due a belt, but if he’s retired, he’s retired.
“If he’s reticent to vacate The Ring title, then you’ll have a good story on your hands.”
Adam Abramowitz was the first to respond: “I would be disinclined in removing him right now. Let’s see it play out.”
Diego Morilla agreed with Abramowitz: “We have a recent precedent on this same situation with the Tyson Fury on-and-off retirement(s). Maybe we can apply the same decisions that we made in that case. Lopez seems serious about retiring, but we shouldn’t hurry to solve The Ring belt situation unless the current No. 1 and No. 2 (or No. 3…) decide to fight each other, right?”
Replied Anson Wainwright: “I don’t think any of us believe this is the last we’ve seen of Teofimo.
“I spoke to [a Top Rank executive] and he told me Teofimo would never vacate The Ring championship and I quote, ‘That’s the only one that matters [Laughs.]’”
Your favorite Editor-In-Chief chimed in: “I agree with Adam. I think the young man deserves to have his victory lap, which includes a stint as Ring junior welterweight champ (with a spot in the P4P rankings).
“If he’s still talking about being retired in two-to-three months, we can drop him from the P4P and vacate the 140-pound title.
“For all we know, and I think Tom is hinting at it, he’s just dropping the WBO title so he doesn’t have to deal with their eventual mandatory challenger or pay the sanctioning fee if and when he returns.”
Morilla retorted: “I understand. And as a fan of Teo’s I am super happy he appreciates our stuff so much. Unfortunately for him, The Ring belt is the only one over which he (or almost anyone) does not have any control. Our rules control it. If he retires, he’s gone.
“We don’t allow guys to remain champions ‘in recess’ forever just in case they want to return so we can collect our little 3% of the action. I mean, we can leave him as champion until the ink on his resignation letter is dry, but not a minute after.
“That’s what I meant with my comment, I guess. We wait until his intentions are clear, and then we drop him, end of story. We did it with Fury and didn’t backtrack on our decision even after he made us look like idiots by announcing his un-retirement one week after that. Rules is rules, homes.
“I hate all this back-and-forth teasing with retirement as much as anyone, but if he announces it and remains firm about it, then so be it.”
Tris Dixon brought up Franco.
“I guess Franco has to come out now he’s retired,” said Dixon.
Added Erdman: “I’m curious how we’ll handle Franco’s retirement, to Tris’ point, compared to how we’re handling Teofimo’s.
“I know why we’re handling it differently – because Teofimo has a fairly erratic past to say the least, and we don’t consider him a reliable narrator for fairly good reason. We don’t think those things about Franco, also for good reason, but will we give him time and grace to consider this as well? It’s obviously less consequential because he doesn’t hold a title, but I’m just curious about establishing some sort of precedent re: retirements. Or do we simply make a judgment call each time? This certainly won’t be the last time we’ll have to deal with this!
Added Morilla: “I can wait one week to pick a replacement for Franco and make sure he’s serious about hangin’ em up, no rush.”
Added the EIC: “I’m OK with allowing for a ‘cooling off’ period for fighters that announce their retirements immediately after a fight (or the next day). Win, lose or draw, that’s an extremely emotional period.”
In other Ring Ratings business, Gray brought up the prospect of putting the vacant Ring flyweight championship on the line for the upcoming Sunny Edwards-Jesse Rodriguez title unification bout even though it pits our No. 1 contender (Edwards) vs. our No. 4-rated 112 pounder.
“I think it would make sense to put The Ring flyweight title on the line for the first time since Chocolatito held it seven years ago,” said Gray. “No. 1 Edwards has been trying to contest the belt for years and has been persistently swerved by Martinez, who is No. 2. Our No. 3 contender, Artem Dalakian, has been on a schedule of one fight per year for four years and accomplished very little.
“I know No. 1 vs. No. 4 is unprecedented, but there’s always a first time. Edwards vs. Bam is a high-profile unification matchup between two unbeaten fighters, and I think we’d do well to have the championship on the line. Just my take… discuss.”
Abraham Gonzalez was the first to respond: “I’m not mad at that take at all. Bam vs. Edwards is the biggest fight in that division. I agree with Tom. Let them fight for the ring title.
However, Abramowitz was not into the idea: “I don’t like it. I wouldn’t be in favor of it. Bam has only recently been at the world level at 112. It’s not like he has been made to wait for years. Nope. I would be very much opposed.”
Added Daisuke Sugiura: “That’s the best and most attractive fight in the division, sure, but a little too soon? Martinez has accomplished more than Bam at 112, for better or worse.”
Gray defended his suggestion: “If Martinez gets his way, it’ll be Chocolatito’s grandkids fighting for it next, Adam.
“A seven-year gap is really worth extending when the best fight in the division has been made? It’s hardly Rolly vs. Barroso, is it?”
Retorted Adam: “The rules should be the rules. There have been divisions that have gone through decades without an undisputed champ. I don’t love it, but I’m also not rushing to anoint fighters with the Ring belt who haven’t beaten their biggest rivals. It should mean more. It should be harder to get. Passing out hardware because we happen to like a fight smacks of the WBC or the WBA. We should be better than that. Make them earn it. And if they don’t, they still will have a great career. The Ring belt needs to be at the pinnacle, and only reserved for those rare occasions when it is really earned.
Gray continued the debate: “We disagree, pal. While I’m not opposed to huge gaps in titles being contested, I will not condone ducking (Martinez has had offers to fight Edwards and didn’t want to know) or inactivity (Dalakian is part time). We can make a big deal about the three-pound difference, but Bam has scooped a title at the weight ABOVE and is on the cusp of pound-for-pound recognition.
“It doesn’t qualify as ‘passing out hardware.’ That is precisely what a governing body does (see aforementioned Rolly vs. Romero fight). This is the best fight in the division, and neither guy between Edwards and Bam has a case for complaint.”
Abramowitz stood firm: “I think it’s beneath our standards.”
The EIC doesn’t think Edwards-Rodriguez is beneath The Ring’s standards.: “I’m OK with the vacant Ring title being on the line in this case because I’ve not been impressed by Martinez in years, and I think one can argue that our Nos. 2- and 3-rated flyweights were lucky to win their previous fights.”
Added Morilla: “This question caught me right as I was looking at past Ring champs for an article. It is amazing how many GREAT fighters did not get a Ring belt, and how many (a handful, yes) not truly awesome champs also earned it.
“I know our rules are written in stone, kinda, and there’s significant blowback whenever we do things like what we’re trying to do here, but in the four-belt era every champ has his/her reasons to hold on to the belt and take no risks at all. There are many divisions in which this same situation plays out. And although in the past I would have dismissed this proposal immediately I think that we need to start doing this more often.
“This fight is one of the reasons why I advocate for more drastic changes in the ratings with every fight, to make them more dynamic. It seems like (as I said in a previous pound-for-pound discussion) no matter how hard it is to get in, it is almost as difficult to exit our ratings. If Dalakian is 4-0 in four years and Bam crashes into the division with only one fight I understand that placing him at No. 4 is a logical and conservative thing to do, but the fact that he could be someone’s slight favorite (hi, mom!) to beat Edwards should also mean something.
“In short, yes, let’s do it.”
Added Corey Erdman: “While I agree that this is probably the fight between the division’s two best fighters, and that may be enough to make this a title fight, I do feel like we’re reasoning backwards in our justification.
“Putting on the cap of the folks who will be critical of this for a second: If we really felt like Bam was better than Martinez and Dalakian all along, why wasn’t he moved ahead prior to now? Martinez and Dalakian didn’t seemingly do anything wrong that would drop them out of the ratings entirely, so how can they be disregarded here?
“I know we don’t want to make decisions based on what the public likes, but also, nobody would be clamouring for The Ring title to be on the line here, I think it would be understood that No. 1 vs. No. 4 couldn’t warrant it. This would almost certainly create some controversy while only seemingly serving our desire to have a champion without regard for how one has traditionally been crowned.
“I won’t lose sleep either way, but I do feel like this would be a kind of loosening of the clamps on these titles—if that’s a good or bad thing I dunno.”
Replied Morilla: “A fair point, indeed.
“A lot of our rationale for rating people in certain divisions is their experience at their weight. So, in fairness, if you were a lifelong bantamweight who were a 7 or 8 at most of your fights, and some junior bantam who’s been an 8 or 9 jumps up and scores a win that could be rated with a 9 or 10… the guy with the most experience at the weight still gets a higher rating. Something like that.
“I do agree with Corey’s feelings, though. But at this point in boxing history, with so many titles out there, I think that we play into the alphabet soup organization’s hands if we allow these guys to Omar-Narvaez the f__k out of their careers. They all get to be champs forever and break defense records against nobodies while boxing doesn’t have a real champ that people can look up to? It’s just as unfair as sommersaulting Martinez and Dalakian. And yes, they both can still face the winner of Edwards-Rodriguez and prove us wrong, no problem with me.”
Added Abramowitz: “‘Omar Narvaez-the f__k out of their careers’ should go on a tee shirt! That’s one of the best phrases I’ve heard in years! Kudos!!!”
Added Wainwright: “I usually prefer No. 1 vs. No. 2 in our rankings but to me Edwards-Rodriguez are the best two fighters at 112, Bam’s resume at 115 suggests that while he has one fight at 112 he is a unique talent and deserving and as such would support this fight.
“I hope the promoter approaches us and doesn’t try to run roughshod over us announcing something that we haven’t agreed to.
“I am on board but perhaps we wait until the date is announced. That may clear things up, Martinez and Dalakian may fight in the interim, etc.”
Gonzalez added: “That’s fair Anson and a solid compromise for now IMO.”
So be it. We’ll shelf this discussion for now.
RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of July 1):
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT – Joe Smith Jr. exits due to inactivity. Ali Izmailov enters at No. 10.
MIDDLEWEIGHT – Carlos Adames remains at No. 3 following a controversial stoppage of unrated former unified 154-pound champ Julian Williams.
JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT – Tim Tszyu remains No. 1 after he blasted fringe contender Carlops Ocampo in one round. Erickson Lubin remains at No. 5 following somewhat controversial stoppage of fringe contender Luis Arias.
WELTERWEIGHT – Radzhab Butaev exits due to inactivity. Shakhram Giyasov enters at No. 10.
JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT – Regis Prograis remains at No. 2 following a split decision over unrated former prospect Danielito Zorrilla.
“Not the greatest homecoming but a victory for Prograis, rightly so, split decision seemed a little surprising,” said Wainwright. “I think we should hold our ratings as they are for now (EIC note: Taylor was dropped to No. 1 following his loss against Lopez).”
Retorted Abramowitz: “I still vote to have Prograis ahead of Taylor. He got the job done. Taylor sure didn’t.”
Retorted Gray: “I can totally understand Adam’s reasoning here, but while I’d be accepting of the switch, there’s a couple of points I’d like to raise:
“Firstly, Taylor was in against Teofimo Lopez, an authentic and proven elite-level talent. Granted, his form had been patchy at best, but we all knew what he could do if he was firing on all cylinders.
“Prograis was in against an unproven late-replacement, and if the referee wasn’t wearing shades, Zorrilla would have been credited with a knockdown in the opening round. The fight was largely devoid of action, and that was the worst I’ve ever seen Regis perform.
“To keep things fair here, Taylor was awful against Catterall, and the majority of fans/experts had him losing. He was better against Lopez but lost legitimately.
“Neither guy has turned in what you would call a No. 1 contender-like performance, but Taylor is a former undisputed champ at the weight, he has the superior resume, and he’s 1-0 head-to-head.
“If Regis dominated, and looked electric, then I could buy the jump. As it stands, I’ll roll with Anson’s take. I also think Prograis will take the No. 1 spot through attrition because I don’t to see Josh at 140 again.”
Added Gonzalez: “I think we hold on the Regis jump until Taylor actually moves up and fights at welterweight. Although I would be OK for him to move up too, between him and Taylor, it’s been a matter of who’s looked worse.”
JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHT – Sam Goodman advances to No. 5 following his decision win against fellow contender Ra’eese Aleem, who drops to No. 6. Ronny Rios exits due to inactivity. John Riel Casimero enters at No. 10.
BANTAMWEIGHT – Paul Butler remains at No. 7 after a first-round stoppage of unrated Jeison Cervantes.
JUNIOR BANTAMWEIGHT – Kazuto Ioka advances to No. 1 with his rematch victory over Joshua Franco, who drops to No. 5. Fernando Martinez advances to No. 4 after a TKO of unbeaten prospect Jade Bornea.
“Franco lost his title on the scales and then got beaten by Ioka by 12-round unanimous decision,” said Wainwright. “Ioka picks up the WBA title. I could see Ioka going up a place above Chocolatito. It’s tough and I don’t love it but Ioka probably deserves a move up. I wonder if Franco will return to 115 or jump to 118 or even 122?”
FLYWEIGHT – Felix Alvarado remains at No. 9 following a stoppage over journeyman Armando Torres. McWilliams Arroyo exits due to inactivity. Seigo Yuri Akui enters at No. 10.
JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT – Sivenathi Nontshinga advances to No. 3 with a unanimous decision over young contender Regie Suganob, who dropped to No. 10. Esteban Bermundez exits due to inactivity. Miel Fajardo enters at No. 10 (which pushed Suanob out of the rankings).
STRAWWEIGHT – Petchmanee CP Freshmart remains at No. 2 after stopping unrated Norihito Tanaka in eight rounds.
ANSON’S ON THE CUSP LIST:
POUND FOR POUND – Shoutout to Kazuto Ioka, he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves and is one of the guys on the fringes who deserves attention. Tough to get into the top 10 at the moment and I’d say he might need that Estrada or Chocolatito win (as might they might over him) to crack the top 10.
HEAVYWEIGHT – Jared Anderson had to fight through some adversity before going the distance for the first time against former IBF titlist Charles Martin. It’s good he got through the adversity but it may be telling of how far he can go that it came against Martin. Time will tell. I did have in mind an impressive win might get him into our rankings ahead of the fight, but I’m pumping them brakes for now… Arslanbek Makhmudov took out previously unbeaten Raphael Akpejiori in two rounds and is in the 11-15 range.
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT – Edgar Berlanga dropped Jason Quigley multiple times but couldn’t stop him winning a 12-round unanimous decision. I had thought if Berlanga was impressive he could take the No. 10 spot but I don’t think he did enough. In comparison Demetrius Andrade (who is unranked) stopped Quigley in two rounds (EIC note: Boo-Boo did that at middleweight).
MIDDLEWEIGHT – Vincenzo Gaultieri dropped Esquiva Falcao twice en route to winning the vacant IBF title. Not the strongest of divisions and a poor fight for a vacant title match up. No ranking but in the 11-15 range.
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.