Wednesday, October 04, 2023  |


The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Bantamweight

Jason Moloney of Australia (R) fights with Aston Palicte of the Philippines (L) during their World Boxing Council (WBC) silver bantamweight and the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) International bantamweight championship title fight in Melbourne on June 5, 2022. - -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
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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 talked-about in world boxing.

The Ring 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.

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.

Last year, we looked back on how each division was doing and have decided after a busy first half of 2023 to compile another divisional breakdown.

Next up is bantamweight, which is undergoing a lot of change in the wake of undisputed champion Naoya Inoue vacating his titles to move up to junior featherweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.



RECORD: 26-2 (19 KOs)

THE PAST: Moloney comfortably climbed the rankings and stopped former titleholder Kohei Kono (TKO 6) in 2018. The 32-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 won three fights before landing a WBC eliminator against Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai (UD 12). When undisputed champion Inoue moved up in weight, the titles became vacant and Moloney bested Vincent Astrolabio (MD 12) to fill the WBO vacancy.

THE FUTURE: Hopes to defend his title in Australia in the fall.



RECORD: 22-2 (13 KOs)

THE PAST: The 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 Moloney (SD 12) in the WBSS before losing in startling fashion to Naoya Inoue (KO 2) in the semi-final. Rodriguez, 31, was for a long time 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. He got back to winning ways in Mexico before beating Russell (TD 10) in rematch and, most recently, regained his old IBF title by shutting out Melvin Lopez (UD 12).

THE FUTURE: Only just won the title so enjoying some time off before returning later this year/ early next.



RECORD: 28-3-5 (14 KOs)

THE PAST: Santiago has overcome a couple of early setbacks to establish himself as a solid professional. The 27-year-old Mexican is already a 10-year veteran. In his first world title attempt he gave then-IBF 115-pound titlist Jerwin Ancajas (D 12) all he could handle. Santiago lost a close fight to Gary Antonio Russell (SD 10) in late 2021 and had rebounded with three wins to earn a shot at the vacant WBC title against the legendary Nonito Donaire. Showed a good chin early to come on late and claim a 12-round unanimous decision to lift the title.

THE FUTURE: Like Rodriguez only recently claimed the title and enjoying the fruits of his labor. A unification with fellow PBC fighter, Rodriguez would be fun.

Emmanuel Rodriguez outclassed previously unbeaten contender Gary Antonio Russell on the Wilder-Helenius undercard. Photo by Stephanie Trapp / TGP Promotions


RECORD: 19-1 (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 20 times in eight-years. Holds a win over former titleholder Payano (TD 7) and his fight with Rodriguez abruptly ended before it began. The 30-year-old southpaw was off for 15-months before returning to edge past Santiago (MD 10). Lost to Rodriguez (TD 10) last October and hasn’t fought since.

THE FUTURE: Could look to return on a PBC show in the coming months.



RECORD: 42-8 (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 Naoya 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 he met Inoue in a rematch and was stopped in two-rounds. The 40-year-old recently lost to Santiago (UD 12) for the vacant WBC title.

THE FUTURE: Will have to decide if he wants to continue fighting or it is time to retire.



RECORD: 18-4 (13 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, but his big break came against Guillermo Rigondeaux. The 26-year-old dropped the ageing Cuban in the eighth and went on to pick up a 10-round unanimous decision. Followed that by stopping Nikolai Potapov (KO 6) before losing to Moloney (MD 12) for the vacant WBO title.

THE FUTURE: Will get a chance to reestablish himself when he faces Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai in a WBC eliminator in Bangkok on August 26.



RECORD: 35-3 (16 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 34-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 2022, but Casimero broke BBBofC rules when he used a sauna during fight week, and then the WBO 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. Cashed in his bargaining chip by facing unified titleholder Naoya Inoue for undisputed championship and was dominated before being knocked out in 11-rounds. Returned against a journeyman in Uzbekistan in June.

THE FUTURE: Making another title run, nothing scheduled but could imagine he’ll be out again before the end of the year.

Alexandro Santiago punches Nonito Donaire during their WBC bantamweight title bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images


RECORD: 8-0 (1 KOs)

THE PAST: Turned professional in 2019 and in just his third outing he beat former world title challenger Shohei Omari (UD 8). The tall 27-year-old southpaw followed that by dominating former WBC flyweight titlist Daigo Higa (UD 12). A wrist injury in his next fight saw him spend an extended period on the sidelines. After a full recovery, he has won three more fights, notably, last time out, beating Mexico’s Christian Medina (UD 12).

THE FUTURE: Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return in late December on one of the New Year’s Eve shows in Japan, as he looks to zero in on a world title shot.



RECORD: 18-1 (4 KOs)

THE PAST: Although talented in his own right, he is in his older brother, Naoya’s shadow. Won the OPBF 115-pound title in just his fifth fight, made two defenses before stepping up to bantamweight. Continued to gain experience before he lost his unbeaten record in a WBC title shot against Nordine Oubaali (UD 12). Beat Keita Kurihara (TD 9) to pick up the OPBF 118-pound belt. Moved up to 122-pounds and beat experienced former world title challenger Shingo Wake (UD 12) and then added the national title beating grizzled veteran Gukuya Furuhashi (UD 12). Last time out he outpointed Liborio Solis (UD 12) to annex the vacant WBA title.

THE FUTURE: Will defend his title against former IBF 115-pound titlist Jerwin Ancajas later this year.



RECORD: 17-7-1 (15 KOs)

THE PAST: Turned professional in 2011 and went 3-4 in his first seven fights. Has since turned his career around, going 9-1 before winning the OPBF title. Made one successful defense against former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (KO 1) before losing to Inoue (TD 9). The inconsistent 30-year-old power-puncher regained his championship against Kazuki Nakajima (KO 3) but lost to Kai Chiba (TKO 12) only to win it back by second-round stoppage.

THE FUTURE: Having emphatically recaptured his OPBF title last time out you’d expect him to defend his title in the coming months.


On the Cusp: Jerwin Ancajas, Daigo Higa, Sho Ishida, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Victor Santillan



The Ring Ratings Reviewed: Pound for Pound – The Ring (

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Junior flyweight – The Ring (

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Flyweight – The Ring (

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Junior bantamweight – The Ring (


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].