Tuesday, October 03, 2023  |


The Ring ratings reviewed 2023: Junior lightweight

Navarrete cracks De Vaca with a long right. Photo by Mikey Williams-Top Rank
Fighters Network

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 junior lightweight, which doesn’t have a standout titleholder like when Shakur Stevenson called this division home but is exciting. However, the weight class has seen Shavkatzhon Rakhimov-Joe Cordina and Emanuel Navarrete-Oscar Valdez, which produced two of the best fights of the year. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.



RECORD: 38-1 (31 KOs)

THE PAST: Navarrete burst onto the scene to claim the WBO junior featherweight title at the expense of Isaac Dogboe (UD 12) in December 2018. The heavy-handed Mexican has gone on to become the most active titleholder in boxing. He stopped Dogboe (TKO 12) in the first of five defenses before moving up in weight. Navarrete, 28, bested previously unbeaten Ruben Villa (UD 12) to claim the WBO title and went on to make three defenses, notably beating Joet Gonzalez (UD 12) before again moving up in weight. He got off the canvas to stop Liam Wilson (TKO 9) and then too active for Oscar Valdez (UD 12) in his maiden defense.

THE FUTURE: Doing his victory lap after scoring a career-best win. Could face mandatory Albert Bell next.



RECORD: 16-1 (10 KOs)

THE PAST: The Dominican Republic native represented his country at the 2016 Olympics. Fought largely at home as a pro before upsetting the touted Chris Colbert (UD 12) in Las Vegas. The 31-year-old southpaw bested Roger Gutierrez (UD 12) to pick up the WBA title. He rolled the dice by stepping up to lightweight where he lost to Gervonta Davis (TKO 9).

THE FUTURE: Took some time out due to an eye injury suffered in the Davis fight. No date but will next face mandatory challenger Lamont Roach.



RECORD: 16-0 (9 KOs)

THE PAST: Cordina had an extensive amateur career, competing at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships. The Welshman claimed gold at the 2015 European Championships and represented Team GB at the 2016 Rio Olympics before turning professional. Cordina captured Commonwealth and British lightweight titles before dropping down in weight. Came of age when he spectacularly knocked out IBF titleholder Kenichi Ogawa (KO 2). A hand injury meant the 31-year-old was harshly stripped of the title and after several months returns and edged past teak-tough Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (SD 12) to regain his old title.

THE FUTURE: Looking at his options for a fall fight. Countrymen Zelfa Barrett and Anthony Cacace have been mentioned but Cordina has said he wants something bigger.

Oscar Valdez (right) attacks Adam Lopez during their first bout in November 2019. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank


RECORD: 31-2 (23 KOs)

THE PAST: Valdez was a standout amateur, appearing at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and winning bronze at the 2009 World Championships. The Mexican star claimed the vacant WBO featherweight title by blasting out Matias Rueda (TKO 2), in July 2016, and made six defenses. Notable triumphs came against Miguel Marriaga (UD 12) and Scott Quigg (UD 12) before the move to 130. Valdez scored a career-best win when he knocked out Miguel Berchelt (KO 10) for the WBC title. The 32-year-old made one successful defense, struggling to get past Robson Conceicao (UD 12) before losing to Stevenson (UD 12). Injury forced him to the sidelines for over a year, after besting Adam Lopez (UD 10), he lost a firefight with Navarrete (UD 12).

THE FUTURE: Taking some time off before looking to get back in line. A rematch down the road with Navarrete could be interesting.



RECORD: 20-2 (11 KOs)

THE PAST: Foster lost twice early in his career at lightweight against Samuel Teah (UD 8) and Rolando Chinea (SD 8). However, the 29-year-old Houston native found his stride at 130 and is unbeaten in 10 fights over the past seven years. During that period, Foster took the unbeaten record of Jon Fernandez (UD 10), stopped grizzled former world title challenger Miguel Roman (KO 9) and dominated Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (UD 12). Those wins earned him a fight for the vacant WBC title against Rey Vargas and he put on a clinic to win a 12-round unanimous decision.

THE FUTURE: Will face his mandatory Eduardo Hermandez in Cancun, Mexico on October 28.



RECORD: 17-1-1 (14 KOs)

THE PAST: A division danger man, the Tajikistan native stopped former world titleholder Malcolm Klassen (TKO 8) and longtime gatekeeper Robinson Castellanos (TKO 2). Rakhimov traveled to South Africa for an IBF eliminator and rallied from behind to stop Azinga Fuzile (TKO 8). The 29-year-old southpaw held Joseph Diaz to a draw when he fought for the IBF title in February 2021. He had to bide his time before the opportunity came to fight for the vacant IBF title against Zelfa Barrett. Rakhimov had to get off the canvas to stop the Brit in nine-rounds. In his first defense he travelled to Wales and lost in a thriller to Cordina (SD 12).

THE FUTURE: Gave a sterling effort against Cordina and now will look to work his way back toward another title fight.


Robson Conceicao opens up on Clay Burns. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top rank



RECORD: 17-2 (8 KOs)

THE PAST: The Brazilian fought at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics before winning gold at the 2016 Rio Games. Worked his way through the ranks as a professional and gave then-WBC titlist Oscar Valdez fits before losing a contentious 12-round unanimous decision. He rebounded strongly, taking Xavier Martinez’s unbeaten record by lopsided 10-round decision but lost a second world title fight against then WBC/ WBO kingpin Shakur Stevenson (UD 12). Has since fought a non-contest with Nicolas Polanco.

THE FUTURE: Faces Humberto Galindo on the Luis Alberto Lopez-Joet Gonzalez undercard on September 15.



RECORD: 14-0 (7 KOs)

THE PAST: Eranosyan was a mainstay on the amateur circuit before turning professional in 2020. Since then, the 30-year-old Georgian has moved operations to America where he’s stayed active and owns wins over Alejandro Guerrero (UD 8), then unbeaten Starling Castillo (UD 8) and faded former world title challenger Cesar Juarez (UD 8). However, it’s because of his up off the canvas win over former WBA titlist Roger Gutierrez (RTD 8) that he was able to gatecrash the rankings.

THE FUTURE: He’ll stay busy in November while waiting for the Hector Luis Garcia-Lamont Roach winner.



RECORD: 27-5-1 (21 KOs)

THE PAST: Gutierrez worked his way up through the ranks in his native Venezuela before losing to battle-hardened Rene Alvarado (KO 7) on his U.S. debut. Also suffered losses to unbeaten prospects Hector Tanajara (UD 8) and Oscar Duarte (RTD 4) at lightweight. After getting back in the win column at home, Gutierrez dropped down to 130 and upset the previously unbeaten Eduardo Hernandez (KO 1). Went on to beat Alvarado in a rematch (UD 12) to claim the WBA title, then won the rubber match by 12-round unanimous decision. The 28-year-old lost the title to Garcia (UD 12), got back to winning ways before, most recently, losing to Eranosyan (RTD 7).

THE FUTURE: Will be off a while after the Eranosyan defeat. Still a tough out for many but may have seen better days and become a gatekeeper.



RECORD: 24-0 (7 KOs)

THE PAST: Bell has been a professional for a decade. After initial slow progress the tall Ohio native scored notable wins over Andy Vences (UD 10), Frank De Alba (UD 8) and Nicolas Polanco (UD 10). The 30-year-old has stayed active with two fights this year.

THE FUTURE: The WBO mandatory for Navarrete. Whether that’s next or not, will mark time while waiting for his title shot.


On the Cusp: Andres Cortes, Moussa Gholam, Abraham Nova, Masanori Rikiishi and Liam Wilson



The Ring Ratings Reviewed: Pound for Pound – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed: Strawweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Junior flyweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Flyweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Junior bantamweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Bantamweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Junior featherweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)

The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Featherweight – The Ring (ringtv.com)



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