The Ring Ratings Reviewed 2023: Welterweight
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 welterweight, while the best fighter in the world calls 147-pounds home, the talent drops off and as you get toward to lower end of the top 10 and it doesn’t appear too many are knocking on the door in a division that has traditionally been strong. Maybe some of the junior welterweights will move up and aid the weight class. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
CHAMPION TERENCE CRAWFORD
RECORD: 40-0 (31 KOs)
THE PAST: Crawford’s early pro career took place away from the bright lights before the Nebraska native’s big break came when he stepped in on three days’ notice to whitewash former Amir Khan conqueror, Breidis Prescott (UD 10). The super-talented American switch-hitter went from strength-to-strength winning titles at 135, 140 and 147. Bud has separated himself from the competition by becoming an undisputed champion at 140 and 147. The 35-year-old has made seven defenses of his WBO welterweight title, notably beating Khan (TKO 6), Kell Brook (TKO 4), Shawn Porter (TKO 10) and David Avanesyan (KO 6). However, he saved his best for his biggest night when he dominated long-time rival Errol Spence Jr. (TKO 9) to become the first male two-weight undisputed champion in the four-belt era.
THE FUTURE: Spence invoked the rematch clause, so appears likely they’ll rematch late this year though also has designs on Canelo and moving up in weight.
Canelo vs Crawford is the biggest fight in boxing. There’s no fighter out there that’s a bigger fight then us.
— Terence Crawford (@terencecrawford) September 8, 2023
No. 1 ERROL SPENCE JR.
RECORD: 28-1 (22 KOs)
THE PAST: Spence represented the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics. After turning pro, he moved through the ranks quickly, notably beating perennial contender Chris Van Heerden (TKO 8) and former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri (TKO 5), before proving his mettle by stopping Kell Brook (TKO 11) on the road in England to win the IBF welterweight title. The 33-year-old southpaw made six defenses and added WBA and WBC titles. He holds championship wins over Mikey Garcia (UD 12), Shawn Porter (SD 12), Danny Garcia (UD 12) and Yordenis Ugas (TKO 10) but came unstuck when he was dominated by Crawford (TKO 9).
THE FUTURE: Decided to exercise his right to a rematch with Crawford. No time scales were given though in the original contract it called for the second fight to be this year.
No. 2 JARON ENNIS
RECORD: 31-0 (28 KOs)
THE PAST: The brilliant American switch-hitter might just be the next big star in boxing. He learned to box from a very young age, in Philadelphia, with his father and brothers. “Boots” has an elite mix of power and speed that has been a nightmare for anyone he’s faced so far. Indeed, the manner in which he brutally dispatched former junior welterweight titleholder Sergey Lipinets (KO 6), Thomas Dulorme (KO 1), Custio Clayton (KO 2) and, most recently, Roiman Villa (KO 10) tells you all you need to know.
THE FUTURE: Nothing concrete but hopefully will fight later this year.
No. 3 VERGIL ORTIZ JR.
RECORD: 19-0 (19 KOs)
THE PAST: The aggressive 25-year-old Texan has developed into a popular local ticket seller. Ortiz’s thudding power has seen him stop every opponent he has faced to date. He holds wins over former junior welterweight title challenge Antonio Orozco (KO 6), former 140-pound titleholder Maurice Hooker (KO 7) and an impressive bludgeoning of former welterweight title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (TKO 8). Ortiz had been due to face Michael McKinson in March but had to pull out with rhabdomyolysis. After receiving the all-clear, Ortiz returned and overcame a slow start to stop the Brit in nine rounds. Has been scheduled to face Eimantas Stanionis three times and their fight has fallen out each time.
THE FUTURE: Could return in the fall potentially up at 154-pounds.
No. 4 EIMANTAS STANIONIS
RECORD: 14-0 (9 KOs)
THE PAST: Turned professional after an excellent amateur career concluded at the 2016 Olympics. The Lithuanian moved to America and his aggressive style allowed him to adapt quickly to the professional ranks. Owns wins over Justin DeLoach (KO 9), Dulorme (UD 12) and, more recently, overcame the previously unbeaten Radzhab Butaev via hard-fought 12-round split decision. Snake-bitten fight with Ortiz failed to come to pass, which have left him on the sidelines for an extended period.
THE FUTURE: The WBA approved a voluntary defense of his ‘regular’ title in light of the Ortiz fight falling out. Nothing set at the time of writing.
No. 5 ALEXIS ROCHA
RECORD: 23-1 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: Rocha was a good amateur and hit the ground running as a professional notching 16 consecutive wins before losing his unbeaten record to Rashidi Ellis (UD 12) in October 2020. To his credit the 26-year-old southpaw has bounced back strongly with seven wins, notably Blair Cobbs (KO 9), George Ashie (KO 7) and, most recently, Anthony Young (KO 5) to become the WBO mandatory challenger.
THE FUTURE: Will face unbeaten Giovani Santillan at the Kia Forum, Inglewood, California on October 21.
More than ready 💪🏼 Let’s Goo!! https://t.co/9y7Sjfuwk5
— Lex 👊🏼 (@AlexisRocha777) September 1, 2023
No. 6 CODY CROWLEY
RECORD: 23-0 (9 KOs)
THE PAST: The Canadian has largely based himself out of America since turning professional in 2014. Did return to his homeland to pick up the national title before heading back to America to where he upset previously unbeaten Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (UD 10) and veteran Josesito Lopez (UD 10). Was off for nearly a year after his father took his own life. When he returned he edged past Abel Ramos (MD 12).
THE FUTURE: Queensberry Promotions won a recent IBF purse bid for Crowley to face Ekow Essuman in a title eliminator. However, Crowley will most likely go in a different direction.
No. 7 DAVID AVANESYAN
RECORD: 29-4-1 (17 KOs)
THE PAST: The aggressive Russian made his bones fighting at home. Beat a shell of former boxing superstar Shane Mosley (UD 12), then pushed Lamont Peterson close, narrowly losing a 12-round decision. Was stopped by Egidijus Kavaliauskas (TKO 6), but rebounded to win six fights including an on-the-road win over Kerman Lejarraga (TKO 9) to claim the European title. Also took the unbeaten record of talented Josh Kelly (TKO 6). Was knocked out by Crawford (KO 6) when he challenged for the WBO title last December.
THE FUTURE: Looking for the biggest opportunity out there which could see him face one of the big names on the British scene later this year.
No. 8 SHAKHRAM GIYASOV
RECORD: 14-0 (9 KOs)
THE PAST: Giyasov was a standout amateur claiming silver at the 2016 Olympics before taking gold at the 2017 World Championships. After turning professional in early 2018 the impressive Uzbek has moved through the ranks, initially at 140-pounds before settling at 147-pounds. The 30-year-old holds win over Christian Gomez (UD 10) and, most recently, Harold Calderon (UD 12).
THE FUTURE: Will fight in the fall.
No. 9 ROIMAN VILLA
RECORD: 26-2 (24 KOs)
THE PAST: Villa won five Venezuelan national amateur titles before he power-puncher made his professional debut with a first-round knockout in January 2015. He reeled off 19 straight victories before losing a debatable decision to Marcos Villasana (SD 12) at lightweight in April 2019. He jumped two weight classes, scored wins in Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay before heading to America. The 30-year-old upset previously unbeaten and well-regarded duo Janelson Bocachica (UD 8) and Rashidi Ellis (MD 12). Gave a good effort but was beaten by the uber talented Ennis (KO 10).
THE FUTURE: Taking time off after losing to Ennis. Showed grit and determination to suggest he can remain a player at 147-pounds.
No. 10 RASHIDI ELLIS
RECORD: 24-1 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: Ellis is from a fighting family, his older brother Ronald is a professional boxer, while his younger sister Rashida is a reigning amateur champion. “Speedy” worked his way up on the Boston scene before heading to the Caribbean for a period of time. When he returned to America he scored a pair of wins over Eddie Gomez (KO 1/ UD 10). His most impressive win came when he beat Rocha (UD 10). Unable to capitalize on that win spent 21-months on the sidelines. During that time he switched from Golden Boy to PBC. He shed some ring rust before losing an excellent fight against Villa (MD 12).
THE FUTURE: You’d expect him to return before the end of the year after time off after his first career loss.
On the Cusp: Souleymane Cissokho, Jamal James, Michael McKinson, Giovani Santillan and Jin Sasaki
Editors Note: Yordenis Ugas, Radzhab Butaev and Keith Thurman were taken out for inactivity. Ugas will be considered again after his fight with Mario Barrios on September 30. Conor Benn was taken out due to PED issues and also has not fought in over a year.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].