The Ring ratings reviewed 2023: Junior middleweight
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 middleweight, which has largely been on stop waiting for undisputed champion Jermell Charlo first to recover from injury and face Tim Tszyu. But now we will get to see how he does against undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez after he elected to jump to weight classes and face boxing’s biggest star.
As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
CHAMPION JERMELL CHARLO
RECORD: 35-1-1 (19 KOs)
THE PAST: Charlo beat a host of solid fighters including Gabriel Rosado (UD 10), Vanes Martirosyan (UD 10) and Joachim Alcine (TKO 6) before capturing the vacant WBC title with a come-from-behind knockout against John Jackson (KO 8). The Texan made three defenses – most impressively knocking out Erickson Lubin (KO 1) – but lost his title in controversial fashion to Tony Harrison (UD 12). After one comeback win, he regained the title, struggling at times before knocking Harrison out (KO 11). The 33-year-old added the Ring and IBF/WBA belts to his collection when he knocked out Jeison Rosario (KO 8). He fought WBO counterpart Brian Castaño to a controversial draw. However, in the rematch be stopped the Argentine fighter in 10 rounds to become the undisputed champion.
THE FUTURE: Jumping two divisions to face Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight championship at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas on Saturday.
No. 1 TIM TSZYU
RECORD: 23-0 (17 KOs)
THE PAST: Tszyu, who is the eldest son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, turned professional in December 2016. Since then, he has moved steadily through the ranks beating the likes of tough compatriot Dwight Richie (UD 10), former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn (TKO 8), respected two-time world title challenger Dennis Hogan (TKO 5) and iron-jawed Takeshi Inoue (UD 12). The 28-year-old made his American debut and had to get off the canvas in the opening round to best experienced Terrell Gausha (UD 12). Spent a year waiting for his shot at Charlo, ultimately pushed forward and looked sensational beating former titleholder Tony Harrison (TKO 9) and Carlos Ocampo (KO 1).
THE FUTURE: Will face Brian Mendoza for the WBO title in Queensland, Australia on October 14.
No. 2 LIAM SMITH
RECORD: 33-4-1 (20 KOs)
THE PAST: Smith is one of four fighting brothers. He won British and Commonwealth titles before claiming the WBO 154-pound title in 2015. Smith made two defenses before losing to Canelo Alvarez (TKO 9). Got back in the win column against future middleweight title challenger Liam Williams (RTD 9/ MD 12) before dropping a decision to Jaime Munguia (UD 12). “Beefy” won three fights before controversially losing to Magomed Kurbanov (UD 12). However, he has bounced back strongly with three wins, notably stopping former two-weight division world champion Jessie Vargas (TKO 10). Split two fights with Chris Eubank Jr. (TKO 4/ L TKO 10).
THE FUTURE: Would like a rubber match with Eubank Jr. We’re not sure he’ll get it, and he may need to look elsewhere but it’s still early days after the loss.
No. 3 BRIAN MENDOZA
RECORD: 22-2 (16 KOs)
THE PAST: Mendoza won his first 18 fights before tasting defeat against Larry Gomez (SD 8). After beating Thomas LaManna (UD 10), he suffered another reverse, this time against Jesus Ramos (UD 10). Unperturbed, the 29-year-old Albuquerque native got back to winning ways as a late substitute, stunning former unified titleholder Jeison Rosario (KO 5) and, most recently, he scored a dramatic come from behind knockout over previously unbeaten Sebastian Fundora.
THE FUTURE: Heads to Australia to face Tim Tszyu on October 14.
No. 4 SEBASTIAN FUNDORA
RECORD: 20-1-1 (13 KOs)
THE PAST: Fundora built a portion of his early record on the road in Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay. The 25-year-old holds physical advantages over his opponents, standing 6-foot-5½ with a gargantuan 80-inch reach (unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has a 78-inch reach). However, instead of boxing on the outside, he prefers to stand and fight. He has impressed stateside and over the past couple of years, beating the likes of Nathaniel Gallimore (KO 6), Jorge Cota (TKO 4), Sergio Garcia (UD 12) and he got off the canvas to outlast Erickson Lubin (RTD 9) in a war of attrition. Dominated Carlos Ocampo (UD 12) before taking the lead only to get knocked out by Brian Mendoza (KO 7).
THE FUTURE: Nothing set but wouldn’t be a surprise to see him resurface in the fall and try to rebuild after the Mendoza defeat.
No. 5 ERICKSON LUBIN
RECORD: 25-2 (18 KOs)
THE PAST: Former amateur star looked on course to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics. However, Lubin turned professional at 18, and while he looked the part during his rise, he was stopped in one round by WBC titlist Jermell Charlo. That may have ruined a lot of fighters but, to his credit, Lubin has raised his game and won six fights, most notably stopping former unified titleholder Jeison Rosario (KO 6). However, he lost an all-action shootout with Sebastian Fundora (RTD 9). The 27-year-old southpaw returned to the win column beating Luis Arias (TKO 5).
THE FUTURE: Will face rising force Jesus Ramos on the Canelo-Charlo undercard on Saturday.
No. 6 ISRAIL MADRIMOV
RECORD: 9-0-1 (6 KOs)
THE PAST: Won a slew of amateur titles before turning professional in the fall of 2018. The 28-year-old has moved quickly due to his amateur pedigree. “The Dream” has been a nightmare for his opponents and has beaten seasoned veterans like Norberto Gonzalez (TKO 6), Alejandro Barrera (TKO 5) and Eric Walker (UD 12). He also holds a win over perennial contender Michel Soro (TKO 9/ Tech Draw 3). Easily beat unheralded Raphael Igbokwe (UD 10) earlier this year but needs more activity.
THE FUTURE: Having last fought in April will expect to fight in the fall. His high WBA ranking should see him in line for their title once the dust has settled with Charlo facing Canelo.
No. 7 JESUS RAMOS
RECORD: 20-0 (16 KOs)
THE PAST: Ramos turned professional in Mexico where his first eight fights took place. The Casa Grande native headed back to America and quickly outgrew the welterweight division. The hard-charging 22-year-old nephew of welterweight fringe contender Abel Ramos has beaten Brian Mendoza (UD 10), Luke Santamaria (UD 10) and rising prospect Joey Spencer (TKO 7).
THE FUTURE: We’ll find out what he’s made of when he steps up against Lubin on the weekend.
No. 8 TONY HARRISON
RECORD: 29-4-1 (21 KOs)
THE PAST: This skilled boxer-puncher was stopped by Jarrett Hurd (TKO 9) when he challenged for the vacant IBF title. However, he surprised Jermell Charlo by sticking to his game plan and claiming a close and controversial decision. Harrison was stopped in the direct rematch. In his comeback he struggled with Bryant Perrella (D 12) but looked to be back to his best when he won a lopsided decision over Sergio Garcia (UD 10). Ventured to Australia to face Tszyu and has some moments before being stopped in nine rounds.
THE FUTURE: Decided to go on with his career and has announced his intentions to fight at middleweight.
No. 9 MICHEL SORO
RECORD: 35-4-2 (24 KOs)
THE PAST: The 35-year-old French veteran won the European title earlier in his career and holds wins over Glen Tapia (TKO 4), Javier Maciel (TKO 3) and Cedric Vitu (TKO 5). After a two-year hiatus largely due to Covid, he returned against Israil Madrimov, who controversially stopped him in nine rounds. They fought a rematch that was abruptly curtailed when Soro was cut from a clash of heads in the third round. Headed to Russia and lost a highly contentious decision to Magomed Kurbanov (SD 12). Such was the dubious nature of the decision Kurbanov was taken out of the ratings and Soro entered.
THE FUTURE: The veteran gatekeeper will look to return in the coming months.
No. 10 CHARLES CONWELL
RECORD: 18-0 (13 KOs)
THE PAST: Conwell was a gifted amateur, who represented the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics. Turned professional after returning home without a medal. The 25-year-old Cleveland resident moved through the ranks claiming various sanctioning body regional titles and owns wins over the ill-fated Patrick Day (KO 10) who sadly passed away afterwards, previously unbeaten Madiyar Ashkeyev (RTD 9) and grizzled veteran Juan Carlos Abreu (MD 10).
THE FUTURE: Needs to get back action, though has nothing scheduled. Holds high rankings and looks to be waiting to see what his best option is.
On the Cusp: Serhii Bohachuk, Josh Kelly, Rourke Knapp, Magomed Kurbanov and Yoenis Tellez
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Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].