Rankings Update: Featherweight

Cristobal Cruz keeps climbing the ranks at 126 pounds.

May 15 was the last time we did the feathers, and a couple things have shifted around. I think this format is what we'll stick to as it makes it easier to make smaller changes.

Note: I originally forgot that Rafael Marquez has moved up in weight. Israel Vazquez is not ranked because he has not returned to the ring yet, same as I don't yet put Mayweather back on the P4P or welter lists.

Rank Fighter Record (KO) Last Rank
1 Chris John 42-0-2 (22) 1
2 Steven Luevano 36-1-1 (15) 2
3 Mario Santiago 20-1-1 (14) 4
4 Rafael Marquez 38-5 (34) NR
5 Rocky Juarez 28-4-1 (20) 5
6 Yuriorkis Gamboa 15-0 (13) 6
7 Cristobal Cruz 39-11-1 (23) 9
8 Jorge Solis 37-2-2 (27) 3
9 Elio Rojas 21-1 (13) 10
10 Daniel Ponce de Leon 36-2 (31) NR

 

So some shuffling around thanks to a few fights.

The biggest was Cristobal Cruz's exciting revenge win over Jorge Solis to retain his IBF title in another upset. He's on a streak of about four of them in a row right now, so I think they've stopped qualifying as upsets from here on out. Solis beat Cruz back in 2003, but Cruz is a way different fighter. Brick recently compared him to Librado Andrade as a guy who gets the absolute maximum results out of having subpar skills, and that's apt. Andrade gets by on insane stamina and an iron chin, and for Cruz it's workrate. He has turned into an Energizer bunny of a fighter.

I could even rank him higher, but there was a lot of dirtiness in Cruz-Solis that really screwed with the scores, and it is what it is. Still, he might well beat some of the top five. I think he for sure loses to John and Gamboa on pure skill. I think he could be a nightmare for Luevano, Santiago and Juarez, who all have a habit of waiting around too much. Santiago's power is really good and I still give him great credit for drawing Luevano last year, but he's been pretty inactive. Juarez is a stop-and-go fighter and Luevano just doesn't throw a ton.

Two new additions, too. First, former 122-pound titlist Daniel Ponce de Leon has moved up to featherweight and will fight an eliminator soon with Roinet Caballero, who has won five in a row after losing to Chris John when he quit after seven rounds in early 2008. The eliminator is for John's title. I really don't get why these sanctioning bodies book eliminators for guys who have already been outclassed by the guy who still holds the title. Eliminators are bunk 90% of the time, but this is the second one of these recently. Miki Rodriguez was up for another shot at Andre Berto for God's sake.

The second is Rafael Marquez, who shoots in at No. 4. His comeback fight in May was at 126 pounds. I don't think there's much worry that he won't handle the weight well (he's a former ruler at bantamweight) because he's a fantastic boxer with huge power. The only concern is how his body will respond to a good puncher, but that's to be sorted out later. I put him in at four because I simply cannot see Rocky Juarez beating him.

Falling out were Hiroyuki Enoki, who lost to Ryol Li Lee, and Takahiro Aoh, who lost his strap to Elio Rojas on July 14. Rojas has been trying to get a fight with Yuriorkis Gamboa for about a year now but it's never come together. Now that Gamboa holds the interim WBA title (sure needed an interim titlist there) and Rojas is the WBC titlist, it's even less likely. It's a good fight, though, and you never know.

Next Up for the Top Ten: Top-ranked John defends against No. 5 Juarez in a rematch on September 19 in Vegas. ... No. 2 Luevano faces Bernabe Concepcion (29-1-1, 16 KO) on August 15. ... Gamboa returns to action on September 26. No opponent named yet. ... Ponce de Leon-Caballero is scheduled for September 5 in Panama. ... Everyone else is TBA.

Honorable Mentions: Ryol Li Lee (13-1-1, 7 KO) might be a serious contender soon. His lone loss was a tight technical decision. ... The Ring still lists Martin Honorio in their top ten, but he's moved up to 130, even winning a meaningless alphabet regional strap. ... Enoki's loss to Lee was tight on the cards, and he's been no means too far out of the top ten. Aoh, on the other hand, was there mostly because he held a title that he won from a faded Oscar Larios, who seems officially retired. ... 37-year old Mongolian Choi Tsveenpurev (28-4, 20 KO) created some buzz by stunning then-unbeaten Derry Matthews with a fifth round knockout in April of last year, then did nothing for 15 months before fighting a tomato can in July, and he came in at 133 pounds for that fight. ... Belfast's Martin Lindsay (14-0, 6 KO) also knocked out Matthews, and followed that up with a win over Paul Appleby in April. ... Billy Dib is still out there. ... I won't be shocked if Bernabe Concepcion upsets Luevano. Luevano is a heck of a good boxer and has earned his ranking, but he's hardly unbeatable.

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