Never before have I taken as much time to process that somebody "retired" from boxing. See you next year, David! (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)
I know I haven't done a full rankings post regularly lately, but it's just been one thing after another and obviously my ability to give full attention to the site has been compromised. But now I'm back to having no life, so bully for everyone!
There have been updates to the actual rankings those weeks without posts, though, and everything is up-to-date (I think). This week I decided to do something I didn't do a couple of weeks ago, and that is honor the retirement ("retirement") of David Haye, so he's out at heavyweight. The new guy in the rankings is Tyson Fury, who comes in at No. 10. It's more that there wasn't anyone better than my great feeling that Fury is "a top ten heavyweight," sort of like the situation at cruiserweight with Lateef Kayode, and other divisions have that going on, too.
This week I wanted to look at a division that, in my view, seems due for not just a major shakeup, but some changing of the guard. It could start happening in the final two months of 2011, but more likely we'll really see some turnover in 2012. After the jump, a look at the jumbled top ten junior middleweights in the world.
1. Sergiy Dzinziruk (, 37-1, 23 KO)
Dzinziruk, 35, isn't ranked No. 1 by, well, anyone else, but I've just never seen a compelling reason for, say, The RING to have so ignored him over the last few years. He's done quality work in the division and his only loss came in March, against Sergio Martinez, at middleweight. We're talking about the world's best middleweight -- by The RING's own standard, even, as he holds their middleweight championship. He's got every bit as much of a strong resume at 154 pounds as anyone else listed here. The RING has Miguel Cotto at No. 1, and Dzinziruk unranked, in favor of guys like Cornelius Bundrage, and somehow Vanes Martirosyan is their No. 4. I just don't see it, but then they just don't see this. Anyway, I do think Dzinziruk is on his way down, and if someone would bother to make a compelling argument, he doesn't need to lose to lose his top spot here.
2. Miguel Cotto (, 36-2, 29 KO)
Cotto, 30, is here more on the strength of his overall career than anything he's done at 154, where he has beaten gimpy Top Rank marketing creation Yuri Foreman and shot Ricardo Mayorga. His next fight is against a guy who also isn't a true 154-pound fighter, but Margarito is certainly better suited to the weight than Cotto, at least in my view, making it a dangerous fight in addition to being a grudge match. If Cotto really blasts Margarito, and it's not just the result of Margarito having a bad eye, he could be No. 1 in these rankings after that fight.
3. Austin Trout (, 23-0, 13 KO)
Trout is still having some issue building up momentum, as Anthony Mundine ducked him (oh my, no way!), but he'll be on Showtime on November 11, and hopes to fight on their New Year's Eve show, as well. In my view, he's the most talented guy in the division, and at 26, he's got time to prove me very right or very wrong. I've liked the way he went down to Mexico and handled business against Rigoberto Alvarez and David Lopez. But Trout needs a power broker promoter, or at least one of the second-tier guys like Goossen or Shaw or DiBella or Main Events, who may not be Top Rank or Golden Boy, but can get guys on TV and into bigger fights a lot easier.
4. Carlos Molina (, 19-4-2, 6 KO)
28-year-old Molina still doesn't have a pretty record, but he wins and wins and wins, and when he doesn't win (his draw against Erislandy Lara), he comes out looking good anyway, with most feeling he deserved the W, and then that getting followed up by Lara getting screwed against Paul Williams in a fight most felt Lara won handily. In the end, it's been a good year for Molina. How much higher he can climb is a question. This is probably about as good as he's going to get.
5. Alfredo Angulo (, 20-1, 17 KO)
Angulo's comeback gets real on November 5 against James Kirkland. We know Kirkland can be sparked, but we also know he can drop the hammer at any time. It might simply be a question of who lands the first devastating blow and takes the other guy out of the fight, because both know how to finish and don't mess around. It's Angulo's chance to take that next step. It's Kirkland's chance to get back into the mix.
6. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (, 38-0-1, 28 KO)
I know he has his detractors, but I'm not one of them. By this time next year, Alvarez and Trout could be battling for No. 1, if only in my head.
7. Antonio Margarito (, 38-7, 27 KO)
The Cotto rematch is basically do or die for true relevance. He's not getting younger, he's not getting healthier, and he's not getting smaller. Before terribly long, it's conceivable that Margarito could find himself in the position of middleweight journeyman. Greater fighters have dropped further.
8. Erislandy Lara (, 15-1-1, 10 KO)
There was a time where Lara apparently had trouble finding good opponents, so he wiped out a bunch of creampuffs and stagnated. Then he went 10 with Molina, got out with a draw that most felt he didn't deserve, and suddenly people wanted to fight him. Then he made Paul Williams look bad. Now no one wants to fight him. Boxing! There has been some talk of Lara vs Dzinziruk, but I don't know how serious it's been. Given that he and Molina are both treading water, I think I'd just try to get that rematch, but Lara would likely see more money from a Williams rematch if Tall Paul and his delusional team wanted it.
9. Vanes Martirosyan (, 30-0, 19 KO)
Every time I mention that Martirosyan is fighting Richard Gutierrez on Oct. 29, I lose a little bit more of my stocked respect for him. I've always liked Vanes -- he's cocky, but he just wanted a big fight. He wasn't perfect in the ring, so when people told him he was overrated, he figured, "OK, then fight me if I'm so bad." But Gutierrez? Come on. If Vanes gets his wish for a "big fight" sometime, I don't expect he'll be here in a year.
10. Pawel Wolak (, 29-1-1, 19 KO)
Wolak is one of my favorite fighters, but looking at him without that bias, I know he's limited. He knows he's limited. Everyone does. He may well lose to Delvin Rodriguez on December 3, but the bigger point is he's fighting him again, and that's admirable. Sure, it wasn't his first choice, but his first choice was to try and find a titlist (namely Bundrage) willing to fight. He couldn't. So he went back to the Fans' Choice. He could have just fought Richard Gutierrez instead.
Guys I Didn't Rank
Paul Williams isn't even close for me at this point. BoxRec has him ranked No. 5, but that's just how it works with their formula. Win = good! The RING is more in line with me on this one, having Lara at No. 5 and Williams nowhere to be found. ... Cornelius Bundrage may hold a title, but I didn't think a lot of the guy he beat for it (Cory Spinks) or the guy he beat in his first defense (Sechew Powell). It was like the 2006 junior middleweight tournament, but in 2010-11. I've got nothing against K9, he just doesn't make my cut. ... Lukas Konecny could easily be No. 9 or No. 10 here. He's the No. 11 guy for me, just barely outside. ... There are three guys I expect to at least have a cup of coffee in the rankings within the next 12 months: Zaurbek Baysangurov, Charlie Ota and Prince Arron. Of the three, Arron most intrigues me. He's growing into his lanky, 6'3" frame, and his power is coming with that.