It's that day of the week! Barely! Like a kid at Christmas, I just can't wait to get the new rankings up. (Do kids at Christmas look forward to getting their rankings up?) Hey, it's technically Monday on the east coast...
A new field is included in the tables, with a fighter's next date and opponent for everyone's information. A lot of stuff is tentative and will change frequently. I'm only going to edit this stuff on Mondays when I do the updates, so during the week the information may be out of date.
The only change this week is that Miguel Vazquez moves up one spot to No. 5 at lightweight, flipping places with Miguel Acosta, who moves down to No. 6. Vazquez's dominant win over Leonardo Zappavigna triggered the switch.
The other fighters from this past weekend didn't move -- Miguel Cotto stays No. 4 at 154 pounds, with Sergiy Dzinziruk maintaining his top spot. I just couldn't penalize Dzinziruk for moving up to 160 and losing to Sergio Martinez, one of the best fighters in the sport. The guys at 154 are mostly treading water for the time being, except for Saul Alvarez, who keeps winning but against welterweights, which is fine, because he's 20 years old. Cotto's win over a faded Ricardo Mayorga, though I felt he looked good in the bout, was not enough to kick him up a spot. I still have serious reservations about his size at the weight, though I do feel that on a pure talent level, he's the best in the world currently plying his trade in the division. Mayorga was not top 10 (or close to it) at the weight, and there's only so much credit can be given in terms of ranking from that fight.
Exception for Joshua Clottey
While Joshua Clottey has not fought for a full calendar year, he recently did have a fight legitimately in place before it was canceled. Clottey is being given a one-month extension to either fight or sign another fight, or he will be removed from the rankings.
For those wondering, Andre Dirrell is currently considered inactive as he has been out of the ring for one year-plus, and has no timetable whatsoever for a return. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has until May 1 to sign a fight or do something before he will be considered inactive and dropped from the rankings.
* * * * * SPOTLIGHT * * * * *
I've decided most weeks (probably not all given how slow things move sometimes, but close enough) I'll do a spotlight feature on a certain division that either just had a shake-up or just has my interest at the moment. This week, let's look at the super bantamweights.
1. Toshiaki Nishioka (37-4-3, 22 KO)
The rankings start off with three Japanese fighters, and Nishioka is the best of them. At 34, he's also the oldest, and hasn't fought since a very good October win over Rendall Munroe, who we'll talk more about in just a moment here. Since ending his series with Veeraphol Sahaprom in 2004, in which Sahaprom went 2-0-2, Nishioka has gone 14-0, his best win coming over current featherweight contender Jhonny Gonzalez in 2009. Right now he's got an April 8 date with Argentina's Mauricio Javier Munoz (21-2, 9 KO), who has beaten nobody. It's a disappointing matchup, and hopefully will lead to something bigger and better.
2. Akifumi Shimoda (23-2-1, 10 KO)
3. Ryol Li Lee (17-2-1, 8 KO)
Right now these two are linked together, so let's talk about them both at the same time. On January 31, Shimoda beat Lee via unanimous decision at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo, a terrific fight where both men hit the floor. Lee was down three times, while Shimoda climbed off the canvas once. Right now that's my #2 pick for Fight of the Year, just behind Acosta-Rios. For the 26-year-old Shimoda it was a definite career-best victory. For the 30-year-old Lee, maybe just a setback for the time being. Lee was riding high after an October 2010 upset of Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, but Shimoda got him his next time out. Neither has a fight lined up just yet.
4. Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (42-2, 29 KO)
I don't know if it's something he did on purpose, but unlike a lot of top Thai fighters, Poonsawat went on a little run there where he only fought legitimate competition instead of the inexperienced nobodies a lot of his top countrymen will gladly fight constantly. Just for comparison, Poonsawat had a four-fight run where he took on Dunne, Hosono, Shoji Kimura and Lee, all legit fighters. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, the legit flyweight champion of the world, takes legit fights here and there between his slaughters back home that highlight much of his record. Even Simson Butar Butar, who Poonsawat beat last time, and Vicky Tahumil, who he faces on March 22, are better than the guys Pong's been fighting.
5. Wilfredo Vaquez Jr. (20-0-1, 17 KO)
I got to the Vazquez party earlier than most, as I had him ranked in my top five at 122 before he beat Marvin Sonsona. But getting on a bandwagon early has drawbacks, like the fact that I currently find Vazquez a little, I don't know, off-putting. It's come from the fact that I've been paying closer attention longer than many, I guess, but his May 7 fight with Jorge Arce is lousy, as Arce isn't a super bantamweight and hasn't looked good against a good fighter since 2007. That fight is pure bone-picking. But he's a good young fighter.
6. Rendall Munroe (21-2, 9 KO)
One of my personal favorite fighters. He's honest, seems truly friendly, and works hard to make himself the best fighter he can be. He was very game against Nishioka, just a bit outclassed, but his ultimate goal is a rematch or a fight of similar stature. He has an April 9 date right now, with no opponent.
7. Steve Molitor (33-1, 12 KO)
Molitor is now with Top Rank, which came about amicably by all accounts. His first fight under their banner will come on March 26, when he faces Takalani Ndlovu in Johannesburg. You might wonder why he's going on the road, but I'm guessing it's mostly because he's already beaten Ndlovu twice at Casino Rama in Ontario, so you take it somewhere else, and neither is a star anywhere but their homes. Molitor wouldn't be fighting Ndlovu again, but that's how the IBF geniuses managed to shake it all out.
8. Guillermo Rigondeaux (7-0, 5 KO)
Rigondeaux does nothing for me. I respect his amateur achievements and his ability, but he just does nothing for me. His performance against Ricardo Cordoba, a good fighter, was just not inspiring in any way. Given that he has no fanbase and a style that isn't going to get him one, he might have to do more globe-trotting than he'd prefer. He starts on Saturday when he faces Willie Casey (11-0, 7 KO) in Dublin. Nothing against Casey, but that should be a relatively easy fight for Rigondeaux. And nothing against Rigondeaux, but I do figure eventually one of these "easy fights" will turn out to be not so easy.
9. Ricardo Cordoba (37-3-2, 23 KO)
Outside of a late stoppage in a war with Bernard Dunne, every loss or draw on Cordoba's record can be questioned. He got a split decision loss against Rigondeaux, took home two draws against Wladimir Sidorenko in Germany, and dropped a split to Poonsawat in Thailand. I'm not saying you should argue all of those outcomes. I'm just saying you can.
10. Masaaki Serie (18-4, 8 KO)
Serie, 28, is on a really good domestic-level run in Japan right now. Oddly enough, all of his losses came consecutively back in 2005-06. His career has been one of spurts. He won five, lost four, and has now won 13 straight.