Some healthy movement in this week's boxing rankings update, marking the first weekend with a bunch of shifts this year, as this was the first big weekend in boxing in 2012. Let's run through the changes and non-changes.
Nonito Donaire (28-1, 18 KO) moves in at No. 2 in his new weight class following Saturday's win over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr (21-2-1, 18 KO) in San Antonio. Donaire injured his left hand in the bout, which may have contributed greatly to what was a very good but not thrilling victory against a strong opponent.
As good as Donaire is, I just couldn't see bringing him from No. 1 at bantamweight to No. 1 in the new division, but I do feel as though he absolutely belongs ahead of Guillermo Rigondeaux, who drops a spot to No. 3. Donaire won a title belt, so he's done just about as much at 122 as Rigondeaux has, and Donaire also beat a better fighter in Vazquez than Rigondeaux has beaten to date, and comparing Vazquez to Rico Ramos is in my opinion a no-contest in Vazquez's favor.
Vazquez doesn't move much himself, just dropping from No. 6 to No. 7 with Donaire moving in. He made a fine showing for himself overall. He could have done more early in the fight, but overall he proved his value as a good fighter.
Scott Quigg drops out with Donaire coming in, but would have maybe dropped out anyway, with his rocky win over Jamie Arthur on Saturday. I'm still confident Quigg will be back sooner than later.
There's a new Ring champion in town, but he's still not the No. 1-ranked fighter in the division here. He would be, except unlike The Ring, I'm not dropping Marco Huck from the cruiserweight rankings until he's actually fought Alexander Povetkin on February 25.
Yoan Pablo Hernandez (26-1, 13 KO) is the new cruiserweight champion of the world, and moves up from No. 5 to No. 2 after his hard-fought win against Steve Cunningham on Saturday in Germany. The decision to make was whether or not to drop Denis Lebedev down from No. 2, and I chose to do so. The Ring belt does carry some weight with me, and more importantly, Lebedev would have a stronger argument to have kept the spot if his last two wins weren't over pathetically washed-up versions of Roy Jones Jr and James Toney.
Cunningham (24-4, 12 KO) drops from No. 3 to No. 4, as he was very competitive in the fight and still had the look of a good fighter, though certainly one who has seen better days.
Also making a move up this week was Alexander Alekseev (23-2, 20 KO), who claimed the vacant European cruiserweight title with a dominant win over Enad Licina, also in Frankfurt. Alekseev moves up from No. 9 to No. 6, leapfrogging Guillermo Jones, Ola Afolabi, and Antonio Tarver.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31 KO) still does not crack the top ten, but he's at No. 11 now and could be in without much argument over anyone from No. 6 on down.
Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KO) stays put at No. 10 following his embarrassing mismatch win over Troy Lowry on Saturday night. His recent opposition has been so bad that I considered dropping him, but an honest analysis of the unranked fighters in the division revealed only guys with arguments, none of them compelling enough that I felt it necessary to yet expel Martirosyan from the rankings.
With Donaire gone, a new man was needed at the No. 10 spot. I went with Mexican prospect Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KO), a very impressive young fighter whose best wins are on par, at least, with anyone else in the running for the spot. Also considered were Rolly Matsushita, Jamie McDonnell, Hugo Ruiz, AJ Banal, and Eric Morel.
Abner Mares, of course, is the new No. 1 man in the division.
I went ahead and dropped Eddie Chambers out a week early, in part so I didn't forget to do it next week. Chambers (36-2, 18 KO) hasn't fought since February 11, 2011, when he beat Derric Rossy, and has dropped out of two straight scheduled fights against Tony Thompson and Sergei Liakhovich.
Kubrat Pulev (15-0, 7 KO) comes in at No. 10, with Thompson, Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, and Alexander Dimitrenko all moving up a spot in Nos. 6 through 9.
This Week's Ranked Fighters in Action
Junior Welterweight: No. 5 Lucas Matthysse (29-2, 27 KO) vs Ivan Valle (29-11-3, 25 KO)
Lightweight: No. 7 Kevin Mitchell (32-1, 24 KO) vs Felix Lora (14-8-5, 8 KO)
Super Flyweight: No. 8 Rodrigo Guerrero (16-3-1, 10 KO) vs Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr (12-1-1, 7 KO)
Junior Flyweight: No. 8 Luis Lazarte (49-10-2, 18 KO) vs Johnriel Casimero (15-2, 9 KO)