Sergio Martinez No. 1, But Who's No. 2 at Middleweight?: Boxing Rankings For March 20

Matthew Macklin got thrashed in the end by Sergio Martinez, but remains among the field of non-Sergio contenders at 160. (Photo by Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE)

Middleweight champion of the world Sergio Martinez retained his crown with a brilliant finish against a top contender, and another middleweight tumbled out of the top ten. Let's get to it.

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Middleweight

Obviously, Sergio remains the top dog by a country mile following his stoppage of Matthew Macklin on Saturday in New York, and now it's worth wondering if there's anyone in the division who can actually test Martinez over a full 12 rounds.

Macklin and Darren Barker have both had some minor success with Sergio by making him come forward. Sergio wants to counter, to use his natural athletic abilities (his speed and reflexes) to let opponents walk into his big shots. As he has improved, it's almost amazing to look at him now and think this is a guy with "just" 28 knockouts in his 49 wins. He is a cutie fighter in some ways, and he's not a big single punch guy, but he's really got some thunder in those shots, and when his timing is dialed in, it's hard to survive. He lands these big, clean, accurate shots, and lands when they're going to do the most damage.

Anyway, Sergio's still No. 1 and nobody else is even close. Consider him the same way you might the Klitschko brothers at heavyweight or the Floyd/Manny combo at 147. There's nobody near him at middleweight these days, and really, for a single guy, he is the most clearly superior No. 1-ranked fighter in the sport. That might not mean much, but it's a distinction worth at least a mention, I'd say.

Felix Sturm remains No. 2, but he's just in a pack with the next however many guys, none of whom are really a whole lot better/more accomplished than their peers. Following Sturm, it's Daniel Geale of Australia, Macklin (trading places with Geale), Dmitry Pirog of Russia, and then you're into the next quarter-step down with Golovkin, N'dam (who is fighting on April 20, apparently), Murray, Chavez, and the returning Andy Lee.

Lee is back due to the big upset loss of Grzegorz Proksa to Kerry Hope on Saturday in Sheffield. I do truly, deep down in my hearts and guts, think that Proksa won that fight, but I probably would have dropped him out anyway. Hope's activity level and gritty performance made Proksa look entirely mortal and like a guy who was just begging to get beaten soon enough anyway. I scored that fight wide for Proksa, and as I explained before, that's a personal bias and one I admit to readily. I hate the idea that rounds should be scored for someone throwing a ton of punches that don't land while the other guy, whether ugly (Proksa) or kinda pretty (Andriy Kotelnik vs Devon Alexander), is landing punches of substance in return.

But I don't truly put this on the level of what I thought was if not a master class than at least a hotel ballroom seminar from Kotelnik back in 2010. I understand entirely why and how Proksa lost, and the argument that he deserved it is entirely valid. It's not one I'll make but it's not one I completely reject other than to say it's just not my cup of tea and I can't imagine I'll score many fights the way of a Hope or an Alexander in those situation.

No other divisions had any rankings changes this week.

Ranked Fighters in Action This Week

Heavyweight: No. 3 Tomasz Adamek (44-2, 28 KO) vs Nagy Aguilera (17-6, 12 KO)

Junior Middleweight: No. 4 Carlos Molina (19-4-2, 6 KO) vs No. 6 James Kirkland (30-1, 27 KO)

Welterweight: No. 5 Jan Zaveck (31-2, 18 KO) vs Bethuel Uushona (25-1-1, 8 KO)

Junior Welterweight: No. 7 Danny Garcia (22-0, 14 KO) vs No. 8 Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KO)

Lightweight: No. 10 Gavin Rees (35-1-1, 16 KO) vs Anthony Mezaache (21-6-3, 6 KO)

Super Featherweight: No. 8 Diego Magdaleno (21-0, 7 KO) vs Chucky Lazcano (24-2, 11 KO)

Super Featherweight: No. 10 Gary Buckland (24-2, 8 KO) vs Paul Truscott (18-2, 3 KO)

Super Bantamweight: No. 9 Takalani Ndlovu (33-6, 18 KO) vs Jeffrey Mathebula (25-3-2, 14 KO)

Flyweight: No. 1 Hernan Marquez (32-2, 25 KO) vs Rodel Mayol (30-5-2, 22 KO)

Another key fight this weekend is at junior welterweight, live on NBC Sports, between Zab Judah (41-7, 28 KO) and Vernon Paris (26-0, 15 KO) on Saturday night. I've taken my shots at Zab's record and overall true value in the past, and I think I was fair and justified in the criticisms, but an impressive win for Paris will vault him into the top ten at 140, and the same goes for an impressive win for Judah. The winner, unless it's a godawful fight where nobody wins but someone has to get his hand raised, will just have a better mark than Ashley Theophane at the moment, but Theophane could stay, too, if the Morales-Garcia loser really lays an egg, and frankly I can see that happening, one way or the other. So 140 will be getting some kind of fairly notable shakeup next week anyway.

And by the way, on Juan Manuel Marquez: He hasn't fought at 135 since November 2010, but he's retained his Ring championship since then. His next fight is also going to be at 140, at which point he will leave our rankings at 135 and go into the rankings at 140. Thus far it hadn't been 100% clear whether or not Marquez intended to fight at 135 again. It is now. There was also the question of, taking him out, if we would then rank him at 140, where all he did was roll over Likar freaking Ramos, or 147, where he didn't really fight Manny Pacquiao, since it was a 144 catchweight, and we can all agree that either way, Marquez is not a full-fledged welterweight, so how would you handicap that in a ranking of him there anyway, and also, it's unlikely he spends any legitimate or significant time as a welterweight. So we'll just leave him another few weeks.

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