It was another not so busy week in boxing overall, but there were a few significant fights and one of them caused a big switch in the rankings of the bantamweight division, so let's talk boxing rankings as we head into a particularly meaty chunk of the sweet science schedule, starting this weekend with some big names in action across the world and plenty to note as we move forward over the next three months, which are jam packed almost every weekend with at least something of note.
Shinsuke Yamanaka and Vic Darchinyan head in different directions after Friday's fight in Tokyo, where Yamanaka pulled the upset and defended his WBC title successfully over the visiting Armenian-Aussie Darchinyan, winning by unanimous decision with no controversy.
Yamanaka (16-0-2, 11 KO) moves from No. 8 up to No. 4, where Darchinyan was last week. Vic falls to No. 7, but it's worth noting I'd have him at the very least even money with the two guys ahead of him, Jorge Arce and Koki Kameda. He's already thrashed Arce, but Jorge's certainly on a better run right now than Vic is, so Arce deserves the higher ranking. Their fight was three years ago, and it looks like Darchinyan has lost more than Arce has in that time, to the point I think I'd call it about a 50-50 rematch if they went that route.
Kameda (28-1, 17 KO) also fought last week, beating Nouldy Makalane in rather mundane fashion. Koki is perhaps the most polished of the three brothers, but he's not the most talented (that would be young Tomoki, or so it seems right now), and his fights come in two flavors: Fun and boring. Lately he's leaned far more toward boring. As he's matured, some of the attitude that made him more famous than he might have been has gone by the wayside, and he's become, frankly, just another good boxer. There's nothing wrong with that, but at 25 I think we have a pretty good read on who he is, and he's not special by any means.
The Coming 135/140 Shakeup
Juan Manuel Marquez is in his final week as our No. 1-ranked lightweight, as he officially moves up to face Serhiy Fedchenko for the interim WBO junior welterweight title this Saturday night in Mexico. Marquez actually hasn't fought at 135 since beating Michael Katsidis (more on him in a second) in November 2010, but he never purposely gave up his titles or indicated he wouldn't return to the division. He fought Likar Ramos above 135 to tune up for Manny Pacquiao, a funny idea when you look back on the Ramos "fight" last summer. He fought Pacquiao at a 142 catchweight because, well, it's Pacquiao, you fight at or near his weight if you want to fight him.
The fight with Fedchenko is the first time he's really made clear that he's done at 135. I suppose it's possible he could return after, particularly if the world comes crumbling down and he somehow loses to the entirely pedestrian Ukrainian (or dangerous Russian, if you're Bob Arum). But let's assume he wins, because he almost surely will. That means he's in at 140 next week.
Now, Marquez could come in at lots of different spots at 140 next week depending on how he looks. I know I just called Fedchenko pedestrian, but I'm not saying he isn't a competent professional boxer. He is. It's just that's where it ends, and he has no business being too competitive with someone like Marquez. I think the highest I could rank Marquez coming into the division would be No. 4 -- that would put him behind Bradley, Peterson, and Khan, who have staked out their spots, and a win over Serhiy Fedchenko isn't going to bring Marquez in above them. I think Marquez is pound-for-pound better than all of them, in that P4P sense everyone loves so much, but I also think he's P4P better than Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz, and I believe they'd both beat him at welterweight if he went up there. At 140, Marquez will still have some things to prove post-Fedchenko.
If he's kind of iffy, I'd probably bring him in lower -- I could see him coming in at No. 10 behind the likes of Olusegun, Alvarado, and Judah. I know it seems silly to put him behind Ajose Olusegun, since who the hell is Ajose Olusegun anyway, but I think it could be perfectly reasonable and not in a traditional boxing rankings way, either. But a win will get Marquez in at 140 -- he's better than Ashley Theophane with the win, at the very, very least.
Katsidis is also fight this weekend at 140, moving up to face Albert Mensah on Friday Night Fights. This is more a relief than anything -- with Marquez and Katsidis out at 135, I'll get the proper chance to shake up the lightweight rankings. Urbano Antillon will also be falling out (currently No. 9), as he's just been a static spot in the rankings and doesn't appear headed back to the ring soon. There are a lot of guys who might be headed in with three openings in the rankings -- it's a division in transition right now. A win against Richard Abril will put Brandon Rios at No. 1, but if he loses, then I'll think hard on Miguel Vazquez, Antonio DeMarco, or Ricky Burns inheriting the top spot. There's really not much separating those three.
Katsidis won't be coming into the rankings at 140. He's barely held on at 135, and it wouldn't be hard to form an argument he shouldn't have.
Ranked Fighters in Action This Week
Heavyweight: No. 7 Tyson Fury (17-0, 12 KO) vs Martin Rogan (14-2, 7 KO)
Middleweight: No. 2 Felix Sturm (36-2-2, 15 KO) vs Sebastian Zbik (30-1, 10 KO)
Junior Welterweight: No. 8 Mike Alvarado (32-0, 23 KO) vs Mauricio Herrera (18-1, 7 KO)
Junior Welterweight: No. 1 lightweight Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KO) vs Serhiy Fedchenko (30-1, 13 KO)
Junior Welterweight: No. 10 lightweight Michael Katsidis (28-5, 23 KO) vs Albert Mensah (24-3-1, 10 KO)
Lightweight: No. 2 Brandon Rios (29-0-1, 22 KO) vs Richard Abril (17-2-1, 8 KO)
Super Bantamweight: No. 5 Victor Terrazas (32-2-1, 18 KO) vs Jose Palma (15-5-2, 10 KO)