It's a big week for the Bad Left Hook boxing rankings, as Juan Manuel Marquez has jumped to 140 officially, the lightweight division has received a huge makeover, and the tables are different on the rankings page. Hooray!
Let's get into it.
Juan Manuel Marquez comes in at No. 4, trailing Timothy Bradley, Lamont Peterson, and Amir Khan. This is not because I feel Marquez is an inferior fighter, but those three guys have established themselves as the top of the weight class, and all Marquez has done at 140 is beat Serhiy Fedchenko. Marquez's greatness is enough for me to rank him over Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, etc., but I just didn't feel right putting him over the guys who have made their very strong cases at 140.
In a pound-for-pound sense, I still feel Marquez is the best fighter in this weight class. But at least a little of these rankings, even though I try to be all progressive, is about what you've done in that weight class. Marquez just didn't put on the type of performance that made me want to put him over the top three guys here. He could be No. 2 in the weight class by June 10, though, as Bradley is out on June 9 to face Manny Pacquiao at welterweight, and Peterson vs Khan II is coming on May 19. The loser of that one will probably drop below Marquez, unless it's another incredibly close fight and Khan were to win, for instance. If that happens, I could see Khan and Peterson simply switching places and leaving Marquez at No. 4.
This division has by far the most changes since we started doing the rankings 59 weeks ago, as only Miguel Vazquez has been in the top 10 that entire time. Dropping out this week were Juan Manuel Marquez (1), Brandon Rios (2), and Michael Katsidis (10), who all fought this weekend and either moved up on purpose or had it forced upon them, plus Urbano Antillon (9), who hasn't fought since last July, was barely hanging on at all, and simply isn't in the top ten anymore. He just isn't. There's not a lot more to it than that.
The new No. 1 man is Vazquez, who holds the IBF title. It's really, really close between Vazquez and the No. 2 man, Antonio DeMarco, but sadly DeMarco's win over Jorge Linares just doesn't look as good as it once did. Coming in at No. 3 is Ricky Burns, followed by new entrant Richard Abril, who deserved the win on Saturday over Brandon Rios.
My early reaction was that Abril would come in at No. 2, but I think No. 4 is right. It would be interesting (maybe) to see how he'd fare against guys like Vazquez, DeMarco, or Burns, who are all far less predictable than Rios, and also likely wouldn't be out of shape. I'm all about believing that Abril was screwed, and there's really just no changing my mind. But I don't think he's a great fighter or anything. There isn't one in this division right now.
Moving up into the top five is Kevin Mitchell, followed by fellow Brit Gavin Rees. That might seem crazy, but, well, the field is light right now, to be very honest, and Rees does his job and wins fights. Following Rees is Hank Lundy, who entered the fold a couple weeks ago after his win over Dannie Williams, and then three new guys: Japan's Nihito Arakawa, who holds the OPBF lightweight title; Italy's Emiliano Marsili, who won the minor IBO title by beating the tar out of Derry Mathews in January; and John Molina, whose stay in the rankings may be short, since he's got some managerial issues and hasn't fought since June 2011. This is actually Molina's second stint in the rankings. He was bumped out last time, too, without doing anything.
Marsili, as a side note, is our first ranked fighter from Italy.
Brandon Rios, as a side note, is just plain not ranked. He's in the no man's land that Robert Guerrero is currently in -- he's a fighter without a weight class. I sure as hell wasn't putting him in at 140 yet, and he's never going to fight at 135 again, so he's out there.
Felix Sturm stays at No. 2 after his one-sided win over Sebastian Zbik. I would say I hope that puts into perspective how not-very-good Zbik is, since that's apparently some big win in the minds of some Chavezfolk, but it probably didn't do much. Zbik, for the record, ain't very good, but he's decent, and as good a win as anyone else has lately behind Sturm. I do think I would pick Daniel Geale to beat Sturm head-to-head at this point, but we'll never know.
This Week's Ranked Fighters in Action
Super Middleweight: No. 9 Adonis Stevenson (17-1, 14 KO) vs Noe Gonzalez (28-1, 20 KO)
Junior Middleweight: No. 6 Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KO) vs Ronald Hearns (26-2, 20 KO)
Super Bantamweight: No. 1 bantamweight Abner Mares (23-0-1, 13 KO) vs Eric Morel (46-2, 23 KO)
Bantamweight: No. 2 Anselmo Moreno (32-1-1, 11 KO) vs David De La Mora (24-1, 17 KO)
Super Flyweight: No. 6 Omar Narvaez (35-1-2, 19 KO) vs Jose Cabrera (20-2-2, 8 KO)
Other Notable Fights
Super Middleweight: Karoly Balzsay (24-2, 17 KO) vs Dimitri Sartison (29-1, 18 KO)
Super Middleweight: James DeGale (11-1, 8 KO) vs Cristian Sanavia (45-5-1, 13 KO)
Balzsay vs Sartison is a fight where a strong performance from Sartison is probably going to put him in the top ten. Brian Magee is barely hanging on, and Adonis Stevenson is the No. 9 guy. Sartison is, in my view, a really solid fighter, whose only career loss came to Mikkel Kessler. I like him over Balzsay here, but you never know.
DeGale I mention just to mention. That could be an interesting fight. He didn't have an easy time with Piotr Wilczewski, and I'm really starting to wonder if there's much steak behind the sizzle with DeGale.
Middleweight: Jermain Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KO) vs Caleb Truax (18-0-1, 10 KO)
Truax is a club fighter. It's a soft second step on the comeback for Taylor. But Jermain at 160 does have to stay on the mind. If he keeps winning, he's headed back into the rankings. Not with this fight, but it's another inch.