This past weekend was big for Andre Ward and Antonio DeMarco, but the coming Saturday is even bigger across the sort. Let's take a look at how the rankings have changed since last week, and what's on tap for this weekend.
Note: Yes, usually this goes up Tuesday. I got caught up with other stuff and saved it for today.
If there were a way to put Andre Ward in something other than the "number one" spot, I'd do it. Sadly that's as high as it goes, but after his destruction of top light heavyweight Chad Dawson in Oakland, it just seems like he's playing his own game in this division -- only the Klitschkos and Floyd Mayweather are really as dominant as Ward right now, and he's had to beat much better fighters than Wladimir and Vitali have.
Ward (26-0, 14 KO) showed some thump against Dawson, and that's worrisome for future opponents. Before, he was seemingly content to outbox, outfight, and carve guys up over 12. On Saturday, he wanted to close the show and he did. It wasn't a single big punch, but it was the way he kept drilling Dawson with power shots, particularly a stunning left hook (over and over and over...), that broke Dawson's will to pieces and forced the end.
Pound-for-pound, I really think Ward is at worst the second-best fighter in the sport right now. He is a pure boxing machine -- the guy lives it, breathes it, absorbs it into his skin. He is dedicated, passionate about what he does, and I can't see an end to his dominance on the horizon. Not yet. Not even close.
Dawson's loss doesn't drop him at all at 175, and he remains ranked No. 1 in the division.
Vitali Klitschko beat Manuel Charr like a rented mule for a few rounds and kept his spot at No. 2 behind little brother.
Lucas Matthysse was very impressive steamrolling through Olusegun Ajose, and he has an argument for No. 1 in the division. For now, I'm keeping him at No. 3, behind Juan Manuel Marquez (who took the spot on P4P status, reputation, and overall street cred) when things went haywire with Amir Khan losing to Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson's testosterone scandal, and the exits of Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, and Marcos Maidana.
I really might think Matthysse is the best right now, but Marquez is Marquez, and Danny Garcia has earned that spot at No. 2 with his win over Amir Khan, which is frankly more impressive than beating blown-up Humberto Soto and Ajose, at least to me. If they fought, though, I'm not saying I'd pick Garcia. (I'd love to see that fight, for the record.)
John Molina is out following his 44-second loss to Antonio DeMarco. I mean, Molina (who was #9 last week) might still be deserving of the spot he held, really, but he wasn't too far ahead of the rest of the pack anyway. He could certainly be back in time. DeMarco remains ranked second, just behind Miguel Vazquez, but I could hear an argument for him as the division's top dog at the moment.
New to the rankings is one of my favorite veteran scrap iron battlers, Raymundo Beltran, who enters at No. 10. Truthfully, I thought he deserved narrow wins over both Sharif Bogere (9) and Luis Ramos Jr, and Beltran's win over Hank Lundy puts him in just over Ramos for me, despite the fact Ramos has a win over him officially. Ramos could take the spot for himself with one more impressive victory of his own.
Right now this is in a state of turnover, and after the top six guys (Vazquez, DeMarco, Burns, Abril, Mitchell, and Rees), the rest is pretty wide open.
For 79 weeks, Yuriorkis Gamboa sat at the top of our featherweight rankings. He's gone now, because he hasn't fought in a year and though he is rumored to have a bout lined up for November 17, that fight would be at 130 pounds against Juan Carlos Salgado, anyway, so he'd be gone no matter what.
Moving up to No. 1 is Orlando Salido, followed by Chris John, Celestino Caballero, Daniel Ponce De Leon, and Jhonny Gonzalez rounding out the top five. Two of those guys face each other this week. New to the rankings is Indonesia's Daud Yordan, whose only losses have come to John and Caballero. This is another division sort of turning over a new page at the moment.
This Week's Ranked Fighters in Action
Middleweight: No. 1 Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) vs No. 3 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (46-0-1, 32 KO)
Middleweight: No. 6 Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KO) vs Joachim Alcine (33-2-1, 19 KO)
Junior Middleweight: No. 2 Canelo Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KO) vs No. 5 welterweight Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KO)
Super Featherweight: No. 5 Roman Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KO) vs Miguel Beltran Jr (27-1, 17 KO)
Featherweight: No. 4 Daniel Ponce De Leon (43-4, 35 KO) vs No. 5 Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KO)
Bantamweight: No. 6 Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KO) vs Eric Morel (46-3, 23 KO)