Ali Funeka (10, lightweight) is out after a year of inactivity. Funeka received a nine-month suspension last June after a failed drug test came back from his 3/27/10 fight against Joan Guzman.
Edit: I forgot about Chris Henry (7, light heavyweight), who also hasn't fought since March 27, 2010. He's out.
Arrivals and Departures: Considerations
Lots to talk about here, so I'm going to do this instead of a spotlight this week, plus some other topics.
Out: Ali Funeka (10, inactive)
In: John Murray (10)
Replacing Funeka at lightweight is John Murray (30-0, 18 KO). I gave a handful of fighters consideration. Juan Diaz has a track record that Murray doesn't, but also a losing streak that Murray does not have, and he has been inactive since last July. He's talking about fighting again, but we'll see. Diaz has something to prove with any comeback. Antonio DeMarco has been a favorite at Showtime, but not so much with me. I admit to thinking he's just not that good, and his sloppy February win over underdeveloped Reyes Sanchez did him no favors here.
Vicente Escobedo has come up short in his biggest tests against Guerrero and Katsidis, which wouldn't be the biggest deal -- those guys probably beat Murray, too. But Murray actually has better wins than Escobedo. Former ABC titleholder Paulus Moses was knocked out by Miguel Acosta in his last significant fight. He's won two in a row since then, but both back at home in Namibia. They're talking about getting him another title shot, so he might get his chance to come back into the rankings. Nihito Arakawa and Ryuji Migaki were also given consideration. Arakawa is the current Japanese champ, Migaki the current OPBF champ. Arakawa won the Japanese belt from the guy who beat Migaki for it (Akihiro Kondo).
Division: Super Bantamweight
Out: Steve Molitor (7)
In: Takalani Ndlovu (10)
Steve Molitor falls from No. 7 at 122 pounds to out of the rankings after his loss to Takalani Ndlovu. Ndlovu takes the spot in the rankings at No. 10, but that was actually not as easy as it might seem. I wouldn't make him any kind of real favorite over Mexico's Victor Terrazas, for instance. I also considered Japan's Kohei Oba, who is a good fighter but has yet to get real footing at 122 after losing at bantamweight to Malcolm Tunacao last July. Really, the spot is all but open for Goossen Tutor prospect Rico Ramos (19-0, 10 KO) who looks like the real deal, has some solid wins, and very well could get a title shot by the end of 2011.
Division: Junior Flyweight
Out: Johnriel Casimero (8)
In: Jesus Geles (10)
Casimero is out after he moved up to flyweight and lost to Moruti Mthalane in South Africa this past week, but with his guts and youth, I figure he'll be back in the rankings somewhere, someday. Taking his spot is 23-year-old Colombian Geles (12-1-1, 5 KO), who has a win over ranked Ramon Garcia Hirales, but the win was a little, uh, suspect, you might say. Most reports are that Garcia was given the shaft on the road. That fight was also "notable" for being -- get this, if you never heard the story -- a unification...of two interim titles...from the same "sanctioning" body. Yes. They fought for the "undisputed" interim title. Yes. They rematch on April 30 in Mexico. There's a lot about to happen in this division, chief among the upcoming fights being the division's legit championship on the line Saturday when Giovani Segura (1) defends against Ivan Calderon (3) in a rematch of their August 2010 war. Next week might be a good time to take a deeper look at 108, so look forward to that.
Division: Junior Middleweight
Out: Erislandy Lara (7)
In: Pawel Wolak (10)
I would not doubt that Lara will be back in these rankings, and be back to stay, by the end of the year. He is too talented to write off. But right now, no, he does not look like a top 10 junior middleweight, and I'm trying to rank fighters as a snapshot in time every week, not play pat-a-cake with them. The Lara I saw on Friday Night Fights would have gotten his ass kicked by Pawel Wolak. Listen, I'm not saying Wolak is some great fighter, but he's rugged, determined, and fights hard every time out. He thoroughly demolished Yuri Foreman a couple of weeks ago, and I think that right now, he's earned the spot.
I considered others. Alphabet titlist Cornelius Bundrage would be ranked by most, but forgive me if I'm not rushing to believe he's anything more than the respectable fighter he's always been just because he slammed the door on Cory Spinks' fading career. I've got nothing against "K9" at all, really, and think he'd be as likely to beat Wolak as Wolak would be to beat him, but Bundrage is also 37 years old, doesn't fight much anymore, and has nothing on the table right now.
The toughest one to consider was Austin Trout, the 25-year-old out of New Mexico who also holds a trinket. There was some talk of Trout facing Saul Alvarez, after Trout defeated Saul's brother Rigoberto, but that's going to be on hold at best for the time being. Trout was promoted by "The Empire," which has folded its boxing operations, and now it's kind of up in the air where he'll be going. American Charlie Ota, who fights out of Japan, was also given consideration. He currently holds both the Japanese and OPBF belts at 154 pounds.
I also strongly considered leaving Lara in at No. 10, but it just didn't feel right. I thought Molina won that fight on Friday and that Lara was lucky to leave with the draw, and if that's going to be his effort level, it won't be long before he doesn't get a draw accompanied by a sigh of relief, and actually starts losing. Like I said, he could come back sooner than later, but that's kind of up to what he does in the ring. This is turning into a quietly interesting division. With Cotto and Margarito at the weight now, there's some star power, but both are vulnerable. You also have young lions like Alfredo Angulo and Saul Alvarez -- and it looks like Alvarez is about to take a very risky fight against Ryan Rhodes, another ranked veteran. And while I continue to have Sergiy Dzinziruk and Kermit Cintron ranked 1-2 in the division, that's an open door as far as I'm concerned. If someone does something really impressive, they can take control of this division and move up really quickly.
Division: Light Heavyweight
Out: Chris Henry (7, inactive)
In: Zsolt Erdei (10)
Kind of a pick-my-poison for now between Erdei and Juergen Braehmer, and I went with Erdei. Neither would be a long-term solution, so to speak. Someone like Ismayl Sillakh or Luis Garcia should jump in there before long. I almost put Roy Jones Jr. in for biased kicks, but then I remembered that I hadn't musta forgot that Roy isn't any good now.
After this post, which mostly went the way I was thinking (and thanks to everyone for weighing in), I decided to stick with Juan Manuel Lopez at No. 1 for the time being. This will be revisited after his April 16 fight with Orlando Salido, who is honestly the type of fighter that I think has that slight but realistic chance of upsetting Lopez.
Jorge Solis remains in the rankings at 130 because that's where he'd been fighting before getting the chance to face Gamboa. He does drop from No. 3 to No. 5, but losing a fight he was supposed to lose isn't some big deal to me, really. It didn't tell me anything new about Solis, just told me that when Gamboa turns the light on, a fighter like Solis can't do anything with him.