clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the Junior Middleweights: Jarrett Hurd makes his statement

With a win over Erislandy Lara, Jarrett Hurd has taken the top spot in the 154-pound ranks.

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

1. Jarrett Hurd (22-0, 15 KO)

How much more of a statement can the 27-year-old Hurd make? He stopped Frank Galarza as an underdog, stopped Oscar Molina, stopped Jo Jo Dan, stopped Tony Harrison to win a vacant title, stopped Austin Trout, and now dropped and edged past the very talented and tough to battle Erislandy Lara. He’s earned the right, clearly, to be called the No. 1 junior middleweight in the world. Jermell Charlo won’t like it, but that’s the way it is right now.

2. Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KO)

I do have Charlo at No. 2, because he’s undefeated, has a title, is also 27 years old and still on the rise, and has shown a mean streak and some real knockout power in his last four outings. It’s easy to forget now, but Charlo was getting worked by John Jackson back in May 2016, with the vacant WBC belt at stake. Charlo knocked him out, and hasn’t looked back. He shredded Charles Hatley last April, and then walloped blue chip prospect Erickson Lubin in the first round in October. Charlo is set to return on June 9 against an opponent to be announced, but the clear fight for him, and the division, is now Hurd-Charlo down the line, hopefully by the end of 2018.

3. Erislandy Lara (25-3-2, 14 KO)

Lara, 34, was still Erislandy Lara on Saturday night. He was sharp, he was in good shape, and he lost to Jarrett Hurd, but he sure didn’t lose by much. While the Cuban southpaw isn’t getting younger, he’s still a clear No. 3 man in this division for me, and I doubt the loss to Hurd, in the fashion it happened, has anyone any more eager to match their fighters against the crafty veteran, who still has world title ability.

4. Sadam Ali (26-1, 14 KO)

The 29-year-old Ali shocked most by beating and (for now) retiring Miguel Cotto last December, winning the WBO 154-pound belt in the process. But it wasn’t that long ago that he was schooled at 147 by Jessie Vargas, either, so this is as high as I can put him, which to be fair, is still pretty damn high, and only after some really good fighters. It’s on Ali to prove that he didn’t beat Cotto because Cotto had a foot out the door, that he really is a top guy at 154. He faces Liam Smith on May 12.

5. Austin Trout (31-4, 17 KO)

I probably remain a bigger fan of Trout, 32, than most, but he’s still in the mix for me despite losing two straight notable fights. He took Jermall Charlo, who has since moved to middleweight, to the limit back in May 2016, and then gave Hurd a tough fight before being stopped after 10 rounds last October. Most recently, Trout fought an eight-rounder and won a shutout on February 17. Ultimately, I think Trout’s legacy will be that of a good fighter who lost most of his bigger fights, but he did beat Miguel Cotto at MSG in 2012, and for a guy who at one time was avoided, he’s been able to put together a career where he’s gamely fought the best in the division.

6. Kell Brook (37-2, 26 KO)

Kell Brook v Sergey Rabchenko Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Truth is, I’d probably pick Brook, 31, over Ali or Trout if they were matched head-to-head. But he does have just the one real fight of experience at 154, his March 3 destruction of Sergey Rabchenko, and we do still have to see how he fares against someone who legitimately fights back, after having both eyes busted in fights against Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr. That said, I’m a believer, clearly. A likely summer tune-up is next for the Sheffield fighter, and after that there’s been talk of a rematch with Spence at 154, or a fight with Jermell Charlo.

7. Julian Williams (25-1-1, 15 KO)

Philadelphia’s Williams is a fighter I never feel overwhelmingly impressed by, but more often than not he gets the job done. He’s a good, solid fighter, showing so again this past Saturday with his win over Nathaniel Gallimore on Showtime. The 28-year-old “J-Rock” was knocked out by Jermall Charlo in December 2016, but has won three straight since then, and has himself right back in title discussions.

8. Maciej Sulecki (26-0, 10 KO)

Poland’s Sulecki, 28, came up as a prospect at 160 but has settled in at 154, though his next fight will be back at middleweight on April 28 against Daniel Jacobs. His two best wins have come against Hugo Centeno Jr, a win that looks better as Centeno has recovered nicely from the setback, and Jack Culcay. He might have wanted to stay at 154, might be more comfortable there, but the chance to fight Jacobs in an HBO main event at the Barclays Center was clearly too good to pass up.

9. Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KO)

Smith, 29, may not be a world beater, but I think he’s more dangerous than some expect when he faces Ali in four weeks. “Beefy” suffered his only loss back in September 2016, coming over to AT&T Stadium to face Canelo Alvarez, where he was pretty well dominated and knocked out in nine. Alvarez is a better fighter than Smith, sure, but Alvarez is also a better fighter than Ali. I think Ali and Smith are fairly close in terms of ability, and it’ll come down to styles. Smith has won three straight since his loss, including a pair of gritty wins over Liam Williams.

10. Brian Castano (15-0, 11 KO)

Castano, 28, hasn’t sprung onto the scene in the States yet, but that will hopefully be coming sooner than later. The Argentine fighter has fought in the States a few times, and most recently has fought his last two in France, where he’s beaten solid veterans Michel Soro and Cedric Vitu, taking the WBA “world” title in the process. He deserves a top 10 ranking. How much more he has the ability to do remains to be seen, and I’d sure like to find out.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bad Left Hook Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your global boxing news from Bad Left Hook