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Ranking the Super Featherweights: Berchelt sits on top, but Ito makes move in 130-pound class

The super featherweight division is still interesting in these post-Lomachenko days.

Miguel Berchelt v Takashi Miura Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

1) Miguel Berchelt (34-1, 30 KO)

Berchelt, 26 and the WBC titleholder, gets the spot for me largely because of his 2017 wins over Francisco Vargas, when he won the belt, and Takashi Miura. He knocked out Vargas and dominated Miura, two very impressive wins. His defenses since haven’t been much to write home about. He took out both Maxwell Awuku and Jonathan Barros in three rounds, but neither of them deserved a world title shot, either. It looks like Mickey Roman is up next. If nothing else, Roman has earned the shot and is a valiant battler who should give Berchelt more of a test than those guys did. Next: TBA

2) Gervonta Davis (20-0, 19 KO)

Davis, 23, is the most talented fighter in this division, in my opinion. He has an upside nobody else even really approaches. Again, just my opinion, and obviously I think Berchelt has earned the right to be called No. 1 anyway, but if you matched them head-to-head, I honestly think “Tank” smokes him and anyone else on this list. Because that’s what he’s done to everyone so far. He smoked Jose Pedraza to win the IBF belt in 2017. He smoked Liam Walsh in his first defense. He missed weight and smoked Francisco Fonseca. He came back, made weight again, and smoked Jesus Cuellar. Berchelt is a good fighter and deserves his spot. Davis might be a special fighter, if he stays focused and meets his potential. But like with anyone, that remains to be seen. He’s young, and a guy like Berchelt is better than anyone Davis has smoked. Next: TBA

3) Alberto Machado (20-0, 16 KO)

Machado, 27, came onto the world scene in a big way last October, knocking out Jezreel Corrales on HBO to win the WBA “world” super featherweight title. He just fought on July 21, dominating an overmatched Rafael Mensah in another bout on the premium network. Mensah didn’t really belong in the ring with Machado, but it still took Machado’s talent to prove that. And he beat Mensah up for much of that fight, ultimately shutting him out on the scorecards after dropping the Ghanaian in the first round. Hopefully, he gets a stiffer challenge next time out. Machado has solid skills and some real power, but looks far from unbeatable. He should be in some entertaining fights when matched against tougher opposition again. Next: TBA

4) Mickey Roman (60-12, 47 KO)

Roman, 32, has 72 fights and 438 rounds under his belt as a professional. He turned pro way back in 2003, and started making noise years later. Right now, he’s making the most noise of his career. He was on a long win streak when he fought Takashi Miura on HBO in January 2017, losing a 12th round knockout but fighting his heart out and showing how much of a warrior he really is. Since then, he’s won four straight, beating Nery Saguilan, Orlando Salido (the big one), Aristedes Perez, and Michel Marcano. He stays busy, even with a shot at Berchelt seemingly on its way. Berchelt, frankly, should beat him, but Roman has earned his spot. Next: TBA

5) Francisco Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KO)

Vargas is probably an old 33, but I’ve been here on this web site talking about boxing with you all since 2006, and I can tell you now that in those 12-plus years, I have learned one thing: stop completely counting fighters out because they’re old or you think they’re worn out. Vargas struck gold in 2015, beating Takashi Miura for the WBC title by stoppage in a fantastic fight, and then went to war with Orlando Salido in 2016, resulting in a draw. He was knocked out and beaten up a bit by Miguel Berchelt in January 2017, and it looked like the wars had taken their toll. But he’s won two straight since then, against Stephen Smith, a solid fighter, and Rod Salka, a little less solid but not a complete nincompoop in the ring. So he’s won a couple. He’s around. He’s in the conversation still. Next: TBA

6) Jezreel Corrales (22-2, 8 KO)

Jezreel Corrales v Takashi Uchiyama - WBA Super World Super Featherweight Title Bout Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Corrales, 27, is a weird ass fighter. He’s almost annoying to watch at times, but for the most part he’s really effective in the ring. He’s the man who retired Takashi Uchiyama, who had a seat at the top of this division for several years, first by shockingly knocking him out in 2016, and then following that up with a decision win in a rematch to end that year. He made a rough defense against Robinson Castellanos in July 2017, and was beating Machado on the cards before he got knocked out last October. We’ll see if Corrales stays at this weight — he missed pretty badly on the scales for the fight with Machado, and it may just be time for him to go to lightweight. But for now, we’ll rank him here. Next: TBA

7) Tevin Farmer (25-4-1, 5 KO)

Farmer, 27, was flat-out robbed of a decision against Kenichi Ogawa last December with the vacant IBF title at stake, but then the decision was changed to a no-contest when Ogawa failed a drug test. So, I mean, I guess he doesn’t have to walk around with a loss he doesn’t deserve. He’s a good boxer, a very “Philadelphia” boxer, a crafty southpaw who has learned on the job and become a contender after starting his career 7-4-1 in his first 12 fights, including losing his pro debut in 2011. He’s set to travel to Australia to face Billy Dib for the same vacant IBF belt on August 3. Next: 8/3 vs Billy Dib

8) Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12 KO)

Ito, 27, looked good on Saturday in a competitive, entertaining bout with Christopher Diaz, the win netting the Japanese fighter the WBO title and a spot in the division’s top 10. He’s not an amazing talent or anything, but he’s tough — we learned that as he took some really good shots from Diaz without ever finding himself in real danger — and has some surprising craft to his game for someone who had absolutely no amateur career. He puts punches together nicely. But Diaz is a raw young fighter, too, and gave Ito a lot of openings defensively. Diaz, at 23, may still have his best days ahead of him. Ito’s best days are probably right now. He’s a good TV fighter and I’d love to see him back on American television for his first defense, but he’ll probably make that in Japan, where he’d fought every bout of his career before this last one. Next: TBA

9) Orlando Salido (44-14-4, 31 KO)

Salido, 39, was retired for about a minute and a half following December’s loss to Roman on HBO, but then decided against it. Most recently, he won political office in Mexico, but officially, he’s still active, and I’ve seen enough damn Orlando Salido fights to know not to count this old warrior out. He’s someone people who have seen him will remember well and fondly, but will probably be largely lost to time as the years go by. Future generations won’t necessarily be seeking him out as a great fighter of his era, but those who saw him will know that some of them probably should. Next: TBA

10) Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KO)

Castellanos, a 36-year-old veteran from Mexico, hasn’t fought in over a year, but he’s scheduled to fight again on August 19, when he travels to Russia to face hot prospect Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (12-0, 9 KO), originally from Tajikistan. Rakhimov, 23, is coming off of a stoppage win over another veteran, Malcolm Klassen, on February 10. If Rakhimov beats Castellanos, he’ll be in my No. 10 spot for the time being — maybe a spot or two higher, depending on the method of victory. But for now, I’m going with Castellanos. He doesn’t have the pretty record, but he gave Corrales a very tough fight last time out, and stopped Yuriorkis Gamboa in May 2017. He was knocked out by Oscar Escandon a couple fights ago, to be fair — you could, I guess, just put Rakhimov here now. Or you could argue your way into Gamboa ranking ahead of Castellanos despite Gamboa getting his ass kicked by Castellanos, because Gamboa “beat” Jason Sosa last December. Or you could say Sosa deserves to be here. Or you could call me Ray. Or you could call me Jay... Next: 8/19 vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov

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