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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (Nov. 26, 2019): Is Deontay Wilder the top heavyweight in the world?

The heavyweight division has been a lot more fun of the last year or so than it has been in a long time, and even having debates is a nice change of pace.

Deontay Wilder v Luis Ortiz Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Rankings will be posted each Tuesday at Noon ET.

This week’s ranked fights:

  • Featherweight: (4) Oscar Valdez vs Andres Gutierrez [super featherweight], Nov. 30
  • Featherweight: (5) Carl Frampton vs Tyler McCreary, Nov. 30
  • Bantamweight: (5) Zolani Tete vs John Riel Casimero, Nov. 30

Notes: Obviously the biggest fight of last week was Wilder-Ortiz 2, and we got a truly conclusive finish there. Any time one of these guys fights and wins, recency bias hits people and they wonder if the latest winner is the best in the sport. Since Ruiz beat Joshua in June, I’ve had Fury, Wilder, and Ruiz basically clumped together in my head at 1A, 1B, 1C, however you choose to order them. I haven’t changed on that much; Wilder lost six rounds and landed a punch on Luis Ortiz. That’s a great way to make a living if you can do it — and Wilder can — but it’s bound to leave questions. Fury had real struggles with Otto Wallin and, let’s be honest, that fight should’ve been stopped on the cut and almost any other fight would have been. For Tyson Fury it paid to be the money man ESPN is banking on that night. Right now I’m waiting on Dec. 7 and the Ruiz-Joshua rematch before I really reassess the top three here; if Ruiz wins again, and does so emphatically, I might bump him up. A couple other places have already had him No. 1 and I understood their decision there. If Joshua wins, I probably keep it this order but with Joshua and Ruiz flipped. And then in February, supposedly, we’re getting Fury and Wilder again, so that’ll obviously be a big deal. As for Luis Ortiz, I’m keeping him where he is for now. We’ll see how Povetkin looks against Michael Hunter on Dec. 7, or how Michael Hunter looks against Povetkin for that matter.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Andy Ruiz Jr vs (4) Anthony Joshua, Dec. 7 ... (7) Alexander Povetkin vs Michael Hunter, Dec. 7 ... (1) Tyson Fury vs (2) Deontay Wilder, Feb. 22

Notes: Briedis has now ben stripped of his WBO belt. Being honest, I’ve lost any confidence that we’re going to see Briedis-Dorticos in that WBSS final. I don’t know that there’s enough money to get it to happen around all the political BS going on. The other two WBSS tournaments seemed to finish up largely because of outside forces — Matchroom wanted to do Prograis-Taylor badly enough that they made it happen, and Inoue-Donaire was a hot enough ticket for promoter Hideyuki Ohashi to bring that fight to Japan. Maybe we should just take a “two out of three ain’t bad” stance and let Briedis-Dorticos and the WBSS in general go; I’ve loved both seasons of the tournaments as much as anyone, but there was clearly financial trouble in season two, and if in the end we only lose one tournament final, that’ll do, and it’s probably best to leave it there and not try to push some third batch of tournaments that could turn into a genuine catastrophe and screw with a lot of careers.

Upcoming Fights: (6) Denis Lebedev vs Thabiso Mchunu, Dec. 21

Upcoming Fights: (6) Jean Pascal vs (8) Badou Jack, Dec. 28 ... (1) Artur Beterbiev vs Meng Fanlong, TBA

Notes: If we learned something this week, it’s that the gap between Callum Smith and the remainder of the field ain’t that big. Smith can spin it as a “lack of fear” that made him look so utterly pedestrian against John Ryder on Saturday, but it’s a worrisome effort either way. Was he afeared of Hassan N’Dam back in June? Because he pummeled that dude just fine. Maybe Ryder’s just better than he thought, better than most everyone thought, and maybe Smith is a lot more vulnerable than some had started to believe. It was a nice eye-opener fight for sure. That said, I can’t rationalize Smith being replaced at No. 1 just yet, though Benavidez is feeling a lot closer than he was just a week ago. I have bumped Ryder up a couple slots, and with Eubank moving back down to 160 soon and Canelo being kind of an oddity, you can make an argument that Ryder is a top five super middleweight right now; hell, Ryder made the argument on Saturday, and it was a good one.

Upcoming Fights: (6) Chris Eubank Jr vs Matt Korobov [middleweight], Dec. 7 ... (2) David Benavidez vs Avni Yildirim, Jan. 25 ... (4) Caleb Plant vs Alfredo Angulo, Feb. 15

Upcoming Fights: (6) Jermall Charlo vs Dennis Hogan, Dec. 7 ... (9) Matt Korobov vs Chris Eubank Jr, Dec. 7 ... (3) Daniel Jacobs vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr [super middleweight], Dec. 20 ... (7) Ryota Murata vs Steven Butler, Dec. 23

Upcoming Fights: (8) Dennis Hogan vs Jermall Charlo [middleweight], Dec. 7 ... (5) Tony Harrison vs (6) Jermell Charlo, Dec. 21 ... (7) Jaime Munguia vs Gary O’Sullivan [middleweight], Jan. 11 ... (1) Julian Williams vs Jeison Rosario, Jan. 18

Upcoming Fights: (2) Terence Crawford vs Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Dec. 14

Upcoming Fights: (4) Maurice Hooker vs Pedro Campa [welterweight], Dec. 20 ... (2) Jose Ramirez vs (6) Viktor Postol, Feb. 1

Upcoming Fights: (2) Richard Commey vs (6) Teofimo Lopez, Dec. 14 ... (3) Luke Campbell vs TBA, Dec. 20

Notes: Well, some pretty big shakeups here this week. Santa Cruz is in, moving up from 126; he only beat Miguel Flores, true, but he’s an accomplished fighter over several years, still within his prime, and with respect to Farmer or Herring, I’d pick Leo to beat either of them. More importantly I think there’s a top six here and then there’s “the rest.” Alvarado thrashing Cancio on Saturday kinda proved that, and maybe showed us that Cancio, likable as he is, is perhaps a fluke who just had the right matchup with Alberto Machado; a solid fighter still, but a fluke at the top level. Oscar Valdez should be joining this party after this coming weekend.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Gervonta Davis vs Yuriorkis Gamboa [lightweight], Dec. 28

Notes: Santa Cruz moving up to 130 opens a spot here, which goes to Jhack Tepora. Valdez is moving up this weekend, so we’ll have another open spot next week to fill. Xu Can won again this weekend, but doesn’t move up more than the one spot for Santa Cruz’s exit, because beating Manny Robles III just isn’t quite enough to really change anything; Robles had struggled in his last two and it’s pretty clear that he’s just got a lower ceiling than was once envisioned, and by quite a bit. But Xu, with Santa Cruz going up, is now the recognized WBA featherweight titleholder, so that’s fun. Or he will be when Leo officially vacates at 126, but I felt like giving Xu the note here.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Oscar Valdez vs Andres Gutierrez [super featherweight], Nov. 30 ... (5) Carl Frampton vs Tyler McCreary, Nov. 30 ... (9) Kid Galahad vs Claudio Marrero, TBA

Notes: I’m not going to move Figueroa here after his draw with Julio Ceja. That was never going to be an easy fight, and the fact that Ceja didn’t make weight — or come close to it, Ceja also didn’t make the featherweight limit — means that Figueroa was fighting against a guy who was pretty obviously bigger than him in the ring in terms of bulk. Figueroa’s got flaws that are very real, no question, but I don’t want to penalize the guy; he could’ve reasonably just turned that fight down on Friday, but he went ahead with it.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Emanuel Navarrete vs Francisco Horta, Dec. 7 ... (4) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Liborio Solis [bantamweight], Dec. 21

Notes: I’d make some sort of big statement by removing Nery, or moving him down in the rankings, but that’s a slippery slope to start taking hard-nosed moral stances about boxers. So he stays where he is until he moves up to 122 or whatever. Him missing weight and Emmanuel Rodriguez refusing terms to go on with the fight is just a thing that happened, ultimately. Also, it kind of would have to be removal or nothing, right? I can’t just drop him down the list but keep him ahead of some guys. “Yeah, this dude’s a dick, but he’s too good for ‘being a dick’ to matter as opposed to the rest of the people here.”

Upcoming Fights: (5) Zolani Tete vs John Riel Casimero, Nov. 30

Notes: Alejandro Santiago made an official move up to bantamweight on Friday, winning the WBC International title at 118, so that opens a spot. This division has some really good fighters but the depth becomes an issue after Moloney at best. So Aston Palicte gets a spot; he’s not great, but neither is Francisco Rodriguez Jr, and honestly if you matched Palicte and Moloney next, I’m not convinced Moloney beats him after what we saw from Moloney against Elton Dharry.

Upcoming Fights: ((5) Jerwin Ancajas vs Miguel Gonzalez, Dec. 7 ... (10) Aston Palicte vs Crison Omayao, Dec. 21 ... (4) Kazuto Ioka vs Jeyvier Cintron, Dec. 31

Upcoming Fights: (4) Julio Cesar Martinez vs (8) Cristofer Rosales, Dec. 20 ... (2) Moruti Mthalane vs Akira Yaegashi, Dec. 23 ... (1) Kosei Tanaka vs Wulan Tuolehazi, Dec. 31

Upcoming Fights: (1) Ken Shiro vs Randy Petalcorin, Dec. 23

Upcoming Fights: TBA

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