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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (Dec. 21, 2020): Canelo takes over 168, Golovkin moves into top spot at 160

Canelo Alvarez is now the clear No. 1 at 168, while Gennadiy Golovkin bumps back up to No. 1 at 160.

Canelo Alvarez v Callum Smith Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Rankings go up on Mondays at Noon ET.

There are no ranked fights this coming week, and these rankings will sit stagnant through the end of 2020, with no new update on Dec. 28. So we’ll list the ranked fights coming until the next update on Jan. 4 instead of just what would be coming this week (which, again, is nothing):

  • Lightweight: (5) Luke Campbell vs (9) Ryan Garcia, Jan. 2
  • Junior Bantamweight: (4) Kazuto Ioka vs Kosei Tanaka, Dec. 31
  • Flyweight: (1) Kosei Tanaka vs Kazuto Ioka, Dec. 31 [junior bantamweight]
  • Junior Flyweight: (4) Felix Alvarado vs (8) DeeJay Kriel, Jan. 2

Happy holidays from the rankings page!

Notes: Hunter got active with an easy win over a club fighter on Friday in Texas, it means nothing but changes his record a bit. The bigger heavyweight news of the week is that Povetkin-Whyte 2 won’t be happening on Jan. 30 as intended, and if I were hazarding a guess — I am! — there’s a decent chance it’s not happening at all. Whyte won’t want to just sit around and wait to see if maybe Povetkin can do it by March or so.

Upcoming Fights: (8) Joseph Parker vs Junior Fa, Feb. 27

Notes: Both Makabu and Lerena won over the weekend, with Makabu retaining his WBC belt via seventh round KO over Olanrewaju Durodola in Kinshasa, and Lerena stopping Patrick Ferguson in the fifth round in South Africa. Both wins were expected.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Krzysztof Glowacki vs (8) Lawrence Okolie, TBA

Notes: Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez took care of business with a 10th round stoppage of over-matched vet Alfonso Lopez on Friday in Galveston, promoting himself in the main event of a show nobody cared about. We’ll see if that checks his ego a bit; I’m not trying to dump on the man, but it’s going to be extremely hard for him to go at it without a power promoter. He doesn’t have the name brand to force his way into fights like that. He’s not Canelo.

We do have some good action coming in the early part of 2021. Not only is Joe Smith Jr set to face Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO belt on Feb. 13, but Artur Beterbiev and Sergey Kovalev both return on Jan. 30 in Russia, on separate cards and in fights of very different quality and intrigue on paper. Beterbiev figures to blow through Adam Deines in a title defense, while Kovalev is taking a real gamble against top prospect Bektemir Melikuziev, who himself is going for the gusto in a big jump up in class. I love that fight.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Artur Beterbiev vs Adam Deines, Jan. 30 ... (3) Sergey Kovalev vs Bektemir Melikuziev, Jan. 30 ... (4) Joe Smith Jr vs Maxim Vlasov, Feb. 13

Notes: Obviously the biggest story in boxing is that John Ryder beat Mike Guy by decision on Friday in Florida. We love to see a fight so thrilling, so epic, one for the ages.

We’ve got a new king at 168 in Canelo Alvarez, who routed Callum Smith on Saturday. The fight played out right about as I expected and have said it would for well over a year now, long before Smith struggled with John Ryder, in fact. I’m not trying to brag, just — OK, I’m mildly bragging, but realize it’s a stupid thing to brag about. I didn’t gain anything from Canelo beating Smith, and I still think Smith is a good fighter, he’s just not on the Canelo level. Not many are! He was never a big threat to Alvarez, despite being very tall, and that played out in the ring.

Canelo will decide what’s next, but chances are he stays at 168. Caleb Plant is signed to fight Caleb Truax on Jan. 30, which is close enough that if he wins then, he could line up easily to fight Canelo in the late spring. But! Canelo probably will want to fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend, so Plant would have to get through things against Truax with no bad cuts or anything, too.

As for Smith, he drops to No. 5. Listen, I thought he lost to John Ryder 13 months ago — really, really believed Ryder was the better man in that fight. But I try to respect the official results, too, to some degree. So for me with what with that particular instance is Ryder gained standing, but Callum didn’t lose any, because nobody else was making some hugely convincing argument to bump Smith out of the No. 1 slot. But struggling that badly with Ryder and getting smoked by Canelo back-to-back, yeah, Callum drops down a ways now. I think he’d still be plenty dangerous against Saunders for sure, and against Plant and Benavidez. He might really be the second-best super middleweight, some nights are better than others when you’re not mega elite among the top pros.

Also rearranged the back end. Rocky Fielding was sitting there mostly on the strength of his 2018 win over Tyron Zeuge, which was an upset and impressive from him. I think you can still have him here, because those last two spots could be a lot of guys. I’m bumping Fedor Chudinov up to No. 9, not that he’s done anything amazing recently, and putting the one-dimensional but still-around David Lemieux in at No. 10, not that he’s done anything amazing recently either.

Others considered: Fielding, 600-year-old Juergen Braehmer, Carlos Gongora (who got a big win on the weekend), Lionell Thompson, Willie Monroe Jr, Steven Nelson, and Zach Parker. Neither Gongora (31) nor Nelson (32) are young, but they’re both itching for the test now. The 26-year-old Parker is among the under-30s who could theoretically make a move in 2021, along with Aidos Yerbossynuly, Erik Bazinyan, Vladimir Shishkin, and Edgar Berlanga (who still has a ways to go but is on the radar and has the highest upside of everyone in this paragraph). Canelo is the clear class to me at 168, but there could be some really fun stuff in this division the next couple years.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Caleb Plant vs Caleb Truax, Jan. 30

Notes: Canelo still technically has the WBA belt at 160, but he may soon vacate that once he weighs his options. (The secondary WBA belt here is held by Ryota Murata, for what it’s worth.) And it seems Alvarez is likely out of the 160-pound division. If he comes back, we’ll put him back. Life goes on.

As it is, we’re ranking him only at 168 now, which means nine guys get a bump up and Liam Williams hits the No. 10 spot. Gennadiy Golovkin is back on top at 160 at age 38, and his win over Kamil Szeremeta on Friday was about as anticipated. If GGG doesn’t fight Canelo next, there are some real threats to him at 160 given his age and all. Certainly Jermall Charlo, I think Demetrius Andrade could be a great opponent for Gennadiy, Murata would be a barnburner fight — we talked about a lot of this already.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Patrick Teixeira vs Brian Castano is now official for Feb. 13. This division could look drastically different in a year’s time.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Brian Castano vs (9) Patrick Teixeira, Feb. 13

Notes: Vergil Ortiz Jr is expected to headline a Golden Boy card in March, whatever they can get for him. The rest of this division is kind of waiting on pins and needles to see what Spence and Crawford decide to do — or perhaps more accurately, what Manny Pacquiao decides to do.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (5) Luke Campbell vs (9) Ryan Garcia, Jan. 2 ... (6) Richard Commey vs Jackson Marinez, Feb. 13

Upcoming Fights: (4) Joseph Diaz Jr vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, Feb. 13 ... (1) Miguel Berchelt vs (6) Oscar Valdez, Feb. 20 ... (3) Jamel Herring vs (9) Carl Frampton, TBA

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Showtime announced Leo-Fulton for Jan. 23, which is a really good matchup, a real proving ground for both of those guys. It’s really kind of a very high-level prospect matchup with a world title attached for bonus points. I liked that fight when they meant to do it in August, I like it now. Combine that with the rumored Nery-Figueroa idea, and PBC are putting together some nice stuff at 122. This remains a really good division with a lot of talent, and most of them are also fun to watch usually.

Upcoming Fights: (5) Stephen Fulton Jr vs (7) Angelo Leo, Jan. 23 ... (6) Brandon Figueroa vs (8) Luis Nery, TBA

Notes: There’s no way to put it other than plainly and honestly: Emmanuel Rodriguez got jobbed against Reymart Gaballo on Saturday night. A lower-tier Showtime card going head-to-head with Canelo ain’t gonna get much attention, and I want to make extremely clear that I’m not blaming Gaballo for this, he did his best and is obviously going to take the W. But Rodriguez won that fight. There was no argument for Gaballo. It was 9-3 or 10-2 at the closest. It was an awful, awful decision.

But we’ll respect it just enough to acknowledge it. This is flawed thinking, but ranking boxing is a flawed exercise. I try to normally play it a little tighter within my own system than this, but I’m going full wild west on this one, which I realize may give some of you the brain lightning again. I’m not budging Rodriguez from No. 6, he won that fight. It’s not his fault or mine that Don Trella and John McKaie straight screwed it up; this wasn’t even a Smith-Ryder where maybe you can find a draw or 7-5 Smith if you try, they just boned this one. Moloney I’m popping back up to No. 7 because the guys below him haven’t done anything better recently; Tete had a forgettable world title run, Moloney could win a world title too if all he were asked to do is beat Arthur Villanueva. Tete and Takuma Inoue follow, and then Gaballo will take the No. 10 spot for the moment, it’s not like Oscar Negrete had an iron grip on it.

I realize this is stupid and questionable. All of this is stupid and questionable, but this very much so. But that’s how it is. For now.

Upcoming Fights: (9) Takuma Inoue vs Keita Kurihara, Jan. 14

Notes: This year my birthday came around again on March 14, which was the weekend America started shutting down due to COVID-19. I wasn’t really going to do anything originally, to be fair; I was, in fact, intending to watch the Shakur Stevenson-Miguel Marriaga fight on ESPN. That’s about it. I might have gone out for drinks after, maybe. But I wound up doing nothing but watching the news happen after that uneasy ShoBox on March 13. I don’t much care about my birthday anymore, in all honesty, I’m 30 or 40 years old and it doesn’t matter a whole lot.

That said, I’m looking forward to the birthday this coming March, because my good friends Tall Edward and DAZN have gifted me with a March 13 rematch between Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Bless you, lads.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Kazuto Ioka vs Kosei Tanaka, Dec. 31 ... (1) Juan Francisco Estrada vs (3) Roman Gonzalez, Mar. 13

Upcoming Fights: (1) Kosei Tanaka vs Kazuto Ioka, Dec. 31 [junior bantamweight]

Upcoming Fights: (4) Felix Alvarado vs (8) DeeJay Kriel, Jan. 2

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith, Dec. 19 ... (9) Miguel Berchelt vs Oscar Valdez, Feb. 20

Notes: Amanda Serrano had a stay-busy on Wednesday in Santo Domingo, stopping Dahiana Santana in the first round. It was fought at lightweight, for what it’s worth.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Claressa Shields vs Marie-Eve Dicaire, TBA ... (5) Jessica McCaskill vs (6) Cecilia Braekhus, TBA

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