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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (Dec. 7, 2020): Spence or Crawford debate renewed once more

Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford both have their arguments at 147 pounds. Who’s No. 1?

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Rankings go up on Mondays at Noon ET.

Ranked fights this week:

  • Heavyweight: (2) Anthony Joshua vs (7) Kubrat Pulev, Dec. 12
  • Cruiserweight: (8) Lawrence Okolie vs Nikodem Jezewski, Dec. 12
  • Middleweight: (10) Matt Korobov vs Ronald Ellis, Dec. 12
  • Junior Lightweight: (7) Shakur Stevenson vs Toka Kahn Clary, Dec. 12

Upcoming Fights: (2) Anthony Joshua vs (7) Kubrat Pulev, Dec. 12 ... (5) Alexander Povetkin vs (6) Dillian Whyte, Jan. 30

Notes: Cieslak picked up an easy stoppage win over the weekend in Poland, getting Taylor Mabika out inside of six rounds. There was talk about him subbing in for Krzysztof Glowacki this coming Saturday against Lawrence Okolie for the vacant WBO belt, but that’s not happening. In fact, Okolie won’t be fighting for the vacant WBO belt at all on Saturday, though he figures to in the new year, probably when Glowacki is available and it can be rescheduled and all that.

Upcoming Fights: (8) Lawrence Okolie vs Nikodem Jezewski, Dec. 12 ... (3) Ilunga Makabu vs Olanrewaju Durodola, Dec. 19 ... (5) Kevin Lerena vs Patrick Ferguson, Dec. 19

Notes: I mentioned last week that we’d have a rankings eye on the Lyndon Arthur-Anthony Yarde matchup this past Saturday, and that if Yarde won impressively, he’d deserve consideration for the top 10. Yarde didn’t win at all, let alone impressively, as Arthur edged out a split decision, which was a fair decision. So why Yarde had he won but not Arthur after he did? Because Yarde had fought on the world stage before; yes, in defeat to Sergey Kovalev, but if Yarde had gone out and blown away Arthur this weekend, then you’d look at that and maybe think, “Wow, OK, I know Kovalev stopped this guy, but Kovalev’s still up there in the division, and Yarde dominated a pretty good fighter at the European sort of level.” And that’s about as much as the last few guys can say right now; Eleider Alvarez has done more, yes, but Alvarez is also looking on the downswing. I knew by about the fourth round we were not going to be having the debate with Yarde, because he just never got comfortable with Arthur. But I wanted to note it from last week. Nothing actually changes here, but Arthur has made his case as a guy maybe knocking on the door. And I’ll tell you who to keep a dark horse sort of an eye on is the delightful Ricards Bolotniks, who stopped Serge Michel on Wednesday to win MTK’s tournament.

Upcoming Fights: (8) Gilberto Ramirez vs Alfonso Lopez, Dec. 18 ... (4) Joe Smith Jr vs Maxim Vlasov, Feb. 13 ... (1) Artur Beterbiev vs Adam Deines, TBA

Notes: Billy Joe Saunders looked good Friday, winning a clear decision over Martin Murray. Hey, Murray’s not what he once was, had trigger issues, all that — old guy, yeah, but listen, Saunders was sharp. I maintain my skepticism of Saunders’ supposed “greatness,” but he’s a handful when he’s in shape and focused for sure. He showed a hell of a lot more against Murray than Daniel Jacobs did the week before in a similar matchup against Gabe Rosado. Does Billy Joe beat Canelo? Nah, I don’t think so. But he’s a viable opponent for Canelo next year, maybe. And Eddie Hearn tried to publicly say it without saying it directly to Saunders publicly: if he wants that sort of fight, and also to have any hope of winning, he absolutely cannot fall out of shape and have to have a big part of his camp dedicated to his weight again. I’d rather see Saunders at his best than not, basically. If he’s going to get that big fight, and he looks close to having it, then it’s better if he’s the best he can be.

As an aside, it’s extremely “boxing” that John Ryder, who deserved a decision over Callum Smith a year ago, is fighting 39-year-old gatekeeper Mike Guy on Dec. 18 (as of now), while Smith gets the biggest possible fight in the sport the next night, basically.

Upcoming Fights: (6) John Ryder vs Mike Guy, Dec. 18 ... (1) Callum Smith vs (2) Canelo Alvarez, Dec. 19

Notes: As a “next week” note, we’ll be reevaluating this back end following Saturday, when Korobov returns against Ronald Ellis. Win or lose, Korobov could lose a spot. Those last four spots deserve another little evaluation, and part of it will be seeing how Korobov looks. But it’s also entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that things stay put. It’s not like there’s some surging collection of rising middleweight stars banging on the door or something. We’d basically be evaluating those four guys against Liams Smith and Williams, and more likely than not we’re just talking Korobov here. But who knows what will take my fancy next week? As I’ve said a million times, you can really just do whatever you want with this. I could rank Kamil Szeremeta right behind GGG if I wanted. Why not? The IBF do it. No one can stop me!

Upcoming Fights: (10) Matt Korobov vs Ronald Ellis, Dec. 12 ... (2) Gennadiy Golovkin vs Kamil Szeremeta, Dec. 18 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith [super middleweight], Dec. 19

Upcoming Fights: (3) Brian Castano vs (9) Patrick Teixeira, Feb. 6

Notes: Errol Spence Jr returned and beat Danny Garcia, yada yada. You all know that. So let’s get into it. I don’t want to spend 1390409429 words on this, so let me make this as simple as I can for how I see it, why Spence stays No. 1 and Crawford stays No. 2 for now: strength of schedule.

Errol Spence has three wins over fighters in this top 10: Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter, and now Danny Garcia. His win a few years ago over Kell Brook was a good one at that time, definitely better than Crawford’s recent win over an aged, more worn out Brook. OK, you might argue someone else could be in Mikey’s spot. But would Mikey be replaced by someone Crawford’s beaten? Would it be Egidijus Kavaliauskas — the only one with an argument that Crawford has beaten — and not Jamal James or David Avanesyan or Custio Clayton or Kudratillo Abdukakhorov or maybe top prospect Jaron Ennis? Is the call to have Kavaliauskas, who is closest to the top 10 right now, that clear at all? No. And it still wouldn’t really come close to equaling Spence’s legitimate, strong wins over Porter and Danny.

Head-to-head, I think I’m picking Crawford over Spence if we’re ever given that gift from on high. I said that during Spence-Danny, and I think I’m sticking with it. But I’m not arguing it’s a lock, either. It’s not SO obvious to me.

I think of it like the College Football Championship game back in Jan. 2019 between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson. Both came in unbeaten at 14-0. The clear two best teams in the land. Alabama was No. 1 in large part because they’d come out of the tougher SEC, while Clemson had beaten up on the weaker field of the ACC. Head-to-head Clemson turned out to be the better team — in fact, they beat the crap out of Alabama, 44-16. Having the weaker available schedule doesn’t mean everything, but it’s hard to overcome when talking rankings, I believe.

This is much closer to 1A and 1B to me than 1 and 2, in my view. You could have had it the other way coming into this past weekend, you can have it the other way now, and I’ve got no big argument with you. You’re picking one or the other for that top spot. They both have an argument. And whatever you can say about Crawford’s opposition, while I think there’s good truth to some of the knocks against it, he absolutely does what he’s supposed to do against those guys, and does it in style. The man does not play with his food. Yeah, he keeps having to do the equivalent of Clemson playing a 7-5 Pitt team in the ACC Championship, but he goes out there and 42-10’s the opponents, too.

As for Danny Garcia, I’ve dropped him down to No. 7. I think what he’s done at welterweight is really every bit as impressive as Yordenis Ugas, but Ugas is on the better run. Danny’s had his shots — Spence, Porter, Thurman — and lost all of them, frankly without too much controversy, as much as he and his team might have thought they beat Thurman and/or Porter, and he was competitive against both of them for sure. Ugas fought and lost to Porter with a lot of controversy.

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

Notes: As an aside, love BoxRec, wonderful tool, great resource, appreciate their hard work. No idea why they still have Stevenson ranked at 126. His last fight was at 130, his next fight is at 130, he vacated his 126 belt.

Upcoming Fights: (7) Shakur Stevenson vs Toka Kahn Clary, Dec. 12 ... (10) Rene Alvarado vs Roger Gutierrez, Jan. 2 ... (4) Joseph Diaz Jr vs Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, Feb. 20 ... (3) Jamel Herring vs (9) Carl Frampton, TBA ... (1) Miguel Berchelt vs (6) Oscar Valdez, TBA

Notes: Last week’s No. 9 man, Ryan Walsh, lost to Jazza Dickens in the MTK Golden Contract tournament final. Dickens is in at No. 10, and I’m also dropping the prior No. 10, Mark Magsayo, in favor of Joet Gonzalez. I think Gonzalez has the better argument right now; he looked really sharp against Miguel Marriaga, while Magsayo really struggled last time out with Rigoberto Hermosillo, despite Rudy Barragan’s horrendous 100-90 Magsayo card. Hermosillo can fight a little, but still. Dickens especially is a placeholder here, really, but he’s on a solid stretch and a decent fighter, and this division has lost a lot of talent.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (3) Nonito Donaire vs (6) Emmanuel Rodriguez, Dec. 19 ... (8) Takuma Inoue vs Keita Kurihara, Jan. 14

Upcoming Fights: (9) Francisco Rodriguez Jr vs Julio Cesar Martinez [flyweight], Dec. 19 ... (4) Kazuto Ioka vs Kosei Tanaka, Dec. 31

Upcoming Fights: (2) Julio Cesar Martinez vs Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Dec. 19 ... (3) Moruti Mthalane vs Jayson Mama, Dec. 20 ... (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, TBA

Notes: Bermudez moved up to 122 and beat Cintia Castillo to win the vacant IBF title; Castillo was 10-7 coming in and had lost five of her last seven and has zero wins against anyone with a winning record, so, y’know. But that happened.

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

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