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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (Jan. 25, 2021): Stephen Fulton Jr on the rise at junior featherweight

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Stephen Fulton Jr made the big move this week, claiming his first world title in a jumbling 122-pound division.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Rankings go up on Mondays at Noon ET.

Upcoming Fights:

  • Super Middleweight: (2) Caleb Plant vs Caleb Truax, Jan. 30

Notes: No official updates to make, but Fury-Joshua seems to be trending in the right direction. Bob Arum is very confident it’s getting done, and Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren seem to believe it will, too. A big, very good sign is that the WBO seem to be accepting this is an inevitability, and they’re kinda walking back any notion that Joshua MUST! face mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk next, having contacted Usyk with some not-so-great news that they may indeed sanction Fury-Joshua. Which, like, of course they would. It’s a huge fight. They don’t want to be the only squares in town missing out on their cut.

If Fury-Joshua does get made and does have the WBO title at stake, then it looks like Usyk would get the chance to fight Joe Joyce for the interim WBO title. On the one hand, that’s kind of a shafting for Usyk. On the other hand, it’d be the first “eliminator” type fight at heavyweight he actually has to fight; he was named mandatory before ever fighting at the weight due to his success at cruiser. So how bad can you feel, really? Usyk-Joyce is also a very good fight.

Upcoming Fights: (8) Joseph Parker vs Junior Fa, Feb. 27 ... (5) Alexander Povetkin vs (6) Dillian Whyte, Mar. 6


Upcoming Fights: (2) Krzysztof Glowacki vs (8) Lawrence Okolie, Mar. 20


Notes: Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test and lost his Jan. 30 date with Bektemir Melikuziev. There are questions about what Kovalev really does from here, but pending further investigation and all, like, we’ll see. If he faces a lengthy suspension it could be huge; he’s turning 38 in April and obviously no longer in his prime years. A full year suspension or something could take whatever he has left from him. I thought about dropping him from the rankings, and I get it if you wanted to do it, but what am I gonna do then, not rank everyone who failed a test for a PED at some point? Pretend if I do that, it would make a shred of difference? Pretend only those who are bad enough at cheating they fail a test, are the only ones cheating? This is just a shitty reality for boxing and any sport. We’re going to know sometimes. Mostly, probably, we aren’t.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Joe Smith Jr vs Maxim Vlasov, Feb. 13 ... (1) Artur Beterbiev vs Adam Deines, Mar. 20


Notes: Ain’t nobody excited for Canelo-Yildirim, but it has to happen, it’s a WBC mandatory. And at least it’s happening quickly after Canelo’s last fight, and not long before he intends to return again on May 8. This is how star fighters should handle mandatories nobody really wants to see that much.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Caleb Plant vs Caleb Truax, Jan. 30 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim, Feb. 27


Upcoming Fights: TBA


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


Upcoming Fights: (8) Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Maurice Hooker, Mar. 27


Upcoming Fights: TBA


Upcoming Fights: (6) Richard Commey vs Jackson Marinez, Feb. 13 ... (1) Teofimo Lopez vs (10) George Kambosos Jr, TBA


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, Feb. 27


Notes: Josh Warrington has vacated the IBF title, but for now at least does not plan to move up in weight. It’s a bold move by a fighter who has some name value, but really only in one part of the world. This could take a lot of leverage away from him, and now he’ll have to get into rankings position with one of the other sanctioning bodies. I’m not saying it’s the wrong move, I’m saying it’s a bold one, one a fighter in Warrington’s position wouldn’t often make. Warrington will stay busy Feb. 13 against Mauricio Lara, and if he wins as expected, he’ll try to find a way to make a big fight. As for the IBF belt, there’s a good chance we see an order for Kid Galahad to face Jazza Dickens for the vacant belt.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Josh Warrington vs Mauricio Lara, Feb. 13


Notes: Some rearrangement this week. First of all, we’re dropping Rey Vargas, the prior No. 1, from the rankings at 122. First of all, he hasn’t fought since July 2019. Second of all, he vacated his WBC belt. Third of all, he’s made clear he’s going to 126, and has been named mandatory for Gary Russell Jr at that weight. There’s no reason to leave Vargas here holding a spot. He’s done at 122. So in his place we’ve installed Michael Conlan — wait no.

WBA/IBF titleholder Murodjon Akhmadaliev hops to the No. 1 spot, and the big move this week comes from new WBO titlist Stephen Fulton Jr, who claimed his first title on Saturday with a strong win over Angelo Leo. It was a very good fight, displayed the talents of both, and Fulton was the clearly better fighter.

Leo doesn’t wind up moving, but others around him do. Leo would have lost one spot had Vargas stayed ranked. Coming in fresh at No. 10 is Ra’eese Aleem, who won an interim WBA title on Saturday with his own very impressive victory, dominating Victor Pasillas.

This division is both easy and not easy to rank at the moment, I think. It seems odd that Akhmadaliev is a No. 1 fighter in a division, but that’s how it shakes out right now, for me at least. BoxRec have Fulton in the spot now, for what it’s worth.

Upcoming Fights: (8) Azat Hovhannisyan vs TBA, Feb. 13 ... (9) Ronny Rios vs Oscar Negrete, Feb. 13 ... (5) Brandon Figueroa vs (6) Luis Nery, TBA


Notes: Takuma Inoue stayed active, beating Keita Kurihara to win the OPBF regional title on Jan. 14, via wide technical decision after nine rounds — well, eight rounds and most of the ninth. It’s no statement win or anything, but gets Takuma back in the win column following his loss to Nordine Oubaali in Nov. 2019, which had been his last fight. He’s not Naoya, but he’s a good fighter.

Upcoming Fights: (9) Naoya Inoue vs Michael Dasmarinas, TBA


Upcoming Fights: (4) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Kwanthai Sithmorseng, Mar. 12 ... (1) Juan Francisco Estrada vs (3) Roman Gonzalez, Mar. 13


Upcoming Fights: TBA


Upcoming Fights: (2) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Axel Aragon Vega, Mar. 13


Upcoming Fights: TBA


Upcoming Fights: (9) Miguel Berchelt vs Oscar Valdez, Feb. 20 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim, Feb. 27 ... (8) Juan Francisco Estrada vs Roman Gonzalez, Mar. 13 ... (2) Naoya Inoue vs Michael Dasmarinas, TBA ... (5) Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos Jr, TBA


Notes: Shields has announced her Mar. 5 PPV fight with Marie-Eve Dicaire, while the McCaskill-Braekhus rematch is set for Mar. 13 on DAZN.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Claressa Shields vs Marie-Eve Dicaire, Mar. 5 ... (5) Jessica McCaskill vs (6) Cecilia Braekhus, Mar. 13