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Boxing Rankings (December 20, 2021): Artur Beterbiev, Joseph Parker, Naoya Inoue, Seniesa Estrada, Amanda Serrano, Lerrone Richards, David Morrell Jr, more

Plenty of notes and results from a busy week in boxing as we wrap up with the final rankings of 2021.

Artur Beterbiev confirmed his status as the top light heavyweight in boxing to close 2021
Artur Beterbiev confirmed his status as the top light heavyweight in boxing to close 2021
Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Rankings go up on Mondays. There will be no update next Monday, the next one comes on Jan. 3.

Ranked fights the next two weeks:

  • Light Heavyweight: (5) Maxim Vlasov vs Felix Valera, Dec. 24
  • Junior Bantamweight: (2) Kazuto Ioka vs Ryoji Fukunaga, Dec. 31
  • Minimumweight: (9) Vic Saludar vs Erick Rosa Pacheco, Dec. 21

Notes: Joseph Parker stays put at No. 8 after his rematch win over Derek Chisora. We didn’t necessarily learn anything new, and I thought he won wider than the judges had it in the end, but it was another solid win and he goes into 2022 no worse than he entered 2021. He’s a good second-tier heavyweight whom nobody is going to pick over Fury, Usyk, Wilder, or Joshua.

Upcoming Fights: (10) Tony Yoka vs Martin Bakole, Jan. 15


Upcoming Fights: (3) Ilunga Junior Makabu vs (10) Thabiso Mchunu, Jan. 29


Notes: Artur Beterbiev cements his No. 1 status to close the year after a punishing win over Marcus Browne, which went about according to a script you might lay out. Browne started OK for a couple of rounds but was burning a lot of energy to start OK, and then Beterbiev busted him up until Browne effectively conceded the fight on a second knockdown in round nine. Browne’s not a bad fighter, but it’s going to take a special mixture of skill and determination and toughness to beat Beterbiev , at least until Beterbiev wears down. He hasn’t quite worn down. Browne drops to No. 7, and unless he actually does something notable, he’s in one of those spots where there are people behind him who can jump past him if they pick up some good wins.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez bumps up a spot, partially due to Browne’s loss, partially an exciting win over Yunieski Gonzalez Saturday night in San Antonio. Zurdo and Golden Boy will want to get the WBA to officially make the order for the fight with Dmitry Bivol, which is a good order unless Bivol can get a three-belt unification with Beterbiev, which really has never been all that seriously talked about by anybody but fans.

Upcoming Fights: (5) Maxim Vlasov vs Felix Valera, Dec. 24 ... (3) Joe Smith Jr vs Callum Johnson, Jan. 15


Notes: OK, is David Morrell Jr’s wipeout of Alantez Fox that impressive? Not really, a decent win but in cold facts and all, that’s about it. But this is about the landcape of 168, too. Morrell has looked really good against the level of opposition he’s been fighting, right? And then there’s John Ryder, who didn’t look so great against Mike Guy a year ago and all he did this year was dominate a club fighter in Austria. Daniel Jacobs hasn’t fought in over a year now and hasn’t been that impressive at 168 against the husk of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Gabe Rosado. And Carlos Gongora lost to Lerrone Richards. So Morrell makes the big jump.

As for the latter pair, Richards enters at No. 6, which again says a fair bit about this division past the top four, and Gongora drops to No. 10, as his best win was a rally stoppage of Ali Akhmedov a year ago. Gongora’s a good fighter, but Richards put light on some major flaws in his game.

For the moment, 168 is kind of a dead division, in a strange way where it has the sport’s top fighter and he’s undisputed champion, but there’s really not much for him to do here other than fight David Benavidez, which doesn’t seem to be in his plans — although I will say that with the Makabu thing seeming to fall apart, Canelo and Eddy Reynoso might now see Benavidez as a chance to shut some people up, so I think there’s still a chance it happens in May if the offer is right from PBC.

Upcoming Fights: (7) John Ryder vs (8) Daniel Jacobs, Feb. 12


Upcoming Fights: (5) Chris Eubank Jr vs (8) Liam Williams, Jan. 29


Notes: Israil Madrimov’s hugely controversial win over Michel Soro is what it is, but I’ve switched them in the rankings. Madrimov seemed probably to be on his way to a win, possibly by a more legitimate stoppage than, like, five to seven punches landed after the bell to end round nine, and the entire scene then from the officials in Uzbekistan was a joke, pure amateur hour nonsense. It had been a good fight, then ruined by incompetence. My personal opinion is that should be changed to a no-contest and the eliminator run back, but I’m sure we all have our doubts about that one.

Upcoming Fights: (5) Liam Smith vs Jessie Vargas, Feb. 5 ... (1) Jermell Charlo vs (2) Brian Castano, Feb. 19


Upcoming Fights: (1) Errol Spence Jr vs (3) Yordenis Ugas, TBA ... (5) Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Michael McKinson, TBA


Upcoming Fights: (3) Jose Ramirez vs (7) Jose Pedraza, Feb. 5 ... (1) Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall, Feb. 26


Upcoming Fights: TBA


Upcoming Fights: (10) Xavier Martinez vs Robson Conceicao, Jan. 29 ... (7) Chris Colbert vs (8) Roger Gutierrez, TBA


Upcoming Fights: (2) Gary Russell Jr vs Mark Magsayo, Jan. 22 ... (6) Leigh Wood vs Michael Conlan, Mar. 12


Upcoming Fights: (1) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (8) Ronny Rios, TBA


Notes: Inoue demolished the grossly over-matched Aran Dipaen last Tuesday in Japan. Nice that he got a fight in, not so great that it was that bad of a matchup. It’s time to do the Donaire rematch. Everyone involved needs to get that done.


Upcoming Fights: (2) Kazuto Ioka vs Ryoji Fukunaga, Dec. 31 ... (3) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Carlos Cuadras, Feb. 5


Upcoming Fights: TBA


Upcoming Fights: (1) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs (9) Esteban Bermudez, Jan. 15 ... (3) Masamichi Yabuki vs (5) Kenshiro Teraji, TBA


Notes: I guess Knockout CP Freshmart got sick of all my great “Decision CP Freshmart” jokes, because he scored his second stoppage win in two months by putting away Robert Paradero in five last Tuesday in Thailand.

We say a lot that 105 and 108 can be fairly volatile, and that happened again Tuesday in Japan, as Masataka Taniguchi took the WBO belt from Wilfredo Mendez via 11th round TKO, a fight Taniguchi was winning on the cardsd fairly handily (two cards of 97-91, one of 95-93). Taniguchi jumps in at No. 4, and Ginjiro Shigeoka gets a bump up to No. 5, as I really think talent-wise he’s among the top tier here. Mendez dips just to No. 6 for now, because Rene Mark Cuarto is as high as he is mostly for having the IBF belt, which he took via robbery from Pedro Taduran last February, with neither fighting since.

The fighter falling out of the top 10 is Simpiwe Konkco; basically just jumping ahead a couple weeks on removing him for long-term inactivity, anyway, as he hasn’t fought since Oct. 2019.

Upcoming Fights: (9) Vic Saludar vs Erick Rosa Pacheco, Dec. 21 ... (2) Petchmanee CP Freshmart vs (3) Wanheng Menayothin, Jan. 25


Upcoming Fights: (10) Kazuto Ioka vs Ryoji Fukunaga, Dec. 31 ... (6) Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall, Feb. 26 ... (5) Errol Spence Jr vs Yordenis Ugas, TBA


Notes: Amanda Serrano and Seniesa Estrada both closed their years with wins, both expected, neither winding up being much of a challenge. You could have either of them higher than I do, though I did bump Estrada who just keeps looking excellent at any weight you put her, same with Serrano over the years. Honestly, I think you could form a fine argument for either of them to be No. 1 in the world right now.

I don’t think there’s much separating the top five I’ve settled on at the moment, and then there are fighters like Savannah Marshall and Chantelle Cameron who really might belong there, Alycia Baumgardner really looked like the real deal against Terri Harper, Delfine Persoon is still a good fighter, Jessica McCaskill is relatively dominant at 147 right now. The overall depth, especially division-by-division, is still an issue in fostering interesting in women’s boxing, but you can pretty easily make a nice pound-for-pound top 10 now, and beyond that, too.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin, Jan. 29 ... (10) Chantelle Cameron vs Kali Reis, TBA