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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (Feb. 15, 2021): Mauricio Lara storms in, Castano makes move, shuffle at 130

Mauricio Lara has crashed the featherweights, Brian Castano is moving up at junior middleweight, and there’s a shuffle at junior lightweight.

Matchroom Boxing

Rankings go up on Mondays at Noon ET.

Upcoming Fights:

  • Super Middleweight: (9) Fedor Chudinov vs Isaac Chilemba, Feb. 20
  • Junior Lightweight: (1) Miguel Berchelt vs (5) Oscar Valdez, Feb. 20
  • Minimumweight: (9) Vic Saludar vs Robert Paradero, Feb. 20

Notes: Neither are ranked, but Otto Wallin might make his case if he impresses this coming Saturday against Dominic Breazeale. Breazeale is no top contender, but he’s got power and can be dangerous. If Wallin handles that fight nicely, he’s going to have a solid case, given his only loss is to Tyson Fury, and I still say — correctly — that fight would have been stopped on the cut if it had been almost anyone else, or even just the other way around. Things could shake around soon given we have that, Parker-Fa, and Povetkin-Whyte 2 coming over the next three weekends.

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: We didn’t get the expected movement or a new WBO titleholder yet, as Maxim Vlasov tested positive for COVID and postponed last Saturday’s planned fight with Joe Smith Jr. The fight will be rescheduled.

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

Upcoming Fights: (9) Fedor Chudinov vs Isaac Chilemba, Feb. 20 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim, Feb. 27 ... (8) Anthony Dirrell vs Kyrone Davis, Feb. 27 ... (3) David Benavidez vs Ronald Ellis, Mar. 13 ... (10) David Lemieux vs Robert Talarek, Apr. 17 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (4) Billy Joe Saunders, May 8

Upcoming Fights: (3) Demetrius Andrade vs (10) Liam Williams, TBA

Notes: With Jermell Charlo staking a clear and strong claim to the No. 1 spot in the division last September, the No. 2 slot has not been clear at all since then. You could still probably argue Lara or I guess Rosario into the slot, but I think Brian Castano cleared some things up, claiming the WBO title with his win over Patrick Teixeira.

Castano now has the only title Charlo doesn’t, and the fight between the two for the undisputed crown is plenty doable, as both are PBC guys and Castano was on the Golden Boy because they won a purse bid for the mandatory title fight. The only wrinkle is that PBC and/or FOX seem intent on not acknowledging the WBO as existing, which is ridiculous; either don’t acknowledge any or acknowledge all four, in my view. FOX graphics where guys like Terence Crawford and Billy Joe Saunders get ignored are embarrassing and they’re lies, flat misrepresentations of the sport they’re purporting to promote. That said, people in boxing take a lot of big stances that amount to fuck all when there’s money on the line, and Charlo-Castano is a good fight, the best one that can be made at 154, and it’s an easy, no-brainer for everyone to just do it and stop with their WBO agenda. I’m not trumpeting the nobility of the WBO, mind you, but they’re no worse than any of the other three.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (8) Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Maurice Hooker, Mar. 20 ... (9) Sergey Lipinets vs Jaron Ennis, Apr. 10

Notes: Obviously, he’s not ranked right now, but Adrien Broner’s return on Saturday is coming at 140, and, well — look, I don’t think there’s anything AB can do against Jovanie Santiago to earn a top 10 spot again on that alone, but Broner coming back is potentially a big name thrown into the mix again here. The titles are tied up at Top Rank for now, but after Taylor-Ramirez, who knows what happens with the belts?

Upcoming Fights: (1) Josh Taylor vs (2) Jose Ramirez, TBA

Notes: Richard Commey may not be right in line for another title crack, but the veteran power puncher from Ghana ain’t about to fade right out, either, knocking out Jackson Marinez in Saturday’s bumped-up ESPN main event. Commey sits now as a great “alternative” for, say, Devin Haney or Ryan Garcia or Gervonta Davis, though frankly I expect Davis to fight at 130 if he doesn’t fight Haney or Garcia (or Manny Pacquiao). Commey would be easily the biggest test Haney has faced to date, and his power would make him intriguing against Garcia, who will be answering questions about his chin and defense thanks to Luke Campbell dropping him.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Teofimo Lopez vs (10) George Kambosos Jr, TBA

Notes: Joseph Diaz Jr made something of a mess of things at 130 over the weekend, first missing weight for his IBF title defense against Shavkat Rakhimov, and then going to a draw with Rakhimov, meaning he didn’t go out and lose and obviously have to drop spots, and frankly I thought he earned the W, though I don’t think the draw was any great controversy.

So what do you do with Diaz? He’s a quality fighter, but facts are facts, he did not make weight, and I think that should be acknowledged, same as we did with David Benavidez last August. I can’t really drop him from the rankings, and I’m not absurd enough to think Diaz gives a shit where he’s ranked by some web site, so I’m not trying to Big Man this at all. But it should be acknowledged, so it is.

For the moment, Diaz drops a couple spots to No. 6, with Rakhimov coming into the rankings at No. 8, and Chris Colbert falling out for the time being. But Colbert could be back in two weeks if Carl Frampton loses to Jamel Herring, too.

I figure this might get asked, so I’ll address it here: Shakur Stevenson is, to me, an obvious top five talent, and I know some of you may have the belief I rank talent over achievements, eye test over in-division wins, things like that. But I don’t do it fully, and I think doing either 100 percent just doesn’t suit the chaotic realities of boxing. I try to find a balance. Some cases are clear. Most are not. Shakur may straight up be the best fighter in this division, but his wins at 130 are Felix Caraballo and Toka Kahn Clary, and frankly his wins at 126 aren’t exactly unique for a good prospect, with his best win to date, period, being Joet Gonzalez. He’s going to make his case in time, most likely, maybe when he fights the Herring-Frampton winner, possibly in the summer. Head-to-head, I’d pick Shakur without a second thought over everyone but Berchelt and Tank. And I might pick him against both of them, too, but I would think on it.

Anyway, we’ve got Berchelt-Valdez this weekend and Herring-Frampton next weekend. Diaz-Rakhimov got a three-week run of good fights here off to kind of a bum start (fight was good, situation stunk), but there’s quality stuff on the way. Knock on wood.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Miguel Berchelt vs (5) Oscar Valdez, Feb. 20 ... (3) Jamel Herring vs (10) Carl Frampton, Feb. 27

Notes: WELL THAT WAS UNEXPECTED. Josh Warrington was a HUGE favorite over Mauricio Lara, and frankly that’s going to be tough to top for Upset of the Year, a big early lead in the clubhouse for that race. The 22-year-old Lara may wind up a flash in the pan; if you asked me to bet on it (and with my head, not one of my wild gambles), I’d say that’ll be the case more than a sustained career at the top.

But Lara’s win was not a fluke in the sense of, like, he won on some wacky happening. Blame whatever you want, but Warrington felt Lara’s power early and clearly wasn’t liking it, even when he was winning rounds. He was not the Josh Warrington we’ve seen blow through mid-level guys in recent years. Warrington did not fight with confidence, and while Lara is slow of hand and plods a bit around the ring, his power looks extremely real, very heavy hands. That fight should have been stopped in the fourth round, frankly, and Warrington got a lot of rope, which in the long run may not be good for him.

I really like Josh Warrington, he’s a good fighter, has made the most of his talent, fights his ass off, and even in this loss he put in a heroic level of determined effort. The man was fighting on instinct from the fourth round on, and mostly doing OK. But he lost this one. Lara came and conquered.

For a long time I sort of struggled with the idea that I really do think Gary Russell Jr is probably still the most talented guy here, but I had Warrington No. 1 because I felt he was putting together better wins. That issue has been solved by Mauricio Lara, of all the people in the world. Kid Galahad bumps to No. 2 for now, which might seem wild because he lost to Warrington, but (1) that was a controversial outcome, and (2) I know it might seem recent, but that fight was almost two years ago now. You could make a case for Xu Can or Navarrete, too, I suppose. Hell, you could make one for Lara. He beat Warrington.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Emanuel Navarrete vs Christopher Diaz, Apr. 24 ... (2) Kid Galahad vs Jazza Dickens, TBA

Notes: Ronny Rios and Azat Hovahannisyan both won on Saturday in California, with Rios beating Oscar Negrete solidly on the DAZN broadcast, and Hovhannisyan stopping journeyman Enrique Bernache on the prelims. Nothing monumental, and both guys are making cases for another title shot.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) 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: (1) Julio Cesar Martinez vs McWilliams Arroyo, Feb. 27 ... (5) Angel Acosta vs TBA, Mar. 25

Upcoming Fights: (8) Jonathan Gonzalez vs TBA, Mar. 12 ... (2) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Axel Aragon Vega, Mar. 13

Upcoming Fights: (9) Vic Saludar vs Robert Paradero, Feb. 20 ... (6) Pedro Taduran vs Rene Mark Cuarto, Feb. 27

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

Upcoming Fights: (1) Claressa Shields vs Marie-Eve Dicaire, Mar. 5 ... (5) Jessica McCaskill vs (6) Cecilia Braekhus, Mar. 13 ... (3) Amanda Serrano vs (8) Daniela Bermudez, Mar. 25

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