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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (Mar. 22, 2021): Lawrence Okolie makes big jump, Vergil Ortiz Jr cements contender status

Lawrence Okolie was the big mover this week, and Vergil Ortiz Jr proved he’s serious at 147.

Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
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.

Ranked fights this week:

  • Heavyweight: (5) Alexander Povetkin vs (6) Dillian Whyte, Mar. 27
  • Women’s P4P: (3) Amanda Serrano vs (7) Daniela Bermudez, Mar. 25

Upcoming Fights: (5) Alexander Povetkin vs (6) Dillian Whyte, Mar. 27 ... (9) Joseph Parker vs Derek Chisora, May 1 ... (1) Tyson Fury vs (2) Anthony Joshua, TBA ... (4) Andy Ruiz Jr vs Chris Arreola, TBA ... (10) Michael Hunter vs Filip Hrgovic, TBA

Notes: Lawrence Okolie’s WBO title-winning knockout of Krzysztof Glowacki on Saturday was sincerely impressive, a controlled and confident performance with a big ending. Okolie is not the guy who fought Matty Askin and Isaac Chamberlain anymore; this is a confident, matured fighter, he’s grown into his skills and has a real identity to his approach anymore. Part of that is trainer Shane McGuigan taking him to another level, part of it is because Okolie always had it in him to go to that level. He just needed the spark, the right fit. He’s got it.

Okolie says he wants unification next, and his main target is the top dog of the division, Mairis Briedis. Okolie’s dimensions and skill set make him a potential nightmare matchup for anyone in the division, including Briedis, but Mairis is a different sort of fighter than Glowacki, too. Briedis-Okolie is a great fight to make. If not Briedis, Ilunga Makabu is always fearless and fun to watch, but he’s promoted by Don King. No legitimate promoters should be doing any business with the long-irrelevant King in 2021 unless it’s to buy out someone’s contract and rescue their career. As for WBA titleholder Arsen Goulamirian, he’s probably among the worst active titleholders in the sport.

On Glowacki’s end, he’s still a good fighter, still in the mix here. I really didn’t think Krzysztof looked “shot” or out of sorts, he fought like himself, he just couldn’t do anything with Okolie because Okolie is the rare long, tall fighter in the modern who actually uses his reach and height as advantages. He drops to No. 5; it could have been further and still respectful if the guys below him had better resumes, but they don’t.

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

Notes: Artur Beterbiev got back in action on Saturday, overpowering Adam Deines. It wasn’t quite the one-sided beatdown it might have been in 2019; for one thing, Beterbiev certainly had some rust. For another thing, he’s 36. For yet another thing, he’s had more injuries and a bout with COVID. If he can get back this summer or fall, we’ll see how much of it was simple rust, and how much of it might be Beterbiev starting to slip a bit.

That’s not to say he wasn’t still mostly himself. He took some solid shots from Deines fine, he marched forward like he always does, flashed his raw power, showed the determination. Nobody has an argument for the top spot otherwise, despite BoxRec’s COMPUTORS! still seeing Kovalev as the top guy. Bivol is a good fighter, but he also hasn’t fought since 2019, and his May 1 return against Craig Richards is what it is. Nothing Bivol can do in that fight is going to leap him over Beterbiev yet.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Joe Smith Jr vs Maxim Vlasov, Apr. 10 ... (2) Dmitry Bivol vs Craig Richards, May 1

Upcoming Fights: (10) David Lemieux vs Ronny Landaeta, Apr. 17 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (4) Billy Joe Saunders, May 8

Upcoming Fights: (3) Demetrius Andrade vs (9) Liam Williams, Apr. 17 ... (7) Chris Eubank Jr vs Marcus Morrison, May 1

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Vergil Ortiz Jr didn’t mow down Maurice Hooker on Saturday, but it was a good win over a determined guy who gave the young fighter a legit test, the kind Ortiz needed to pass.

Ortiz very respectfully wants Terence Crawford. Crawford is pulling the usual “top guy” move of, “Haha, no, there are levels to this.” But Crawford-Ortiz would be the best fight Crawford’s had at welterweight by a good bit; I don’t have to pretend Jeff Horn was better than he was just because judges did a make believe and said he beat Manny Pacquiao. If Ortiz really is as good as we think he is, you could argue he’d be the best opponent Crawford’s ever had, period, certainly a lot more dangerous than Viktor Postol or Ricky Burns, who were good fighters to be sure.

If Crawford has a deal in place to fight Shawn Porter, fine. If he’s got the Pacquiao fight, fine. Otherwise, there’s no one for him to fight that comes close to being as intriguing as Ortiz. Dismissing Ortiz when your welterweight run has been Horn, Jose Benavidez Jr, a washed Amir Khan, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and a washed Kell Brook absolutely reeks. If you’re so confident Ortiz isn’t ready but fans want to see it anyway, just fight him and show everyone how right you are. At least that has the “fans want to see it” part going for it.

Upcoming Fights: (9) Sergey Lipinets vs Jaron Ennis, Apr. 10

Upcoming Fights: (3) Regis Prograis vs Ivan Redkach, Apr. 17 ... (1) Josh Taylor vs (2) Jose Ramirez, May 22

Upcoming Fights: (1) Teofimo Lopez vs (10) George Kambosos Jr, TBA ... (4) Devin Haney vs (7) Jorge Linares, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (3) Jamel Herring vs (10) Carl Frampton, Apr. 3 ... (8) Shavkat Rakhimov vs Kenichi Ogawa, TBA

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

Upcoming Fights: (1) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (4) Ryosuke Iwasa, Apr. 3

Notes: Lee McGregor hits the list at No. 10 following a first-round wipeout of Karim Guerfi, which gave McGregor the European title. That’s the European, British, and Commonwealth belts within 10 pro fights. He’s had one tough outing against Kash Farooq, but I still think that’s more Farooq having been better than people thought more than McGregor having been worse. There is a chance McGregor could get a chance to further prove his quality, if he gets a spot on the Jose Ramirez-Josh Taylor card in May, it would make easy sense for him to fight Top Rank’s Jason Moloney. That’s a matchup I’d be ready to do if I were MTK Global.

Look, there are definitely levels to go for McGregor, no question. But this division isn’t bursting with great fighters or anything. Most aren’t. For instance, with McGregor in, out is Reymart Gaballo, whose greatest claim to the spot was a robbery win over Emmanuel Rodriguez in December.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Naoya Inoue vs Michael Dasmarinas, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (5) Jerwin Ancajas vs Jonathan Rodriguez, Apr. 10 ... (1) Juan Francisco Estrada vs (3) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, TBA

Notes: Angel Acosta fought a 115-pound tune-up last Thursday, beating Gilberto Mendoza. He did flash his vaunted power, but had to settle for his first decision win over eight rounds. If it were a 10-round fight, maybe he stops him late. Acosta shook some rust and will get going at 112 when he has a serious fight to make. McWilliams Arroyo probably deserves the bout with Julio Cesar Martinez that he’s had scheduled twice now, but Acosta would be a good Martinez opponent, too, or really for anyone else.

Upcoming Fights: (5) Angel Acosta vs Gilberto Mendoza, Mar. 18 ... (2) Moruti Mthalane vs Sunny Edwards, May 1

Upcoming Fights: (1) Kenshiro Teraji vs (7) Tetsuya Hisada, Apr. 24

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (9) Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua, TBA ... (2) Naoya Inoue vs Michael Dasmarinas, TBA ... (5) Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos Jr, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (3) Amanda Serrano vs (7) Daniela Bermudez, Mar. 25 ... (2) Katie Taylor vs Natasha Jonas, May 1

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