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Bad Left Hook Boxing Rankings (May 3, 2021): Sunny Edwards leaps in at flyweight; Is Katie Taylor No. 1 pound-for-pound?; Ruiz, Parker, Bivol, Lara, more

Sunny Edwards made the big statement, Katie Taylor made another of her own, and more after a busy week in boxing.

Queensberry Promotions
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:

  • Super Middleweight: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (4) Billy Joe Saunders, May 8
  • Junior Middleweight: (10) Liam Smith vs Magomed Kurbanov, May 7
  • Junior Flyweight: (5) Elwin Soto vs Katsunari Takayama, May 8

Notes: We had a couple of notable fights in the division this weekend, with Andy Ruiz Jr coming back after a long layoff, and Joseph Parker also in action, both winning, but let’s get into it.

I’m not changing anything because it’s hard to figure what to change. You could dip Parker down a couple spots after his controversial split decision win over Derek Chisora, but even though I scored that fight for Chisora (114-113 on my card) and think he definitely could have won, he didn’t get the nod. Parker did, and I don’t think having it for Parker is any crime. I’m not on the “robbery” train with this one. I do think 116-111 Parker is a terrible card, and judge Grzegorz Molenda turned in an awful score there.

I’m not dropping Parker because, like, where would he go? Michael Hunter and Alexander Povetkin fought to a draw with one another in 2019, and Hunter hasn’t done anything worth mentioning since, while Povetkin did beat Dillian Whyte, then looked awful in the rematch. You could put those two over Parker, I’m just not. Not yet. And I’m way more tentative with Povetkin, who just might be done. What I’m really more comfortable with now is having Usyk and Joyce ahead of Parker.

Ruiz was solid but unspectacular in his win over Chris Arreola, which was a decent fight but a lot different than what anyone expected. Arreola threw less than half the number of punches he did last time we saw him, and the Joe Goossen game plan worked pretty well for a few rounds, but I thought it was pretty much all Ruiz down the stretch and a clear win for Andy. There is absolutely no reason for a rematch unless this sold big on PPV to the point it would legit make sense to do it again from the business side. And frankly I don’t imagine there’s any way Arreola does better, when the most argument he had here was winning about four rounds.

So Ruiz sticks at No. 4. I don’t know that I’d pick him over Whyte, but they’re both vulnerable, second-tier heavyweights. I think that’s a 50/50 matchup, and I’d love to see it personally, though we will not.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Tyson Fury vs (2) Anthony Joshua, TBA ... (9) Michael Hunter vs Filip Hrgovic, TBA

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Dmitry Bivol finally got back into the ring for the first time since 2019, and was his usual sound self in victory against Craig Richards. No one gave Richards much chance in that one, and he certainly didn’t have an argument for the win, but the “Spider” had a performance he can be proud of, and I tell you, he’s 31 and pretty much is what he’s going to be, but if he picked up some lessons from that fight, I could see him making his way back to another world title shot in the next couple years. Richards should hold his head high after that fight.

Bivol, who has the WBA title (champions list is here), likely isn’t getting unification next, and he seems to feel the same; Bivol expects WBC/IBF titlist Artur Beterbiev and WBO titlist Joe Smith Jr to unify, and even if they don’t, he probably isn’t getting either. Bivol probably had a little rust, but he more or less looked as he has in recent fights. He is a technically strong fighter, and he can do more than opponents have forced him to lately, too, but you have to make him go there. I still don’t think he has the special gears, but he is a very, very good fighter.

Upcoming Fights: (5) Jean Pascal vs (7) Badou Jack, June 6 ... (8) Gilberto Ramirez vs Sullivan Barrera, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (4) Billy Joe Saunders, May 8 ... (10) David Lemieux vs David Zegarra, June 4 ... (3) David Benavidez vs Jose Uzcategui, Aug. 28

Notes: Let’s get to the movement first. Erislandy Lara is in at No. 10 after his first-round lightning bolt knockout of poor Cornflake Lamanna, who had zero business in a ring with Lara and even less business fighting for a “world title.” Lara is new at 160, and beating poor Cornflake isn’t exactly a major résumé, but there are not any good choices at No. 10, really. We had Kanat Islam here before. Islam isn’t exactly boasting huge quality on his sheet, either. With Lara’s long run of being a top three-to-five junior middleweight, just entering with a win puts him in the mix at middleweight. But there are good fighters here, and a 38-year-old Lara will have to fight well to beat the guys above him.

He also might not fight any of them. He might be happy as the No. 2 WBA “champion” fighting FOX main events nobody wants to watch against guys who shouldn’t be there. But I’m hoping he does give it a real swing at 160. I do not dislike Lara. He can be boring, sure, but when you give him matchups against fellow good fighters — and I also realize Lara has never been a guy people are dying to fight — he has always delivered competitive fights; he’s never been “exposed,” not by Canelo Alvarez or Jarrett Hurd or Brian Castano or Paul Williams or anybody. I think Lara’s as good as he’s sold to be. (Well, maybe not by Joe Goossen, who called Lara “one of the best to ever lace ‘em up” on Saturday night.)

Chris Eubank Jr also fought this weekend, “getting rounds” in a win over Marcus Morrison. That wasn’t quite as bad a matchup as Lara-Cornflake, but Eubank hadn’t fought in about two years (his Matt Korobov fight in Dec. 2019 went two rounds before the injury) and he was working with Roy Jones Jr as his new trainer.

We’ll see if the Jones partnership lasts long. Frankly, I don’t expect it will, because nothing lasts too long with Eubank; not trainers or promoters or anything else. He has a reliable cycle of re-setting his career and “this time, for real, we’re going for it.” But listen, I’ll watch Eubank against anyone else on this list. When he’s in with opponents who can challenge him, he provides solid fights and he’s got the athleticism and power to be a danger.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Jermall Charlo vs Juan Macias Montiel, June 19 ... (8) Jaime Munguia vs Maciej Sulecki, June 19

Notes: Hey, another week, another new No. 10 man. With Lara moving up to middleweight, Liam Smith is back in here, and he fights this weekend against Magomed Kurbanov in Russia. So we could have ANOTHER new top 10 guy next week. If Smith wins that one impressively — and he could, Smith’s a good fighter — he probably hops up a spot or two. (I know some of you are big Soro defenders, but I’m just not.) If Kurbanov beats Smith impressively, he could come in higher than No. 10, too. It’ll depend how that fight goes and looks and all that.

Sebastian Fundora was in action, stopping Jorge Cota in four on the Ruiz-Arreola card. The stoppage may have been early — I think it was — but Fundora was winning and I don’t think Cota was going to turn it around. Given Cota had just landed a good shot before the referee hopped in, I think he should have been given a bit more of a chance, but he didn’t get it. Fundora won an eliminator there, so he should get a mandatory order at some point. Maybe against Jermell Charlo. In all candor, I like Fundora, he’s fun to watch and seems like a good dude, but boy do I not like that matchup for him. But you never really know until you get there.

This remains a deep division. There is a clear 1-2, but past that it’s a jumble that goes beyond the top 10. There are a lot of legitimately quality fighters. Souleymane Cissokho is in action this Saturday, and he could be another one.

Upcoming Fights: (10) Liam Smith vs Magomed Kurbanov, May 7 ... (6) Jarrett Hurd vs Luis Arias, June 6 ... (4) Jeison Rosario vs (8) Erickson Lubin, June 26 ... (1) Jermell Charlo vs (2) Brian Castano, July 17

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) Josh Taylor vs (2) Jose Ramirez, May 22 ... (4) Jose Zepeda vs TBA, May 22 ... (10) Jose Pedraza vs Julian Rodriguez, June 12 ... (7) Mario Barrios vs Gervonta Davis, June 26

Upcoming Fights: (4) Devin Haney vs (7) Jorge Linares, May 29 ... (1) Teofimo Lopez vs (10) George Kambosos Jr, June 5 ... (2) Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Masayoshi Nakatani, June 26 ... (5) Gervonta Davis vs Mario Barrios [junior welterweight], June 26

Upcoming Fights: (6) Shakur Stevenson vs Jeremiah Nakathila, June 12 ... (2) Gervonta Davis vs Mario Barrios [junior welterweight], June 26 ... (3) Chris Colbert vs Yuriorkis Gamboa, July 3 ... (8) Shavkat Rakhimov vs Kenichi Ogawa, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) Gary Russell Jr vs Rey Vargas, TBA ... (2) Kid Galahad vs Jazza Dickens, TBA ... (5) Mauricio Lara vs (6) Josh Warrington, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (3) Danny Roman vs Ricardo Espinoza, May 15 .... (4) Brandon Figueroa vs (5) Luis Nery, May 15 ... (2) Stephen Fulton Jr vs Nery-Figueroa winner, Sept. 11 ... (1) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (8) Ronny Rios, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (2) Nordine Oubaali vs (3) Nonito Donaire, May 29 ... (1) Naoya Inoue vs Michael Dasmarinas, June 19 ... (4) John Riel Casimero vs (5) Guillermo Rigondeaux, Aug. 14

Upcoming Fights: (1) Juan Francisco Estrada vs (4) Chocolatito Gonzalez, TBA ... (3) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Carlos Cuadras, TBA

Notes: I might well pick Junto Nakatani head-to-head with Sunny Edwards, but I think Sunny deserves the No. 2 spot for beating Moruti Mthalane on Friday. That was a damn good win over a guy who has been a top flyweight for over a decade, and I’m not dropping Mthalane far. He could be at the end of the line, but more than anything I think Edwards’ constant movement was just a nightmare matchup for him at this point.

Edwards is never going to be a puncher, but damn is he gonna be tough for most people to beat. You’re going to have to be able to find him, and then you have to do damage and further slow him down. A simple enough plan, but easier said than done. He proved he has the legs to dance and move for 12, and he will out-point you round-to-round, he does get in and do work before getting back out.

Upcoming Fights: (6) Jay Harris vs Ricardo Sandoval, May 14

Upcoming Fights: (5) Elwin Soto vs Katsunari Takayama, May 8 ... (7) Jonathan Gonzalez vs Armando Torres, May 21

Upcoming Fights: (9) Ginjiro Shigeoka vs Toshiki Kawamitsu, May 23 ... (1) Knockout CP Freshmart vs Pongsaklek Sithdabnij, May 29

Upcoming Fights: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, May 8 ... (5) Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos Jr, June 5 ... (2) Naoya Inoue vs Michael Dasmarinas, June 19 ... (7) Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Masayoshi Nakatani, June 26 ... (10) Jermell Charlo vs Brian Castano, July 17 ... (8) Juan Francisco Estrada vs Chocolatito Gonzalez, TBA ... (9) Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua, TBA

Notes: Katie Taylor’s solid, and to me clear win over Natasha Jonas on Saturday bumps her to the No. 1 slot over Claressa Shields. I’ve said there’s nothing much separating them to me, and there still isn’t, really — I think Claressa has been more dominant, but at this point I have to agree that I think Taylor has beaten the better group of fighters. A lot of that remains eye test; how much better is Persoon or Jonas than Christina Hammer or someone, etc. But my pick right now is Katie Taylor, and it’s zero disrespect to Shields. They are the clear top two for me in one order or the other, which comes with due respect to Amanda Serrano, too.

Upcoming Fights: (7) Mikaela Mayer vs Erica Farias, June 19

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