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Boxing Rankings (February 7, 2022): Keith Thurman returns, Jesse Rodriguez hits the scene, Claressa Shields, more

Keith Thurman is back in the game, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has arrived, Claressa Shields, and more in this week’s update.

Keith Thurman is back in the welterweight rankings after his ring return
Keith Thurman is back in the welterweight rankings after his ring return
Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Once again, we won’t have another update next week, as there’s just not much going on this coming weekend. So the next rankings update will come on Monday, February 21.

Ranked fights the next two weeks:

  • Super Middleweight: (7) John Ryder vs (8) Daniel Jacobs, Feb. 12
  • Middleweight: (6) Jaime Munguia vs D’Mitrius Ballard, Feb. 19
  • Middleweight: (10) Felix Cash vs Magomed Madiev, Feb. 12
  • Lightweight: (7) Jorge Linares vs Zaur Abdullaev, Feb. 19
  • Bantamweight: (9) Lee McGregor vs Diego Alberto Ruiz, Feb. 11

Notes: Otto Wallin returned Saturday with a tune-up win over crafty gatekeeper Kamil Sokolowski. He didn’t look sensational, but nobody really does with Sokolowski, and these last two spots could admittedly be any number of guys. Well, not any number. A few different guys. Filip Hrgovic could be here, for instance. Not Trevor Bryan.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Tyson Fury vs (6) Dillian Whyte, TBA ... (2) Oleksandr Usyk vs (4) Anthony Joshua, TBA


Notes: Don King actually did get the Makabu-Mchunu rematch done on Jan. 29, which Makabu won by split decision to retain his WBC belt in Ohio. I’m not moving either guy in the rankings based on that. It’s partially that they’re both about exactly as good as I thought already, and partially that nobody under Mchunu has been doing anything that really earns a move up. Arsen Goulamirian has about six weeks to get a fight scheduled or he’s out.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Lawrence Okolie vs (6) Michal Cieslak, Feb. 27 ... (1) Mairis Briedis vs Jai Opetaia, TBA


Upcoming Fights: TBA


Upcoming Fights: (7) John Ryder vs (8) Daniel Jacobs, Feb. 12 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs TBA, May 7


Notes: Chris Eubank Jr won against Liam Williams, with a performance that was a mixture of impressive in spots and not very impressive at all in others. He scored four knockdowns, three of them legit, and probably should have finished that fight. His insistence that he let Williams hang around to “teach him a lesson” is either nonsense or a terrible idea, especially for someone who wants a big money fight. I think Eubank is a good fighter who can be a threat to anybody — he’s got speed and power, he takes a good shot, and when switched on he can be tricky as hell. But he’s got a repeated habit of switching off, at which point fights sometimes get harder than they probably needed to be, and he’s consistently inconsistent in higher-level fights. He’s sort of a wild card, but he’s a contender.

Williams drops out with the loss, and Felix Cash comes in at the No. 10 spot. He fights this weekend, so it could be a short-lived stay. This is not a deep division right now; there’s talent here, but recent achievements are mid-tier for almost everyone.

Upcoming Fights: (10) Felix Cash vs Magomed Madiev, Feb. 12 ... (6) Jaime Munguia vs D’Mitrius Ballard, Feb. 19 ... (1) Gennadiy Golovkin vs (4) Ryota Murata, TBA


Upcoming Fights: (1) Jermell Charlo vs (2) Brian Castano, Mar. 19 ... (10) Magomed Kurbanov vs Patrick Teixeira, Mar. 26 ... (3) Erickson Lubin vs (7) Sebastian Fundora, Apr. 9 ... (5) Liam Smith vs Jessie Vargas, Apr. 30


Notes: Keith Thurman is back in the rankings following his win over Mario Barrios. It’s not the greatest win in the history of time or anything, but it’s a good win that stands up to what those below Ugas have done of late.

Thurman’s 33, hurt his hand again in the fight, and probably has a short window to be a top player. But he’s got name value, the exact right connections, and is probably more likely at the moment to land the Spence-Ugas winner than Terence Crawford is, though Spence has been adamant about not bothering with Thurman in past interviews. (Which could also be a great way to sell the fight, so don’t count it out.)

Thurman has a good career record, but his only wins in the last five years are Josesito Lopez and Barrios. So I think the spot he’s at now is fair, and at any rate, he probably will get the chance to prove he should be higher.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Michael McKinson, Mar. 19 ... (7) David Avanesyan vs Oskari Metz, Mar. 19 ... (1) Errol Spence Jr vs (3) Yordenis Ugas, Apr. 16 ... (8) Radzhab Butaev vs Eimantas Stanionis, Apr. 16


Upcoming Fights: (1) Josh Taylor vs (10) Jack Catterall, Feb. 26 ... (3) Jose Ramirez vs (5) Jose Pedraza, Mar. 4 ... (2) Regis Prograis vs Tyrone McKenna, Mar. 19


Upcoming Fights: (7) Jorge Linares vs Zaur Abdullaev, Feb. 19 ... (6) Ryan Garcia vs Emmanuel Tagoe, Apr. 9 ... (10) Isaac Cruz vs Yuriorkis Gamboa, Apr. 16 ... (1) George Kambosos Jr vs TBA, June 5


Notes: Leo Santa Cruz got active again, fighting for what may have been the final time at 130, but we’ll see. His win over Keenan Carbajal was about as routine as anticipated. If he goes back to 126 to defend the WBA he still ridiculously holds despite not fighting in that division for three years, he’ll likely be better off. Leo can fight at 130, but unless he flat out can’t make 126 anymore, it’s hard to imagine he’s not better at featherweight, and there are better fights for him in the PBC stable there, too.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Oscar Valdez vs (2) Shakur Stevenson, Apr. 30 ... (7) Chris Colbert vs (9) Roger Gutierrez, TBA


Upcoming Fights: (10) Joet Gonzalez vs Jeo Santisima, Mar. 4 ... (3) Mauricio Lara vs Emilio Sanchez, Mar. 5 ... (6) Leigh Wood vs Michael Conlan, Mar. 12 ... (5) Kiko Martinez vs (7) Josh Warrington, Mar. 26


Notes: Luis Nery scored a really nice win over Carlos Castro, impressing some more than others, impressing many more than he did the judges. Nery did reportedly have a terrible time making weight, but he did at least make it. Honestly, that’s going to be the constant red flag for him. He’s already a little small at 122, and if he has to go up to 126 it’s probably going to be a good deal too much for him. But when he’s at his best, he’s a very good fighter, even the people who (reasonably) aren’t fans of his won’t argue that point. Well, some might. Someone will argue anything.

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


Upcoming Fights: (9) Lee McGregor vs Diego Alberto Ruiz, Feb. 11 ... (4) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Vincent Astrolabio, Feb. 26 ... (3) John Riel Casimero vs Paul Butler, Apr. 22


Notes: What a win for Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, who arrives big time on the 115 lb scene by taking the WBC title with his victory over Carlos Cuadras, jumping up in weight on short notice. It was a ballsy risk to take for an unbeaten young prospect, a major step up in class against a tough veteran, and it paid off. He and his team were right to be confident.

I think Rodriguez has an excellent future. Cuadras is past his prime, sure, but prospects thought to have the goods have tripped up in fights like that before. Rodriguez did not. And he’s got a LOT of time to get even better.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Chocolatito Gonzalez vs Julio Cesar Martinez, Mar. 5 ... (5) Jerwin Ancajas vs Fernando Daniel Martinez, TBA


Upcoming Fights: (1) Julio Cesar Martinez vs Chocolatito Gonzalez, Mar. 5 [junior bantamweight] ... (2) Sunny Edwards vs Muhammad Waseem, Mar. 19


Upcoming Fights: (3) Masamichi Yabuki vs (5) Kenshiro Teraji, Mar. 19


Notes: Another fight, another unsatisfying finish to a matchup between Rene Mark Cuarto and Pedro Taduran. This time, Cuarto won by technical majority decision (65-65, 66-64, 65-64) with the fight stopped due to an accidental headbutt that cut Taduran. I’m not moving either of them.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Petchmanee CP Freshmart vs (3) Wanheng Menayothin, Mar. 29


Upcoming Fights: (6) Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall, Feb. 26 ... (5) Errol Spence Jr vs Yordenis Ugas, TBA ... (8) Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte, TBA


Notes: Claressa Shields got back into the boxing ring for the first time in 11 months, and won easily as everyone knew she would, dominating Ema Kozin but once again not delivering her promised knockout. At this point, I wonder if that’s as much a running gag for her as anything, because she hasn’t stopped anyone in almost five years now. You could argue referees could stand to step in sometimes, and in the Kozin fight that was true. By the seventh round or so, there was no use for Kozin to keep fighting. She didn’t really belong in the ring with Shields, couldn’t do anything with her.

The big interest for Shields now is Savannah Marshall, who returns March 12. If Marshall wins and gets out of it OK, BOXXER are hoping to put that fight together for the summer in the United Kingdom. Here’s hoping we get it, because it’s the only remotely interesting fight for either of them, and the problem after doing it once, is basically you have the rematch and then neither of them have anything interesting to do once again, unless they split two fights, then you can do a trilogy. I suppose they could have a Robinson-LaMotta series.

Upcoming Fights: (8) Savannah Marshall vs Femke Hermans, Mar. 12 ... (1) Katie Taylor vs (3) Amanda Serrano, Apr. 30 ... (10) Chantelle Cameron vs Kali Reis, TBA