Rankings go up on Mondays.
Ranked fights this week:
- Light Heavyweight: (8) Joshua Buatsi vs Craig Richards, May 21
- Super Middleweight: (2) David Benavidez vs David Lemieux, May 21
- Middleweight: (6) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Danny Dignum, May 21
- Women’s P4P: (6) Delfine Persoon vs Elhem Mekhaled, May 21
- Women’s P4P: (9) Chantelle Cameron vs Victoria Bustos, May 21
Notes: A little shake-up with the last two spots, a reexamination of the top 10 following Martin Bakole’s upset win over Tony Yoka, who was No. 10 last week.
I’m going with Old Man Ortiz — in for previously-ranked Otto Wallin, who I hate dropping and I may be his biggest supporter in this regard — and Bakole himself.
I think Filip Hrgovic is the real deal, he totally passes the eye test, but he hasn’t proven it against even mid-tier fringe contenders or anything. He has, for now, a similar resume to what Yoka had; I had previously favored Yoka’s by just enough that Hrgy Hrgovic sat just outside the top 10 for me. He still does, but I really think he gets here as soon as he gets a decent fight.
Because that’s not Hrgovic’s fault; a bunch of notable fighters have passed on fighting him, and if he’d fought and beaten Zhang Zhilei on May 7, which was unfortunately postponed, he’d probably have been here last week. Similarly, Wallin not getting a chance to establish himself (or not!) isn’t really his fault. He was set to fight Dillian Whyte, and it wasn’t Wallin who pulled out of that. Not a lot of heavyweights are dying to fight a good southpaw.
But Grandpa Ortiz, while past his prime, is still very dangerous and his win over Charles Martin in January is still a lot more than Hrgovic has done yet, and more than Wallin is getting at the moment. Wallin’s best actual win is Dominic Breazeale. It was before, too, but boxing can change fast in these ways, perception can change fast, status can change fast.
Bakole gets the spot because he beat Tony Yoka convincingly, I don’t care what those deeply, obviously biased judges tried to do. I don’t know how long he sticks, but he earned the spot right now, I think.
Guys like Andy Ruiz, Ortiz, Dillian Whyte, maybe even Joseph Parker may not be long for the list. Same with Fury, who says he’s retired but few people buy it. Same with Deontay Wilder, who may or may not really be all that interested in fighting again, we’ll have to see. This could be a volatile division over the next two or three years.
Upcoming Fights: (2) Oleksandr Usyk vs (4) Anthony Joshua, TBA ... (5) Andy Ruiz Jr vs (9) Luis Ortiz, TBA ... (6) Joe Joyce vs (8) Joseph Parker, TBA
Notes: I actually did think about putting Sergey Kovalev in. His win over Tervel Pulev was solid, and I mean, like, come on — everyone after the No. 6 spot here is pretty questionable as far as being in the top 10. Mikaelyan through Merhy could be four other guys — let’s say Richard Riakporhe, Michal Cieslak, Chris Billam-Smith, and Jai Opetaia — and nobody would really bat an eye.
But let’s see what Kovalev really wants to do, let’s give it another fight maybe. I wouldn’t count out him trying to return to 175, even, he didn’t sound that jazzed about being a cruiserweight despite the overly glowing Triller commentary.
(Also, if Riakporhe wins impressively against Fabio Turchi on June 11, he probably grabs a spot.)
Upcoming Fights: (9) Aleksei Papin vs Dilan Prasovic, May 27 ... (1) Mairis Briedis vs Jai Opetaia, July 2
Notes: I think Zurdo Ramirez is a good fighter. I think he’s a legitimate contender. If Dmitry Bivol doesn’t rematch Canelo Alvarez and doesn’t get the Beterbiev-Smith winner, Zurdo is as good an option as there is. But there was something I found really off-putting about the Zurdo over-hype from DAZN social media and Oscar De La Hoya last week. His mauling of Dominic Boesel was even lamer in practice than in theory; it wasn’t a fight anyone wanted to see and it turned out to be an even bigger mismatch than the skeptics imagined it would be.
Though this is an industry that pays constant lip service to trying to reverse the trend of going overboard about undefeated records, it’s all DAZN and Golden Boy have right now to really hype Ramirez, because he’s not fighting opponents people want to see him fight.
Maybe if/when he fights a top fighter, he’ll prove out and be everything they’re hyping him to be. But there was a weird desperation about the sell job from the platform and promoter. The promoter I get, honestly, that’s what promoters do; hyping up an “0” is lazy and easy, and enough people will buy into it. But DAZN as a platform could have tried to be slightly more creative, I think. Then again, what else was there to sell Zurdo-Boesel on?
Hopefully he gets the sort of fight he says he wants next. But even if it’s not Bivol or the Beterbiev-Smith winner, please let it be better than his first three Golden Boy matchups. Call up Maxim Vlasov or try to get Callum Johnson or someone. This is a guy who struggled twice at 168 with Jesse Hart, it’s not like it’s the elite tier or bust as far as making more competitive fi—ope, I might have just answered my own questions, huh?
Upcoming Fights: (8) Joshua Buatsi vs Craig Richards, May 21 ... (5) Maxim Vlasov vs Dilmurod Satybaldiev, May 27 ... (2) Artur Beterbiev vs (3) Joe Smith Jr, June 18
Upcoming Fights: (2) David Benavidez vs David Lemieux, May 21 ... (5) David Morrell Jr vs Kalvin Henderson, June 4
Upcoming Fights: (6) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Danny Dignum, May 21 ... (5) Jaime Munguia vs Jimmy Kelly, June 11 [super middleweight] ... (2) Jermall Charlo vs Maciej Sulecki, June 18
Notes: Well after 10 months of listing Charlo and Castano both as No. 1 following their draw, we have it settled, as Jermell knocked Castano out in the 10th round and is now the undisputed champion of the world.
It was a great fight, and I do sincerely, for the moment, still think those are the top two 154 lb fighters in the sport, so I’m not moving Castano lower than No. 2 yet. He’s a terrific fighter and I think would be even money at worst against Fundora or Tszyu, and deserving as a favorite against anyone else in the division right now.
That said, I think Fundora and Tszyu are interesting propositions for Charlo to fight next. Sometimes when someone goes undisputed in a division in the four-belt era, it kinda means they’ve done all there is to do that’s very interesting at that weight. But Charlo has rising stars with good, entertaining styles waiting. I’d be fine seeing either fight next.
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Notes: “Boots” Ennis ripped through another guy hoping to be the one to derail his hype, stopping Custio Clayton inside of two rounds. I don’t think anyone in this division wants much to do with him still. Damian Lillard: Celebrity Boxing Endorser wants to see Keith Thurman fight Ennis, and I would be down with it because Ennis ain’t getting Spence next if Spence and Crawford do fight, and frankly might not ever get either of them at 147 because the winner of that might move up to 154.
But at the same time, Ennis just earned a mandatory IBF shot. Boxing being the way it is, he doesn’t owe Thurman a fight, and if “One Time” wants to keep his top relevant spot for the point titles get scattered to the wind and he might get a vacant order, fighting Ennis next seems pretty risky, too. Again, would love to see it. But I can’t help but always recognize how boxing generally works. I don’t think we will get it.
Ennis moves up to No. 4, at this point I think he’s rather clearly surpassed what Vergil Ortiz Jr has done in a similar situation, which is not meant as disrespect, they’re two of my favorite young fighters in boxing.
I’ve also bumped Thurman just a hair ahead of Ortiz; Keith was sharp in his comeback and Vergil is kind of a question mark right now. He does plan to return on Aug. 6, but will it be at welterweight? Should it be? Big questions, and at any rate, I doubt he fights anyone more relevant than Michael McKinson, rescheduling that scrapped bout. Ortiz won’t have fought in a year by that point.
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Upcoming Fights: (5) Gervonta Davis vs Rolando Romero, May 28 ... (1) George Kambosos Jr vs (4) Devin Haney, June 4
Upcoming Fights: (3) Kenichi Ogawa vs Joe Cordina, June 4 ... (9) Zelfa Barrett vs Faroukh Kurbanov, June 4
Upcoming Fights: (2) Mark Magsayo vs (7) Rey Vargas, July 9
Upcoming Fights: (2) Stephen Fulton Jr vs (4) Danny Roman, June 4 ... (10) Ra’eese Aleem vs Mike Plania, June 18 ... (1) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (8) Ronny Rios, June 25
Upcoming Fights: (7) Jason Moloney vs Aston Palicte, June 4 ... (1) Naoya Inoue vs (2) Nonito Donaire, June 7
Upcoming Fights: (3) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs (6) Jesse Rodriguez, June 25 ... (10) Kosei Tanaka vs Masayoshi Hashizume, June 29 ... (2) Kazuto Ioka vs Donnie Nietes, TBA
Notes: Angel Acosta fought last Thursday, wiping out an over-matched buddy in 79 seconds on a Golden Boy show. Acosta had very little against Junto Nakatani last year, but he’s still very dangerous against certain opponents. There’s nobody on the list here he doesn’t have a puncher’s chance against except maybe Nakatani, just because Nakatani is such a horrible stylistic matchup. Even Sunny Edwards, whose skills are terrific, would have to be very cautious with Acosta, because he cannot trade power with him like he did a bit against Muhammad Waseem, for instance. Or shouldn’t, anyway. If you follow Sunny on social media at all, you know you shouldn’t tell him what he can’t do.
Another quick note: former 108 lb titleholder Felix Alvarado officially moves up to 112 this Saturday in Nicaragua. His opponent ain’t much of anything, but Alvarado is a talented fighter and if he wins without any surprising struggle, he’ll have a spot in the top 10 here next week. The better news is Alvarado adds a live wire to the division, too.
Upcoming Fights: (3) Julio Cesar Martinez vs (7) McWilliams Arroyo, June 25
Upcoming Fights: (1) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs (8) Esteban Bermudez, June 10 ... (4) Elwin Soto vs (9) Hekkie Budler, June 25
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Notes: I think Jermell Charlo probably deserves a spot in the top 10. But since pound-for-pound lists are make believe bullshit useful only to boxing promoters/marketing people if your fighter happens to be widely considered No. 1, and otherwise exist only to stir up comments section and social media arguments about nothing of much legitimate importance, I am going to wait a few weeks to let some things shake out.
- Tank Davis on May 28, how will he do with Rolando “Roll-E” Romero? Will he look like maybe a spot is his for the taking? Maybe! I don’t know!
- Kambosos vs Haney on June 4.
- Tyson Fury maybe getting “elevated” to “champion emeritus” by the WBC and that belt going vacant, which as we’ve mentioned before is the line by which we’ll actually consider Tyson Fury “retired” and remove him from the rankings. It kinda seems like this is coming any week now.
I plan at the moment to reevaluate after Kambosos-Haney for the June 6 rankings, but it could be before then if the Fury thing happens. Just know that whatever your list is, I think it’s 100 percent perfect. You have really gotten it exactly right.
Upcoming Fights: (9) George Kambosos Jr vs Devin Haney, June 4 ... (2) Naoya Inoue vs Nonito Donaire, June 7 ... (1) Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua, TBA
Upcoming Fights: (6) Delfine Persoon vs Elhem Mekhaled, May 21 ... (9) Chantelle Cameron vs Victoria Bustos, May 21 ... (2) Claressa Shields vs (8) Savannah Marshall, TBA