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Boxing Rankings (May 2, 2022): Katie Taylor, Shakur Stevenson, pound-for-pound, more

Katie Taylor keeps her P4P spot, Shakur Stevenson made his argument for one, and more in this week’s update.

Katie Taylor keeps her spot atop the women’s pound-for-pound
Katie Taylor keeps her spot atop the women’s pound-for-pound
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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.

Ranked fights this week:

  • Light Heavyweight: (2) Dmitry Bivol vs Canelo Alvarez, May 7
  • Super Middleweight: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Dmitry Bivol [light heavyweight], May 7
  • Junior Welterweight: (10) Montana Love vs Gabriel Valenzuela, May 7

Upcoming Fights: (10) Tony Yoka vs Martin Bakole, May 14 ... (9) Otto Wallin vs Rydell Booker, May 26 ... (2) Oleksandr Usyk vs (4) Anthony Joshua, TBA ... (5) Andy Ruiz Jr vs Luis Ortiz, TBA ... (6) Joe Joyce vs (8) Joseph Parker, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) Mairis Briedis vs Jai Opetaia, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (2) Dmitry Bivol vs Canelo Alvarez, May 7 ... (8) Joshua Buatsi vs Craig Richards, May 21 ... (1) Artur Beterbiev vs (3) Joe Smith Jr, June 18

Upcoming Fights: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Dmitry Bivol [light heavyweight], May 7 ... (2) David Benavidez vs David Lemieux, May 21 ... (5) David Morrell Jr vs Kalvin Henderson, June 4

Upcoming Fights: (7) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Danny Dignum, May 21 ... (2) Jermall Charlo vs Maciej Sulecki, June 18

Notes: Liam Smith stopped Jessie Vargas in 10, the first stoppage loss of Vargas’ career. It’s not the biggest win in the world — Vargas hadn’t fought in two years and was making his debut at 154 — but it’s a solid win and it proves again that Smith remains a very competitive contender at the weight. He’s maintained a high WBO ranking with the victory and could find himself scrapping back into another title fight.

As I mentioned during the fights in our live comments, Liam Smith really has been one of my favorite fighters of the last decade or so. He doesn’t do anything incredibly special, but he’s a true professional, technically sound, gets aggressive when he sees the openings, is never a bore to watch. He’s a terrific workmanlike fighter, which doesn’t often appeal to a fan base that largely only have time for the elite of the elite and believe everyone else is a “bum,” but for those who watch more than six fights a year, he’s been a reliable standout.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Jermell Charlo vs (1) Brian Castano, May 14

Upcoming Fights: (5) Jaron Ennis vs Custio Clayton, May 14

Upcoming Fights: (10) Montana Love vs Gabriel Valenzuela, May 7

Upcoming Fights: (5) Gervonta Davis vs Rolando Romero, May 28 ... (1) George Kambosos Jr vs (4) Devin Haney, June 4

Notes: Shakur Stevenson’s clear win over Oscar Valdez puts him into the top spot, which is probably what most expected coming in. Stevenson is a fantastic technician, not a risk-taker, knows how to fight dirty and get away with it — he’s got some Floyd, he’s got some Andre Ward, and he’s going to be in that line of fighters.

And, of course, both of them were at one point recognized as No. 1 in the world pound-for-pound by the majority, retired undefeated, and made their mark on the sport. Stevenson appears en route to become a major piece of Top Rank’s stable, or if he leaves at some point, a major piece of anyone’s.

What he does next isn’t super clear. There are some good options, there are some OK options, and there’s a good chance he has to tread water while other things shake out.

Valdez only goes to No. 2. I don’t see much of anyone else doing any better with Shakur than he did. At worst, I could see Valdez dropping to No. 3.

We’re also dropping Jamel Herring from the rankings. No disrespect to Jamel, but he’s formally set to move back up to 135 in a few weeks, so let’s rip the Band-Aid off. O’Shaquie Foster is in at No. 2. He’s put together a solid run and gotten himself into contention after a couple losses earlier in his career, and looked good in a win over Muhammad Yaqubov in March.

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 ... (1) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (8) Ronny Rios, June 25

Upcoming Fights: (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

Upcoming Fights: (3) Julio Cesar Martinez vs (7) McWilliams Arroyo, June 25

Upcoming Fights: (1) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs (8) Esteban Bermudez, June 10

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: There’s a lot of talk about putting Shakur Stevenson on the P4P list. I think you can argue he should be; he passes the eye test, he’s dominated his first 18 fights as a pro, there are some very good wins in there. You could easily do it you took Fury out (or never had Fury in), or if you took Estrada out since he hasn’t fought in 14 months. (Our policy is 15 months because boxing is too weird for too many reasons for 12 months, in my opinion.) Or if you don’t think as much of Ioka as I do, perhaps.

In other words, Shakur might be here soon without doing anything more than he’s done. Not just yet for me. Could just be a few more weeks, but not just yet. But the argument is there. He’s done what he can do.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Dmitry Bivol, May 7 ... (10) George Kambosos Jr vs Devin Haney, June 4 ... (2) Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua, TBA ... (9) Kazuto Ioka vs Donnie Nietes, TBA

Notes: Katie Taylor receives some of the weirdest criticism I’ve ever encountered. She has a habit of underwhelming people who maybe don’t watch all that much boxing. But I think her legacy is secure and that it will age well with people who continue to remember her after she retires; the people who get mad about her every couple years when they notice her fights just won’t remember or talk about her, which is their issue, not hers.

Anyway, I thought her getting the decision over Serrano was fair. I also could have seen it for Serrano. Two-minute rounds leave you a lot of freedom to go, “I like the one thing that person did in this round,” because most of the rounds look about the same. Seven of the rounds in that fight looked about the same. I liked Taylor better in all of those. I still think she deserves to be called No. 1 pound-for-pound.

Serrano doesn’t drop any. Again, I can see why some people thought she won. I wouldn’t have freaked out if the judges gave it to her, because if you liked Serrano in those closer rounds where I liked Taylor, hey, and then you’ve got the two Serrano unanimously won in the fifth and sixth, but — well, to hell with it, let’s get into it a little, and this is more for the randos than the regulars, who know all the stuff I’m about to say.

Let’s start by saying that no matter what Jake Paul Tweets, overall punch stats are a terrible way to judge any fight, and particularly this one. It’s very easy to Tweet this part of the CompuBox report, and rile up people who don’t know better:

But it leaves out the deeper look of even just the stats:

Boxing is scored round to round, not on the whole. A total of 44 percent (76 of 173) of Serrano’s landed punches came in the fifth and 10th rounds combined. As for the sixth, which most (including me) felt she clearly won because Taylor was still on bad legs from the fifth, Taylor landed 18 to Serrano’s 19, as Katie was still plenty in the fight and fighting back, and she picked some nice, clean shots in that round.

If you want to score just by CompuBox counted punches per round, then Katie Taylor won five rounds, Serrano four, and one was even. Going by the standard scoring system, that’s a 96-95 Taylor scorecard. Even if you give Serrano a 10-8 in the fifth without a knockdown, then it’s 95-95, a draw.

I am not saying that’s how you should score it, I am saying that scoring it by punches landed is a bad idea, particularly if you want to score it for Serrano because she landed more overall, the bulk of which came in two rounds — and all of the difference and then some being accounted for in round five, where she out-landed Taylor 44-14. That’s a 30-punch difference. Serrano’s overall advantage was 26 punches more than Taylor, 173-147.

Taylor landed at a significantly higher rate (39.2% to 27.7%), was better defensively, and for all the talk that Serrano did more damage, yes, Serrano’s damage was clearer, and again mostly centered on one round, and the leftover effects of that round in the next one. But fights aren’t scored overall or on damage, and certainly not on who had the most highlights at the end.

One major argument is “Serrano had more power,” which is true and we all knew that going in, but when did it make a clear difference? In two, maybe three rounds.

I’m not calling you a nut if you scored for Serrano. I am telling you you’re using poor reasoning if the reason you think she won is just what the CompuBox punch stats say.

Bottom line, though, is it was a terrific fight and I want to see it again.

Upcoming Fights: (6) Delfine Persoon vs Elhem Mekhaled, May 14 ... (9) Chantelle Cameron vs Victoria Bustos, May 21 ... (2) Claressa Shields vs (8) Savannah Marshall, TBA

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