Rankings go up on Mondays.
Ranked fights this week:
- Cruiserweight: (4) Ilunga Junior Makabu vs Badou Jack, Feb. 26
- Junior Welterweight: (5) Subriel Matias vs Jeremias Ponce, Feb. 25
- Bantamweight: (10) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Jesus Martinez, Feb. 24
Upcoming Fights: (4) Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin, Apr. 1 ... (5) Joe Joyce vs Zhilei Zhang, Apr. 15
Upcoming Fights: (4) Ilunga Junior Makabu vs Badou Jack, Feb. 26 ... (2) Lawrence Okolie vs David Light, Mar. 25
Upcoming Fights: (4) Callum Smith vs Pawel Stepien, Mar. 11 ... (10) Jean Pascal vs Michael Eifert, Mar. 16 ... (5) Gilberto Ramirez vs Gabriel Rosado, Mar. 18 ... (9) Craig Richards vs Ricards Bolotniks, Apr. 1
Notes: Lerrone Richards has a month from here before he goes inactive. That doesn’t mean he has to fight within that frame, just that he has to get something scheduled, or at least have the credible rumor that something soon will be. This is more a “bad breaks” situation, I think; he’s not exactly any promoter’s dream to try and sell, and he also had an injury that scuppered a return in December. But time is time.
Upcoming Fights: (9) Carlos Gongora vs (10) Christian Mbilli, Mar. 23 ... (2) David Benavidez vs (3) Caleb Plant, Mar. 25 ... (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (6) John Ryder, May 6
Notes: Speaking of falling out due to inactivity, it’s been past time but I gave a generous leash to try and see if Jermall Charlo — who hasn’t fought since June 2021 and, technically, could have been pulled after 15 months out last September — would get a fight in. Or scheduled. Or anything.
But that’s enough. Part of the reason I was so hesitant is that without him, this division looks even worse. This is not a good division right now. Also, if you’re new or don’t remember or haven’t cared before, Charlo doesn’t reenter the rankings if he just signs a fight. He’ll have to fight that fight, which at this point, who even knows if it’ll be at 160?
It’s not all bleak, as there are some talented young fighters who could make their mark, but it seems like they’re going to have to try to make that mark against one another, and I don’t know if that will happen. Divisions have lulls, and middleweight is just in one.
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Upcoming Fights: (4) Tim Tszyu vs (8) Tony Harrison, Mar. 12 ... (3) Sebastian Fundora vs Brian Mendoez, Apr. 8
Upcoming Fights: (8) Cody Crowley vs Abel Ramos, Mar. 25 ... (6) Vergil Ortiz Jr vs (7) Eimantas Stanionis, Apr. 29
Upcoming Fights: (5) Subriel Matias vs Jeremias Ponce, Feb. 25 ... (3) Jack Catterall vs TBA, Mar. 25 ... (4) Jose Ramirez vs Richard Commey, Mar. 25 ... (7) Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis, Apr. 15
Upcoming Fights: (3) Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia [junior welterweight, technically], Apr. 15 ... (1) Devin Haney vs (2) Vasiliy Lomachenko, May 20
Notes: O’Shaquie Foster makes the jump into the top five after a good win over Rey Vargas, claiming the previously-vacant WBC title. Now, it was a win over a guy who had never fought at 130 before. Vargas definitely didn’t look incompetent or useless at the weight or anything, but Foster was beating a guy who had one credible fight over 122 lbs. So top five, but there’s still a bit more to prove, and that dude seems eager to prove it, and I look forward to watching him fight again.
It’s a top five in a bit of flux, but things are going to shake out. Cordina and Rakhimov will have their overdue fight on Apr. 22, and we’ll see how Hector Luis Garcia looks when he comes back down in weight to 130 (if he does, which you have to assume he will since the belt he has here is his biggest bargaining chip). We’ll also see Oscar Valdez come back, and he and Navarrete might fight in the fall. Should, say they will, but let’s call it “might.”
Upcoming Fights: (2) Joe Cordina vs (3) Shavkat Rakhimov, Apr. 22
Notes: Speaking of divisions in flux, 126 is finally starting to take something close to a reasonable, actual shape.
Emanuel Navarrete is gone, he’s staying at 130. Rey Vargas is still here, he’s got the WBC belt and will come back to 126 more likely than not. Mauricio Lara now has the WBA belt after rallying to knock out Leigh Wood on a one-shotter this past Saturday.
Lara looked plenty vulnerable in that fight, and Wood was fighting well. I’m calling Lara the top dog at featherweight right now, because he’s on the streak and he won a world title fight in clear fashion, I don’t care if he lost five of six rounds beforehand, he knocked Leigh Wood out. Wood wanted to continue and technically could have, but he was a mess. Even if he’d gotten the break between rounds there’s every chance he gets obliterated early in the next one with bad legs and Lara charging at him. And the facts are the facts, TKO-7 for Lara, new WBA champ.
But I’m also not dropping Wood any from where he was; with Navarrete officially gone to 130, Wood actually moves up a spot in defeat. He was doing a great job in that fight, but he got caught. He is a quality contender, a quality fighter, and still in the mix at 126. Between them sits Vargas.
After that, it gets sloppier still, but with Magsayo fighting Brandon Figueroa soon, we’ll basically decide a top five guy there, and then we have Dogboe and Ramirez fighting for the vacant WBO belt on Apr. 1. I’m on record: I think the actual best fighter in this division right now is Robeisy Ramirez. We’ll see how he does against Dogboe, though. Dogboe is not a walkover for anyone; even when he got dominated by Navarrete down at 122, he made Navarrete just keep dominating him, he would not go away, and that’s a sort of guy Ramirez hasn’t encountered yet.
But the winners of Figueroa-Magsayo and Ramirez-Dogboe should both hit the top five at least, or stay there, solidified, in Magsayo’s case.
Gary Russell Jr has until Apr. 22 to get something scheduled, if you’re wondering about his status at the moment, since him potentially going inactive is basically an annual concern.
Upcoming Fights: (5) Mark Magsayo vs Brandon Figueroa, Mar. 4 ... (9) Isaac Dogboe vs (10) Robeisy Ramirez, Apr. 1
Notes: Well, Luis Nery’s win over Azat Hovhannisyan is going to be tough to top for Fight of the Year. We’ve had a damn good run of some damn good fights so far in 2023, and Nery vs Hovhannisyan was the best of the lot. It is also still February. So this is good.
Nery rises a spot to No. 3. That’s probably the most I’ve ever enjoyed watching him fight, not just because the fight was great, but because I think it was such a complete performance. He showed his skills, but also his ruggedness and heart against a triple-tough dude who refused to be dominated. Nery beat Hovhannisyan clean, and Hovhannisyan stays at No. 5, because the rest of the division still needs to do something, you know, better to jump him after that incredible effort.
There is a bit of house-cleaning here, I like to occasionally reassess things and not stay static forever, and this was a time I did that and changed my mind a little on a couple things. Marlon Tapales and Zolani Tete move up, Ronny Rios moves down. Liam Davies is up a spot because Takuma Inoue is headed back down to 118 to fight for one of the belts his brother vacated, and Sam Goodman is in at No. 10, but his next fight is no gimme against veteran TJ Doheny on the Tszyu-Harrison undercard. Doheny may be past his best days, but he’s a solid matchup for young Goodman, who edged out — at least for now — a few other potential No. 10 guys.
Upcoming Fights: (10) Sam Goodman vs TJ Doheny, Mar. 12 ... (2) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (6) Marlon Tapales, Apr. 8 ... (9) Liam Davies vs Jason Cunningham, Apr. 29 ... (1) Stephen Fulton Jr vs Naoya Inoue, TBA
Notes: Thought about moving Takuma Inoue back in at 118 since he’s coming down for a world title fight, but he hasn’t fought at the weight in two years, so we’ll hold off on that for the moment. With Naoya Inoue out, this division is about to get four new titleholders and some shakin’ up. Within a few months, anyway. Hopefully by the end of spring we’ll have a clearer look at what post-“Monster” bantamweight looks like.
Rigondeaux’s back in Florida on Friday.
Upcoming Fights: (10) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Jesus Martinez, Feb. 24
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Notes: A bit more house-cleaning in this division because McWilliams Arroyo went 15 months inactive with nothing slated, and we did have some results, including a win for Ricardo Sandoval on Saturday.
The top three stays the same, but after seeing Alvarado, Jimenez, and Sandoval all in action pretty recently, I really think Alvarado has the best case for the No. 4 spot. But that is just personal opinion and crap. Which is all any of this is.
Back end moves around a bit. Apolinario did fight and win on Feb. 11, but against a garbage opponent, and Akui and Kuwahara just have the better competition, I think; not by a ton, but by enough.
Upcoming Fights: (9) Taku Kuwahara vs Jose Rivas, Mar. 14
Upcoming Fights: (1) Kenshiro Teraji vs (3) Jonathan Gonzalez, Apr. 8
Upcoming Fights: (2) Knockout CP Freshmart vs (10) Erick Rosa, Mar. 1
Upcoming Fights: (5) Seniesa Estrada vs Tina Rupprecht, Mar. 25 ... (2) Katie Taylor vs (3) Amanda Serrano, May 20 ... (6) Mikaela Mayer vs Christina Linardatou, TBA