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Boxing Rankings (April 24, 2023): Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, Zhilei Zhang, Joe Cordina, more

Gervonta Davis’ star reached new heights with his win over Ryan Garcia, but his immediate future remains a bit murky.

Gervonta Davis’ star reached new heights with his win over Ryan Garcia
Gervonta Davis’ star reached new heights with his win over Ryan Garcia
Photo by Al Bello/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. No update next week, so the next update will come on May 8. But we’ve got a big update this week!

Ranked fights the next two weeks:

  • Light Heavyweight: (3) Joshua Buatsi vs Pawel Stepien, May 6
  • Super Middleweight: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (6) John Ryder, May 6
  • Junior Middleweight: (10) Magomed Kurbanov vs Michel Soro, May 6
  • Lightweight: (9) William Zepeda vs Jaime Arboleda, Apr. 29
  • Junior Bantamweight: (6) Wisaksil Wangek vs Komgrich Nantapech, Apr. 29
  • Flyweight: (2) Julio Cesar Martinez vs Ronal Batista, May 6

Notes: A couple of results and some major shifting in the rankings.

Zhilei Zhang is in, and he’s in hot at No. 5 after a destructive, dominant win over Joe Joyce on April 15. What that fight told me more than anything, honestly, is that we have a top four — maybe a top three if you’re an AJ “hater” — and then we have some other guys. But that’s not terrible. And Zhang would be dangerous against AJ, I think; while I’m not an AJ “hater,” and I am just refusing to read way too much into a fight with Jermaine Franklin where he operated a set game plan from a new trainer in their first fight together, I am also of the belief that if it’s a Big Four, AJ is the clear No. 4 at this stage.

Filip Hrgovic also gets a bump up to No. 6. That back half of the top 10 hasn’t really done a whole lot. I thought Zhang deserved a close win over Hrgovic, but Hrgovic officially got it, and however you want to slice it, Hrgovic sure did a hell of a lot better against Zhang than Joyce did.

Martin Bakole fought a nothing fight on Saturday in Poland and won easily, he sticks at No. 8. Joyce falls to No. 9, and Dillian Whyte is also down to No. 10, sort of hanging on at the moment, but the same could be said of Andy Ruiz Jr at No. 7. I think Ruiz still has quality, I just don’t know if he cares much about fighting anymore, whereas I think Whyte is still up to fight, but I don’t know how much quality he really has left.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Chucked some inactive fighters out. Thabiso Mchunu and Noel Mikaelyan fall out of the back two spots, replaced by Billam-Smith and Cieslak. You could chose two other guys. I considered Albert Ramirez, Evgeny Tishchenko, Ryan Rozicki, and Aleksei Papin before I went, “I don’t care very much about this,” and put in Billam-Smith and Cieslak.

As an aside, BoxRec now have Lukasz Rozanski and Alen Babic listed as cruiserweights after their fight on Saturday. Babic hasn’t made the cruiserweight limit in his last seven fights, and only once in his career, while Rozanski has never weighed in under 222¼ lbs for a fight. So my suspicion is that BoxRec are trying to figure out what to do with “bridgerweight” because there is absolutely no reason those two should be listed at cruiser.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith, May 27

Notes: Want to make the note here that we’re going to see how Oleksandr Gvozdyk looks on May 6 when he faces Ricards Bolotniks on the Canelo vs Ryder card. If Gvozdyk looks even 80 percent of the fighter he was in 2019, he hits the top 10 next update. Bolotniks is sturdy, solid, aggressive, and tough, exactly the sort of guy who can undo a washed fighter trying to make a comeback. But if Gvozdyk, at 36, is sharp in his second fight back (he fought a six-rounder in February), he should be too much for Bolotniks. Eye test will tell the tale.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Joshua Buatsi vs Pawel Stepien, May 6

Notes: David Morrell did to Yamaguchi Falcao about what we expected him to do to Sena Agbeko. The fight to make for him and David Benavidez is each other, and I think they’re both aware and willing. Canelo is not “ducking” Benavidez to take a rematch with Dmitry Bivol, but I realize some people are always going to insist on seeing it that way, even if Benavidez himself does not. Now if a Bivol rematch doesn’t happen next for ol’ Saul — assuming Alvarez beats Ryder, etc. — and Canelo then doesn’t fight an available Benavidez instead, then yes, call it a duck. Fair game at that point.

Daniel Jacobs wasn’t going to “officially” hit inactive until the May 15 update, but I was tired of looking at him taking up a spot. There haven’t even been any significant rumors of him fighting in about a year, he hasn’t fought since Feb. 2022, and he hasn’t actually looked all that interested in fighting since he lost to Canelo four years ago while getting a “fuck you” payday out of early days DAZN.

Vladimir Shishkin takes the No. 10 spot. I thought about Bektemir Melikuziev, but honestly, I wouldn’t pick Melikuziev head-to-head over Shishkin right now. Bek can punch and isn’t unskilled, but he has a lot of flaws. Gabe Rosado knocking him out a couple years ago was a “fluke” as a gambling result but in a boxing sense, I do think calling it a fluke is unfair. Rosado earned it because he saw what Melikuziev did over and over and made him pay for it. And Rosado was able to go a full 10 without too much trouble in the rematch. Sure, Rosado didn’t offer much, but Melikuziev’s approach is also pretty easy for a cagey guy like Rosado to survive, especially if Bek is a little cautious about throwing, as he was for half the fight. I’m just not sold on Bek as a serious contender. I’m not on Shishkin either, really, but I think Shishkin is a better all-around fighter right now.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Canelo Alvarez vs (6) John Ryder, May 6

Notes: Fiodor Czerkaszyn won a showcase fight on the Davis vs Garcia prelims. He’s a fine fighter. Has no sauce. Meiirim Nursultanov won on April 15 in South Korea, beating Kazuto Takesako via eighth round stoppage, scores were competitive before the ending, but a solid win.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Steven Butler, May 13 ... (4) Carlos Adames vs Julian Williams, June 24

Upcoming Fights: (10) Magomed Kurbanov vs Michel Soro, May 6 ... (7) Erickson Lubin vs Luis Arias, June 24

Notes: Keith Thurman goes inactive next update without a fight signed or at least strongly rumored/reported/expected to happen/whatever. My gut feeling says there will be no movement and he’ll be out. And then in mid-July there are decisions to be made on Spence, Ugas, Stanionis, and Butaev, if they don’t get anything going. Stanionis I’ll probably give my rope if he doesn’t get a date by then because the situation with the WBA and Vergil Ortiz Jr is not his fault at all; not really anyone’s fault, a rare situation where everyone was doing the right things and it just seems snake-bitten.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Standing pat with the rankings here. Yes, Ryan Garcia lost, but at a 136 lb catchweight after he’d already decided to make the move up to 140. That’s fine, he wanted the big fight and those were the terms, he lost. I also, like — Teofimo was once the pretend undisputed champion at 135, but that was a while ago now, and he has not looked great in any of his last three fights, including the two at 140. And Teofimo has his chance to make his own argument on June 10, anyway.

So it’s a situation that will shake out. As for what Garcia does next, it’ll be interesting to see what Golden Boy can do with him. There’s very little in-house other than bringing William Zepeda up from 135, and I’m sure Zepeda would leap at the offer. And a lot of the top and most credible names at 140 are with Top Rank or PBC.

They’re not gonna stick Ryan in there with Sandor Martin. Just a stylistic trap fight. Even if you win, it’s not gonna be pretty. I feel like it’s gotta be someone halfway credible but you probably don’t want too dangerous; in this instance, I’m trying to think of what they would do, not what I want as someone who is not his manager or mom, and also who’s actually available. Maybe Jeremias Ponce or Danielito Zorrilla, or maybe Golden Boy will just once again dig up the ancient 33-year-old Pablo Cesar Cano.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Jack Catterall vs Darragh Foley, May 27 ... (2) Josh Taylor vs (9) Teofimo Lopez, June 10

Notes: Gervonta Davis is up to No. 2 because I think right now, at this moment, he is in better form than 35-year-old Vasiliy Lomachenko. Frankly, I’m not sure Lomachenko is really better than the fourth-best lightweight in the sport right now. I have incredible respect for Loma and think he’s a surefire Hall of Famer with all of his achievements in boxing, amateur and pro, really no question about it, first-ballot guy. But this is not 2013, 2016, or 2019. It’s 2023 and he has aged.

I don’t expect it to be a totally popular decision, but let me get ahead of this idea: “That’s not how rankings work, though!” It is for me. They’re my rankings. Tough titty.

As for what comes next for Davis, y’know — being honest and really not trying to be funny about it — the answer is probably jail. He is probably next going to be going to jail for some amount of time. I don’t want to spend much time on that itself, because I have nothing much to add that isn’t the obvious, but I also don’t want to sit here and go, “Wow! Will it be the winner of Haney vs Lomachenko! Will it be Shakur! So many GREAT FIGHTS for Tank to make!” Because probably not! For a lot of reasons. For one thing, let’s not suddenly think Tank Davis and PBC are going to be easy to make “cross the street” deals with, and everyone isn’t going to give in the way Ryan and Golden Boy did. And another reason is he is quite likely going to be doing some jail time.

But as far as the in-ring, I think he’s a genuinely excellent fighter. If you listen to him closely after the fight, he said Garcia was probably his toughest and best opponent. That it was “easy” for him, that he was the level above as he believed and showed, is not a reflection of everyone else lacking quality, at least in his mind and the way he’s talking about it, it is a reflection of how good Tank Davis is. Mayweather used that same approach a lot; if you listen without really listening, it sounds like they’re shitting on everyone, but they’re not. And I think both of them truly believe the words they say, that they are just that much better. And Mayweather backed it up, and so far, so has Davis.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Devin Haney vs (3) Vasiliy Lomachenko, May 20 ... (6) George Kambosos Jr vs Maxi Hughes, TBA

Notes: I said last week that the winner of No. 2 Cordina vs No. 3 Rakhimov would, if impressive, take the top spot. I think Cordina was impressive in victory. I think Rakhimov was impressive in defeat. I think we saw the two best 130 lb fighters in the ring on Saturday, so they’re both up.

It’s also not the greatest division in the world, let’s be honest about that. But there are lots of good fighters here, and a lot of potentially interesting style matchups. On form, I still think Zelfa Barrett is tricky for anyone, but guys like Rakhimov will probably always get to him eventually, or at least have a strong shot to do so. I’d give Barrett a better shot against Cordina than I would a rematch with Rakhimov, for instance, and I think he’d be more of a problem for Oscar Valdez than he would O’Shaquie Foster.

Emanuel Navarrete is a great wild card to have; I’m still not sold on how good he’s going to be at this weight, and hopefully we’ll find out if/when he fights Valdez later this year, or maybe he can do unification with O’Shaquie. Hector Luis Garcia is still sitting there with a belt, too.

Upcoming Fights: (3) Oscar Valdez vs Adam Lopez, May 20

Upcoming Fights: (10) Ruben Villa vs TBA, May 13 ... (1) Mauricio Lara vs (4) Leigh Wood, May 27 ... (6) Luis Alberto Lopez vs Michael Conlan, May 27

Upcoming Fights: (1) Stephen Fulton Jr vs Naoya Inoue, July 25

Upcoming Fights: (3) Vincent Astrolabio vs (4) Jason Moloney, May 13 ... (1) Nonito Donaire vs (9) Alexandro Santiago, TBA ... (2) Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Melvin Lopez, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (6) Wisaksil Wangek vs Komgrich Nantapech, Apr. 29 ... (7) Junto Nakatani vs (9) Andrew Moloney, May 20 ... (8) Kosei Tanaka vs Pablo Carrillo, May 21 ... (2) Fernando Martinez vs Jade Bornea, June 24

Upcoming Fights: (2) Julio Cesar Martinez vs Ronal Batista, May 6

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Some movement at 105. The Shigeokas both won fights on Apr. 16, with Ginjiro stopping former titlist Rene Mark Cuarto in nine, and Yudai stopping former titlist Wilfredo Mendez in seven. These guys really might be the two best fighters in this division right now, both now have interim titles (Ginjiro the IBF, Yudai the WBC), and Yudai will be trying to force that WBC shot with Panya Pradabsri, which was supposed to be the April bout for him. They’re young, they can punch, and they both passed good tests.

With Mendez falling out, Ayanda Ndulani, who has the universally-respected IBO title, is in.

Notes: Mikaela Mayer stays put after her Apr. 15 return, a win at 135 that netted her the interim WBC belt. Don’t count out her getting a Katie Taylor fight. If the Taylor vs Serrano rematch idea again falls apart, then no matter what happens with Taylor at 140 on May 20 against Chantelle Cameron, Mayer might be the best fight for Katie — in the UK, in Ireland, in New York, whatever. And while Mayer wants the Baumgardner rematch at 130, I think she might also find it amusing to take a much bigger fight than Baumgardner can possibly get.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Katie Taylor vs (8) Chantelle Cameron, May 20 ... (1) Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels, June 3

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