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Boxing Rankings (May 8, 2023): Is Canelo Alvarez declining? Gervonta Davis’ resume, more

Canelo Alvarez won again, but is he on the downswing? (Yes!) Plus more!

Canelo Alvarez won again, but is he in decline?
Canelo Alvarez won again, but is he in decline?
Photo by Hector Vivas/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 22.

Ranked fights the next two weeks:

  • Middleweight: (2) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Steven Butler, May 13
  • Lightweight: (1) Devin Haney vs (3) Vasiliy Lomachenko, May 20
  • Junior Lightweight: (3) Oscar Valdez vs Adam Lopez, May 20
  • Featherweight: (10) Ruben Villa vs Maicklol Lopez, May 13
  • Bantamweight: (3) Vincent Astrolabio vs (4) Jason Moloney, May 13
  • Junior Bantamweight: (7) Junto Nakatani vs (9) Andrew Moloney, May 20
  • Junior Flyweight: (2) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Roland Jay Biendima, May 20
  • Women’s P4P: (2) Katie Taylor vs (8) Chantelle Cameron, May 20

Upcoming Fights: TBA

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

Notes: Joshua Buatsi did beat Pawel Stepien, and you might wish to be kinder than me and say, “Hey, Stepien was a solid pro, what have these other guys done,” etc. But this is now several times I’ve watched Buatsi, far from top level, and just not been terribly impressed in the end. So he drops a couple spots because the eye test is getting real iffy, man, and the eye test is most of what we have to go with basically always.

I will not put him below Gilberto Ramirez, though. At least Buatsi doesn’t embarrassingly blow weight to fight a blown-up junior middleweight.

I’m starting to think Eddie Hearn is sitting back having a bit of a chuckle at Sky thinking they made some big coup getting Okolie and Buatsi, honestly.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Artur Beterbiev vs (3) Callum Smith, TBA

Notes: John Ryder’s not losing much standing for me, losing to Canelo the way he did. That group past Plant is packed together pretty tight, honestly, and Plant is maybe sort of an island at the moment, the only man in his “group.”

So the headline question — yes, obviously, Canelo is declining. Canelo has been declining. He is in his early 30s, and no matter that tagline on his merch, boxing is not his entire life the way it used to be. This happens to just about every fighter who becomes mega rich at some point. It’s the Marvin Hagler quote: “It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5 AM when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas.” Canelo literally wears silk pajamas to his weigh-ins and stuff. I’m not saying Canelo doesn’t still work hard, but he didn’t used to have a golf obsession, either.

He’s still a really good fighter. He is fading down the stretch in fights these days, clearly. He did it against a semi-interested Golovkin, he did it against Ryder. His defense isn’t as good as it used to be. His left wrist may not get injured to the point of requiring a surgery every fight, but he leaned a lot more on his right hand again against Ryder. On the one hand, this is probably a welcome mix to what had become a left-hook happy offensive arsenal over the years. On the other hand, that change may be more necessary than tactical.

Canelo is still the top dog in this division, the undisputed champ, the money man, the guy everyone is chasing and targeting. I am not so convinced he is still the best fighter in the division, which is not to say it’s 100 percent someone else beats him at this weight. And as a spoiler for June’s P4P, at least my ballot, I am convinced he is absolutely not one of the 10 best in the sport P4P anymore.

His goal is to rematch Dmitry Bivol, he wants it at 175. I don’t think he can win that fight, but I think he genuinely wants, even needs, to try.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: Just a quick note to say that I’m with Oscar De La Hoya on this Jermall Charlo Tweet:

Like, I understand that he, as a promoter, is being a promoter here, and that he would not say the same thing about Charlo if he promoted Charlo. But whatever the path to get to this, he’s right.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Steven Butler, May 13 ... (3) Jaime Munguia vs (7) Sergiy Derevyanchenko, June 10 ... (5) Liam Smith vs (8) Chris Eubank Jr, June 17 ... (4) Carlos Adames vs Julian Williams, June 24

Notes: Magomed Kurbanov won a tight split decision over Michel Soro in Russia on Saturday. Kurbanov had an early cut that played a role in that, probably. I wasn’t that wild about Kurbanov’s performance, but I’ve never been wild about Kurbanov’s performances. His win over Liam Smith was a gift. Soro could have been given the nod Saturday. It’s just that, while this is a solid division with talent, that last spot has to go to someone, and no one is taking it. I think Charles Conwell would probably beat Kurbanov, but Conwell isn’t even taking/getting fights as good as Soro.

Upcoming Fights: (7) Erickson Lubin vs Luis Arias, June 24

Notes: Keith Thurman has officially hit inactivity on my lenient scale. He’s out. Roiman Villa is in. Villa was not an easy choice, necessarily, but I can tell you one thing, it’s not a debate I felt like spending a ton of time breaking down piece by piece. I picked one of a handful of guys who are all zero threat to the top of the division.

Hey, let’s say I did a hard line, one-year inactivity and you’re out thing. There are many reasons I don’t do this, but let’s say I did. Here’s what my top 10 at welterweight, the division of incredible superstar kings, would look like today:

  1. Terence Crawford
  2. Jaron Ennis
  3. Vergil Ortiz Jr
  4. Cody Crowley
  5. Egidijus Kavaliauskas
  6. Roiman Villa
  7. Rashidi Ellis
  8. Jamal James
  9. Alexis Rocha
  10. Souleymane Cissokho

Thrilling division. Glory division!

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (3) Jack Catterall vs Darragh Foley, May 27 ... (2) Josh Taylor vs (9) Teofimo Lopez, June 10 ... (1) Regis Prograis vs Liam Paro, June 17

Notes: William Zepeda beat Jaime Arboleda. Stays where he was.

Let’s address Tank’s rating from the last update. “Gervonta Davis doesn’t have the resume to be top three. Who has he beaten?” seems like a fine argument on the surface. Scratch the surface at all, and it starts to fall apart.

Specifically, look who else is here. What of their resumes? There is Lomachenko, and many will still have him No. 2, and I get that. Kambosos does have the win over Teofimo from a couple years ago. And then no one else here has done a single thing to put their resume over Davis’. In fact, all of them have done notably less.

So if your top three is Haney, Lomachenko, Kambosos, then OK. I don’t agree, but it is at least a clear idea, and I understand. Otherwise, I cannot see the argument to not have Davis top three.

Isaac Cruz lost to Tank and his best win is probably Eduardo Ramirez. Frank Martin’s best win is Michel Rivera. Zaur Abdullaev’s best win is a washed Jorge Linares. Zepeda’s best win is a too-heavy JosephJoseph Diaz. Jamaine Ortiz’s best win is Jamel Herring at the weight Herring was worse at in his career.

It’s fine if you think Davis’ resume isn’t that great, but Davis’ resume doesn’t stand as its own argument without comparison to others, and his resume is actually not unusually “weak” when you start breaking it down for everyone across most of the sport.

Elsewhere in the boxing world, The RING have Davis behind Haney and Loma. Same at ESPN. TBRB have him the same as I do, between Haney and Loma. It’s all pretty consistent.

If he didn’t get lots of headlines and weren’t popular/polarizing, would this even be a discussion? Probably not.

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

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

Upcoming Fights: (10) Ruben Villa vs Maicklol Lopez, 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: (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 ... (4) Joshua Franco vs (5) Kazuto Ioka, June 24

Notes: Julio Cesar Martinez is kind of a hoot. First of all, you never know if he’ll actually make it to his scheduled fight. Second of all, there’s a lot of tape on him now. This isn’t Charlie Edwards not really knowing what he was getting into in 2019 anymore. People know what Martinez does well and more importantly, his glaring weaknesses.

The struggled he had with Ronal Batista, a fighter who had been nowhere close to world level ever before, displayed all of that. And then also displayed the “third of all,” which is that he is still fun to watch, has dangerous power, and he’s vulnerable against all sorts of fighters. I think Sunny or Bam Rodriguez would embarrass him at times, probably both dice him up and beat him. I think Artem Dalakian’s solid skills would make that matchup about 50/50. Felix Alvarado, David Jimenez, Ricardo Sandoval, several others can beat Martinez. And he can beat them.

But he is No. 3, yes, and clearly.

Upcoming Fights: (1) Sunny Edwards vs Andres Campos, June 10 ... (5) Felix Alvarado vs TBA, June 10

Upcoming Fights: (2) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Roland Jay Biendima, May 20 ... (5) Daniel Matellon vs (10) Carlos Canizales, June 10

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (2) Katie Taylor vs (8) Chantelle Cameron, May 20 ... (1) Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels, June 3 ... (3) Amanda Serrano vs Heather Hardy, Aug. 5

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