Andre Ward and Lucian Bute continue to vie for recognition as the world’s best super middleweight.
The 26-year-old American replaced Bute as THE RING’s No. 1 rated super middleweight on the strength of his unanimous decision over dangerous contender Sakio Bika on Saturday in Oakland, Calif.
The undefeated 168-pound titleholders have been THE RING’s top two rated super middleweights since Ward’s breakthrough 11-round technical decision over highly regarded veteran Mikkel Kessler last year.
That victory, which took place in November of last year, vaulted Ward from No. 9 to Kessler’s longtime No. 1 spot in THE RING’s 168-pound ratings. However the newly crowned beltholder’s top-dog status didn't last very long.
Bute, the No. 2 contender, seized the magazine’s top spot with his impressive fourth-round KO of Librado Andrade just one week after Ward beat Kessler.
The Montreal-based Romanian southpaw held onto the No. 1 rating for exactly one year, defending his belt against Edison Miranda (TKO 3) in April and against Jesse Brinkley (KO 9) in October.
During that time, Ward (23-0, 13 knockouts) dominated once-beaten Allan Green to a unanimous shutout decision in June.
THE RING’s editorial board believes Ward’s decision victories against Bika and Green are more impressive than Bute’s stoppages of Brinkley and Miranda.
Fans of Bute (27-0, 22 KOs) might point out that Ward just beat a guy (Bika) that their man outpointed back in June 2007. Ward's supporters can say that their man defeated Miranda almost one year prior to Bute's dismantling of the Colombian puncher.
“THE RING felt that Andre Ward’s recent opponents were significantly better that Bute’s,” said Nigel Collins, Editor in Chief of THE RING magazine. “But as it stands now, both Bute and Ward would still have to fight each other to claim the vacant RING super middleweight champions.”
A fight between Ward and Bute, which could happen once the American is done with the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, is the only sure way to settle the debate of who’s the better super middleweight.
RING RATINGS UPDATE
Ward wasn't the only super middleweight contender in action over the weekend. Carl Froch was impressive in soundly outboxing Arhtur Abraham over 12 rounds on Saturday in Helsinki, Finland.
Ward (No. 2 last week) swaps places with Bute (No. 1 last week) thanks to his decision victory over Bika. Froch (No. 4 last week) moves to No. 3 as a result of his dominating decision over Abraham. Mikkel Kessler (No. 3 last week) slips to No. 4.
Michael Katsidis (No. 1 last week) drops to No. 3 after world champion Juan Manuel Marquez stopped him in the ninth round. Katsidis’ demotion moves up Miguel Acosta (No. 2 last week) and Humberto Soto (No. 3 last week) one place each, respectively.
Takahiro Aoh replaces Vitaly Tajbert at No 8 after winning a 12-round decision over Tajbert. Jason Litzau nudges Cassius Baloyi out of the No. 10 slot thanks to Litzau’s upset decision over Celestino Caballero.
Hozumi Hasegawa (No. 3 at bantamweight last week) takes the No. 10 spot away from Jhonny Gonzalez on the strength of his decision over Juan Burgos to win the vacant WBC title.
Hasegawa’s move to featherweight allows everybody at No. 4 and below to climb one rung each and makes room for Volodymyr Sydorenko to come abroad at No. 10.