Doug Fischer

Ring ratings update: Rios earns No. 1 lightweight ranking

Brandon Rios vaulted to the No. 1 spot in THE RING’s lightweight ratings with his impressive 10th-round stoppage of Miguel Acosta on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Rios, who picked up Acosta’s WBA title with the Showtime-televised victory, was outclassed by the veteran in the early rounds, but the 24-year-old contender’s superior strength, power and relentless pressure ultimately prevailed.

Rios (27-0-1, 20 knockouts) scored knockdowns in rounds six, eight and 10 before Acosta’s corner threw in the towel to save their beaten fighter from further punishment. Rios wasn’t pretty and he certainly wasn’t elusive, but he was brutally effective.

altTHE RING’s editorial board believed that besting Acosta (28-4-2, 22 KOs), who had earned the magazine’s No. 1 ranking with knockout victories over previously undefeated contenders Urbano Antillon and Paulus Moses, earned Rios the top spot in the 135-pound ratings.

However, not everyone agrees with that notion. Some members of THE RING’s Ratings Panel believe that Humberto Soto, the WBC beltholder from Mexico, was more deserving of the No. 1 ranking.

Soto, a former featherweight contender and 130-pound titleholder, is an accomplished 13-year veteran. The 30-year-old boxer-puncher won the vacant WBC title by outpointing former beltholder David Diaz last March. Soto has defended the belt three times, including a unanimous decision over Antillon in December that was considered one of the best fights of 2010.

Taking only Soto’s lightweight record into consideration, THE RING’s editorial board decided that Rios had accomplished more at 135 pounds than the seasoned Mexican veteran.

“Moving Humberto Soto (No. 2 last week) into the No. 1 slot was discussed,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING magazine, “but after due consideration, Rios’ wins over Miguel Acosta and previously undefeated Anthony Peterson trump anything Soto has accomplished at lightweight after spending most of his career at junior lightweight and featherweight.”

Most fans probably agree with THE RING’s decision, but the other top lightweights have an opportunity to challenge Rios’ No. 1 ranking while the colorful pressure fighter heals from a hand injury suffered during the Acosta bout.

Soto (54-7-2, 32 KOs), who defends his title against Fidel Munoz this Saturday, is scheduled to face Antillon, THE RING’s No. 8-rated lightweight, in an anticipated rematch on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight on May 7.

Michael Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs), THE RING’s No. 3-rated lightweight, takes on the magazine’s No. 10-ranked contender Robert Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) on the undercard of the Erik Morales-Marcos Maidana fight on April 9.

If fans are lucky, Rios will take on the winner of Soto-Antillon or Katsidis-Guerrero and settle any debate about who’s No. 1 in the ring.


Ring ratings update:

Middleweights: Kelly Pavlik (No. 2 last week) has been removed from the 160-pound division because he has repeatedly stated he will no longer campaign as a middleweight. Pavlik’s exit allows all fighters rated No. 3 or below last week to climb one rung each and makes room for David Lemieux to debut at No. 10. Pavlik, who is scheduled to appear on the Pacquiao-Mosley undercard, perhaps against undefeated but unheralded Alfonso Lopez, will be rated at super middleweight if and when he accomplishes enough in the 168-pound class to merit a ranking.

Lightweights: Rios (No. 5 last week) changes places with Acosta (No. 1 last week) following his come-from-behind TKO of the seasoned veteran.

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