Michael Rosenthal

Ring Ratings Update: Do we rate Mares or not?

Abner Mares gave an inspired performance in his near-shutout victory over veteran Eric Morel to win the vacant junior featherweight title Saturday in El Paso, Texas.

Consensus in the Ratings Advisory Panel was to have Mares enter the 122-pound ratings, although opinion varied as to where he should fit in.

Mares had won a series of important fights to become one of the most-respected bantamweights in the world and then made a strong statement against a well-known opponent after moving up in weight.

That track record and rousing victory were arguments in favor of his inclusion in the junior featherweight ratings.

However, not everyone bought that line of thinking. One member of the panel – writer Tim Starks – was against rating Mares because he now has only one victory since moving up in weight and beat an opponent who isn’t a natural 122-pounder.

Plus, the principals agreed to fight at a catch weight of 120 pounds.

“Let’s see him beat at least one authentic junior featherweight before considering him,” Starks said.

Obviously, legitimate arguments could be made on both sides of the issue.

However, in the end, the Editorial Board decided Mares deserved a place in the junior featherweight Top 10.

First, there was his resume as a bantamweight. THE RING has always given some weight to achievements at lower weight when debating whether a fighter should crack the Top 10.

Second, the victory wasn’t defining but it was important. Morel is 36 and small but he’s an excellent boxer with an abundance of experience who seems to have retained much of his ability.

In other words, the Puerto Rican was no stepping-stone opponent.

And, third, we simply asked ourselves the question: Is Mares one of the best 122-pounders in the world? The answer in our minds was an obvious “yes.”

Now we had to decide where he would fit in. The suggestions from the panel members who believed Mares should be rated ranged from No. 4 to No. 10.

So we decided to split the difference and have the new WBC titleholder enter at No. 7, between South Africans Jeffrey Mathebula and Takalani Ndlovu.

That pushed Masaaki Serie (No. 10 last week) out of the ratings.



Heavyweight: Ruslan Chagaev (No. 7 last week) retained his position after stopping Billy Zumbrun in three rounds Saturday in Germany.

Junior middleweight: Erislandy Lara (No. 4 last week) stays put after his first-round knockout of Ronald Hearns on Friday in Biloxi, Miss.

We considered lifting Lara over No. 3 Vanes Martirosyan but decided against it because Hearns was no great threat and Lara is only 1-1-1 in his last three fights, although his loss to Paul Williams was controversial.

Junior featherweight: Mares (unrated last week) enters at No. 7, pushing out Serie (No. 10 last week).

Also, Akifumi Shimoda (No. 4 last week) stopped unrated Azael Gonzalez in 10 rounds on April 16 in Tokyo to hold his place in the ratings.

Bantamweight: Mares (No. 2 last week) drops out, which leaves room for Hugo Ruiz to enter at No. 10. Ruiz (30-1, 27 knockouts) is a big puncher from Mexico who has beaten several solid – not elite – opponents and has never fought outside his native country.

Morel (No. 5 last week) retains his position but was leapfrogged by Koki Kameda, who was No. 6 last week but moves up two spots because of Morel’s loss and Mares’ departure.

Also, Anselmo Moreno (No. 1 last week) remained atop the division with an impressive ninth-round knockout of unrated David De La Mora on the Mares-Morel undercard.

Junior bantamweight: Omar Narvaez (No. 1 last week) retains his position after a one-sided decision over unrated Jose Cabrera on Saturday in Narvaez’s native Argentina.

Pound for pound: Some members of the panel are beginning to push hard for Moreno to crack the Top 10 list. Anyone who has seen his past few fights would agree that he is knocking on the door.

However, the Editorial Board decided he needs at least one signature victory to knock someone else out of the pound-for-pound ratings.



Rated fighters in action this coming weekend (with current ratings)

Light heavyweight: Ismayl Sillakh (No. 10) vs. Denis Grachev (Friday); Bernard Hopkins (C) vs. Chad Dawson (No. 2) (Saturday)

Super middleweight: Thomas Oosthuizen (No. 6) vs. Marcus Johnson (Friday)

Welterweight: Vyacheslav Senchenko (No. 6) vs. Paulie Malignaggi (Sunday)

Junior lightweight: Juan Carlos Salgado (No. 2) vs. Martin Honorio (Saturday)

Featherweight: Jhonny Gonzalez (No. 4) vs. Elio Rojas (Saturday)

Junior flyweight: Roman Gonzalez (No. 2) vs. Ramon Hirales (No. 8) (Saturday)

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