Former middleweight beltholder Felix Sturm dropped in THE RING’s 160-pound rankings after losing his second consecutive close decision, this time to previously unrated Sam Soliman, over the weekend.
There was other notable action this past week, which resulted in interesting comments from THE RING Ratings Panel and caused some movement in the magazine’s divisional ratings.
The Eduard Gutknecht-Juergen Braehmer European light heavyweight title fight was very interesting with THE RING’s No. 8-rated contender Braeahmer winning a narrow decision in Germany. There were comments about dropping No. 9-rated Gabriel Campillo, who was knocked out in his last fight, and bringing in Gutknecht in the rankings. However, we shouldn’t bring in fighters to the rankings after a loss unless the circumstances are very unusual. So there will not be any movement in the light heavyweight rankings.
Former super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell was back in the ring after an extended hiatus, beating durable journeyman Michael Gbenga on points in a 10-round light heavyweight bout. Dirrell will be fighting again soon – hopefully against better competition – so we will hold off on ranking him until then.
At middleweight, IBF titleholder Daniel Geale easily outpointed former 168-pound beltholder Anthony Mundine. Since Geale is already our No. 1-rated middleweight, there is no movement for him.
However, our No. 2-ranked middleweight, Sturm, lost a unanimous decision to Soliman, who got up from a second-round knockdown to outwork the former three-time middleweight titleholder. Sturm, who dropped a split decision to Geale last September, drops to No. 8 in our rankings based on his second consecutive loss and also due a pair of shaky performances against Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray, controversial bouts in which he was lucky to retain his WBA title in 2011.
Soliman will enter THE RING’s middleweight rankings at No. 10, taking Grzegorz Proksa out of the top 10.
THE RING’s No. 7-rated junior middleweight Carlos Molina easily outpointed a fading Cory Spinks but his one-sided unanimous decision was not enough for any movement in the 154-pound rankings.
Undefeated junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez scored a solid 10-round decision win over capable Lanard Lane, his best win yet as a pro, but not enough for ranking consideration.
Former 122-pound and featherweight beltholder JuanMa Lopez debuted at 130 pounds, stopping Aldimar Silva Santos by ninth-round TKO. Lopez, who was THE RING’s No. 6-rated featherweight, has lost two of his past four fights (to Orlando Salido). He has made it clear that he won’t be fighting at 126 pounds any longer, so he’s been dropped from the featherweight ratings. He hasn’t done enough to be rated in the junior lightweight rankings, either, but we’ll look at his future performances at 130 pounds, as we will with Dirrell at 168 pounds.
There was heated discussion among the panel as to who should replace Lopez at 126 pounds. Some suggested Ronny Rios, an undefeated Southern Californian who recently outpointed former 122-pound beltholder Rico Ramos. However, more panelists were inclined to rate ultra-talented southpaw Gary Russell (21-0, 13 knockouts), who hasn’t defeated anyone as notable as Ramos, but is clearly a better talent and technician than Rios (20-0, 9 KOs).
The Editorial Board is high on both Russell and Rios, but decided to pass on the two unbeaten prospects in favor of once-beaten former title challenger Chonlatam Piriyapinyo (45-1, 28 KOs). The reason for the decision was simple: Rios and Russell are still works in progress. Both young men have only recently begun fighting in scheduled 10-round bouts. Rios, who is 23, has only fought the 10-round distance once, the decision over Ramos last month. Russell, who is 24, has never fought past the eight-round distance.
Piriyapinyo, a 28-year-old veteran whose only loss is a decision to top-rated WBA titleholder Chris John, has been fighting in 12-round bouts since his fourth pro bout. Piriyapinyo, who has two wins over former 122-pound beltholder Yoddamrong Sithyodthong, has fought the 12-round distance 14 times.
All the featherweight contenders who were rated below Lopez — Celestino Caballero, Daud Yordan, Nicholas Walters and Javier Fortuna — move up one space to make room for Piriyapinyo to enter the 126-pound ranking at No. 10.
There were no other changes in the divisional ratings.
Photo / Dennis Grombkowski-Bongarts