It was a very interesting fight week with stimulating discussions from the Ratings Panel, which resulted in movement in several divisions. The Panel’s input included their approval of the May 4 Floyd Mayweather-Roberto Guerrero welterweight fight being for the vacant RING 147-pound title.
The Editorial Board posed the question to the Panel since Mayweather is THE RING’s No. 1-rated welterweight and Guerrero is the magazine’s No. 3-rated contender. THE RING’s No. 2-rated 147 pounder, Juan Manuel Marquez, was defeated by Mayweather via lopsided unanimous decision in a 2009 welterweight bout.
A few Panel members noted that they believe Tim Bradley, who scored a controversial decision over Manny Pacquiao last June, should be rated above Guerrero, who has scored back-to-back decisions over strong young welterweights Selcuk Aydin and former titleholder Andre Berto in his last two bouts.
One Panel member did not like Mayweather fighting for THE RING title due to his general inactivity and the fact that he hasn’t fought at 147 pounds since his fourth round stoppage of Victor Ortiz in September of 2011.
However, most of the Panel members agreed that THE RING title should be on the line on May 4 and nobody objected to the notion.
On to the divisional rankings:
At heavyweight, Chris Arreola has been dropped from the rankings due to inactivity. Arreola, who hasn’t fought since a first-round KO of Eric Molina last February, was scheduled to fight Bermane Stiverne on Saturday but had to pull out of that WBC title elimination bout due to illness.
The Editorial Board and Panel will review Arreola, whose fight with Stiverne has been tentatively rescheduled for April 27, when he fights again and determine if the Southern California slugger should reenter the rankings. In the mean time, former two-time title challenger Tony Thompson, who is coming off a second-round knockout of previously undefeated prospect David Price, enters the rankings at No. 10.
At middleweight, Sam Soliman, who outpointed former titleholder and top contender Felix Sturm in Germany last month, tested positive for a banned substance with his sample A drug test. It is THE RING’s policy to drop any fighter who tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) from the rankings, however the Editorial Board decided not to drop Soliman from the rankings pending the results of his B sample and more information on the case, such as how much of the amphetamine was in his system.
However, if it’s verified that Soliman did indeed beat Sturm on a PED then he will be dropped from the rankings and Sturm will be returned to his ranking before the Soliman fight.
At junior middleweight, once-beaten American prospect Willie Nelson scored a nice first-round stoppage over Michael Medina. Nelson has victories over fellow prospects Yudel Jhonson and John Jackson in his previous couple of fights. He’s not a top 10-worthy fighter yet but he’s getting close.
At welterweight, once-beaten South African prospect Chris Van Heerden outpointed fringe contender Matthew Hatton but is not deserving of a ranking at this time.
At lightweight, Richard Abril retained his WBA title in a rough, tough and scrappy fight with previously unbeaten Sharif Bogere. The victory, though ugly at times, advances the Cuban veteran.
The new lightweight top five rankings are: 1. Adrien Broner; 2. Miguel Vazquez; 3. Ricky Burns; 4. Richard Abril; and 5. Antonio De Marco.
Numbers 6-10 remain the same.
Former titleholder and RING-ranked contender Paulus Moses stopped veteran Mzonke Fana in four rounds. Moses has not moved back into the rankings yet but he’s borderline now.
At junior lightweight, Bryan Vazquez returned from the Taskashi Uchiyama loss to stop Luis Ernesto Jose in a single round. No ranking for Vazquez at this time, though.
At featherweight, IBF titleholder Billy Dib lost a split-decision to unbeaten Evgeny Gradovich. Dib dropped from his No. 4 spot while the “Mexican Russian” entered THE RING’s 126-pound rankings.
Undefeated prospect Gary Russell also fought, but the talented southpaw fractured a bone in his left hand with a solid but unfortunate win over Vyacheslav Gusev. Russell is talented but this win doesn’t allow him to crack the top 10 yet.
The revised featherweight rankings are: 1. Chris John; 2. Daniel Ponce De Leon; 3. Orlando Salido; 4. Jhonny Gonzalez; 5. Celestino Caballero; 6. Daud Youdan; 7. Evgeny Gradovich; 8. Billy Dib; 9. Nicholas Walters; 10. Javier Fortuna. Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, who was at No. 10, was dropped out of the rankings.
At bantamweight, once-beaten contender and WBO beltholder Pungluang Sor Singyu will be replaced in the rankings at No. 7 by the fighter who outpointed him over the weekend, Paulus Ambunda, of Namibia. The 32-year-old veteran improved to 20-0 (10 knokcouts) with his competitive unanimous decision over the tough Thai in his hometown of Windhoek, Namibia.
At flyweight, Juan Carlos Raveco outpointed Masayuki Kuroda to keep his WBA title. Reveco will move up to No. 6 in the rankings and Rocky Fuentes will drop to No. 7.
At junior flyweight, WBO beltholder Donnie Nietes drew with WBO strawweight titleholder Moises Fuentes. Nietes will remain at No. 2 in the junior flyweight rankings and Fuentes will come in at No. 3 due his draw with Nietes.
Kuroda will be dropped from the rankings due to his loss to Raveco and because he has struggled to draws in his last two bouts and the two fights before those were split decision wins, so it’s been five fights since he’s convincingly won.
Since Fuentes left the strawweight rankings, Jesus Silvestre will enter at No. 10 with everyone else moving up a spot.