Joshua and Lopez on the rise in BM ratings

Graham Houston
29/01/2020 9:36pm

Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Boxing Monthly editor Graham Houston rounds up the latest changes in the BM ratings, including Anthony Joshua returning to number one at heavyweight and Teofimo Lopez rising four places at lightweight...

We’re playing a bit of catch-up here as we skipped a world ratings review last month.

Anthony Joshua is back in No. 1 position at heavyweight after his comfortable win over Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch.

At cruiser, South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu enters the rankings after his surprisingly easy decision win over former champ Denis Lebedev in Russia. (Lebedev announced his retirement after the bout.)

Quebec’s Jean Pascal advances from seven to six at light-heavy after his win over Badou Jack in a tremendous fight. Jack, dropped from the ratings after his widely scored defeat against Marcus Browne, re-enters the rankings at No. 7. Although Jack didn’t get the decision over Pascal it was the sort of fight where the verdict could have gone either way. And Joe Smith Jr recaptures a spot in the light-heavy top 10, at No. 8, after his upset win by split decision (which should have been unanimous) over Jesse Hart, who was well beaten and is dropped from the ratings.

In the super middle division we bring in Bektemir Melikuziev, of Uzbekistan, the Olympic silver medallist, in No. 7 spot. Even though Melikuziev has had only four pro bouts this powerful southpaw would start favourite over most high-level 168-pounders. He cruised to victory over the durable Vaughn Alexander in a step-up fight. The undefeated Steven Nelson enters the 168lbs ratings at No. 9. He outclassed Cem Kilic in a clash of unbeaten boxers, stopping his opponent in the eighth round in what was seen, before the bout, as practically an even-money fight. Former light-heavy champ Juergen Braehmer, still going strong at 41, enters the super middle ratings in 10th spot after an impressive KO win over Juergen Doberstein in an all-Germany match-up.

Jermell Charlo regained his 154lbs title by stopping Tony Harrison in the 11th round of their rematch. He moves up from sixth place to No. 4 spot at super welter. Harrison drops from fifth to 10th spot.

The welterweight division really is stacked with talent. We bring in Jaron Ennis at No. 10 after his fourth-round stoppage win over tough slugger Bakhtiyar Eyubov. Ennis has won 25 fights in a row. A fast, explosive southpaw, he passes the eye test. He hasn’t beaten a world-class opponent but according to the Ennis camp the “name” fighters at 147lbs want no part of him. Ennis replaces Egidijus Kavaliauskas, who was stopped in the ninth round by Terence Crawford. Yes, Kavaliauskas holds a TKO win over David Avanesyan, our No. 8, but that was two years ago and we put a lot of emphasis on current form.

What of Mikey Garcia at 147lbs? Well, although Mikey has highly impressive credentials and is now officially campaigning at welterweight, he has had only one bout in 18 months, when he didn’t win a round against Errol Spence Jr. We’re waiting to see how Mikey performs against Jessie Vargas in a fight made at 147lbs. If Mikey beats Vargas, which he is expected to do, we will find a spot for him in the top 10.

Teofimo Lopez rockets up to No. 3 from No. 7 in the lightweight division after his very impressive second-round knockout win over Richard Commey. Lopez was the favourite, sure, but not many could have expected a two-round blowout. Commey drops from No. 4 to No. 10.

Moving down the weights, long-inactive Donnie Nietes has been dropped from the super flyweight division rankings. And in the minimumweight (105lbs) division we bring in Japan’s undefeated sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka at No. 5 after his fifth-round stoppage win over dangerous Filipino veteran Rey Loreto. Shigeoka had to overcome a bit of adversity in this fight. He was rocked and hurt in the third round, but he showed a good boxing brain in the fourth, using the ring until he had regrouped, and then he beat Loreto to the punch with a big left hand in the fifth to score a spectacular KO. Shigeoka has had only five bouts but we felt he was worth a high rating.

In the British ratings we are trying something different by including boxers who have been based in Britain for several years and who campaign in British rings but who were not actually born here. This allows us to rate South African-born Luther Clay at welter and Cameroon-born Thomas Essomba at bantamweight. There is no hard-and-fast criteria here. Clay has been based in Britain for almost four years now and eight of his 14 bouts have been in the UK. Essomba has been British-based for something like five and a half years and 13 of his 15 bouts have taken place in the UK.

Note: Ratings cut-off date for our Feb. issue was Jan. 11. Significant results in bouts that took place after Jan. 11 will be reflected in the March issue ratings.