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Rankings (July 31): Crawford and Inoue shine brighter than ever, more

Rankings go up Mondays. No update next week, next update on August 14.

Ranked fights the next two weeks:

Heavyweight: (4) Anthony Joshua vs (10) Dillian Whyte, Aug. 12

Junior Welterweight: (6) Gary Antuanne Russell vs Kent Cruz, Aug. 12

Junior Lightweight: (3) Oscar Valdez vs (4) Emanuel Navarrete, Aug. 12

Bantamweight: (8) Ryosuke Nishida vs Christian Medina, Aug. 11

Bantamweight: (2) Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Melvin Lopez, Aug. 12

Minimumweight: (8) Masataka Taniguchi vs Kenichi Horikawa, Aug. 5

Minimumweight: (3) Ginjiro Shigeoka vs (9) Daniel Valladares, Aug. 11

Women’s P4P: (4) Amanda Serrano vs Heather Hardy, Aug. 5

Upcoming Fights: (4) Anthony Joshua vs (10) Dillian Whyte, Aug. 12 … (2) Oleksandr Usyk vs Daniel Dubois, Aug. 26 … (5) Zhilei Zhang vs (9) Joe Joyce, Sept. 23 … (1) Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou, Oct. 28

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (4) Anthony Yarde vs Ricky Summers, Sept. 23 … (2) Artur Beterbiev vs (3) Callum Smith, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (5) Christian Mbilli vs Demond Nicholson, Aug. 19 … (1) Canelo Alvarez vs Jermell Charlo, Sept. 30

Upcoming Fights: (4) Liam Smith vs (6) Chris Eubank Jr, Sept. 2

Notes: Yoenis Tellez’s third round wipeout of Sergio Garcia is more impressive than anything Kurbanov or the departing Charles Conwell have offered, really. Kurbanov’s best “win” was a robbery and Conwell hasn’t faced a decent opponent in two years. Tellez took three weeks’ notice, jumped in with a former European champ who went the distance with Sebastian Fundora and Tony Harrison, and demolished him. In some divisions, this wouldn’t be enough. In this one, right now, it is.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: That settles that, then. Terence Crawford is the best welterweight in the world. He has made his clear case as the best boxer in the world. Crawford was Errol Spence’s superior in every possible way on Saturday night.

I still think, for the time being, Spence deserves to stay at No. 2. I think Jaron Ennis is really good, very talented, and I also think it’s likely that if he gets to No. 1 in this division, he’s going to do it sort of the way Crawford — and Spence — had to, by building their own case without the aid of beating the top guy(s) before him.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Yordenis Ugas vs Keith Thurman, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (6) Gary Antuanne Russell vs Kent Cruz, Aug. 12 … (1) Regis Prograis vs Devin Haney, Oct. 28

Notes: It wasn’t the most impressive win for Isaac Cruz over Giovanni Cabrera, but it was a clear enough one, I thought, even if you could score it to Cabrera if you appreciated or liked his style, which takes a specific sort of person. I kind of enjoyed him in that matchup, honestly, but I get why you just wouldn’t want to watch him. I do suggest that, like Luis Alberto Lopez, if you try to “fix” him by making him more conventional, you’re going to take away the only thing he has going for him, which is being fucking weird for his opponents to fight.

My main issue with Cruz right now is just that he’s single-minded about fighting Gervonta Davis again. Like, I get it, and maybe it will happen — Tank will have to fight someone — but Davis has repeatedly indicated no real interest in a rematch, and I don’t think there’s much demand for one. I wouldn’t mind Cruz being so tunnel visioned except he has passed on much bigger opportunities to keep taking these “PBC PPV undercard” type fights against opponents who aren’t any real threat to him. It’s just not very interesting unless he actually gets Davis.

Upcoming Fights: (9) William Zepeda vs Mercito Gesta, Sept. 9

Upcoming Fights: (3) Oscar Valdez vs (4) Emanuel Navarrete, Aug. 12 … (1) Joe Cordina vs TBA, Sept. 30

Notes: Robeisy Ramirez had no trouble with Satoshi Shimizu on July 25, which was about as expected. Shimizu was a good amateur, but not on the level of Ramirez, and as a pro he’s also not near the level of Ramirez. Robeisy just had everything on him in the style matchup, and Shimizu is also old now. I don’t think Ramirez proved anything new, but he did make the statement that was available to be made instead of cruising.

Again, I think you could have any of the top three as your No. 1 right now. It’s a very tight race.

Upcoming Fights: (2) Luis Alberto Lopez vs Joet Gonzalez, Sept. 15

Notes: Well, here he is! Naoya Inoue smoked Stephen Fulton Jr to win the WBC and WBO titles in his first fight at 122, and he’s the clear top dog in the division immediately, no question about it.

It seems like Inoue will get the undisputed opportunity with Marlon Tapales, who holds the WBA and IBF belts. Tapales has been cleared to fight for undisputed instead of fielding mandatory challengers, and was in attendance and joined Inoue in the ring post-fight. I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who will pick Tapales to win other than Tapales, but if Inoue is going to stick at 122 for at least another fight, that’s the fight.

With Inoue, though, you do understand why trainer Robert Garcia said at least semi-seriously that we might be waiting until he’s really high in weight — Garcia said 135 — to see him actually challenged, because Fulton didn’t get anything done here. Stephen Espinoza of Showtime has floated a Tank Davis vs Inoue idea, for obvious business reasons. “It’s only 13 lbs,” he said, which, like, uh.

All that said, and even with me somewhat balking at Espinoza’s suggestion that 13 lbs is no big deal, you have to admit that Inoue has so far been the sort of fighter where you really do start thinking of the ridiculous and, for most, totally unimaginable.

He started at 108. You know who else started his career at 108? Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao won his first world title at 112. He eventually won world titles at 122, 126, 130, 135, 140, 147, and, technically, 154. For almost every fighter, even really good ones, even most great ones, winning world titles at 122 after starting at 108 is not doable. Chocolatito Gonzalez is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his era and he’s pretty clearly capped at 115 after starting at 108.

Inoue is special. What he’s done already is absurd. Who’s to say he can’t keep doing the absurd? His fundamentals are exceptional, his power just keeps translating to every new division, and while I don’t mean to get mystical, he just has an aura that only a select few carry.

Now personally, I think Robeisy at 126 might present some real challenge, and Luis Alberto Lopez is awkward enough that I think he might, too. But hey, why not dream big? Guys like Inoue make boxing something greater than boxing cares to make itself. As a single fighter, he is a reason to keep following a sport that insults you nearly weekly for following it.

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Notes: I think we might have seen about the end of the line for Nonito Donaire in his loss to Alexandro Santiago, which I thought was much wider and clearer than even the judges had it. But Nonito didn’t indicate any intention to retire, so he remains ranked, and I could see the Nonito who fought on Saturday beating Takuma Inoue, who has a belt, and doesn’t have the sort of power that would keep Donaire at bay at all.

As for the rankings here, this remains sort of a holding list at the moment, as this is a division still in major transition after Naoya Inoue scattered the belts. The fourth and final belt will be claimed on Aug. 12 when Emmanuel Rodriguez fights Melvin Lopez. After that, I’ll assess the state of things a bit more, so this could be a very different top 10 next time out. There is no clear No. 1, and there won’t beat no matter what happens in Rodriguez-Lopez, either.

So for the moment, I’m just chucking Santiago in the top spot. I thought he ran away with it against Donaire, who was sort of like a steward of the division in the king’s absence. Like Denethor!

Upcoming Fights: (8) Ryosuke Nishida vs Christian Medina, Aug. 11 … (2) Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Melvin Lopez, Aug. 12

Upcoming Fights: (4) Junto Nakatani vs Argi Cortes, Sept. 18

Upcoming Fights: (1) Sunny Edwards vs (2) Jesse Rodriguez, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (1) Kenshiro Teraji vs (5) Hekkie Budler, Sept. 18

Upcoming Fights: (8) Masataka Taniguchi vs Kenichi Horikawa, Aug. 5 … (3) Ginjiro Shigeoka vs (9) Daniel Valladares, Aug. 11

Notes: You know, I know they were both in the ring and all after Seniesa Estrada’s win over Leonela Yudica on Friday, but I didn’t actually hear a single thing from either of them that made me particularly confident Estrada will fight Yokasta Valle next. So consider me skeptical and hopeful to be proven wrong.

Upcoming Fights: (4) Amanda Serrano vs Heather Hardy, Aug. 5

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