Rankings go up Mondays. No update next week, so the next will come on Oct. 16.
Ranked fights the next two weeks:
Notes: Well, Fury vs Usyk is going to happen. Maybe late this year, maybe early next year, we’ll see what happens with Fury in the Francis Ngannou glorified exhibition in late October. If he even gets a cut, no, probably not in December. But the fight is signed.
As for action this week, 31-year-old Frank Sanchez continued to prove, at 31, that he has all the makings of a pretty good prospect taking care of business against Scott Alexander in an empty building on a big show’s prelims. Thrilling stuff. Without the FOX guys screeching about how impressive his win over Carlos Negron or Christian Hammer was, you really start to notice how little progress this dude has made in the last four years. But I do think he’s good! Which is what makes it more frustrating.
One idea might be for him to, at least promotionally, stop following Canelo around and work with a promoter that has some half-decent heavyweight fights to make with him. Unless he’s not really interested in actually doing anything, which is always possible.
If Otto Wallin had been a bit more impressive against Murat Gassiev, I might have gotten back on my pro-Wallin tip.
Upcoming Fights: (8) Martin Bakole vs Carlos Takam, Oct. 28 … (9) Joseph Parker vs Simon Kean, Oct. 28 … (1) Tyson Fury vs (2) Oleksandr Usyk, TBA
Notes: Jai Opetaia did not have any tentativeness. He did not have any fear or skittishness. He absolutely, completely thrashed Jordan Thompson, who found out in the first round that his jump in competition was too big, and though he did his best, it was just a complete mismatch in levels. Thompson is no world-beater and has a thin resume, but Opetaia looked every bit the best cruiserweight in the world, and without a second thought for me. His style, his skills, the way he fights — there’s no one on this list who’s in that league for me.
As far as the rest goes, Mairis Briedis officially hit our 15-month inactive line today. He was at the Opetaia vs Thompson fight and brought up more excuses why he lost to Opetaia in 2022, and he had a very cute outfit, but he does not have a fight scheduled or strongly rumored. He’s out for now. Life goes on.
Mike Perez takes the No. 10 spot for now, but it may only be for this update. Could have been someone else, went with Perez. If the Zurdo Ramirez vs Joe Smith Jr winner is really impressive on Oct. 7, they probably get in here. This is not a division bursting with class talent.
Upcoming Fights: (1) Jai Opetaia vs Jordan Thompson, Sept. 30 … (10) Mike Perez vs TBA, Oct. 14 … (9) Ilunga Junior Makabu vs Noel Mikaelian, Nov. 4
Notes: We didn’t learn anything new or interesting about 36-year-old Oleksandr Gvozdyk with him waxing a Brazilian club fighter inside of two rounds on Saturday’s Canelo prelims.
Gvozdyk wants Bivol or, yes, Beterbiev, the guy who sent him into retirement back in 2019, which lasted until February of this year. I know the Beterbiev call-out sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but it’s a crazy thing to do for a living. Gvozdyk should want the top fights. Why’s he back otherwise? He should want to avenge his defeat. I’m not saying it’s a good idea or will go any better, but don’t forget that Gvozydk was up on two cards when Beterbiev stopped him in the 10th round, either. He’s not one of the more hapless Beterbiev victims. One of the top tier, actually.
And yet it is Beterbiev. The Bivol fight may be more likely, anyway; Beterbiev has a bunch of belts and their mandatory challengers to worry about, starting in January.
Upcoming Fights: (5) Joshua Buatsi vs (9) Dan Azeez, Oct. 21 … (2) Artur Beterbiev vs (3) Callum Smith, Jan. 13
Notes: Canelo is back. That’s what he says. And I saw some solid evidence of it, too, as he was far too good for Jermell Charlo. We saw some of “the old” Canelo, but no, I don’t think he ever reaches his absolute peak again. That’s just how it goes. He is 33. And the nagging injuries may be gone for now, but how long until they nag again?
Truthfully, I think you could have given Jermell Charlo three years to be just pitch perfect physically at 168, and I don’t think he comes much closer to beating Canelo, who is just better than him and a bad style matchup. Charlo has often feasted on fighters making mistakes in his career, and Canelo doesn’t make many. He’s wrong for Jermell.
Upcoming Fights: (2) David Benavidez vs Demetrius Andrade, TBA
Notes: You know, in three months when Gennadiy Golovkin still hasn’t fought again because he’s probably not gonna, the glorious middleweight division will likely see the Janibek vs Gualtieri winner or Carlos Adames at No. 1. As it stands, GGG is sitting here like a decaying King, only in power by virtue of his long-loved name and the Kingsguard (us) protecting him from usurpers. But the clock is ticking and the realm has no clear replacement.
We can only hope for the best.
Ammo Williams is out and Elijah Garcia is in at No. 10. I have real simple reasoning here: They’ve fought about the same level of competition and I think Garcia looks better than Williams right now.
Upcoming Fights: (2) Janibek Alimkhanuly vs (6) Vincenzo Gualtieri, Oct. 14 … (8) Denzel Bentley vs Nathan Heaney, Nov. 18
Notes: Jermell lost at 168, but he says he’s coming back down to 154. Personally, I still have some doubts about that. He does have the three belts at the weight, but he does not sound particularly interested in fighting the Tszyu vs Mendoza winner, with his energy really focused on Terence Crawford, who may not care enough to fight him.
How many guys in this division do you think can get Terence Crawford the money he wants for a fight? Who would PBC pay Crawford that Crawford money to fight? Tim Tszyu has a good following in Australia, but he’s a Minneapolis Armory headliner here. Can you make that a PPV?
Wait, let me ask a different way: Can you make that a PPV that PBC and Showtime will pay for, are they certain Crawford’s star power can make it profitable?
I don’t want to talk any more about the Erickson Lubin “win” over Jesus Ramos Jr than I already have, really, other than to say I had it even and I find it a strange hill to die on, though many seem convinced that one of the two of them truly deserved the win, and I just don’t see how you can be so confident about it or willing to ride with either of those performances. Those performances? In that fight? They both just stay put. I don’t care any more than that and nobody around them has done anything all that great either.
Upcoming Fights: (2) Tim Tszyu vs (3) Brian Mendoza, Oct. 14
Notes: One thing that happens when a division gets more or less “cleared out,” like Jermell Charlo did at 154 with some other stuff around him, and like Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr basically combined to do over a few years at 147, is when it’s cleared, you tend to get a transitional period.
Look up to 160 and you can see how that sometimes shakes out. It can get ugly for a while. 147 is about to hit one of those periods. We’ve got Mario Barrios, who was pretty well dominated by an aged Keith Thurman not so long ago, coming into the top five, and yeah, you could have him a little lower, but not much. I mean, who behind him has done something so notable?
Barrios fought a good fight against Yordenis Ugas and is a good fighter. But Ugas is 37, looked it, and has an eye that’s never gonna be right again. I can’t rank that Ugas in the top 10, because while he’s a better technical boxer than most of these dudes, they can all hit him in the face enough. Barrios did. Can you imagine Ugas’ eye trying to survive against Cody Crowley or Roiman Villa? And Yordenis is not some knockout puncher.
There is a ruler, but Crawford doesn’t seem very interested in continuing to rule at this weight. Spence has all but said he’s gone, he might take another Crawford fight at 147, but he’s not cutting down to welterweight for anyone else. There is a pretty obvious heir apparent in Boots Ennis, but who does he fight that will get the division hot again?
Upcoming Fights: (10) Alexis Rocha vs Giovani Santillan, Oct. 21
Upcoming Fights: (3) Jack Catterall vs Jorge Linares, Oct. 21 … (7) Ryan Garcia vs Oscar Duarte, Dec. 2 … (1) Regis Prograis vs Devin Haney, Dec. 9
Upcoming Fights: (10) Raymond Muratalla vs Diego Torres, Nov. 4 … (3) Shakur Stevenson vs Edwin De Los Santos, Nov. 16
Upcoming Fights: (2) Joe Cordina vs Edward Vazquez, Nov. 4 … (1) Emanuel Navarrete vs (7) Robson Conceicao, Nov. 16
Upcoming Fights: (1) Leigh Wood vs (9) Josh Warrington, Oct. 7 … (3) Robeisy Ramirez vs Rafael Espinoza, Nov. 4 … (10) Isaac Dogboe vs Nick Ball, Nov. 18
Notes: Zolani Tete officially went inactive. In comes John Riel Casimero, who decided a couple of years ago to basically shoot his career in the foot, but he’s been back and active fighting at 122. Both of his two fights at the weight have had some controversy, and he faces Yukinori Oguni on Oct. 12.
Upcoming Fights: (10) John Riel Casimero vs Yukinori Oguni, Oct. 12 … (6) Sam Goodman vs Miguel Flores, Oct. 14 … (9) Liam Davies vs Vincenzo La Femina, Nov. 18
Upcoming Fights: (5) Takuma Inoue vs Jerwin Ancajas, Nov. 15
Upcoming Fights: TBA
Upcoming Fights: (4) Artem Dalakian vs (8) Seigo Yuri Akui, Nov. 15 … (1) Sunny Edwards vs (2) Jesse Rodriguez, Dec. 16
Upcoming Fights: (2) Jonathan Gonzalez vs Gerardo Zapata, Oct. 27 … (4) Sivenathi Nontshinga vs Adrian Curiel, Nov. 4
Upcoming Fights: (1) Panya Pradabsri vs (4) Yudai Shigeoka, Oct. 7 … (3) Ginjiro Shigeoka vs (9) Daniel Valladares, Oct. 7
Upcoming Fights: (4) Amanda Serrano vs Danila Ramos, Oct. 27 … (2) Chantelle Cameron vs (3) Katie Taylor, Nov. 25