Thursday, 5 August 2021

Canelo Builds, Taylor Rises: BoxingScene Competition Index July 2021 Update

Boxing’s busy 2021 continues to march on, giving us an undisputed champion at Jr. welterweight, a draw in pursuit of the same at Jr. Middleweight, and Saul Alvarez getting one step closer to clearing up any doubts at super middleweight.

Not bad for a year with five months and change remaining.

This weekend was supposed to be the third chapter in the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder saga but, with that fight rescheduled for October, the next biggest date on the calendar will come in August when Manny Pacquiao challenges Errol Spence for his welterweight claims.

All the results since the last update in February to this ongoing effort at a competition index, and the looming possible implications of the Pacquiao fight, were more than enough reason to see where things stand right now.  

Here’s a few notes on the update:

  • A pool of 54 fighters was evaluated for this update.
  • A small adjustment was made to the scoring. The last two updates gave extra weight to a fighter’s last two outings. It was weighing it a little too heavily and it is now further adjusted. There is a note at the end to further explain.   
  • Among reigning titlists, there are now only two (Arsen Goulamirian, Yordenis Ugas) lacking a single win in their last five fights or three years of activity against a top ten opponent in any division as rated by TBRB or Ring. Still-reigning lineal Jr. featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux also lacks such a win. His team has publicly stated he still claims history’s throne at 122 lbs. and so recognition continues here though he is presently campaigning for opportunities at bantamweight.
  • Jose Ramirez and Nordine Oubaali were removed from consideration following losses. 
  • One new name cracked the top ten (Muradjon Akhmadaliev) who has won two straight against fighters rated in the top five of his division. Jermell Charlo was edged from the top ten after drawing with Brian Castano in one of the leaders for Fight of the Year. Both he and Castano could find their way into the mix again sooner than later should a rematch come to pass immediately. 

Here’s how it shakes out just past halfway into 2021.

1) Saul Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KO) 

Overall Points Rank: 1 (47.44 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 1 (6 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 24 (6 pts)

Age: 31

Current Alphabet Titles: WBA Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 2 Defenses); WBC Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 2 Defenses); WBO Super Middleweight (2021-Present, 0 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBC Super Welterweight (2011-13, 6 Defenses); Ring Super Welterweight (2013); WBC Middleweight (2015-17, 2 Defenses; 2018-19, 1 Defense); WBO Super Welterweight (2016-17); IBF middleweight (2019); WBO Light Heavyweight (2019); WBA Middleweight (2018-21, 1 Defense); TBRB/Ring Magazine Middleweight (2015-17, 1 Defense; 2018-21, 1 Defense); Lineal World Middleweight (2015-21, 4 Defenses); Ring Magazine Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 2 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 16-1-1, 9 KO (17-1-1, 10 KO including WBA secondary title fights)

Last Five: Billy Joe Saunders RTD8 (Ring #5/TBRB #6), Avni Yildirim RTD3 (Unrated), Callum Smith (Ring Champion/TBRB #1 – 168), Sergey Kovalev KO11 (#2 – 175[++]), Daniel Jacobs UD12 (#2 – 160)

Three Year Activity Kicker: Yes – Gennady Golovkin MD12 (#1 – 160), Rocky Fielding TKO3 (#9 – 168[+])

Next Opponent: TBA 

The Take: The tweak in scoring puts Alvarez back on top and, being honest, was the impetus for taking another look. The point of all this is to get at who is fighting the best competition relative to their weights. Alvarez has the most wins in the last three years against top ten competition (six) in the sport and he’s done it across three weight classes. In September, his win over Gennady Golovkin will age past consideration for this analysis but it could be replaced by Caleb Plant in a four-belt unification scrap. 

2) Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 2 (25.5 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 2 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 25 (5.5 pts)

Age: 28

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Bantamweight (2019-Present, 3 Defenses); WBA “super” Bantamweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBC Light Flyweight (2014, 1 Defense); WBO Super Flyweight (2014-18, 7 Defenses); Ring Magazine Bantamweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 14-0, 12 KO (16-0, 14 KO including WBA secondary title fights)

Last Five: Michael Dasmarinas KO3 (Unrated), Jason Moloney KO7 (#6/#5 – 118), Nonito Donaire UD12 (#3/#4 – 118), Emanuel Rodriguez KO2 (#3/#6 -118), Juan Carlos Payano KO1 (#5 – 118)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: While his reign at Jr. bantamweight wasn’t all it could have been, Inoue has been making the most of his prime since moving to bantamweight. Inoue’s streak of five straight wins against top ten opponents as rated by TBRB or Ring was broken in his last outing. Inoue dispatched his outmatched foe with an entertaining efficiency the same way he has most of the best in class. Having already defeated recently crowned WBC titlist Nonito Donaire in a unification match, Inoue is in the unique position of being one fight from the right to be called undisputed without needing four straps. The winner of Casimero-Rigondeaux is the only real question mark about the top of the class. We may get a Donaire rematch first anyways and, hey, rematches of Fight of the year winners are never a bad thing. 

3) Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 4 (24.81 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 3 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 5 (11.5 pts)

Age: 31

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Welterweight (2017-Present, 5 Defenses); WBC Welterweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense)

Previous Titles: None

Record in Title Fights: 6-0, 3 KO

Last Five Opponents: Danny Garcia (#6/#7 – 147), Shawn Porter SD12 (#4 – 147), Mikey Garcia UD12 (#1/#2 – 135[–]; Unrated/Champion -140[-]), Carlos Ocampo KO1 (Unrated), Lamont Peterson RTD7 (#6/#8 – 147)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: August 21, 2021 vs. Ring #3/TBRB Unrated Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO)

The Take: Spence rebounded from more than a year off and a horrific auto accident to dominate a game Danny Garcia. He didn’t really miss a beat. It was his fourth career top ten win at welterweight, including a title win over Kell Brook, as Spence methodically works his way through 147 lbs. Brook was more highly rated than Garcia when Spence beat him so even with a win Spence loses a little ground as the Brook win is no longer in Spence’s last five or his last three years of activity. Total unification can come with wins over Yordenis Ugas (WBA) and, in the fight hardcore fans want most at welterweight, Terence Crawford (WBO). Before he gets there, Spence gets the chance to perhaps retire a living legend in Pacquiao…or become another notch in the old gunslinger’s belt.

4) Josh Taylor (18-0, 13 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 4 (24 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 8 (3 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: Tie – 12 (9.5 pts)

Age: 30

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB Jr. Welterweight (2021-Present, 0 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Jr. Welterweight (2019-Present, 3 Defenses); WBA Super Lightweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses); WBC/WBO Jr. Welterweight (2021-Present, 0 Defenses)

Additional Titles: Ring Magazine Jr. Welterweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 4-0, 1 KO

Last Five: Jose Ramirez UD12 (#1/#2), Apinun Khongsong KO1 (Unrated), Regis Prograis MD12 (#1 – 140), Ivan Baranchyk UD12 (#6/#7 – 140), Ryan Martin TKO7 (Unrated)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Taylor jumps from eighth to fourth on the strength of his win over Jose Ramirez for all the marbles at 140 lbs. The two knockdown performance was the culmination of, in terms of total fights, a rapid ascent. The World Boxing Super Series provided a platform and opponents for Taylor to go from hot rising contender to halfway toward undisputed at Jr. welterweight. Taylor finished his climb and, based on promotional and network alignments, could be staring down the barrel at Terence Crawford sooner than later depending on how Crawford’s relationship with Top Rank unfolds in the rest of 2021. Taylor may take a home victory lap before we get there. 

5) Juan Francisco Estrada (42-3, 28 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 5 (20.5 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 9 (3 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: Tie – 12 (9.5 pts)

Age: 31

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Jr. Bantamweight (2019-Present, 3 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: WBC “Franchise” Super Flyweight (2019-Present, 3 Defenses); WBA Super Flyweight (2021-Present, 0 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBA/WBO Flyweight (2013-16, 5 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 9-2, 5 KO

Last Five: Roman Gonzalez SD12 (#2), Carlos Cuadras TKO11 (#10/Unrated), Dewayne Beamon TKO 9 (Unrated), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai UD12 (World Champion), Victor Mendez RTD7

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: While there can still be ample debate about who the rightful winner was, Estrada’s rematch victory over Roman Gonzalez remains a leader for Fight of the Year in 2021 and reminded all why both are likely headed to Canastota. Estrada has held unified straps now in two weight classes and looks headed toward a fall rubber match with Gonzalez. The winner will face pressure to seek one more rubber match with the only man to hold wins over both of them: Sor Rungvisai. This golden age at Jr. bantamweight still has some gas in the tank.  

6) Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KO) 

Overall Points Rank: Tie – 6 (19.5 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 12 (2 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 1 (19.5 pts)

Age: 23

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Lightweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Lightweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense); WBA Lightweight “Super” (2020-Present, 0 Defenses); WBO Lightweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 2-0, 1 KO

Last Five: Vasyl Lomachenko UD12 (Champion/#1 – 135); Richard Commey TKO2 (#1/#3 – 135), Masayoshi Nakatani UD12 (Unrated), Edis Tatli KO5 (Unrated), Diego Magdaleno KO7 (Unrated)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA vs. Ring #8/TBRB #10 George Kambosos (19-0, 10 KO)

The Take: Lopez has gone from barely more than a prospect to top of the lightweight division in two quick hops. The ways he did it suggest a ceiling that will only get higher over time. Still only 23, Lopez won his first belt with a devastating knockout of a Richard Commey who had never been stopped. Lopez followed by outworking, outboxing, and ultimately solving one of the best technical packages in the sport. Vasyl Lomachenko made him work for it in the second half of the fight but it wasn’t nearly enough. For Lopez, next up will be the IBF mandatory Kambosos if the fight can be rescheduled after Lopez tested positive for COVID to delay it.  

7) Muradjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7 KO) 

Overall Points Rank: 9 (16 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 14 (2 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 2 (16 pts)

Age: 26

Current Alphabet Titles: WBA “Super”/IBF Jr. Featherweight (2020-Present, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 2-0, 1 KO

Last Five: Ryosuke Iwasa TKO5 (#4), Daniel Roman SD12 (#1/#3), Wilner Soto TKO4 (Unrated), Carlos Carlson KO3 (Unrated), Isaac Zarate (TKO9)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA 

The Take: This one might raise eyebrows but, in a look at opposition rankings relative to weight class, Akhmadaliev’s two straight against top five opponents serve him well. Jr. Featherweight has a rich pool of talent and fans can expect to see more of their best here soon as a seeming round robin is fully underway. Akhmadaliev versus the winner of Stephen Fulton-Brandon Figueroa should be a must in 2022.

8) Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) 

Points Rank: Tie – 12 (14 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 5 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 6 (11 pts)

Age: 31

Current Alphabet Titles: WBA/IBF/WBO Heavyweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense) Additional Titles: IBF Heavyweight (2016-19, 6 Defenses), WBA Heavyweight (2017-19, 3 Defenses), WBO Heavyweight (2018-19, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 9-1, 8 KO

Last Five Opponents: Kubrat Pulev (#10/#8 – Heavyweight), Andy Ruiz UD12 (#3/#1 – Heavyweight), Andy Ruiz TKO by 7 (Unrated), Alexander Povetkin TKO7 (#3/#5 – Heavyweight), Joseph Parker UD12 (#3 – Heavyweight)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No 

Next Opponent: September 25, 2021 vs. Ring #9/TBRB #10 Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KO)

The Take: Joshua has fought, and defeated, more legitimate top ten contenders than either Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder but he hasn’t faced either man and for many it makes all the difference. A disastrous loss to Andy Ruiz surely hurts his standing in the public eye but he’s put it behind him with a revenge win and dominant knockout of veteran contender Kubrat Pulev. 2021’s biggest global event could have been a showdown with Tyson Fury but Fury was held to his word and Joshua turns now to the former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk. That’s a hell of a consolation. 

9) Mairis Briedis (27-1, 19 KO)

Overall Points Rank: Tie – 12 (14 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 16 (2 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: Tie – 2 (16 pts)

Age: 36

Lineal Titles: World/TBRB/Ring Cruiserweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Cruiserweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBC Cruiserweight (2017-18, 1 Defense); WBO Cruiserweight (2019)

Record in Title Fights: 4-1, 1 KO

Last Five Opponents: Yuniel Dorticos UD12 (#2 – 200), Krzysztof Glowacki TKO3 (#4 – 200), Noel Gevor UD12 (Unrated), Brandon Deslaurier UD10 (Unrated), Oleksandr Usyk L12 (#1 – 200)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: While he has a loss to Usyk, what Briedis has done since in the World Boxing Super Series is enough to make room for him here. After giving Usyk the toughest fight of his career, he’s won four in a row including consecutive wins over a pair of top four men in his division. The Dorticos win was perhaps his most impressive as a professional. Briedis boxed a disciplined, smart fight that never let Dorticos establish a consistent offense. The big question for Briedis is what comes next. Almost a year after the Dorticos win, we still don’t have an answer.

10) Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 14 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 22 (9.74 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 6 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 8 (10.74 pts)

Age: 32

Current Alphabet Titles: WBO Jr. Bantamweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBC Minimumweight (2011-12, 3 Defenses); WBA Minimumweight (2012); WBA Light Flyweight (2014); WBA Flyweight (2016-17, 2 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 9-2, 5 KO (17-2, 11 KO including WBA sub-title fights)

Last Five: Kosei Tanaka (#1 – 112 [-]), Jeyvier Cintron (#7/Unrated – 115), Aston Palicte (#8 – 115), Donnie Nietes (#7/Unrated – 115), McWilliams Arroyo (#6/#4 – 115)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: In what may have been the finest performance of an excellent career, Ioka outfoxed and outfought the younger, undefeated Tanaka on the last day of 2020. With two knockdowns and a final, standing finish, Ioka stopped the flyweight leader from garnering a belt in his fourth weight class. It was Ioka’s fourth rated win in his last five starts with a lone competitive loss to the outstanding Nietes. Since arriving in his fourth weight class, Ioka has made good use of his time. Ioka says he wants unification in 2021. That means Jerwin Ancajas or the winner of a Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman Gonzalez III which could be on the table with the WBC “Franchise” silliness at play. If Ioka isn’t already a future Hall of Famer, a win against the victor of the rematch in March would likely cement his case.   

Rest of the Top Thirty: Jermell Charlo (Ranked 28 on Overall Points/23 on Unique Wins/4 on Last Two Starts), Tie – Tyson Fury (12/31/12)/Gennady Golovkin (30/25/6), Artur Beterbiev (19/33/9), Tie – Sunny Edwards (20/34/10)/Petchmanee CP Freshmart (20/34/10), Nonito Donaire (16/18/22), Oscar Valdez (23/26/12), Manny Pacquiao (49/7/16), Tie – Emmanuel Navarette (8/13/34)/Gervonta Davis (29/24/18), Brian Castano (17/32/21), John Riel Casimero (25/37/17), Gary Russell Jr. (25/21/27), Oleksandr Usyk (11/15/38), Terence Crawford (24/20/31), Tie – Jermall Charlo (30/38/19)/Lawrence Okolie (30/38/19), Demetrius Andrade (39/11/28), Hiroto Kyoguchi (18/19/35)

Previous Competition Index Updates

November 2020

January 2021

March 2021

Here’s how it works.

Using the most recent ratings available in a print issue of Ring or the most recent archived Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ratings prior to a fight:

  • Every primary WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO titlist, some select recent former titlists, and fighters who appeared in either the Ring or TBRB pound for pound top ten in the last year or so were evaluated based on the official results against their last five opponents and what those opponents were rated heading into the fight.
  • Wins over rated opponents started at 11 points for a recognized TBRB or Ring champion down to one point for defeating a number ten contender. Draws got half credit. No points were given for a No Contest or No Decision but the result will be noted.
  • Fighters who have produced a higher activity level were given a kicker score for any wins over rated opposition in the last three years no later than January 1, 2018. Everyone evaluated was scored for their last five opponents even if that was past the three year mark.
  • Losses to rated opponents were given an inverse score, beginning with -1 for a champion down to -11.
  • Losses to unrated opponents received a universal score of -12.
  • Wins over unrated opponents were worth nothing.
  • If there is a difference between a fighter’s Ring and TBRB rankings, the average of the two numbers was used (i.e. a win over a fighter rated second by one body and fifth by the other would be worth 7.5 pts).
  • If a fighter was rated by only Ring or TBRB, half credit was given for a win based on the single rating. A loss total would come from an average of -12 and the point loss that would apply to the rating that was in place. 
  • Moves between weight classes were adjusted for by taking into consideration the body weight shift between weight classes. In other words, if a rated Jr. welterweight jumped up to beat a rated welterweight, the math would work like this: 147/140 multiplied by the divisional rating score. It works in reverse for a win over a fighter rated lower (i.e. 160/168 multiplied by the smaller man’s rating in his class). In an over the weight class fight, the divisions the men were rated in were used.
  • Fighters from a higher class are noted with a [+], from a lower [-], after the weight limit of their respective weight class. 
  • The totals generated result in a rating. 
  • Each fighter evaluated is given a score for how many unique wins they have against rated opponents; beating the same opponent twice counts for only one unique win. They are then rated based on unique wins. The rating for total points and unique wins is averaged.
  • That average score is then averaged against a rating for the score generated for each man’s last two wins. *Update: The top ten remaining after that is then reordered again by total overall score. The remainder of the list is not resorted.   
  • All divisions were treated equally based on the idea fighters can only face the men in their division while they are there and all point totals were applied based on official results.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com  

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