It’s been over three months since the last ranking of each boxing division — all 17, from strawweight to heavyweight. I based the rankings on potential matchups and in some cases, mainstream talent. There have been changes in the last few months as some boxers changed weight classes for various reasons. Some have outgrown their respective weight class altogether while others have revitalized their careers with hopes of getting back on top, just in a new division.
There’s a new No. 1 division and welterweight, the weight class that led the rankings last time, has moved down all the way to No. 10. Here’s the current state of boxing:
1. Lightweight division Previous ranking: No. 4
Undisputed champion: Devin Haney
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Haney, 2. Vasiliy Lomachenko, 3. Gervonta Davis, 4. Shakur Stevenson
Fight I would like to see: Haney-Stevenson
All hail Devin Haney, the traveling undisputed lightweight champion of the world who went to Australia twice. The first time he claimed the title and the second he defended it. He has redefined the modern-day prize fighter, taking less to gain more. The sophisticated business-minded trailblazer is sitting on the lightweight throne, but beside him sits the living legend, Vasiliy Lomachencho, who is coming off a hard-fought win against the youth, skill, and athleticism of Jamaine Ortiz. However, there is another fighter in the division who sits to the left of Haney. Just outside his peripheral vision is a Newark, New Jersey native, Shakur Stevenson, who never says no to fighting the very best in the sport. Moving up from 130 pounds, Shakur can quickly and easily be in line to face the winner of the potential matchup between Haney and Lomachencko.
And it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the fourth person in this line of elite warriors: the always exciting knockout specialist Gervonta “Tank” Davis. What’s a division without a fighter that can turn your lights out with one punch? To make thsi division more interesting, “Tank” Davis and Ryan Garcia have agreed to meet in April. And while this matchup is at a catchweight (136 pounds) without your usual belt connected to the party, it is more about respect from the boxing world and the general public. Both fighters are In their respective primes, and should have no excuses in the end. Skill vs. skill, power vs. power, and speed vs. speed. For me this is the third biggest fight in boxing as far as marketability only falls short of Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk and Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr.
Furthermore, this action-packed division has many talented young prospects and top contenders waiting in the wings: Keyshawn Davis, Raymond Muratalla, Abdullah Mason, William Zepeda, Jeremiah Nakathila,and Isaac Cruz.
2. Junior welterweight Previous ranking: No. 5
Champions: WBO: Josh Taylor, IBF: Vacant, WBA: Vacant, WBC: Vacant
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Taylor, 2. Jack Catterall, 3. Jose Ramirez, 4. Regis Prograis
Fight I would like to see: Ramirez-Subriel Matias
Over time, a fighter changes mentally and physically. Young prospects, contenders, former or current champions in one weight class move up because they’ve outgrown the division weight limit. Maturity sets in, and so does ambition.
Former undisputed champion Josh Taylor gave up three of the titles because he refused to face his mandatory challenger in a rematch with Jack Catterall after their first fight ended in controversy.
Regis Prograis and Jose Zepeda are battling it out for one piece of junior welterweight supremacy on Nov. 26. Finally, Teofimo Lopez has acclimated himself to this division, moving up from 135 and is in preparation to face the always-slick Jose Pedraza. This is also one of the most profoundly talented divisions in boxing that includes Jose Ramirez, Ryan Garcia, Subriel Matias and Arnold Barboza Jr. They are all more than capable of becoming the king of this division.
3. Junior bantamweight Previous ranking: No. 6
Champions: WBO: Kazuto Ioka, IBF: Fernando Martinez, WBA: Joshua Franco, WBC: Vacant
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Roman Gonzalez, 2. Juan Francisco Estrada, 3. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, 4. Junto Nakatani
Fight I would like to see: Estrada-Rodriguez
This division deserves respect because its top fighters are not just talking — they are fighting each other. The indicator for my statement is there are only three undefeated fighters in the ESPN top ten in the 115-pound division. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, Fernando Martinez, and Junto Nakatani still have their unbeaten records. I consider two fighters in the division as gatekeepers: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Donnie Nietes. And, let me include the legendary Roman “Chocolatito.” Gonzalez and another multi-division living legend Juan Francisco Estrada. The world should stop and watch the scheduled Dec. 3 trilogy between these two future hall of famers.
And I know what you’re all thinking: “Bam” Rodriguez vacated his WBC title and moved down in weight. But you don’t realize this young, tenacious southpaw would be willing to travel up north again to face the winner of Estrada-Gonzalez, making this division flaming hot.
4. Super middleweight Previous ranking: No. 7
Canelo Alvarez reflects on his win by unanimous decision in the last fight of his trilogy vs. Gennadiy Golovkin.
Undisputed champion: Canelo Alvarez
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Alvarez, 2. David Benavidez, 3. Caleb Plant, 4. Demetrius Andrade
Fight I would like to see: Alvarez-Benavidez
There have been many moving parts in this stacked division, but it’s important to note that the top ten fighters are actually fighting each other. Jose Benavidez and former champion Caleb Plant have locked in a date for their must-see matchup. Canelo Alvarez finally closed his book with Gennadiy Golovkin, and while Canelo is on a hiatus, top contenders like David Morrell, John Ryder, Lerrone Richards, Christian Mbili, Zach Parker and Carlos Gongora are all fighting for the Canelo sweepstakes. But Alvarez isn’t safe anymore — the blueprint is out for all to see on how to beat him after Dmitry Bivol defeated him at light heavyweight.
5. Light heavyweight Previous ranking: No. 3
Champions: WBO: Artur Beterbiev, IBF: Beterbiev, WBA: Dmitry Bivol, WBC: Beterbiev
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Bivol, 2. Beterbiev, 3. Gilberto Ramirez, 4. Joe Smith Jr.
Fight I would like to see: Bivol-Beterbiev
Some fighters go years without testing themselves against the best, but I can’t think of one boxer in this division that has run from the thick layer of smoke that covers this weight class. Finally, Zurdo Ramirez got a shot at a top pound-for-pound fighter in Bivol, and so did Joe Smith Jr., who faced Artur Beterbiev. Both found out that there are levels to this game we call boxing. The two champions in this loaded weight class will have to dance sooner than later for the undisputed championship. The supporting cast around them is not too shabby. Again another weight class with just three undefeated fighters, two of which are champions, and one rising contender, Joshua Buatsi. They are fighting each other clearly, and soon we will have an undisputed king of this division.
6. Featherweight Previous ranking: No. 11
Champions: WBO: Emanuel Navarrete, IBF: Josh Warrington, WBA: Leo Santa Cruz, WBC: Rey Vargas
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Navarrete 2. Vargas 3. Robeisy Ramirez, 4. Isaac Dogboe
Fight I would like to see: Navarrete-Ramirez
Rey Vargas, the former junior featherweight champion, and Kiko Martinez are fighting at a great level. In addition, several fighters have revitalized their career of late, like the always dangerous Issac Dogboe and veteran Kiko Martinez. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez is also starting to make a name for himself and let me not forget Mark Magsayo, who is looking to rebound from his first loss at the hands oft Rey Vargas. Magsayo is never in a dull fight, and Leigh Wood still has a secondary WBA belt. There’s only one undefeated fighter in the top 10 in this division, and that’s Vargas. Oh, you’ll think I forgot about the champ Emanuel Navarrete? He is the glue to this division and when at 95% of his full potential, no one in this division can beat him.
7. Junior featherweight Previous ranking: No. 8
Champions: WBO: Stephen Fulton, IBF: Murodjon Akhmadaliev, WBA: Akhmadaliev, WBC: Fulton
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Fulton, 2. Akhmadaliev, 3. Brandon Figueroa, 4. Ra’eese Aleem
Fight I would like to see: Fulton-Akhmadaliev
I love this division with Stephen Fulton, Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Brandon Figueroa leading the way. I’m hoping for an undisputed champion soon, but these three guys alone can fight multiple times, and there would never be a boring matchup. Daniel Roman and Luis Nery are still relevant. One interesting name is Ra’eese Aleem, who sits at 20-0. I wonder if he can compete with the big three. We shall see.
8. Heavyweight Previous ranking: No. 2
Champions: WBO: Oleksandr Usyk, IBF: Usyk, WBA: Usyk, WBC: Tyson Fury
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Fury, 2. Usyk, 3. Deontay Wilder, 4. Andy Ruiz Jr.
Fight I would like to see: Fury-Usyk
Like the welterweights, this division is slowly dying out. But that said, it’s in a better position because of the supporting cast of boxers competing for a top spot. Fighters like Joe Joyce, Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker and Otto Wallin are the workhorses, while the rest stall or reposition themselves for economic gains instead of matchups that make sense for the division. It does not make me mad but frustrates me to the point of disappointment. Fury and Usyk must fight to keep the sport healthy and alive.
9. Junior middleweight Previous ranking: No. 9
Undisputed champion: Jermell Charlo
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Charlo, 2. Sebastian Fundora, 3. Tim Tszyu, 4. Brian Castano
Fight I would like to see: Charlo-Fundora
Jermell Charlo is still the undisputed conqueror of the junior middleweight division. However, Charlo will face one of my “best of the rest” fighters in Tim Tszyu, in late January 2023. Sebastian Fundora continues to dominate the competition and Magomed Kurbanov has begun to ascend in the ratings. And there are still some top contenders in this division, like Tony Harrison, Erickson Lubin and Liam Smith. No one is safe; by the end of 2023, some will lose their “0”.
10. Welterweight Previous ranking: No. 1
Champions: WBO: Terence Crawford, IBF: Errol Spence Jr., WBA: Spence, WBC: Spence
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Jaron Ennis, 4. Virgil Ortiz Jr.
Fight I would like to see: Crawford-Ennis
This division has become one of the worst in boxing. It has all the talent that you can ask for, but there is simply more talking than fighting going on. On the other hand, the division has the most undefeated fighters in boxing, two top three P4P champions, and probably the best top 3 contenders in all of boxing. What does that show? The best fighters at 147 pounds are not fighting each other. Will they? That’s the only way to save this division.
11. Bantamweight Previous ranking: No. 12
Champions: WBO: Paul Butler, IBF: Naoya Inoue, WBA: Inoue, WBC: Inoue
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Inoue, 2. Nonito Donaire 3. John Riel Casimero, 4. Paul Butler
Fight I would like to see: Inoue-Casimero
12. Middleweight Previous ranking: No. 10
Champions: WBO: Janibek Alimkhanuly, IBF: Gennadiy Golovkin, WBA: Golovkin, WBC: Jermall Charlo
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Golovkin 2. Charlo 3. Alimkhanuly, 4. Carlos Adames
Fight I would like to see: Golovkin-Charlo
13. Flyweight Previous ranking: No. 14
Champions: WBO: Junto Nakatani, IBF: Sunny Edwards, WBA: Artem Dalakian, WBC: Julio Cesar Martinez
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Edwards, 2. Martinez, 3. Nakatani, 4. Dalakian
Fight I would like to see: Edwards-Nakatani
14. Cruiserweight Previous ranking: No. 15
Champions: WBO: Lawrence Okolie, IBF: Jai Opetaia, WBA: Arsen Goulamirian, WBC: Ilunga Makabu
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Opetaia, 2. Mairis Briedis, 3. Makabu, 4. Okolie
Fight I would like to see: Okolie-Opetaia
15. Junior lightweight Previous ranking: No. 13
Champions: WBO: Vacant, IBF: Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, WBA: Hector Luis Garcia, WBC: Vacant
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Oscar Valdez, 2. Rakhimov, 3. Joe Cordina, 4. Garcia
Fight I would like to see: Valdez-Cordina
16. Junior flyweight Previous ranking: No. 16
Champions: WBO: Jonathan Gonzalez, IBF: Sivenathi Nontshinga, WBA: Kenshiro Teraji, WBC: Teraji
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Teraji, 2. Gonzalez, 3. Hiroto Kyoguchi, 4. Alvarado
Fight I would like to see: Teraji-Gonzalez
17. Strawweight Previous ranking: No. 17
Champions: WBO: Masataka Taniguchi, IBF: Rene Mark Cuarto, WBA: Knockout CP Freshmart, WBC: Petchmanee CP Freshmart
Bradley’s top fighters in the division: 1. Petchmanee CP Freshmart, 2. Knockout CP Freshmart, 3. Wanheng Meenayothin, 4. Daniel Valladares
Fight I would like to see: Petchmanee-Menayothin
Source : ESPN.com