By David Finger
WBO September ratings were recently released, and as expected the biggest shake up in the classifications took place in the 154-pound division. The junior middleweight division was one of two divisions in which new champions were crowned after Miguel Cotto won a unanimous decision over Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant belt on August 26th. With the win Cotto’s previous position as the #1 ranked contender passed over to the undefeated 22-year old Magomev “Black Lion” Kurbanov (12-0, 9 KOs). Kurbonov was arguably the biggest winner in the September rankings, jumping up from #8 to #1 on the heels of a unanimous decision victory over Stepan Horvath on September 9, 2017. That fight was for the vacant WBO International belt. Horvath, who was ranked at #5 in the August ratings, dropped out of the September rankings after his loss to the “Black Lion”. Other big winners in the 154-pound division were Kanat Islam (25-0, 20 KOs) who moved up from #7 to #3 after his impressive stoppage over previously undefeated prospect Brandon Cook on September 9th. Cook entered the fight ranked #13 by the WBO but drops out of the classifications after the loss.
The other big development at junior middleweight was the entry of former champion Antonio Margarito (41-8, 27 KOs) into the world rankings, moving in at #9. Margarito struggled mightily in his last fight, winning a controversial technical decision over Carson Jones on September 2nd. Nonetheless he is coming in on the heels of a three-fight win streak which included wins over Jorge Paez Jr. in March of 2016 and Ramon Alvarez in a fight for the NABO belt in August of 2016. At 39-years old it is clear that time is not on Margarito’s side, but his entry into the world rankings does set up a possible third fight with Miguel Cotto in the near future.
Undefeated prospect John Vera Jr. (17-0, 10 KOs) also made major gains in the division, moving up from #12 to #5.
After his loss to Cotto, Kamegai dropped from #6 to #15. Entering the world rankings at 154-pounds were Argentina’s Diego Gabriel Chaves (26-2-1, 22 KOs) who moved into the top ten with a #8 ranking. Jamaica’s Nathaniel “No Problem” Gallimore (19-1, 16 KOs) also moved into the world ratings at #10 while 32-year old Frenchmen Cedric Vitu (46-2, 19 KOs) moved into the world rankings at #14. Dropping out of the classifications at 154 was undefeated Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs), who had been ranked at #9. Lubin is fighting Jermell Charlo for the WBC belt on October 14, 2017.
In other developments in the September classifications:
At heavyweight, Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) lost his #3 ranking after signing to fight IBF and WBA Super Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua on October 28, 2017. Andy Ruiz (29-1, 19 KOs) dropped from #7 to #10. Ruiz has not fought since losing to Joseph Parker back in December of 2016 in a fight for the vacant heavyweight title. Carlos Takam (35-3-1, 27 KOs) moved into the world rankings at #12.
At cruiserweight, Marco Huck dropped from #9 to #15 while undefeated prospect Andrew Tabiti (15-0, 12 KOs) from Las Vegas moved into the world rankings at #10.
In the light heavyweight division, the biggest winner was undoubtedly undefeated Ukranian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KOs). Gvozdyk scored a stoppage over Craig Baker on August 19 in a fight for the NABO title, and moved up from #3 to #1 in the world rankings. Although the jump was technically a model jump of only two positions, with the shocking announcement from Andre Ward that he is retiring from boxing Gvozdyk should see himself in a fight for the vacant title, a opportunity that wouldn’t have necessarily been available to him had he not moved up from #3. Sergey Kovalev dropped from #1 to #2 while Trent Broadhurst of Australia moved into the world ranking at #15. Sweeden’s Erik Skoglund (26-1, 12 KOs), who had been ranked #4, dropped out of the light heavyweight classifications after a loss to Callum Smith. However he was entered into the 168-pound rankings, being ranked at #4 at super middleweight. Matt Korobov (27-1, 14 KOs), who has been inactive since November of 2016, was dropped from the super middleweight rankings. He had been ranked at #5 in the August classifications.
At middleweight, the previously 15th ranked Immanuel Aleem was dropped from the ratings after his loss to Hugo Centeno Jr. on August 25th. Centeno moved into the middleweight rankings at #12.
At welterweight, former champion Jesse Vargas dropped from #9 to #13. Vargas has not fight since his loss to Manny Pacquiao in November of 2016 and is in danger of falling out of the rankings entirely if he doesn’t land a fight in the near future.
There were no major changes at 140-pounds, although the top two ranked fighter (Antonio Orozco and Maurice Hooker) ended up trading places in the rankings. Hooker is now the #1 ranked contender while Orozco sits on the #2 slot.
At lightweight undefeated Felix Verdejo (23-0, 15 KOs) dropped from #1 to #6. Verdejo has not fought since February of this year.
At 126-pounds, 24-year old prospect Tramaine Williams (13-0, 5 KOs) entered the world rankings, making his debut at #13.
In the 122-pound division there were no major changes.
At 118-pounds, Japan’s Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2 KOs) entered the world rankings at #14, replacing his countryman Shohei Omori (18-2, 13 KOs) who dropped out of the classifications.
In the junior bantamweight division, undefeated Sho Isida (24-0, 13 KOs) dropped out of the world rankings. He had been ranked at #4 but is currently slated to fight for the WBA title in December.
At 112-pounds, China’s Zou Shiming (9-2, 2 KOs) moved up from #6 to #4. Shiming was the former WBO champion but lost the title in his first defense was he was stopped by current champion Sho Kimura. Froilan Saludar (26-2-1, 17 KOs) moved into the world rankings at #11.
In the junior flyweight division, Jesse Espinas (16-2, 11 KOs) dropped from #9 to #15. Espinas, who hails from the Philippines, has not fought since December of 2016.
And in boxing’s smallest weight division a change in champions led to a shakeup in the world ranking. Reigning world champion Tatsuya Fukuhara lost his title to Ryu Yamanaka at the end of August, leading to Yamanaka’s removal from the world rankings. He had previously been the #1 contender. Fukuhara entered the WBO rankings at #8. Mexico’s Moises Calleros moved up from #6 to #5.