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Errol Spence stands atop the class

Welterweight Ratings Updated for July to Reflect Changes Caused by Controversial Jeff Horn upset of Manny Pacquiao and Ineffectiveness and Inactivity of Other Familiar Names

Boxing traditionally has only eight weight classes. Boxing still only needs 8-9 weight classes, as evidenced by its history and the success of the UFC in returning combat sports to eight weight classes.

I updated my Original Eight Ratings in May to reflect significant action. As will be seen in a deep and talented division like this one, more significant action has warranted an update bound to be controversial, as “no-hoper” Jeff Horn took an upset unanimous decision win over Manny Pacquiao in controversial fashion. I had Pacquiao as the number 4 welterweight going into the fight in an Original Eight Division context, with the title vacant. Transnational and Ring also had the title vacant when rating 17 divisions instead of 8 and Transnational somehow had Pacquiao number 1.

No matter how you saw Pacquiao-Horn it was clear that neither was close to being the number one welter in the world even though the 38-year-old Pacquiao has had one of the greatest boxing careers of all-time. That’s what makes these ratings so interesting, as another scramble has taken place like after Thurman-Garcia and Spence-Brook. Top ten action with entertaining fights helps move the sport forward like in its glory days. Add the millions who saw Thurman-Garcia, Errol Spence fight Leonard Bundu and Pacquiao-Horn, and Al Haymon’s PBC has shown it has pushed the envelope by taking chances. It pushed Bob Arum and Top Rank to finally up their game. The beneficiaries are the fans and the Original Eight Welterweight Division. Add Terence Crawford fighting on ESPN on April 19 and the unnecessary, but inevitable and probably entertaining Pacquiao-Horn rematch and it appears the sky is the limit for this division.

This class will likely come down to Spence, Thurman and Crawford over the next 18 months or so, something fight fans can truly look forward to. I’ll guess Thurman-Spence will crown a new lineal champ with Crawford also fighting at 147 pounds against Jeff Horn after the Pacquiao rematch. While there has been good action, some familiar names have fallen from the ratings due to combinations of inactivity and ineffectiveness. In the meantime, hungry up-and-comers like Horn, Lipinets and Prograis have made their case.  Lipinets and Prograis pass the eye-test.

Criteria: Fighters’ overall record, perceived talent level, quality of opposition, quality wins and level of performance in wins and losses, where the fighter is ranked in the Transnational Boxing Ranking Board’s Welterweight and Junior Welterweight Rankings and The Ring’s Welterweight and Junior Welterweight Rankings. Also, strongly considered would be who would beat who and who and by how much one fighter would be favored over the other by odds makers were the fight to be signed tomorrow. The traditional standard of one year of inactivity will drop a fighter from the rankings will be taken into consideration but the fighter is eligible to re-enter as soon as he fights again. Champions will primarily be the recognized lineal champions, with consideration also given to champions recognized by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and The Ring. This is how the traditional welterweight division looks today:

Champion: Vacant

1. Errol Spence, Jr. (U.S. 22-0 19KO)
2. Keith Thurman (U.S. 28-0 22KO)
3. Terence Crawford (U.S. 31-0-0 22KO)
4. Kell Brook (U.K. 36-2 25KO)
5. Shawn Porter (U.S. 27-2-1 17KO)
6. Danny Garcia (U.S. 33-1 19KO)
7. Jeff Horn (Australia 17-0-1 11KO)
8. Manny Pacquiao (Philippines 59-7-2 38KO)
9. Sergey Lipinets (Russia 12-0 10KO)
10. Regis Prograis (U.S. 20-0 17KO)

Ratings Notes: Errol Spence proved he was the real thing with his highly impressive KO of Kell Brook. He looks like a present-day Sugar Ray Leonard and the victory was enough to make him the new Sheriff in town, vaulting him over Thurman, who he will be favored over. We have reached a point where Spence-Thurman would fill the vacant title and provide universal true-champion recognition. Remember, Spence’s victory over Brook was by KO in England. Brook had beaten Shawn Porter before Keith Thurman. Spence also dispatched of Leonard Bundu, a common opponent he has with Thurman, by KO, while Thurman went the route with him. Keith Thurman got the job done against Danny Garcia, but again turned boxer to do it. He has an injured elbow and is out for the rest of 2017. He also beat another legit Top Ten opponent in Shawn Porter, a feat that’s rare in today’s boxing world. He’s an excellent, versatile fighter, but is now an underdog against Spence and still just behind him. Terence Crawford is ready for the best at welterweight but will instead take on Julius Indongo on ESPN on August 19 in Crawford’s home state of Nebraska. He shouldn’t have any problem and the chance for exposure looks great especially considering some of the same fans who watched Pacquiao-Horn may tune in to watch him. Top Rank can eventually get him in with Horn who will suddenly have become a household name. But the reality is, Crawford is a favorite over all other welterweights and that makes him number 3. Thurman has done enough and their matchup would be close enough that Thurman remains ahead. Kell Brook took a tough fight in Errol Spence, but unfortunately for him and his fans, Spence ultimately exposed all the flaws we thought might exist in Brook. He hasn’t fared very well against Top Ten opposition. But as of now, he remains a welterweight and has still done enough to hold a high position. Losing to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence is not a disgrace, both of whom I have on the mythical top ten pound for pound list, especially in this era of padded resumes. A cash out against Khan in the U.K. makes sense. Shawn Porter stayed busy with an ugly win over an overmatched and over-the-hill Andre Berto. He’s obviously trying to remain in position for bigger things after two razor-thin losses, and he’s probably better than Brook at this point but Brook gets a slight edge because of his win.

Danny Garcia unfortunately gave the critics some ammunition with his performance against Thurman. Yes, credit him for tackling a Top Two guy but he just didn’t show much in the fight. The performance cost him some. Jeff Horn scored a huge upset in his controversial win against the past-his-best but still legit Top Ten Manny Pacquiao. Truly coming to win was one of the key factors that made the difference for him, and he showed heart and aggressiveness, but the eye-test should’ve told you he and Pacquiao wouldn’t even be competitive against someone like Errol Spence. Horn is hard to rate because the clear majority of observers felt he lost against Pacquiao yet the judges gave him a unanimous decision. I thought he lost a close fight, but a lot of rounds could’ve gone either way. Add to this the fact that Pacquiao is 38. His time in the spotlight is probably going to be short-lived but a Pacquiao rematch looms on the horizon and I’m guessing he gets another big fight against Terence Crawford, who will also pick up huge additional exposure on August 19 on ESPN. Manny Pacquiao could remain relevant in 2016 by clearly beating Timothy Bradley and Jesse Vargas, but against Jeff Horn he showed that its clear he’s no longer at the top of the welterweight division. He still almost had Horn out in the ninth round but the age clearly showed, as he still can’t knock anyone out anymore. He may have enough to win a rematch. The end is at hand for one of the greatest careers of all-time, but the Horn rematch will happen and will sell. Sergey Lipinets quietly continued to make his case to be projected as a dangerous opponent for almost all by stopping a guy who had never been stopped in Clarence Booth. Booth recently returned with an impressive stoppage of his own, making Lipinets’ win look even better. Lipinets is supposed to be mandated to fight Julius Indigo by an alphabet organization but it now appears Indigo will fight Crawford instead. Let’s hope this all works out with a good opponent for Lipinets.  I still believe he would be a favorite over enough welters that he just cracks the ratings over some other worthy candidates. Regis Prograis was spectacular in blowing out the previously undefeated Joel Diaz, Jr.. He appears to have it all in and out of the ring and he’s also very close to cracking this Top Ten, while people may not want to believe it, I would already take him over Horn and Pacquiao for example. He’s got too much skill and power for the likes of even a Lamont Peterson or Luis Collazo. He and Lipinets would be a spectacular war that would seem conceivable. Prograis has offensive and defensive skill and is a southpaw.

Fighters not in the Top Ten but worthy of mention and watching include: Tim Bradley hasn’t fought for over a year since April 9, 2016 in a now less impressive looking loss to Pacquiao and that has cost him a spot in the ratings. He is still awaiting his next move and has laid off for a long time. As stated, his loss to Pacquiao is now not looking even as good as it was, as Horn performed much better in a similar situation. The end-of-the-line may be near, though his analysis of the Horn-Pacquiao scoring was better than Teddy Atlas’. Maybe he has a broadcasting future, especially if Top Rank stays on free TV.  Viktor Postol hasn’t fought since last July 23rd when he suffered an unimpressive loss to Crawford, has nothing scheduled, and thus with the entry of Horn and Prograis, he falls out of the rankings. Yordanis Ugas stayed active by blowing out a no-hoper on short notice. He now has four straight impressive wins. Question is, who will want to fight him now and can PBC get a top ten guy in there with him? Konstantin Ponomarev got back in action with a unanimous decision win over Ed Paredes on the Crawford-Diaz undercard. He’s a guy that would be a good Crawford opponent as well, and the fight could be made, but isn’t talked about. Jessie Vargas hasn’t fought since an unimpressive loss to Manny Pacquiao, a loss which now looks even worse after Pacquiao’s performance against Horn.

Amir Khan is inactive, and the Pacquiao payday has evaporated. It seems him and Brook would make sense. Felix Diaz took a beating and didn’t show a lot against Terence Crawford. He doesn’t punch hard and while he has skills, he’s forced to move forward because of his size which leaves him vulnerable since he can’t punch. Luis Collazo, may be taking on a come-backing Devon Alexander, that’s a good chance for second straight win for him.  Quadratillo Abduqaxorov, a huge-punching fighter from Uzbekistan, is now 11-0 with 8KO and ended the momentum of Charles Manyuchi with a first round KO. Manyuchi had had a huge upset win over Dmitry Mikhaylenko and it appears that Abduqaxorov will now fight Mikhaylenko in Russia, a fight that could be tough but Abduqaxorov should win. Adrien Broner will take on Mikey Garcia on July 29 a fight Garcia should win and which would then give Garcia options in this division as well as lightweight. Should Broner pull the upset, he will crack this Top Ten.

Lamont Peterson has a win over Felix Diaz, a close loss to Garcia and came back from a layoff to win a hard-fought, unanimous decision over David Avanesyan at 147 pounds. Many think he cracks this top ten and he’s now closer than ever after the fall of some of the other veterans, but I think he falls just short though it was awhile back, he was blown out by Matthysse, who is back campaigning. In fact, I’d guess a final hurrah as an Errol Spence victim could be around the corner. Taras “The Real Deal” Shelestyuk finally returned in July with a win. He needs to make a move now, when at his best he looks like a threat, but he is 31 years-old and is erratic. Lucas Matthysse returned with a reasonably impressive KO over Emmanuel Taylor on the undercard of Canelo-Chavez. Because of power alone, he’s a guy who could spring one more upset before it’s over, but does not have enough left for a sustained run in this stacked division considering his falling short against Garcia and Postol in younger days. Julius Indigo will get Terence Crawford in Nebraska on ESPN on August 19 and it will not go well for him. Should he surprise and win or perform very well, he could make an argument for the Top Ten. Miguel Cruz is an American based in Florida who remains unbeaten at 16-0 11KO, and won a rematch against Alex Martin, a tough guy who arguably beat him in their first fight. He has another controversial decision win against another tough opponent in Samuel Figueroa but he’s now been in with some under the radar tough guys which should help prepare him. He’s got good size for a welter at 5’11” and decent power, I doubt he’s good enough to ever crack this Top Ten but is worthy of mention because he fights on PBC cards and is the type of guy who could end up in with a Top Ten fighter in the near distant future. A fight with Ugas would be interesting. Mikey Garcia will be entering the Original Eight welterweight fray on July 29, so we must prepare for him to make a case for entering both the welterweight and lightweight ratings, as would be the case under boxing’s previous and rightful traditions.