Emanuel Navarrete nails Eduardo Baez. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
The Ring first introduced its divisional ratings in 1925. Almost a century later, it’s no exaggeration to claim that these independent rankings are the most respected and accurate in world boxing.
The ratings panel is made up of a dozen experts from around the world. Opinions are shared, debate takes place, and the final decision on who should be ranked where is decided democratically every week. It sounds easy, but this can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
A couple of years ago, during the pandemic, we reviewed and broke down each division in full. In a two-pronged approach, we looked back at the respective achievements of the finest fighters in the world and analyzed what lay ahead.
Now, with enough time having elapsed, and with a busy final quarter to 2022 ahead of us, we’ve decided to compile another divisional breakdown.
Next up is featherweight. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
No. 1 EMANUEL NAVARRETE
RECORD: 36-1 (30 KOs)
THE PAST: Navarrete burst onto the scene to claim the WBO junior featherweight title at the expense of Isaac Dogboe (UD 12) in December 2018. The heavy-handed Mexican stopped Dogboe (TKO 12) in the first of five defenses before moving up in weight. Navarrete, 27, bested previously unbeaten Ruben Villa (UD 12) to claim the WBO title. He has since made three defenses.
THE FUTURE: Has long said he wants to unify or face a big name, notably mentioning Oscar Valdez. Might make one more defense in 2022 before stepping up to 130-pounds.
No. 2 REY VARGAS
RECORD: 36-0 (22 KOs)
THE PAST: Vargas won the WBC 122-pound title when he outboxed Gavin McDonnell (MD 12). The tall Mexican boxer made five defenses of the title, notably beating Ronnie Rios (UD 12), Azat Hovhannisyan (UD 12) and Tomoki Kameda (UD 12). However, injuries and Covid slowed his activity. He fought just once in three years but bounced back to outbox Mark Magsayo (SD 12) for the WBC title.
THE FUTURE: Had a previous request to face WBA titlist Leo Santa Cruz denied by the sanctioning body. However, in an apparent change of heart, he could face his countryman in November.
No. 3 MARK MAGSAYO
RECORD: 24-1 (16 KOs)
THE PAST: The popular Filipino southpaw is blessed with handspeed and impressive power. On his way up he beat Chris Avalos (TKO 6), Shota Hayashi (UD 12), former world titleholder Pungluang Sor Singyu (UD 12), and he also scored a stirring come-from-behind knockout of Julio Ceja (KO 10). In his most recent outing, Magsayo claimed the WBC title by defeating long-reigning titleholder Gary Russell Jr. (MD 12). He lost the title it to Vargas (SD 12) in his maiden defense.
THE FUTURE: Will have to work his way back up following the loss.
No. 4 MAURICIO LARA
RECORD: 24-2-1 (17 KOs)
THE PAST: Lara was unknown when he was handpicked to face the then-unbeaten Josh Warrington in February 2021. The Brit tried to warm himself into the fight, but the Mexican swung for the fences and caused considerable damage. After dropping Warrington in the fourth round, Lara poured on the aggression and scored a ninth-round knockout. The two met in a rematch but a clash of heads led to an inconclusive no-contest ruling in Round 2. The 24-year-old has fought once since.
THE FUTURE: Will fight Leigh Wood on September 24.
No. 5 JOSH WARRINGTON
RECORD: 31-1-1 (8 KOs)
THE PAST: Warrington went the traditional route of winning British, Commonwealth and European championships before defeating IBF titleholder Lee Selby (SD 12). The hugely popular Leeds-born fighter made three defenses, notably turning back the challenges of Carl Frampton (UD 12) and Kid Galahad (SD 12). Vacated his title rather than face Galahad a second time and came unstuck against Lara (TKO 9). The rematch was curtailed at the end of the second round, due to a clash of heads, but Warrington was given another chance. The 31-year-old regained his IBF title by impressively stopping Kiko Martinez (TKO 7) in a fight that left the Brit with a broken jaw.
THE FUTURE: Will face unheralded mandatory challenger Luis Alberto Lopez before the end of the year.
No. 6 LEIGH WOOD
RECORD: 26-2 (16 KOs)
THE PAST: Wood had been a 10-year pro when he claimed the vacant British title at the expense of Reece Mould (TKO 9). That triumph vaulted him into a fight with Chinese punching machine Xu Can, who Wood shockingly upset by final-round stoppage. The 34-year-old proved that was no fluke by getting off the canvas early to roar back and stop Michael Conlan (TKO 12) while trailing on all three scorecards.
THE FUTURE: A fight with WBA titleholder Leo Santa Cruz failed to transpire. Wood will now face Lara in an exciting looking matchup on September 24.
No. 7 GARY RUSSELL JR.
RECORD: 31-2 (18 KOs)
THE PAST: Russell lost to Vasiliy Lomachenko (MD 12) for the vacant WBO featherweight title. However, his blazing handspeed was in evidence when he dethroned WBC titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez (TKO 4) in March 2015. Huge periods of inactivity resulted in the American making just five defenses in as many years. However, there were impressive showings against Joseph Diaz (UD 12) and Tugstsogt Nyambayar (UD 12). A shoulder injury hampered his performance against Magsayo, who relieved him of his title on a majority decision.
THE FUTURE: Sidelined for the foreseeable future due to injury. If he returns, he could look at moving up in weight and has mentioned Gervonta Davis.
No. 8 KIKO MARTINEZ
RECORD: 43-11-2 (30 KOs)
THE PAST: The big-punching Spaniard made a name for himself on the European circuit, winning the European junior featherweight title before upsetting then-IBF 122-pound ruler Jhonathan Romero (TKO 6). Two defenses followed before he lost to Carl Frampton (UD 12). After moving up to featherweight, Martinez lost initial world title challenges to Santa Cruz (TKO 5) and Russell (TKO 5) before shocking IBF beltholder Galahad (TKO 6). Went on to lose to Warrington (TKO 7).
THE FUTURE: Will return against an as yet unknown opponent in Spain on September 24.
No. 9 KID GALAHAD
RECORD: 28-2 (17 KOs)
THE PAST: Won British, Commonwealth and European titles at junior featherweight. Moved up to 126 pounds and gave then-IBF champ Warrington all he could handle before dropping a close decision. Galahad fought his way back to the IBF mandatory position, which resulted in Warrington relinquishing that title, and defeated Jazza Dickens (RTD 11) for the vacant crown. The Sheffield man was tuning up Martinez until he got caught and stopped in six rounds.
THE FUTURE: Will jump two weight classes to fight Maxi Hughes at lightweight on September 24.
No. 10 ROBEISY RAMIREZ
RECORD: 10-1 (6 KOs)
THE PAST: Ramirez, who won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, turned professional to great acclaim after defecting from Cuba. Things didn’t go to plan when Ramirez was stunned by Adan Gonzales (SD 4) in his pro debut, but the worm turned quickly. After regrouping, he shutout Gonzalez (UD 6) in a rematch and has gone from strength to strength. The 28-year-old southpaw looked the real deal in taking apart Eric Donovan (TKO 3) and, more recently, he scored a career-best win over previously unbeaten Abraham Nova (KO 5).
THE FUTURE: Rumor has it that Ramirez will face former WBO junior featherweight titlist Jessie Magdaleno on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jamaine Ortiz in New York on October 29.
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