With two months in the books for 2021, we’ve already seen plenty to be excited about with more to look forward to. Jr. lightweight Oscar Valdez picked up a career best victory over Miguel Berchelt for a belt in his second weight class, Jr. featherweight Stephen Fulton won a memorable clash of fresh faces to earn his first major title, and Jr. middleweight Brian Castano may have lined up a four belt unification with Jermell Charlo after dominating Patrick Teixeira. 

While several big names are waiting for their next date, the sports most established star is staying active as Saul Alvarez settles in to attempt to clean out super middleweight. Keep an eye on Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman Gonzalez II as a potential shake-up fight in March. 

Here’s a few notes on the update:

A pool of 57 fighters was evaluated for this update.

Naoya Inoue and Errol Spence advance ahead of Alvarez in the overall. Alvarez loses ground due to one of his last two starts (WBC mandatory Avni Yildirim) being unrated by TBRB or Ring but the rank in all three categories is published for a reason. Alvarez remains the leader for the last three years and in terms of unique wins. Should the aggressive schedule planned for Alvarez play out as expected, expect plenty of shuffles near the top throughout the year.  

Among reigning titlists, three (Arsen Goulamirian, Devin Haney, Yordenis Ugas) lack a single win in their last five fights 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.   

Juan Francisco Estrada’s loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has aged past three years and is not among his last five fights. It is no longer a scoring factor. Estrada is just a fraction out of the top thirty but a win over Gonzalez would factor large. The reverse is also true for Gonzalez who would get a boost not only from a win over Estrada but having his second loss to Sor Rungvisai no longer factored into his last five fights. 

Josh Warrington, previously in the top fifteen, removed himself from those with a title. Mauricio Lara removed him from consideration.

No new names entered the top ten but Oscar Valdez and Brian Castano both moved into the top twenty.

Here’s how it shakes out two months into 2021.

1) Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 2 (33.2 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 2 (5 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 5 (13 pts)

Age: 27

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Bantamweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses); WBA “super” Bantamweight (2019-Present,1 Defense)

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: 13-0, 11 KO (15-0, 13 KO including WBA secondary title fights)

Last Five: Jason Moloney KO7 (#6/#5 - 118), Nonito Donaire UD12 (#3/#4 - 118), Emanuel Rodriguez KO2 (#3/#6 -118), Juan Carlos Payano KO1 (#5 - 118), Jamie McDonnell TKO1 (#2/#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. Five straight top ten opponents, five straight wins. It’s the longest current streak of top ten wins in the sport. With a little more luck on the count against Donaire (which appeared to reach ten before the fight resumed), it could have been five straight top ten stoppages. Regardless, Donaire gave him some scary moments and we learned Inoue is more than an offensive dynamo. Foes who know what sort of frightful finishing pop awaits them now have to reckon with the evidence that Inoue can take as good as he gives and come back harder. Losing a unification bout with Johnriel Casimero to COVID was unfortunate but considering the growing war of words (and tweets), there’s no reason Casimero can’t be revisited now that Inoue and Casimero have cleared their decks. As the consensus top two in the class, Inoue-Casimero would create a new, clear lineage for the division.

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

Overall Points Rank: 4 (24.81 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 4 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 6 (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: TBA

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. Will Spence complete unification of welterweight in 2021? To do so, Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford are the options to get there and both would bring sizable revenue and could be impressive gates if and when fans can return to the sport. It would also establish a decisive new lineage for one of boxing’s most storied weight classes. In the meantime, signs point to a possible unification match for Spence with talented Cuban Yordenis Ugas. Ugas was recently promoted to primary WBA titlist.  

3) Saul Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KO) 

Overall Points Rank: 1 (41.44 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 1 (5 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 10 (10.5 pts)

Age: 30

Current Alphabet Titles: WBA Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 1 Defense); WBC Super Middleweight (2020-Present, 1 Defense)

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, 1 Defense)

Record in Title Fights: 15-1-1, 8 KO (16-1-1, 9 KO including WBA secondary title fights)

Last Five: Avni Yildirim (Unrated), Callum Smith (Ring Champion/TBRB #1 - 168), Sergey Kovalev KO11 (#2 - 175[++]), Daniel Jacobs UD12 (#2 - 160), Rocky Fielding TKO3 (#9 - 168[+])

Three Year Activity Kicker: Yes - Gennady Golovkin MD12 (#1 - 160)

Next Opponent: May 8, 2020 vs. Ring #5/TBRB #6 Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KO) 

The Take: Alvarez blew through Yildirim as expected and will soon begin preparations for a unification bout with WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders. Alvarez made his lone outing of 2020 count, battering previously undefeated Callum Smith to take the pole position at super middleweight. Prior to Yildirim, Alvarez held five consecutive wins against opponents rated in the top ten of their divisions by both TBRB and Ring. Saunders will be his sixth rated opponent across three divisions in his last seven starts. Since the last update, Alvarez has vacated the historical middleweight throne but is well on his way to declaring himself the owner of the same real estate eight pounds higher. 

Tie - 4) Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KO) 

Overall Points Rank: 7 (19.5 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 14 (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. It announces the arrival at the elite level of a notable crop of blue chip talents around 135 lbs. Who will be the next to join Lopez as the future unfolds? For Lopez, next up will be the IBF mandatory Kambosos. Both men already won after a well publicized purse bid ended in a pot of more than $6 million.  

Tie - 4) Jose Ramirez (26-0, 17 KO)  

Overall Points Rank: 6 (20 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 9 (3 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 4 (13.5 pts)

Age: 28

Current Alphabet Titles: WBC Super Lightweight (2018-Present, 4 Defenses); WBA Super Lightweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense)

Additional Titles: None

Record in Title Fights: 5-0, 1 KO

Last Five: Viktor Postol MD12 (#4 - 140), Maurice Hooker TKO6 (#4/#5 - 140), Jose Zepeda MD12 (Unrated), Antonio Orozco UD12 (#5/#4 - 140), Amir Imam UD12 (Unrated)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA 

The Take: This might feel high for Ramirez but there is quality here. By the numbers Ramirez has three top five wins in his last four starts and a then-unrated Jose Zepeda has picked up some big wins since to underline Ramirez’s quality of opposition. A little bit of luck never hurt anyone and Ramirez danced on the edge of defeat with both Zepeda and Postol in highly competitive affairs the judges saw Ramirez’s way. Heading into 2021, all eyes are on a potential showdown with Josh Taylor that could be one of the best fights in boxing. Ramirez’s win over Hooker gave him half of the major hardware in the division but we can’t crown the true champ at Jr. welterweight until Ramirez-Taylor goes down.

6) Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) 

Points Rank: 11 (14 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 5 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 7 (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: TBA

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 might be just over the horizon with an anticipated showdown with the lineal king, Tyson Fury, though the announcement has yet to be made. Whether it happens next, or after one more fight for each man, remains to be seen. 

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

Overall Points Rank: Tie - 11 (14 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 16 (2 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 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...does he reign on or follow Usyk up the scale to tempt the unlimited class for boxing’s most prestigious honors?

8) Josh Taylor (17-0, 13 KO)

Overall Points Rank: 5 (23 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 8 (3 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 12 (10 pts)

Age: 30

Current Alphabet Titles: IBF Jr. Welterweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses); WBA Super Lightweight (2019-Present, 1 Defenses)

Additional Titles: Ring Magazine Jr. Welterweight (2019-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 3-0, 1 KO

Last Five: Apinun Khongsong KO1 (Unrated), Regis Prograis MD12 (#1 - 140), Ivan Baranchyk UD12 (#6/#7 - 140), Ryan Martin TKO7 (Unrated), Viktor Postol UD12 (#2/#3 - 140)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: 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. The best fight in his division right now would be with the man who holds the other two major alphabet straps, Jose Ramirez. Both took care of business in their last outings to clear the way to make it happen. The winner of that fight if it happens, 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 2021. Taylor has plenty of foes Jr. welterweight that could move him up, or down, with a bullet.   

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

Overall Points Rank: 21 (9.74 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 6 (4 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 9 (10.74 pts)

Age: 31

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 and the winner of Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman Gonzalez II. 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.   

10) Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18 KO) 

Overall Points Rank: 39 (6 pts)

Unique Rated Wins Rank: 12 (3 unique wins)

Last Two Starts Rank: 2 (16 pts)

Age: 30

Lineal Titles: World/Ring Jr. Middleweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Current Alphabet Titles: WBC Super Welterweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense); WBA Super Welterweight “Super” (2020-Present, 0 Defenses); IBF Jr. Middleweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Additional Titles: WBC Super Welterweight (2016-18, 3 Defenses); Ring Magazine Jr. Middleweight (2020-Present, 0 Defenses)

Record in Title Fights: 6-1, 5 KO

Last Five Opponents: Jeison Rosario KO8 (#2/#1 - 154), Tony Harrison KO11 (#6/#3 - 154), Jorge Cota KO3 (Unrated), Tony Harrison L12 (Unrated), Austin Trout UD12 (#7/Unrated - 154)

Three Year Activity Kicker: No

Next Opponent: TBA

The Take: Jermell Charlo cemented his claim to the top spot in one of boxing’s deepest divisions, avenging a highly debatable loss and scoring one of the more memorable body shot knockouts in recent memory. The loss to a then-unrated Harrison hurts in an evaluation that respects official outcomes. It may have made Charlo more dangerous in the long run. With men like Erislandy Lara, Julian Williams, and Jarrett Hurd still there to make fresh, challenging fights Charlo has plenty of room to rise in the near future. There is also an obvious showdown many would love to see next with newly minted WBO titlist Brian Castano to close out a four-belt unification of the class.     

Rest of the Top Thirty: Vasyl Lomachenko (Ranked 3 on Overall Points/3 on Unique Wins/27 on Last Two Starts), Oscar Valdez (15/18/14), Gennady Golovkin (28/26/7), Tyson Fury (11/36/14), Artur Beterbiev (19/37/10), Petchmanee CP Freshmart (20/38/12), Emanuel Navarette (8/10/36), Manny Pacquiao (50/7/17), Roman Gonzalez (36/30/14), Brian Castano (14/17/32), Muradjon Akhmadaliev (22/39/18), Tie - Gary Russell (25/24/25)/Joseph Diaz (34/29/18), Tie - Julio Cesar Martinez (28/26/25)/Dmitry Bivol (22/22/30), Johnriel Casimero (25/40/20), Tie - Terence Crawford (24/23/32)/Oleksandr Usyk (10/15/43)/Jermall Charlo (28/41/21), Caleb Plant (28/26/30)

Previous Competition Index Updates

November 2020 

January 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 to generate the final rating.  

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