Rankings (May 23): Benavidez, Buatsi, Janibek, more


Rankings go up on Mondays.

Ranked fights this week:

  • Cruiserweight: (9) Aleksei Papin vs Dilan Prasovic, May 27
  • Light Heavyweight: (5) Maxim Vlasov vs Dilmurod Satybaldiev, May 27
  • Lightweight: (5) Gervonta Davis vs Rolando Romero, May 28

Upcoming Fights: (2) Oleksandr Usyk vs (4) Anthony Joshua, TBA … (5) Andy Ruiz Jr vs (9) Luis Ortiz, TBA … (6) Joe Joyce vs (8) Joseph Parker, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (9) Aleksei Papin vs Dilan Prasovic, May 27 … (1) Mairis Briedis vs Jai Opetaia, July 2

Notes: Joshua Buatsi goes up a spot after a solid win over Craig Richards on Saturday, as it’s not exactly like Marcus Browne has been doing anything, or has the strongest resume in the first place. Buatsi is a good fighter on the rise, and beating Richards in a competitive fight but one without, in my view, any real controversy is a legitimate step forward.

Jean Pascal also returned to action with a win over Meng Fanlong last Friday, but I didn’t see anything in the 39-year-old Pascal to suggest him as a top 10 guy right now. For one, I thought Meng deserved the nod in the fight and didn’t get it. Could Pascal be a pain in the keister for some of these guys still? Sure, he’s a weird fighter and weird to fight. He did beat Browne, but that was three years ago and a wild, fluky technical decision, too. Pascal could actually be a useful call for Buatsi next if Eddie Hearn can’t get Buatsi something bigger, and there’s only so much that would actually be “bigger.”

Upcoming Fights: (5) Maxim Vlasov vs Dilmurod Satybaldiev, May 27 … (2) Artur Beterbiev vs (3) Joe Smith Jr, June 18

Notes: David Benavidez did about what most expected against David Lemieux, although in quicker fashion than many expected. It was the way that fight was always going. Lemieux hadn’t been on a notable stage in so long — it was 2018 when he beat Spike O’Sullivan on the Canelo-GGG 2 undercard — that I feel like people forgot just how limited he’s always been.

Lemieux has never beaten anyone on this level. His “mega power” has never shown up against top-tier guys, never been an actual difference maker. And it’s not at 168 what it was at 160 anyway; Lemieux had real issues getting through a fight with Max Bursak in 2019, and other than that had only blown through Francy Ntetu and David Zegarra since his last middleweight bout with O’Sullivan.

Lemieux had nothing but a puncher’s chance, and it was only going to last a few rounds in that fight. Benavidez never really gave him the chance, rocking him horribly late in the opening round. Honestly, it should have been stopped there; instead, we got another round-and-a-half of Benavidez battering Lemieux, who showed a lot of heart and desire and toughness, but was getting destroyed.

Benavidez needs a real opponent. Someone who even might be a legitimate threat to beat him. Caleb Plant would fit the bill, even if I struggle to see Plant beating him. David Morrell Jr would fit the bill, too, and as a fan would be my choice. Benavidez isn’t getting Canelo next and should try to fight again this year. If he winds up matched against, like, a faded Daniel Jacobs, Vladimir Shishkin, or Erik Bazinyan (fighters in the WBC top 15), it’ll be a real disappointment. I fully believe Benavidez is willing and ready to fight anyone. PBC have two good options in-house to make a good fight.

Upcoming Fights: (5) David Morrell Jr vs Kalvin Henderson, June 4

Notes: Janibek Alimkhanuly jumps up two spots after his destruction of Danny Dignum, which gave him the interim WBO title while Demetrius Andrade sits in limbo. The WBO seem less interested in Andrade’s super middleweight plans (if they still exist), but he still has the full belt at 160. An Andrade vs Janibek order would be great. Top Rank might be willing to pick it up. It’s not the big fight Andrade has been pining for, but let’s be honest: He just might not be getting that fight at 160 or 168. He is not a guy people want to fight. Janibek, though, would probably fight him, and for the recent standards of Top Rank on ESPN, it would be a pretty big main event.

For the record, I still think what I thought last year, that Andrade deserves a fight with Charlo or Munguia or whomever, but it takes several parties to tango in this dumb business. Canelo, seen as a villain by many, has never wanted to fight Andrade. GGG, the anti-Canelo hero, hasn’t either. They have their reasons.

Janibek is up two spots not so much because of who he’s been beating, but he’s been utterly destroying these guys, and frankly deserves the recognition more right now than Chris Eubank Jr or Jaime Munguia do. Golden Boy are running Munguia through some absolute garbage, including an upcoming fight with Jimmy Kelly, and Eubank hasn’t been doing much better, either; his win over Liam Williams in February was solid, yes, but when will he need his next “fresh start” with a new trainer, new promoter, or new trainer and new promoter, and hit the reset button yet again?

Now, the same could wind up happening to Janibek that has happened with Andrade over the years, only he fights more aggressively, which Andrade can do but often chooses to not. I don’t know if Top Rank can get him better fights than he’s gotten. They don’t have any middleweights in-house of real note. But this is the snapshot of the moment as I see it. He’s dangerous and he’s serious.

Upcoming Fights: (6) Jaime Munguia vs Jimmy Kelly, June 11 [super middleweight] … (2) Jermall Charlo vs Maciej Sulecki, June 18

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (5) Gervonta Davis vs Rolando Romero, May 28 … (1) George Kambosos Jr vs (4) Devin Haney, June 4

Upcoming Fights: (3) Kenichi Ogawa vs Joe Cordina, June 4 … (9) Zelfa Barrett vs Faroukh Kurbanov, June 4

Upcoming Fights: (2) Mark Magsayo vs (7) Rey Vargas, July 9

Upcoming Fights: (2) Stephen Fulton Jr vs (4) Danny Roman, June 4 … (10) Ra’eese Aleem vs Mike Plania, June 18 … (1) Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs (8) Ronny Rios, June 25

Notes: Decided to put Paul Butler in at the No. 10 spot; he does have the WBO belt, and his won over Jonas Sultan was thorough. Sultan’s no big contender, but the prior No. 10 was Reymart Gaballo, whose claims to fame are a robbery win over Emmanuel Rodriguez and getting smoked by Nonito Donaire. Honestly, you could have others here — Gary Antonio Russell is trying to make his move, Lee McGregor was on his way and still has time to come back, Sho Ishida is still around, I think Saul Sanchez is a guy to keep an eye on. But for now Butler gets the spot.

Upcoming Fights: (7) Jason Moloney vs Aston Palicte, June 4 … (1) Naoya Inoue vs (2) Nonito Donaire, June 7

Upcoming Fights: (3) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs (6) Jesse Rodriguez, June 25 … (10) Kosei Tanaka vs Masayoshi Hashizume, June 29 … (1) Juan Francisco Estrada vs (5) Joshua Franco, July 16 … (2) Kazuto Ioka vs Donnie Nietes, TBA

Upcoming Fights: (3) Julio Cesar Martinez vs (7) McWilliams Arroyo, June 25

Upcoming Fights: (1) Hiroto Kyoguchi vs (8) Esteban Bermudez, June 10 … (3) Jonathan Gonzalez vs Mark Anthony Barriga, June 24 … (4) Elwin Soto vs (9) Hekkie Budler, June 25 … (7) Masamichi Yabuki vs Thanongsak Simsri, Aug. 11

Upcoming Fights: TBA

Upcoming Fights: (9) George Kambosos Jr vs Devin Haney, June 4 … (2) Naoya Inoue vs Nonito Donaire, June 7 … (1) Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua, TBA

Notes: Delfine Persoon beat Elhem Mekhaled in a really entertaining fight on the Mayweather exhibition show in Abu Dhabi (to be clear, Persoon-Mekhaled was a real fight), which was actually the only thing of real note from that event other than hey, have you heard about summer in Abu Dhabi? It’s everything you want and so much more than you’d expect it’s everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d expect everything you want and so much more than you’d exp

Chantelle Cameron defended her belts against Victoria Bustos. Hopefully Kail Reis is next.

Upcoming Fights: (7) Jessica McCaskill vs Alma Ibarra, June 25

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