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Ring Ratings Update: Oleksandr Usyk retakes No. 1 in P4P rankings

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A protracted debate among the Ring Ratings Panel usually precedes any changes to the pound-for-pound rankings but that wasn’t the case with Oleksandr Usyk’s jump from No. 3 back into the No. 1 spot that he briefly held after his August 2022 rematch victory over Anthony Joshua until the back-to-back masterclasses put on by Naoya Inoue and Terence Crawford during the same week last July.

That’s how impressive Usyk was in outpointing previously unbeaten and slight odds favorite Tyson Fury on May 18 to finally crown an undisputed heavyweight champion.

Usyk (22-0, 14 KOs), the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, entered the long-awaited heavyweight showdown as the defending Ring Magazine/WBA/IBF/WBO champ. Fury (34-1-1, 24 KOs) entered the contest, held at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the defending WBC titleholder with recognition as the lineal champion. 

Usyk, The Ring’s 2018 Fighter of the Year, started aggressively, backing the much-bigger Fury (who at 262 was nearly 40 pounds heavier) to the ropes, but the towering Englishman had acclimated to the Ukrainian southpaw’s attacks by Round 3 and began dialing in with well-timed uppercuts and body shots that enabled him to sweep the next three to four rounds. 

The boxing old adage “A good big man beats a good little man” was no doubt ringing through the minds of many observers. But what if the “little man” is better than “good”? What if he’s elite? What if he’s great?

If he’s truly special he does what Usyk did from Round 8 until the final bell against Fury – make adjustments, shift gears into overdrive, and go for it. Usyk stung Fury in Round 8 and nearly had the mercurial giant out in a dramatic Round 9. Referee Mark Nelson’s call for a technical knockdown just before the bell likely spared Fury. The 37-year-old veteran was the ring general down the stretch, although Fury, to his credit, had moments. 

Oleksandr Usyk solidified his claim as this eras best big man be defeating Tyson Fury for all the heavyweight marbles. (Photo by Mikey Williams-Top Rank)

Usyk earned a split decision by scores of 115-112 and 114-113. The 114-113 card for Fury was not supported by anyone who knows how to properly score a boxing match. 

“I think Oleksandr Usyk deserves to be No. 1 after besting and outfighting Tyson Fury,” said Anson Wainwright. “He bossed the fight early and then came on strong in the second half, including a knockdown. It’s great for boxing that there will be opinions here for Inoue, Crawford and Usyk. 1 a, 1 b and 1 c.”

Adam Abramowitz, Tom Gray, Jake Donovan and Michael Montero immediately agreed with Wainwright’s opinion.

Usyk is undeniably the best fighter in the world at the moment; most impressive body of work over a dozen-fight stretch in decades,” said Montero.

Abraham Gonzalez, Daisuke Sugiura and Wasim Mather concurred.

I agree with Usyk taking the No. 1 P4P spot,” said Gonzalez. “He took Fury’s best and kept moving forward. Nothing was going to stop him from getting the win. That part was pretty clear.”

Gonzalez added a born-day salute to your favorite Editor-In-Chief:

“Also, Happy Birthday Doug. All the best on your day and beyond. Life is too short so nothing wrong with a little birthday shout.”

Added Diego Morilla:

“Happy birthday to our fearless leader 😉

“Other than asking him to jump on the frontline of the Ukraine-Russia war half-naked to take on the mighty mighty Red Army with his bare fists, I don’t think we can ask anything else from Usyk before rating him as our No. 1 pound-for-pound. Amateur world champ, Olympic gold medal, undisputed cruiser and undisputed heavyweight champ. He checks every single box. What a magical moment in boxing, to have our heavyweight champ being unbeaten, undisputed and unanimously crowned as the best fighter in the world.”

 

RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of May 18):

POUND FOR POUND – Usyk advances to No. 1. 

HEAVYWEIGHT – Usyk remains champion after defending the Ring belt against Fury, who remains at No. 1. Agit Kabayel advances to No. 4 after scoring a seventh-round KO of Frank Sanchez, who exits. Daniel Dubois enters at No. 10.

Martin Bakole and Efe Ajagba were also suggested for the No. 10 spot. But others seconded the inclusion of Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs), a 26-year-old London native who is coming off a 10th-round TKO of previously unbeaten Jarrell Miller.

I like Daniel Dubois to slide in at that 10th spot,” said Montero. “His level of opposition since 2020 is better than Ajagba and Bakole IMO. Yes, he lost a couple of those fights, but he also learned from those experiences, and he had a big moment against the undisputed champ last year.”

CRUISERWEIGHTJai Opetaia remains Ring champion after scoring a unanimous decision over Mairis Briedis, who drops to No. 3. Soslan Asbarov exits after receiving a suspension for testing positive for banned substances. Alexei Papin returns at No. 10. 

“Opetaia boxed himself into a handy lead but had to hold off a late charge from Briedis to retain his Ring title and regain his IBF title by 12-round unanimous decision,” noted Wainwright. “Jake said Soslan Asbarov has been banned for six-years for PEDs. He should exit. In light of the result against Alexei Papin being changed to a no-contest I guess we bring back Papin. It would be the same scenario as what we discussed with Devin Haney. I don’t know what Papin has left so maybe bring him back at No. 10.”

Added Montero: “I think an argument could be made for keeping Briedis at No.1. He gave Opetaia serious trouble late in that fight and none of the other cruisers have really done much to earn that rating IMO.”

WELTERWEIGHTBrian Norman Jr. enters at No. 7 off of his brutal 10th-round stoppage of Giovanni Santillan, drops to No. 8.

Wainwright had suggested the 23-year-old Norman (26-0, 20 KOs) enter at No. 4 with Santillan dropping to No. 7. Abramowitz countered:

Norman doesn’t have a great body of work and neither does Santillan. I’d bring Norman in at 7 and drop Santillan to 8.” Gray, Donovan, Montero, Dixon and Gonzalez agreed. 

Brian Norman Jr. takes it to Giovani Santillan during their bloody interim title clash. Photo by German Villasenor

LIGHTWEIGHTDenys Berinchyk advances to No. 6 following his split decision over 130-pound titleholder Emanuel Navarrete. Mark Chamberlain advances to No. 9 off his first-round KO of Joshua Oluwaseun Wahab.

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT – Navarrete remains at No. 1. Anthony Cacace enters at No. 5 after his eighth-round stoppage of Joe Cordina, who drops to No. 6.  

Wainwright suggested that Cordina drop to No. 8, but Abramowitz thought that was “too big of a drop” for the Welshman “who does have a good body of work at 130.” He suggested No. 7. Donovan suggested No. 6, which was seconded by others.

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s or Doug’s IG Live most Sundays.

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