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Ring Ratings Update: William Zepeda climbs 135 rankings, Dalton Smith at cusp of 140


Referee Robert Hoyle (left) raises William Zepeda’s arm in victory after a fourth-round stoppage of Maxi Hughes at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Photo by Cris Esqueda / Golden Boy Promotions

British junior welterweight up-and-comer Dalton Smith had the top performance of a relatively quiet weekend, but the 27-year-old Sheffield native’s fifth-round KO of respected veteran Jose Zepeda wasn’t quite enough to crack The Ring’s rankings.

Perhaps Dalton’s surgical right-to-the-body stoppage would have earned him a spot in the 140-pound top 10 if the No. 10 contender wasn’t another respected veteran, Sandor Martin.

“Smith stopped a former three-time world title challenger in five rounds and looked really impressive,” said Anson Wainwright. “While in some divisions this may well have been enough to crack the top 10, 140 is stacked. Smith is definitely in the 11-15 range though.”

Tom Gray believes Smith is worthy of the 8-10 range right now.

Dalton Smith attacks the body of Jose Zepeda. Photo by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing

I’d go for Dalton Smith to displace Sandor Martin,” said Gray. “He whacked out what many perceived to be his acid test on a body shot knockout. That was a statement performance.”

Adam Abramowitz disagreed.

“Sandor Martin should have beaten Teofimo Lopez, in my opinion,” said Abramowitz. “He’s beaten Mikey Garcia. He’s performed at a much higher level. I like Smith a lot, but respectfully he was supposed to beat Zepeda who has looked cooked his last two fights. More clever matchmaking (Saturday) night than a true legit test.”

Gray respectfully disagreed with Abramowitz’s high opinion on Martin.

“I get that angle,” said Gray. “However, [the] Garcia [win] was years ago and (Garcia) had one foot out the door. I’m just trying to keep things in the here and now (which has been a problem of late). I also thought Martin deserved the decision over Teo, but you can’t dine out on a controversial decision loss forever. What’s he done since? Two eight rounders in 2023?

“And given that Smith had been operating at British level, a former three-time world title challenger has to qualify as a major step up in class. When Keyshawn Davis smashed [Jose] Pedraza, you’d have thought it was the end of the world. Meanwhile Pedraza hadn’t won a fight in almost two years and was 0-2-1 in his previous three.

“Not losing sleep – I get your point – it was just an alternate take.”

Replied Abramowitz: “I felt the same way about Keyshawn’s win. Clever matchmaking more than anything that meaningful.”

Added Jake Donovan: “A part of me feels like Smith is one more win away from cracking the top 10. Tom makes a good point that Sandor Martin is basically treading water. Perhaps worth greater examination after their next fight.”

Abraham Gonzalez agreed with waiting on Smith.

Smith was impressive but he needs one more win like (on Saturday) to replace Sandor Martin,” said Gonzalez. “We’ve kept guys like Xander Zayas out for similar reasons. Let’s give Smith one more fight before he comes in.”

Diego Morilla and Wasim Mather agreed with keeping Sandor at No. 10.

On March 16, Mexican lightweight standout William Zepeda heaped 12 rounds of punishment on Maxi Hughes in just four rounds. 

Zepeda (30-0, 27 KOs), who entered the clash of contenders as The Ring’s No. 5-rated lightweight (Hughes was No. 9), averaged 100 punches per round and landed a frightening 46% of his power shots, according to CompuBox stats. 

William Zepeda needed only four rounds to overwhelm fellow lightweight contender Maxi Hughes. Photo by Cris Esqueda / Golden Boy Promotions

“Zepeda is a human punching machine and forced Hughes corner to retire him at the end of the fourth round,” said Wainwright, who suggested the 27-year-old southpaw buzzsaw advance two spots.

Abramowitz agreed: “I think that Zepeda should move up to No. 3 based on his body of work in the division.”

Zepeda has fought eight times since 2021, including a stoppage of then-undefeated prospect Hector Tanajara Jr., decisions over rugged veterans Rene Alvarado and Joseph Diaz Jr., and the brutal halting of fringe contender Mercito Gesta and Ring-rated Hughes. 

Gray agreed with Zepeda at No. 3, even though he views WBC titleholder Shakur Stevenson (previously rated No. 4 by The Ring) as the top talent in the division.

“I think Shakur is the best lightweight in the world, but it doesn’t matter what I ‘think,’” Gray noted. “Zepeda has done more at this weight and he’s done it in style.

Mather and Morilla also gave the thumbs up to Zepeda’s advance. 

Before we get to the updated rankings, Donovan pointed out some future housekeeping items to the Panel.

“A few inactives to keep an eye on: Michael Eifert (No. 8 at light heavyweight) has not fought since his title elimination win over Jean Pascal last March 16. He’s very clearly not fighting for the title next and not sure anything concrete has been mentioned on his next fight.

Charles Conwell (No. 8 at junior middleweight) has not fought since November 2022. Oddly, he’s been inactive longer than he’s been in our Top 10. I would say if Golden Boy still hasn’t announced his next fight by this week (between Tuesday’s press conference, Saturday’s show and 4/20 undercard still open), he should be removed.

Thammanoon Niyomtrong (No. 1 at strawweight) – better known at parties as Knockout CP Freshmart – has not fought since July 2022. I get the whole Erick Rosa debacle… but Rosa has fought since then and will again on April 5.

“Speaking of Rosa (No. 8 at strawweight), he is now campaigning at 108, where his April 5 fight will take place. Something to monitor in a couple of weeks.

Noted Gonzalez: “As far as Charles Conwell, I heard he is currently penciled in for 4/20 but we won’t see that announcement until we are in April as Golden Boy tends to announce their undercards a little later than most. Maybe give it another two weeks?”

Noted Mather (The Ring’s Thailand correspondent): “As for Thammanoon Niyomtrong Knockout (CP Freshmart), he has been inactive for a while now. He was supposed to fight Hassanboy Dumastov. I just got off the phone with his trainer, and they said he should have news soon.”



HEAVYWEIGHTAnthony Joshua remains at No. 2 after blasting Francis Ngannou in two rounds. Joseph Parker moves to No. 3 with his close decision over Zhilei Zhang, who drops to No. 4. Joe Joyce remains at No. 8 after a lackluster 10th-round stoppage of Kash Ali.

“Zhilei Zhang dropped Joseph Parker twice but the former titleholder outworked him for large patches of the fight to win a 12-round majority decision,” noted Wainwright.

Anthony Joshua bust MMA champion Ngannou’s boxing bubble. Photo by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing

CRUISERWEIGHTBadou Jack exits due to inactivity. Gilberto Ramirez enters at No. 10.

“Badou Jack has long spoken about going to bridgerweight but it hasn’t happened,” noted Wainwright. “He’s been off a year and Noel Gevor Mikaelyan is the WBC champ. We can take Jack out. I’d bring in Gilberto Ramirez, doesn’t have much of a resume at the weight but then things are pretty weak here and we’ll soon know if that was the correct decision later this month.”

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTOsleys Iglesias advances to No. 9 following an opening round blitzing of Marcelo Coceres.

“Iglesias blew through the usually durable Coceres in a round. I’d move him up to No. 6,” noted Wainwright. “Kevin Lele Sadjo stopped Giovanni De Carolis in eight-rounds to retain his European title. Sadjo is in the 11-15 range.”

Abramowitz disagreed with a four-spot jump for Iglesias, who had recently entered the rankings at No. 10.

“No. 6 is too high of a jump for Iglesias,” said Abramowitz. “How can we move him above Diego Pacheco, who already knocked (Coceres) out and has beaten better competition?

“I’d go Iglesias No. 9, Sadjo No. 10 and take out Edgar Berlanga.” 

Wainwright: “I appreciate we don’t make changes in general without a fight. Pacheco knocked out Coceres in nine rounds, while Iglesias did so in one round. 

Abramowitz: “And Pacheco knocked him out first. And then Coceres gets knocked out in one round. Probably not a coincidence?”

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTIsrail Madrimov advances to No. 2 following his impressive fifth-round stoppage of Magomed Kurbanov. Tony Harrison exits due to inactivity. Jack Culcay enters at No. 10.

LIGHTWEIGHT – William Zepeda advances to No. 3. Maxi Hughes exits. Denys Berinchyk enters at No. 10.

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTAlbert Bell remains at No. 10 following a first-round stoppage of faded former 122-pound beltholder Johnathan Romero.

FEATHERWEIGHTRey Vargas remains at No. 3 after battling to a split draw against Nick Ball, who advances to No. 4.

“Vargas and Ball fought to a 12-round draw in a controversial WBC title fight,” noted Wainwright. “Vargas did better early, Ball later and with two knockdowns. I think if we go with the result we have Vargas at No. 3 and Ball No. 4 or have them the other way around if we think it was a flat-out robbery. I’d be interested to see how folks see things.”

Abramowitz: “I would stick with the result. I had Ball winning, but a draw was conceivable in my opinion.”

Nick Ball takes it to Rey Vargas during their featherweight title bout at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTSam Goodman remains at No. 4 following a four-round stoppage of Mark Schleibs. Liam Davies advances to No. 8 after scoring a second-round TKO of Erik Robles.

JUNIOR FLYWEIGHTMasamichi Yabuki remains at No. 7 following a four-round stoppage of Kevin Vivas. Hekkie Budler exits due to retirement. Christian Araneta enters at No. 10.

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