Monday, August 29, 2011

August 2011 Rankings Movement

Before examining the August SNB Rankings updates, I thought it would be worthwhile to delineate and clarify what the four different ranking levels represent:
1.   SNB Elite Fighters – This is the most obvious list.  These boxers are the best of the best.  I have not capped it at 10 because, to my eyes, there are currently 12 elite fighters in the sport.  Also, you will notice that all of the lists are alphabetical by the fighter's first name.  Clearly, Amir Khan is not the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing at this juncture.
2.   Fighters on the Cusp – These are the boxers who are one big victory away from becoming elite.  Many of them are long-time champions who haven't had that signature win yet.  Others have been titlists who haven't felt the need to unify belts.
3.   10 Boxers on the Rise – The 10 Boxers on the Rise list is the only one that is capped.  The fighters on this list are all titleholders who have significant forward momentum and buzz in their careers.  Many of these fighters will face significant challenges in the next 12 months, which will give them the opportunity to establish dominance in the sport and further ascend the Rankings.
4.   Bubbling Under – This list is reserved for two kinds of fighters: 1. Obscure titleholders who deserve a little more recognition (Anselmo Moreno, Gennady Golovkin). 2. Up-and-coming fighters who have demonstrated that they are worthy of additional attention (Kell Brook, Mike Jones).
With that, let's examine the rankings movement for August.  Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated fight of the month was cancelled (Maidana-Guerrero) because of Robert Guerrero's shoulder injury.  With a new slot open on the 10 Boxers on the Rise list, I felt that the most worthy candidate to fill that spot was Roman Gonzalez.  August's most notable card occurred last weekend, with Alexander Povetkin and Robert Helenius scoring impressive victories.
Elevated: Roman Gonzalez  Let's face it: the junior flyweight division doesn't get a lot of attention, but Gonzalez, an undefeated titlist from Nicaragua, has distinguished himself.  Gonzalez packs a big punch, knocking out 24 of his 29 opponents.  Also, he was formerly a strawweight champion.  Gonzalez has fought all of his matches in Nicaragua, Mexico and Japan, but he will be making his American debut in October against former titlist Gilberto Keb Baas.  Gonzalez enters the SNB Rankings on the 10 Boxers on the Rise list.  

Elevated: Alexander Povetkin  Povetkin, a Russian heavyweight, notched one of the biggest victories in his career this month by defeating former champion Ruslan Chagaev.  Povetkin, the 2004 Olympics super heavyweight gold medalist, picked up a paper title with the victory.  To this point, he has avoided fighting Wladimir Klitschko on two separate occasions, but he has a chance to establish himself at heavyweight by beating other boxers in the non-Klitschko portion of the division.  He enters the SNB Rankings on the Bubbling Under list.

Elevated: Robert Helenius  An obscure Finnish heavyweight with only modest amateur experience, Helenius knocked out his third former champion this month.  Having now defeated Siarhei Liakhovich, Samuel Peter and Lamon Brewster, Helenius has opened eyes with his power and ability to finish.  Only 27, Helenius has a chance to be a force in the heavyweight division over the next decade.  He also joins the Bubbling Under list.

Demoted: Robert Guerrero  Ill fortune has befallen Guerrero yet again as his opportunity to dislodge junior welterweight brawler Marcos Maidana was derailed because of a shoulder injury.  For a variety of reasons, Guerrero's career has never gained proper momentum.  With his injury, Guerrero, fighting out of California, may be on the shelf for up to six months, and it may take much longer to reestablish his current position within the sport.  Because of his impending inactivity, Guerrero falls off the 10 Boxers on the Rise list.  

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