the13th POLL

Who Wins Zurdo Ramirez VS Bivol?


A Brief Look Back at 2019 and A Brief Look Forward to 2020- Part II
Pictured: Vasiliy Lomachenko

A Brief Look Back at 2019 and A Brief Look Forward to 2020- Part II

In Part I, we examined the 2019 activities and 2020 plans of the elite of the heavyweight, cruiserweight, light heavyweight, super middleweight, and middleweight classes. In Part II, we shine the spotlight on the elite of the junior middleweight, welterweight, junior welterweight, lightweight, junior lightweight, and featherweight divisions.

As 2020 begins, TTR's top two ranked junior middleweights are Julian "J Rock" Williams (27-1-1, 1 NC, 16 KOs) and Jarrett Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs). They fought each other in 2019. On May 11, Williams won by unanimous decision after 12 rounds. Barring any unforseen developments, a rematch between the two would provide the division with a lineal champ.

Both are fighting TTR unranked fighters early in 2020. Williams takes on Jeison Rosario (19-1-1, 13 KOs) on January 18 while a week later, on January 25, Hurd faces off with veteran Francisco Santana (25-7-1, 12 KOs). Rosario was 2-0 in 2019 with a TKO-9 over Mark Anthony Hernandez on February 23 and a 10-round, split decision over Jorge Cota on April 20. Santana lost his only 2019 contest, dropping a 10-round, unanimous decision to Abel Ramos.

TTR's top three ranked welterweights are Errol Spence, Jr. (26-0, 21 KOs), Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), and Terence Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs). All three fought twice and won twice in 2019. Spence won a one-sided, unanimous decision over Mikey Garcia after 12 rounds on March 16 and emerged with a 12-round, split decision victory over Shawn Porter on September 28. Pacquiao unanimously outpointed Adrien Broner over 12 rounds on January 19 and edged Keith Thurman via a 12-round, split verdict on July 20. Crawford stopped Amir Khan in the sixth round on April 20 and Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the ninth round on December 14.

As it stands now, a bout between Spence and Pacquiao would be required to fill the lineal vacancy at 147. However, Spence, driving while intoxicated, was seriously injured in a one-car accident on October 10. He is said to be recovering well but if his injuries result in prolonged inactivity (a year or more), then, barring any unforessen setbacks, Pacquiao and Crawford would be the top two contenders for the vacant lineal world championship.

The junior welterweight class also provides entering scenarios regarding TTR recognizing a lineal champion for the division. Josh Taylor(16-0, 12 KOs) and Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs). Both won semi-final matches in the WBSS before meeting in the final on October 26. Prograis stopped Kiryl Relikh in the sixth round on April 27 and on May 18, Taylor unanimously outscored Ivan Baranchyk over 12 rounds. Taylor won the WBSS final after 12 hard-fought rounds.

Being they remain the division's Top 2, a rematch between the two would produce a lineal champ. Being that that bout is not on the schedule, much could have before it is. TTR #3 ranked Jose Carlos Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs), who in 2019, won a 12-round, majority decision over Jose Zepeda on February 10 and halted Maurice Hooker in the sixth round on July 27, will be fighting TTR #4 ranked Viktor Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) on February 2. An impressive victory by Ramirez could elevate him above Prograis and possibly above Taylor as well while a well-earned win by Postol could push him up above Prograis. Depending on the outcome, a Taylor-Prograis rematch could be replaced by a Taylor-Ramirez bout or a Taylor-Postol rematch.

Another possible fly in the ointment is that Taylor's camp has been ordered by the IBF to participate in purse bids on January 24 in regards to a mandatory defense against IBF #1 ranked but TTR unranked Apinun Khongsong (AKA Apinan Sakkreerin; AKA Downua Ruaviking; 16-0, 12 KOs).

The filling of the vacant lineal world lightweight title is not complicated. A bout between TTR #1 ranked Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs)and TTR #2 ranked Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) is all that is required and both camps are near to finalizing an agreement to fight sometime during the first four months of the year. Both had impressive years in 2019. Lomachenko knocked out Anthony Crolla in the fourth round on April 12 and unanimously outpointed Luke Campbell over 12 rounds on August 31. Lopez KOed Edis Tatli in the fifth frame on April 20, won a 12-round, unanimous decision over Masayoshi Nakatani on July 19, and TKOed Richard Commey in the second round on December 14.

Filling the lineal throne at 130 will not be as easy. TTR's top three junior lightweights are, in order, Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs), Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs), and Tevin Farmer (30-4-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs). First, let's see what each did last year. Berchelt stopped Francisco Vargas in the sixth round on May 11 and knocked out Jason Sosa in the fourth round on November 2. Santa Cruz won a 12-round, unanimous decision over Rafael Rivera in a featherweight contest on February 16 and unanimously outpointed Miguel Flores over 12 rounds in a junior lightweight match on November 23. Farmer also won a pair of 12 rounders via unanimous decisions- one over Jono Carroll on March 15 and another over Guillaume Frenois on July 27. Berchelt and Farmer both have bouts slated and Santa Cruz, who is also TTR's #1 ranked featherweight, is trying to land a bout with Gervonta "Tank" Davis at either 130 or 135.

Berchelt is scheduled to fight TTR #8 ranked Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) on a date yet to be announced while Farmer will be fighting TTR #7 ranked Joseph Diaz, Jr. (30-1, 15 KOs) on January 30.

As previously stated, Leo Santa Cruz occupies the #1 spot in TTR's featherweight rankings. He has not yet cut ties with the division and could very possibly compete at 126 again if his dream date with Davis dissipates.

TTR's #2 and #3 ranked featherweights are Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) and Gary Russell, Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) respectively. Warrington scored a 12-round, split decision over Kid Galahad on June 15 and stopped Sofiane Takoucht in the second round on October 12. In his only bout of 2019, Russell halted veteran Kiko Martinez in the fifth round on May 18.

Russell is scheduled to fight in 2020. He'll be taking on TTR #5 ranked Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KOs) on February 8.

A Santa Cruz-Warrington bout would fill the lineal featherweight vacancy but Santa Cruz may move up permanently (then again, he may not). If he does, Warrington-Russell would be for the vacant lineal title but Nyambayar may have something to say about that. So when in comes to the featherweight class, like with the junior lightweight division, all we can do is wait and see what develops.

In the third and final part of this series, we'll be looking at the elite of junior featherweight, bantamweight, junior bantamweight, flyweight, junior flyweight, and strawweight classes.

Article By: Ken Pollitt