Ringer Ratings Update: Jesse Rodriguez Crashes 115, Keith Thurman Returns to 147

Jesse Rodriguez (right) grew rapidly in his title shot against veteran Carlos Cuardras on Feb. 5 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing.

Keith Thurman and Daniel Jacobs returned to action in February and both acquitted themselves well considering the amount of ring rust they had to remove. However, Thurman fared better than his fellow veteran in terms of official result and Ring standings.

Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs), who hadn’t fought since a split decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019, edged out determined former junior welterweight contender Mario Barrios in a welterweight bout from 12 rounds on February 5 in Las Vegas.

Jacobs (37-4, 30 KOs), who was coming off a split decision victory over Gabriel Rosado in November 2020, dropped a tight nod to John Ryder in a 12-day super middleweight bout. rounds on February 12 in London. Most observers thought Jacobs had done enough to win the fight.

Both former world title holders had been removed from The Ring rankings due to inactivity. Their performance posed the same questions to the Ring Ratings Panel: did it look good enough to re-enter the rankings, and if so, where?

Thurman, 33, topped Barrios, who had just suffered an 11th-round stoppage against lightweight contender Gervonta Davis. However, Barrios is not a ranked welterweight.

Jacobs, 35, boxed effectively through the first half of his fight against Ryder. However, The Ring’s No. 5 ranked super middleweight came on strong throughout the fight much to the delight of his hometown fans. Ryder (31-5, 17 KOs) had won six of his previous seven fights before the fight against Jacobs. The recent loss was a controversial unanimous decision by Ring super middleweight champion Callum Smith in November 2019.

Despite the difference in level of competition, the panel voted to reinstate Thurman but not Jacobs.

Keith Thurman (left) against Mario Barrios. Image courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

Wainwright was impressed with Thurman’s performance.

“Thurman knocked out a lot of ring rust and looked pretty sharp against Barrios,” he said. “’One Time’ only lacked the knockout. I would bring it back in our ranking, I would say n°6.

Panelist Martin Mulcahey agreed with Wainwright’s suggested placement.

“Thurman looked great, but I don’t know if it’s because Barrios is such a predictable foe who tries hard but is easy to figure out,” Mulcahey said. “I think No. 6 is the right placement because I always value activity over thoughtful matchmaking. Yes, Thurman is probably better than (Vergil) Ortiz and (Jaron) Ennis, still in development, but I want him to show it against a boxer who has more dimensions than Barrios before pushing him into the top 3.

The Committee was less sure what to do about Jacobs.

“For my money, Jacobs deserved the green light,” Wainwright said. “Jacobs dropped out of the standings due to inactivity, (but I’m) not sure if we’d bring him back. I would keep Ryder where he is.

Editor Tom Gray admitted to being on the fence about not just Jacobs’ ranking, but Ryder’s as well.

“It’s a puzzle this one,” Gray said. “I didn’t score the round-by-round fight, but while there were those who thought Ryder won, the vast majority seem to have taken Jacobs’ side.

John Ryder catches Daniel Jacobs with a jab. Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing

“I didn’t think Jacobs looked like a top 10 168-pounder (Saturday) night. I gave Ryder a serious shot at winning because, to me, The Miracle Man is a part-timer and he’s going downhill. That said, if the majority of the panel thinks he won, then why would we keep Ryder? I don’t know – it’s weird.

“Let’s see what the rest of the panel thinks of the decision. I could try to see it again too.

Panelist Adam Abramowitz gave his two cents:

“I can’t move Ryder down (even though I thought he lost) because no one below him in the division has done anything to stand out recently.”

Panelist Diego Morilla agreed with Abramowitz.

“It’s bad practice to move people DOWN after a win no matter how close it was. If it was blatant, disgusting Fox-Maestre level theft, then so be it. … otherwise, it’s no good.

Added Mulcahey:

“I’m good with it all. With no other (super) middleweight in the top 10, it’s hard to punish a close verdict in my opinion.

Carlos Cuadras vs. Jesse Rodriguez

Young gun Jesse Rodriguez was ready (even on short notice) to seize his moment.

The Panel had no trouble welcoming Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez to the junior bantamweight rankings. The 22-year-old phenom accepted a late shot at Carlos Cuadras when the former titleholder’s original opponent Srisaket Sor Rungvisai withdrew from their rematch for the vacant WBC 115-pound belt on February 5 at Phoenix, Arizona. Rodriguez (15-0, 10 KOs), who had yet to fight beyond eight rounds, went there — jumping from the 108-pound division to do it — and dropped a determined Cuadras en route to outclass the 33-year-old veteran over 12 rounds, earning the coveted green belt in the process.

The only debate was whether to keep Rodriguez ranked at junior flyweight (108), where he was fifth before his unexpected world title opportunity at junior bantamweight (115).

Wainwright assumed Rodriguez was done with junior flyweight now that he holds a major world title at junior bantamweight.

“Big credit to Rodriguez who went from 108 to 115 at the last minute, extremely talented,” Wainwright said. “Rodriguez will enter at No. 6. Cuadras will drop to No. 10. We list (ring champ Juan Francisco) Estrada as the WBC champion, he is no longer.

“Rodriguez fought at 115, take him out and bring in Carlos Canizales.”

Abramowitz didn’t understand the rush to drop “Bam” from the junior flyweight rankings (or how the WBC could recognize both Estrada and Rodriguez as “champion”).

“Anson, Bam said he wanted to go back to 108. I wouldn’t take him out of that division at all until he made his intentions clear,” Abramowitz said. “Also, Estrada is the franchise champion at 115 with the WBC. It is incorrect to say that he is not a champion there. If anything, Bam has the secondary belt there.

The Pig Editor (Yours Truly) supported Abramowitz’s comments:

“I agree that we should keep Rodriguez ranked at 108 until his next move or an official announcement that he is no longer fighting at junior flyweight.

“Regarding the WBC franchise belt versus the ‘regular’ WBC title. We recognize Devin Haney as the WBC lightweight titleholder. If he is recognized, Bam should be too.

“I don’t think we have a choice until the WBC becomes clearer on what exactly the franchise title is and if it’s transferable (originally they weren’t, but the WBC made an exception for the lightweight division).”

Rodriguez retained his No. 5 rating at junior flyweight and entered the junior bantamweight rankings at No. 6 (just behind his brother Joshua Franco).

RING EVALUATIONS UPDATE (as of February 12)

Cruiserweight – Ilunga Makabu stays at No. 2 after a rematch split decision over Thabiso Mchunu, who stays at No. 4.

“IIunga Makabu squealed by Thabiso Mchunu to retain his WBC title,” Wainwright said. “I felt Mchunu had done enough to win an engaging encounter. Makabu up one (no problem with him staying put) and Mchunu to stay at No. 4 after a strong performance.

Gray thought Makabu should stay put.

“Makabu hasn’t really proven himself better than the No. 4 ranked cruiserweight, so he doesn’t need to move up from No. 2. I agree that Mchunu should stay at No. 4.”

super middle – John Ryder remains at No. 5 after a split decision victory over Daniel Jacob.

Average weight – Chris Eubank Jr. moves up to No. 6 after scoring a unanimous decision over Liam Williams, who drops out of the standings. Felix Cash re-enters the rankings at No. 10 and retains the latter spot after recovering from two knockdowns to pass unranked Magomed Madiev.

Welterweight – Keith Thurman re-enters the rankings at No. 6 after scoring a unanimous decision over unranked Mario Barrios.

Junior welterweight – Barrios drops out of the standings. Montana Love enters the chart at No. 10.

Lightweight Junior – Robson Conceicao moves up to No. 7 after a wide 10-round decision over Xavier Martinez, who drops out of the standings. European champion Samir Ziani (33-3-1, 8 KOs), of France, enters at No. 10.

“Conceicao is a problem for anyone at 130,” Wainwright said. “Conceicao at No. 7 and Martinez to drop. Bring Mahammadhuja Yaqubov to No. 10. How long has it been since we ranked Oscar Valdez? Have we decided to (ban) him until his next fight?

Gray answered Wainwright’s question about Valdez and offered his two cents on who should replace Martinez.

“I agree with Anson’s suggestions on Conceicao and Martinez. I think European champion Samir Ziani is a good choice to fill the void. Regarding Valdez’s situation, if you’re not not in the leaderboards, you have to do something to get back in the leaderboards.

Junior Featherweight – Luis Nery enters at No. 10 after dropping out and passing unranked Carlos Castro.

Bantam-weight – Lee McGregor remains at No. 10 despite a draw with unranked Diego Alberto Ruiz.

“It looked like McGregor had won the fight to stay busy,” Wainwright said. “Keep it where it is.”

Junior Bantamweight – Jesse Rodriguez enters at No. 6. Carlos Cuadras drops to No. 10.

“Bam Rodriguez certainly impressed a lot of people,” Mulcahey said. “Carlos Cuadras is a good scalp with name recognition. The jump in weight didn’t seem to make any difference, Bam took the hits and pressure from Cuadras well. So I agree with Anson on Rodriguez should come in at No. 6. Also, Cuadras’ performance shows he’s still a viable force, even if it’s fading, so No. 10 is acceptable until blood new is better.

Flyweight – Cristofer Rosales remains at No. 7 after a fifth-round disqualification win over unranked Jerson Ortiz.

Straw weight – Rene Mark Cuarto remains at No. 6 after scoring a seventh-round technical decision against Pedro Taduran, who remains at No. 7.

“René Mark Cuarto retained his IBF title in an action-packed rematch against Pedro Taduran by seventh-round technical decision,” Wainwright recaps. “Taduran lost twice and Cuarto was deducted two points for an intentional header. It was close on the charts. I would keep them at #6 and #7 respectively.”

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