Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Look at Mayweather-Judah and the Rankings 

It has been a little over a week since the official announcement of the April 8 fight between Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather Jr. for Judah’s tainted IBF welterweight belt. Just about everyone who knows how to type, talk, shout, or bark has denounced the IBF for letting Judah retain his belt after his unanimous decision loss to Carlos Baldomir Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden, and rightly so. And the billing of Judah-Mayweather as a welterweight title fight has also aroused much sensible ire and disgust.

But Brian Kenny’s outburst against Mayweather on last week’s “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 was a misdirected tirade by a representative of one of the major TV boxing networks against a fighter who, as he stated, doesn’t “make the rules in boxing.” I went into this in depth in my “Nasty Boyz” column on TheSweetScience.com this week.

This controversy led me to examine just where Judah and Mayweather stand in the boxing rankings of independent media outlets, as opposed to the nonsense put out by the various alphabets. What it revealed was eye-opening.

Both the latest rankings of Dan Rafael on ESPN.com and The Ring are dated through Feb. 8, meaning, of course, that they take into account both Judah’s Jan. 7 loss and the official announcement made at a Feb. 7 press conference in New York of Judah-Mayweather for April 8.

Both Rafael on ESPN.com and The Ring have Judah ranked number 3 at welterweight (147) and Mayweather ranked number 2, but at junior welterweight (140).

Keeping Mayweather at 140 is pretty puzzling. His most recent fight, a sixth-round TKO win on Nov. 19, 2005, over Sharmba Mitchell, was fought at welterweight. Mayweather still holds the WBC 140-pound title, which he won from Arturo Gatti on June 25 of last year, but his next fight with Judah will be, of course, also at welterweight. By the time Mayweather fights after that, it will be well over a year after capturing that WBC belt, and less likely than ever that he will go back down to 140 to defend it, especially if he beats Judah.

The WBC, whose welterweight belt was won by Baldomir in his victory over Judah, still ranks Zab as number 2 at welterweight. And like ESPN.com and The Ring, they also still only have Mayweather at 140, the weight from which he has now moved up. So once again we see more agreement than many would have imagined between ESPN.com, The Ring, and the WBC.

There are two other fledgling boxing media polls which, despite their weaknesses, rank these fighters at the weights at which they are now fighting.

The WBM Pro Boxing Poll of Feb. 1 ranks Mayweather number 1 at welterweight with Judah number 4. They do not rank Mayweather at 140.

The Boxing Writers Rankings Poll of Jan. 25 has Judah number 3 at welterweight, and Mayweather both number 4 at welterweight and number 2 at junior welterweight.

All these polls agree on one thing: Both Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are ranked no worse than in the top four in their weight classes. We don’t know where ESPN.com, The Ring, and the WBC would put Mayweather if they ranked him at welterweight, where he is presently campaigning, but judging from their high rankings of him at 140, and his overall, undefeated record, no doubt it would be quite high.

So yes, it is absurd to bill this April 8 bout as a welterweight title fight, as is being done by the promoters and HBO. But don’t blame the boxers for this.

Finally, can we look at more than just this title charade? Judah vs. Mayweather will involve two of the top fighters in the sport today going head-to-head against each either in the ring. It would be a shame if the alphabets’ title madness obscured that more important fact.

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