WBC/IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev has returned to training camp, according to the WBC, and the champion says he is fully recovered after he was diagnosed in December with the coronavirus. Due to illness, the fight between Beterbiev from Russia and Germany’s Adam Deines, which was scheduled for January 30th at the VTB Arena in Moscow. The fight will soon be rescheduled to another date.
Here are the Boxingtalk light heavyweight rankings as of 1/1/21:
1. Artur Beterbiev - IBF/WBC champion is 15-0 with 15 KOs. He ended the career of former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk in a punishing 2019 fight, but frustratingly hasn't fought since due to a number of circumsatnces. Right now, he's recovering from the conronavirus and is scheduled to face Adam Deines in Moscow.
2. Dmitry Bivol - WBA title holder is 20-0 including the World Series of Boxing, but like Beterbiev, he has not fought since 2019. When the top two boxers in the division don't fight each other, or anyone else for an entire calendar year, it's a frustrating situation for boxing fans.
3. Joe Smith - Arguably had the two best wins in boxing in 2020: a decision over Jesse Hart and a TKO of Eleider Alvarez. These wins followed a 2019 loss to Bivol. Next: Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO title.
4. Sergey Kovalev - Seems to be on the downside of his career, but his last fight vs. Canelo Alvarez was competitive until Kovalev was knocked out. Before the Alvarez loss, Kovalev had quality wins over Anthony Yarde and the "other" Alvarez, Elieder. Next: Bektemir Melikuziev at the end of January (Melikuziev is not yet rated in this division because his last fight was at super middleweight).
5. Jean Pascal - Did not fight in 2020, which means four of Boxingtalk's top five 175 pounders sat out the year. Not good for the sport. The 38 year-old Pascal had a resurgent 2019 with wins over Marcus Browne and Badou Jack.
6. Gilberto Ramirez - Former IBF 168-pound champion is now 41-0 with two mid-level wins in this weight class: Tommy Karpency and, more recently, Alfonso Lopez.
7. Maxim Vlasov - After a long campaign at cruiserweight, the Russian Vlasov dropped down to 175 and had three solid wins in 2019. He didn't fight in 2020 as a proposed WBO tournament was repreatedly delayed and ultimately cancelled. Next up: Joe Smith in February for the vacant WBO title.
8. Marcus Browne - Yet another contender who didn't fight in 2020, Browne's 2019 campaign saw him beat Badou Jack then lose to Jean Pascal.
9. Badou Jack - Former WBC super siddleweight champ has fought a very consistent level of tough opposition. In November, he defeated unknown but previously undefeated Blake McKernan but Jack weighed 188 for that fight, so his future at 175 pounds is cloudy.
10. Ricards Bolotniks - This relatively unknown Latvian does not have a signature win, but since dropping down from cruiserweight in 2018, he's 7-0 against an increasingly tough run of European fighters. He was the champion of MTK's Golden Contract tournament in 2020, and for now, that's good enough to get him into the top ten.
11. Jesse Hart: Has a win over Sullivan Barrera sandwiched in between losses to Gilberto Ramirez and Joe Smith.
12. Umar Salamov: Approaching the eighteen-month inactivity bar (last fight: September 2019) but it wasn't totally his fault as a proposed WBO tournament was repeatedly delayed and ultimately cancelled.
13. Eleider Alvarez - Last fight was a brutal knockout loss to Joe Smith, and there was some talk of retirement for the 36 year old, which is never helpful when assessing his spot in the ratings.
14. Lyndon Arthur - This British technician may not have as high a ceiling as countryman Joshua Buatsi, but he took on Anthony Yarde and won, so he is rewarded with a higher rating.
15. Joshua Buatsi - Twenty-seven year old is coming off a good win over Marko Calic. Time to step up.
16. Robin Krasniqi - Veteran campaigner is riding high off a win over Dominic Boesel for the IBO championship.
17. Igor Milhalkin - This Russian has an impressive resume that should have him about five spots higher (only loss since 2010 is to Sergey Kovalev), but hasn't fought since July 2019, barely clearing Boxingtalk's 18-month ineligibilty requirement. He'll be banished from the next update if he remains inactive.
18. Meng Fanlong - Undefeated Chinese Olympian didn't fight in 2020 but holds a win in an IBF eliminator vs. Adam Deines.
19. Isaac Chilemba - Has lost five of last seven, but all five were to legitimate contenders, and a recent win over Blake Caparello supports this ranking.
20. Blake Caparello - Lost in 2018 to Isaac Chilemba but since then has run off four good wins on the Australian scene.
20. Craig Richards - Stopped Shakan Pitters in December to claim the British championship.
21. Anthony Yarde - Losses to Sergey Kovalev and Lyndon Arthur have dimmed his star a bit, but word that the talented youngsterhas hired a new trainer gives hope for the future.
22. Radivoje Kalajdzic - Was robbed in 2016 vs. Marcus Browne; legitimately beaten by Artur Beterbiev in 2019 and came back with a win over Denis Grachev in November.
24. Azizbek Abdugofurov - Unbeaten Uzbeki had a nice run at super middleweight; tested the waters once at light heavy then missed all of 2020.
25. Charles Foster - This Connecticut boxer had a nice run of five quality wins during 2018-2019, then had zero fights in 2020.
26-40: 26. Leon Bunn, 27. Nadjib Mohammedi, 28. Dominic Boesel, 29. Adam Deines, 30. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, 31. Mansur Elsaev, 32. Chad Dawson, 33. Mathieu Bauderlique, 34. Alfonso Lopez, 35. Zach Dunn, 36. Davide Faraci, 37. Ahmed Elbiali, 38. Hosea Burton, 39. Shehat Isufi, 40. Braian Suarez.
INELIGIBLE DUE TO 18 MONTHS OF INACTIVITY: Callum Johnson, Damien Hooper, Sullivan Barrera