Taylor world no 1 for 9th year running- Paddy Barnes only 9th among the men‏

by Michael O’Neill

Several Irish boxers feature in the latest AIBA  world rankings issued by the International Boxing Association but is the system REALLY fair?
Ireland’s Olympic champion Katie Taylor  remains  at  No.1 in the lightweight table, a position she has held for the last nine years. Kilkenny’s Clare Grace is in No. 8 position in the welterweight rankings. Neighbours Great Britain  have fared well in the women’s rankings but less well among the men.
Due to the complex system used, no place for either Michaela Walsh who took silver at the  2014 Commonwealth Games or indeed for Cavan’s Ceire Smith.
They need not feel ‘hard done by’ since Great Britain’s  Olympic Gold medallist Nicola Adams is now also among the ‘ranks’ of the ‘unranked’.

In fact Adams has not  even made the top 20 though English team mate Lisa Whiteside is ranked 3 in the world  at 51kg.

Another GB boxer Sandy Ryan is at. no 2 at 64kg (not an Olympic weight for women) though one cannot rule out  that Sandy will try to get the nod at 60kg with Natasha Jonas now retired.
Best not tell Paddy Barnes that he is now down to no.9 or he may be on the receiving end of a few more good natured ‘ teasing’ tweets from his friends in Bray BC !

Joe Ward has improved three places in the updated AIBA (AOB) rankings. The Moate southpaw, who is signed with AIBA Pro Boxing, jumps from No. 9 to No. 6 at light-heavy, while Michael Conlan, ranked No. 2 in the WSB, is at now No. 8 at bantam.

Intriguingly Tommy McCarthy was ranked at no.10 in the 91kg weight division albeit he  turned professional months ago and also in the original list was Jason Quigley who on Friday won his sixth professional bout  last week.

Remember though that AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) rankings are based on performances at AIBA approved tournaments over a two-year rolling period and thus such rankings lists do NOT include events like National Championships.

So through no fault of their own boxers just could be omitted from a list simply because they did not participate in a particular tournament or confederation event whilst some with points that are just outside the 2 years limit will have had them removed for that reason.

Many would say that the system used served its purpose in the previous ‘amateur’ era but no longer accurately reflects the International Boxing world of today. One doubts that the AIBA would agree.

No clear sign yet as to how the 2016 Rio Olympics will fare insofar as ‘ranking’ is concerned. Certainly those  who book their flights and tickets in advance expecting to see, for example, another Taylor v Ochigava  or Adams v Cancan Ren final among the women would be less than pleased if when they got these boxers met in an early round of the Olympics (remember five of the top six) were in Taylor’s half of the draw at the last Europeans.

Katie herself may say that you have to beat ‘all comers’ to take the gold anyway so better to get the ‘tough’ fights out of the way early on.

For fans and families of any boxer from any country who has a realistic prospect of medalling in Rio, most would be ‘seriously displeased’ having spent thousands on tickets,flights and accommodation if they ended up watching bouts that featured boxers who got there only by some ‘quirk of the draw’.

That could happen especially in the men’s event likely to be dominated by those from Cuba, from former Eastern European countries or Russia itself though countries like Ireland and GB will hope they can continue where they left off from London 2012.

True of course that there is no guarantee that Nicola Adams will be the GB entry for Rio – it may well (on current form) be Lisa Whiteside and likewise Taylor and America’s Claressa Shields have to qualify through world and confederation championships even though they seem certain to be nominated by their home associations.

Here is a link to the COMPLETE latest rankings lists from the AIBA :(just scroll down or across depending on the weights concerned and don’t forget that some of the lists have as many as 5 pages before you say your favourite is not listed. There needs to be consistency surely in any system eg: a 10 or top 20?  Why not simply update the rankings monthly or quarterly as happens in other sports or within some of the Pro.boxing organisations?



Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years