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Lukie’s 154 lbs Division Rankings Prior to Charlo vs. Castano II

On the Tuesday or Wednesday of a big fight week, I, Lukie, go through and give you my honest opinion on the division and where I see the fighters currently in the division. Maybe it is enjoyable, if it isn’t – oh well.

We’re doing this as you may or may not know, this Saturday, May 14 live on SHOWTIME from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, Jermell Charlo will put three of his four titles on the line against Brian Castano, the only other world champion in the division to crown an undisputed world champion. The bout is a rematch of their draw from last year.

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01. Jermell Charlo

Whether you like Jermell Charlo’s emotional antics outside of the ring, Charlo is #1 rightly on based on accomplishments and accolades, as being the best fighter in the division, and on paper probably a top-ten all-time 154 lber, if he were to become the first 4-belt undisputed champion at junior middleweight.

That being said, the 154 lbs division is not unlike the cruiserweight division, somewhat a no man’s land in between welterweight and middleweight that has been a pitstop for many truly elite fighters, but produced great fights.

Charlo has had many different eras in his career originally thought of as a slick boxer, who would take you rounds as seen in the Demetrius Hopkins fight as well as his fight with Gabriel Rosado, Charlo shifted gears in his world title fight against John Jackson and focused more on power. During this time he left Ronnie Shields to train with Derrick James, and began sparring with Errol Spence Jr., as this was also accredited to his increased power on telecasts during this change.

The result saw a new version, and possibly a more dangerous version in which he can lose rounds, but now is punching with much more confidence. Stopping Jackson and Tony Harrison late in fights as well as knocking out Erickson Lubin in the first round seemingly derailed the rise of an amateur star. Charlo has earned his spot at the top of the sport holding three of the four world titles, but in a division that has a high turnover rate such as 154 lbs., it has been hard to get marquee fights as the top name fighters often have a limited window at the top.

World titles won in the division: WBC 154 lbs title won against John Jackson, WBA and IBF 154 lbs title won against Jeison Rosario. Charlo still holds all three belts.

If you can only watch one fight: Erickson Lubin. This is the fight that took Charlo from being a brash trash-talker to a superstar on the rise. Charlo seemingly derailed Lubin’s career.

Next Fight: This Saturday, May 14th on Showtime, against Brian Castano

02. Brian Castano

Spending most of his career as a blue-collar fighter taking fights, the decorated amateur who holds a win over 2012 U.S. Olympian Errol Spence Jr., now is looking to become the best of his era, or time being by beating the guy in the division, Charlo. Castano has a style that is not sexy at all, he comes forward, keeps his hands high, and uses educated pressure. It is easy to overlook him, but like in the first Charlo fight, if you were to view him as a basic fighter, you can find yourself in a tough fight. Castano also has two draws in his two biggest fights against Erislandy Lara and Jermell Charlo, an interesting thing to follow.

Castano doesn’t jump off the page with anyone trait, but he is committed to fundamentals, something a lot of fighters lack.

World titles won in the division: WBO 154 lbs. title won against Patrick Teixeira

If you can only watch one fight: Jermell Charlo I. Seemingly being viewed by most as Jermell Charlo’s chance to become a top-5 pound-for-pound guy, Castano took the fight to Charlo, in a fight most media members felt Castano should’ve gotten the nod in. A career-defining performance.

Next Fight: This Saturday, May 14th on Showtime, against Jermell Charlo.

03. Sebastian Fundora

At six-foot, seven inches, and making 154 lbs, I think most people in America envy the genetics of the Fundora family as much as his skill. Coming from a fighting family, Sebastian Fundora, trained by his father Freddy Fundora, an underrated coach, also has a sister Gabriela Fundora, who is on her way to becoming a world champion, becoming one of the most interesting fighters in this division. Fundora is a tall fighter, who loves to fight on the inside and hits hard. Even scarier, Fundora is getting better with each fight. Fundora looks to fill the void fight fans lost when Jarrett Hurd seemed to lose traction in the division, with a higher ceiling. A hybrid of Paul Williams and Willie Nelson with height we have not seen in this division prior, when generational great Terence Crawford says fighting Fundora looks like a created charchter in a video game, you know you are doing something right.

World titles won in the division: WBC interim 154 lbs champion won against Erickson Lubin, this year.

If you can only watch one fight: Erickson Lubin. Fundora emerged as the leader of the new school of 154 lbs by ending Erickson Lubin’s return to the top of the division as he stopped Lubin, who was once seen as a can’t miss prospect before being brutally knocked out by Jermell Charlo. Fundora has up-and-down performances at times, but now seems to be firmly planted as the guy to beat, and is poised to either fight for a vacant belt or the winner of Charlo vs. Castano after Saturday night.

Next Fight: TBA

04. Tim Tszyu

For fight fans of defense, Tim Tszyu will probably annoy them in the same way fighters like Jaime Munguia or Emanuel Navarrete do, but Tszyu has been highly effective with his offensive output, and with a famous surname has been making waves in the sport for the past four years. Though Tim is not the fighter his father, Kosta, was, who was a better version of Gennady Golovkin, in my opinion, Tim brings an exciting action style that should have fight fans excited, and his pilgrimage to Showtime and fighting in America means big fights should loom soon. Though some will not like his ranking, in terms of excitement, build-up, and where he will be placed on cards in the near future, Tszyu is at the top of this division right now. If someone were to beat them, they too would become an icon, in my opinion, another part of what makes him interesting.

World titles won in the division: WBO 154 lbs Global won against Dwight Ritchie in 2019. Tszyu still has the title, but it is not regarded as the major belt of the division.

If you can only watch one fight: Dennis Hogan. Tszyu beat up a guy, who gave Jaime Munguia issues, and showed he wasn’t just a domestic talent. This fight shows his upside, and some of what could be his limitations as well.

Next Fight: TBA

05. Charles Conwell

An undefeated American Olympian who is peers with Shakur Stevenson and Claressa Shields looks to be the most unstoppable force in the division, yet never can seemingly stay active for a sustained period of time. Conwell’s career is looking a lot like Guillermo Rigondeaux’s career in his prime, amazing in the ring, and confusing outside of it. Conwell has the accolades and the record to challenge for a title but isn’t getting it to a world title due to the log jam at the top. Hopefully, Conwell gets his chance.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Madiyar Ashkeyev. Facing an undefeated fighter, Conwell put him on the ropes and beat him up all night. This shows why Conwell will be tough for any fighter as Ashkeyev quite possibly should be viewed as a guy to give anyone a tough fight, yet the way Conwell beat him, it moved him out of being seen as an elite fighter. A trait of elite fighters is to regulate other fighters, and Conwell did that.

Next Fight: June 2nd against Abraham Juarez Ramirez in Montreal Casino, Montreal, Canada.

06. Israil Madrimov

Not unlike Bivol, Madrimov is a well-schooled amateur boxer, who should be higher on the list, but all the belts being held up for a year by an undisputed fight seemingly have hurt his career progression as well as fighting in bouts that don’t impact boxing’s pop culture. Not unlike Conwell, Madrimov is a high-risk, low-reward fighter, who was last seen fighting in the early afternoon in America on DAZN against Michel Soro in a fight in which he knocked out Soro after the bell rang, but was ruled a KO for him, causing a rematch of a bout that wasn’t really that heavily sought after.

Despite fighting in a ten-round bout in Madrimov’s first bout against Vladimir Hernandez, a world-class fighter, the inability to get into sexy match-ups that effect boxing at large hurts his ranking, as we don’t rank fighters on skill alone.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Vladimir Hernandez. Hernandez went on to beat Julian Williams and Alfredo Angulo as well as solid regional guys Daniel Valdivia (twice), and Aaron Coley, yet Madrimov stopped him in his first fight. A major statement that gets overlooked.

07. Tony Harrison

Tony Harrison is criminally underrated because his losses are so jarring. Harrison has a habit of winning fights in a one-sided fashion, losing focus, and getting brutally knocked out. It happened against Jarrett Hurd, Willie Nelson, and Jermell Charlo. Harrison has a fighting style you see in a lot of midwest fighters in which he boxes well, but is not afraid to fight on the inside. When he is focused mentally for every round Harrison looks like he can’t lose. When his focus is gone, the fight is typical

World titles won in the division: WBC 154 lbs title won against Jermell Charlo.

If you can only watch one fight: Jermell Charlo I. Harrison fought the fight of his life to take Charlo’s undefeated record, and though it was a close fight, winning this fight showed Harrison is an elite fighter, who at times can be a headcase.

Next Fight: TBA

08. Erickson Lubin

Lubin has all the traits of an all-time great. One-punch power, a great amateur pedigree, a supportive team, and the backing of seemingly every famous fighter from his era. The issue now is, can he improve defensively to live up to the potential as a generational great. As he has the offense, now he just needs the defense.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Jorge Cota. This is probably the best Lubin looked like a pro, as in the big fights so far, he just hasn’t had the durability to weather the storm.

09. Jesus Ramos Jr.

If Ramos were a top-5 guy next year I wouldn’t be shocked. A future multi-division world champion, and more than likely one of the pillars of the future of Premier Boxing Champions, Ramos Jr., looks the part of a special fighter. Humble, hardworking, and coming from a fighting family with uncle Abel Ramos, a seasoned pro fighter who still fights. Ramos Jr. is fighting nothing but world-class competition and deserves more praise.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Vladimir Hernandez. Stopping a fighter like Vladimir Hernandez, who had only been stopped by an elite fighter such as Madrimov tells me Ramos Jr is a special fighter, as, despite not having blazing hand speed, Ramos Jr is smart, strong, and composed at his craft.

Next Fight: Lucas Santamaria on Gervonta Davis vs Rolando Romero PPV undercard, May 28th on at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

10. Liam Smith

Smith just picked up a win over Jessie Vargas, who is a marquee name in the sport, and Smith has had a solid pro career. That being said it is hard to favor him against anyone listed above him, as with his time invested in the sport he deserves to be acknowledged as a top-10 fighter currently, but I don’t see him holding the spot for more than a year as more talent enters the division.

World titles won in the division: WBO 154 lbs title won against

If you can only watch one fight: Jimmy Kelly. This to me is when Smith looked his most dangerous and was prior to his bout with Canelo in which we saw Smith just wasn’t going to have success against bigger, stronger and faster fighters. That being said, Smith is a come-forward fighter with a crowd-pleasing style who left the U.K. and challenged world-class fighters.

The guys who should enter this list shortly: Xander Zayas, and Yoelvis Gomez

If you can’t tell Xander Zayas is a future star of the sport, barring something weird happening, well you’re either a hater or have bad vision. Zayas feels about 2 years away from being one of the top guys in the division, and I am sure Zayas already wants the Dennis Hogan’s of the world, and would be ready to fight for a world title in December if he could. Zayas is mature in and out of the ring for his age, credit to his family, Javiel Centeno and Peter Kahn for being good influences on a fighter who should influence a whole generation in a positive way

World titles won in the division: none.

Next Fight: June 11th, Madison Square Garden against Ravshan Hudaynazarov

Yoelvis is a fast-tracked Cuban pro, who is stopping everyone so far including Clay Collard, a fighter we all fell in love with during ESPN’s Top Rank bubble era in the COVID-19 pandemic. Gomez is being moved fast and facing a former world title challenger in Jorge Cota, who has faced some of the best of the division. A win against him this month could see him in a fight against a top-ranked fighter in the division, as Gomez seems ready to enter the world title picture.

World titles won in the division: none.

Next Fight: May 21st, Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona against Jorge Cota on Showtime.

Sneaky Spoiler Guy Of The Division: Brandon Adams, Vladimir Hernandez, and Bryant Perrella

Brandon Adams beat Serhii Bohachuk on Ring City USA and proved to be such a spoiler, that he can’t get fights. Adams probably should be ranked above Liam Smith, but his infrequent fight dates make it hard to justify as staying active is half of the battle of being a pro, even if you’re being avoided. Adams won The Contender, got a Jermall Charlo world title, and then seemingly nothing. I hope he gets a few more fights – boxing is a cold game.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Serhii Bohachuk. Adams was the b-side, the opponent for this fight, and rallied back to KO Serhii Bohachuk in a fight he was losing showing why many are not keen on taking on the L.A.-native.

Next Fight: TBA

Vladimir Hernandez was supposed to be a journeyman, but he didn’t get the memo as he defeated Top Rank prospect Daniel Valdivia twice, Alfredo Angulo, Aaron Coley on a regional show, and Julian Williams, all from the wrong corner. Hernandez is a high-volume fighter, who fights out of Stockton, California, who is a throwback fighter and will continue to beat emerging fighters, and if things break for him might be a world champion.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Julian Williams. Coming in as a spoiler, Hernandez got a razor-close decision as he continued to throw punch after punch, and the judges favored his aggression over Williams’ punch selection.

Next Fight:

Bryant Perrella is a guy I wrote off early in his career as he had habits of pulling back, and looked to be an A-side fighter, who would struggle at the next level. That seemingly was proven right by a slew of losses to Yordenis Ugas, Luis Collazo, and Abel Ramos. Perrella has since begun training with Roy Jones Jr., and now has two draws which many views as wins, including one against Tony Harrison, who is a very good fighter. Perrella is trending up, but doesn’t have the defining win to make the list.

World titles won in the division: none.

If you can only watch one fight: Tony Harrison. Perrella is a distance controller and a backfoot boxer, and though this was not the best version of Tony Harrison, Perrella’s performance didn’t do Harrison any favors as he looked to be the best version of himself on that night.

Next Fight: TBA

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle