Updated: Sep 5
ESPN and Ring Magazine have hopped aboard the train that the women of boxing have steaming down the tracks. ESPN jumped on first. On August 20, 2020 they revealed their first-ever women’s pound-for-pound list. On September 1, 2020, the prestigious Ring Magazine, known to many as the “Bible of Boxing”, completed their first-ever ratings and ratings panel for the women of the sport after 98 years in publication.
While ESPN focused on pound-for-pound only, Ring Magazine took the ratings to the next level by including a “Top 5” list for fourteen divisions. Junior Middleweight will be included soon; however, light heavyweight, cruiserweight, and heavyweight will not be rated at this time due to the lack of “competitors”.
Both lists included respected boxing brains; however, ESPN did not have a woman on their six-person panel. In contrast, 8 out of the 13 panelists for Ring Magazine were women.
The consensus from both pound-for-pound lists was that Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor are one and two respectively.
The accuracy of these lists will always be up for debate which makes them on par with the men. This is a good thing. While it will take time for these lists to circulate and generate discussion amongst fans, it will benefit the sport to have a more tangible means of assessing who is truly the best, produced by knowledgeable people within the sport. BoxRec is a well-known place for boxing fans to seek out information on boxers and ratings, but having the powerhouse known as ESPN and the well-chronicled Ring Magazine now beginning to trumpet the women of boxing in this fashion is tremendous…and past due.
Having multiple platforms where these women can showcase their talents has helped, but their performances are what generated the buzz. They make you take notice. Christy Martin and Laila Ali helped pave the way in the 90’s and 00’s for today’s women in boxing by bringing entertainment and notoriety to a more mainstream audience.
With Cecilia Braekhus in the twilight of her career, fighters like Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor are leading the charge and taking it to another level. There are many others like Jessica McCaskill, Mikaela Mayer, Terri Harper, and more that are picking up steam. These ratings are just another sign of progress.
It is also time for fans and pundits alike to get away from referring to women in boxing as “women’s boxing”. It is just boxing. Just like the women who fight in the MMA is not,“women’s MMA”. This is boxing. Period.
There’s plenty of room on this exciting train. Let’s all jump on board.
By James Knox