The junior middleweight division is not a historically famous one. Rather, it has more been the spot of great welterweights on their rise up through further weight divisions or smallish middleweights who couldn't compete with the bigger bangers at 160. However, that is thankfully no longer the case. And a crop of rising stars makes the future of the division very promising. Here's a look at boxing's super welterweight or junior middleweight weight class rankings, one of the sport's hottest and most exciting divisions.
Junior Middleweight Division Rankings (154 lbs.) Last Updated December 2014
Junior Middleweight Division Champion:
Our 154lbs Championship has been made vacant, with Floyd Mayweather no longer pursuing dual-citizenship at Welterweight and Junior Middleweight. Technically, according to our ratings policies he has until March 2015 to defend his title here, but that doesn't look like it's happening, does it? So, we're creating this vacancy to give a chance for somebody else to step up and win it.
Top 10 Junior Middleweight Contenders
- Canelo Alvarez - After earning his stripes against Austin Trout, coming up very, very short against Floyd Mayweather, and coming back against Alfredo Angulo, Canelo scored a close, but deserved, victory over Erislandy Lara. The 117-111 scorecard was ridiculous, but there was no robbery there. What's next? It seems like he's moving until Middleweight, but until he does, he's at the top of the group here.
- Erislandy Lara - Ultimately, Lara wasn't able to convince the judges that he did enough to defeat Canelo, which is exactly the problem he has always had, haunting him in performances against Carlos Molina and Vanes Martirosyan. He's had plenty of bad luck along the way, including the all-time stinker of a decision against Paul Williams years ago. After completely dominating Trout, who seemed clueless against him, the Canelo performance was a touch uninspired. Easily got past Ishe Smith.
- Demetrius Andrade - The highly talented Andrade had been brought along agonizingly slowly. Finally got a big fight, and a big win, over Martirosyan. Suffered a flash knockdown, but really outclassed his fellow U.S. Olympian in the bout, and now has the title and credit to be able to land an even larger fight. Blew right past Brian Rose, as was expected, and is now looking at big names, while also bypassing some opportunities. We'll see how that works out for him.
- Vanes Martirosyan - Vanes reemerges in the top 10 following his win over Willie Nelson, who had been on a tear. His only loss remains to Andrade, and his fight against Lara was called a Technical Draw through 9 rounds. Deceptive skill in some ways, and toughness for days.
- Jermell Charlo - Charlo stepped up against Gabriel Rosado, and really had a chance to display his skills. Was dominant, if not exciting, against Charlie Ohta after that, and stayed busy in December after a fight with Demetrius Andrade fell through. He needs a marquee fight, but it won't come against stablemate Lara or twin Jermall, so who?
- Austin Trout - It's hard to mark him down much for the Canelo fight, which was close, and he holds that win over Miguel Cotto as well. But he really looked miserable against Erislandy Lara. Inept. Confused. Clueless. Whatever descriptors you want, it was an ugly, ugly one-sided loss that hurts his standing. Styles make fights, of course, but Trout needs somebody with a style that matches up well with his in a hurry to come back with. Two light wins since.
- James Kirkland - The Mandingo Warrior is back... or is he? You can't ever say goodbye to him for good... or can you? Thrashed the unbeaten Glen Tapia in a Fight of the Year caliber showing in his return to action for the first time in 18 months. A must-watch fighter, and a nightmare opponent, for anybody. But now he hasn't fought in a year. So...
- Cornelius Bundrage - Thought you could get rid of K9, didn't you? Well, not so fast. Upset the apple cart by winning a clear decision over Carlos Molina, scoring several knockdowns along the way.
- Jermall Charlo - Up to now the "second" Charlo, Jermall seems likely to land the first title shot amongst the twins. He's due to face K9 Bundrage next for his new strap. We'll see how he handles that fight, which represents a big step up in class for him -- despite their proximity in the rankings here.
- Ishe Smith - There's not too much shame in losing a split decision to Carlos Molina. Smith had finally broken through with a title-strap win over Cornelius Bundrage, and after the Molian loss, stepped up for a very difficult assignment, against Lara. He lost that one too, and there's certainly no shame there, either.
The rest of the pack: Willie Nelson, Carlos Molina, Jermall Charlo, Julian Williams, Hugo Centeno, James De La Rosa, Alfredo Angulo, Glen Tapia, Delvin Rodriguez, Luciano Cuello, Sergey Rabchenko, Brian Rose