Esparza, Taylor and Shields head AIBA
Rankings in Olympic weight divisions as we enter 2015.
by Michael O'Neill
December 4, 2014
(DEC 4) United States duo, Marlen
Esparza and Claressa Shields together with Ireland’s Katie
Taylor end the 2014 AIBA season respective no.1 boxers in the
three Olympic weights. No surprises there for that was to be
It has to be said though that some of the AIBA ranking decisions
are very debatable and hard for mere mortals like boxers,
coaches and media to understand. Some boxers
in the lists have not won a qualifying event bout for a long
time. Others have seen changes to the number of points they now
hold, which cannot be explained even by the AIBA’s “two year
Even that does not guarantee that the current ‘best boxers’ will
be correctly ranked. Insofar as seeds for major championships
are concerned that is one of the great mysteries of
AIBA’s ‘unique’ decision making process. Thus for example
Claressa Shields, correctly at no 1 now was only at no.8 in the
previous edition. Now which 7 boxers were ranked above Shields
and why? How odd!
Then again, at this year’s European Championships for example,
there were no seeding, even though only days before they had
issued a ranking list. What’s the point of publishing these
lists if they themselves do not bother to even seed the top
stars and this ensure that they cannot meet before the finals.
The AIBA would of course would say that rankings and seeds are
two different matters –as indeed they are. So why bother with
issuing such 'rolling' 2 years lists at all?
The recent World championships in Jeju was again one where
rankings were not used to keep top boxers apart and ensure that
the public (in the arena and worldwide on TV) got value for
money on finals day when on majority of occasions, unlike Jeju,
entrance fees and fees charged to TV companies for live
transmission are considerable higher than for early rounds?
Could that latter point for example be one of the reasons that
LIVE TV coverage was ‘rare’ in vast majority of countries
worldwide? If indeed that was so then of course it would be yet
another reason why AIBA viewing figures were reportedly so low,
if one excludes Ireland.
One might argue as indeed the AIBA most probably would that the
winner of the title has to defeat all-comers anyway to become
champion – which is true to some extent – but if say world no 1
and no 2 were to meet (unseeded) in an early round as was
perfectly possible in Jeju, then TV audiences worldwide would
have been deprived of the opportunity of seeing the best on TV
since vast majority of countries did not cover the event live –
true some did like Ireland’s TG4, but most did not.
AIBA’s own ‘Live Streaming’ was quite ‘hit or miss’ depending on
in which country one lived whilst their commentary team received
much criticism even from P.R.O’s of AIBA’s own national
federations (especially in countries outside of Europe) who
believed that the commentator was ‘too British’ ! On days when
there were two rings in action, occasionally one ring’s coverage
started some time after the others; often they were ‘as one ’ –
for sound and pictures - but even then the LIVE scoring was
sometimes well behind showing latest score flashes from an
earlier bout rather than the one in the ring at that time.
So let us look at the December world rankings just issued and
see who is ‘top of the charts’ as far as the AIBA is concerned,
starting with the three Olympic weights, and what – if anything
– can we deduce from that insofar as Rio 2016 is concerned?
At 51kg where Nicola Adams took Gold in London 2012, the new
rankings have Marlen Esparza of the United States in top spot –
and rightly so. The no 2 spot now goes to Brazil’s Clelia
Marques Da Costa, up from 15 whilst third (at 51kg) comes
England’s Lisa Whiteside - last month when she was ranked 6th at
Intriguing question here assuming that she fully recovers from
her shoulder surgery will reigning Olympic champion Nicola Adams
(now no.16) or Lisa Whiteside be the Great Britain
representative in Rio? Still a long way to go though Whiteside
intends to retain her place in the team even when Nicola
returns. That is for sure.
Others to note at 51kg are India’s Mary Kom, now at no 4 in the
rankings though she did not compete in Jeju, yet last month she
was at no.5! Canada’s Mandy Bujold, who had a very good World
championships, falls from 18 to 19 this month!
How about the 60 kg, Lightweight division where Ireland’s Katie
Taylor has reigned for so long? The now five times World
champion, thus equalling Mary Kom’s long standing record, gave
the AIBA no cause change her position in the lists, despite
carrying an injured wrist into the final. She remains at no.1
for a record breaking 9th consecutive year. In this year’s final
she overcame the challenge of Azerbaijan’s Yana Alleksevna, the
former Ukraine titleholder then known as Yana Sydor. Alleksevna
is now world no. 5. Additionally, Taylor was the only reigning
World champion to retain her crown in Jeju.
Again there are some unusual points to note this month, even
allowing for Taylor’s long dominance among the lightweights.
Romania’s Ioana Lavinia Mera – who did not compete in Jeju moves
from 16th to 14th. Young Ioana used to box in her early years in
Ireland where the family then lived and has since her schooldays
been a great admirer of the Bray woman
The two met in the Europeans this year in Bucharest but it was –
not unexpectedly – a rather one sided contest and the Romanian
management did not think it sensible to enter her in Jeju
preferring that she gained further experience in Europe.
Sofia Ochigava meantime, falls from no 2 to no 4 and changes
places with China’s Junhua Yin whilst French titleholder Estelle
Mosselly is now at 4 instead of 9th as previously. Mosselly is a
much improved fighter this year yet still was no match for
Taylor in either Europeans or Worlds.
Natasha Jonas did not compete in Jeju either due to her
recovering from surgery but nonetheless remains in the rankings
lists of AIBA. Last month she was no.1 at 64kg this month no.6.
Will Jonas again be GB’s representative at 60kg in Jeju, or
Chantelle Cameron or Sandy Ryan? Intriguing.
Claressa Shields, as we have said is deservedly back at no 1 in
the up to 75kg class from her previous lowly 8th spot - true she
did miss out one year’s worlds but that was only because the
AIBA changed the age limits and even an Olympic Gold medallist
was ‘downgraded’ as a result from Elite to Youth division.
One can but hope that lessons are learnt – by the AIBA- from
Jeju and we hopefully will not have another mismatch to this
year’s when Shields faced a very inexperienced – albeit brave –
young Ugandan who lasted all of 11 seconds with the punch that
did the damage taking the Flint boxer of all 3 seconds to hit
Elsewhere, Qian Li (China) moves from 9 to 2 and Nouchka Fontijn
from 7 to 3. Higher ranking too, also deservedly so, for
Canada’s Ariane Fortin (from 11 to 4). Savannah Marshall no
longer appears in the top 16. No one though would sensibly
‘write off’ the ‘Silent Assassin’ from Hartlepool who will
surely be ‘there or thereabouts’ when the 2016 Olympic Games
qualifiers take place, one of which will be the Worlds of that
year in Almaty.
Of the ‘current’ non-Olympic weights, there is good news for
Russia’s Anastasia Beliakova (whom many in Europe see as the
natural successor to Ochigava at lightweight) as she is now
world no 1 at 64kg, where England’s Sandy Ryan moves from
nowhere to no.2. A fine showing from Ryan in Jeju is thus
rewarded. Let us also honour the new no.1 Atheyna Bylon from
Panama, that country’s first ever Gold medallist in the World’s.
She is deservedly no.1 at 69kg. One for the future?
Taylor of course was not the only Irish woman to remain
‘undefeated’ IN the ring, in Jeju as Kilkenny’s world no.10
Clare Grace (now no.8) also achieved that status, albeit without
collecting a medal for her efforts! How come? She had a fine win
over Romania’s Christine Stancu in her opening bout but in the
process suffered a cut eye and the Irish coaches wisely decided
to withdraw her from the competition to avoid risk of further
injury which could also have affected her studies at DCU
University even if she had been allowed to continue boxing.
Health and safety must always come first.
Grace was unlucky to have gone out in such circumstances but as
she later said: “It’s very upsetting. I was delighted when I got
the win and I had hopes of going through the week,” said Clare.
“I knew straight away it was a deep cut. But it was so early in
the tournament that it might reopen and get worse. The coaches
agreed that long term it was not worth taking the risk.
It’s devastating to have won but now I can’t continue and deep
down it is hard to take”. Clare Grace though is very much one
for the future as indeed is Ireland’s other great medal hope
Michaela Walsh so Taylor is likely to have other Irish support
on the podium at future major International championships.
Walsh you will recall took silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
in Glasgow in August.
Cavan’s Ceire Smith, another who was absent from Jeju due to
injury is likely to be back in action shortly whilst there is a
very talented youth and junior squad ready to follow in Taylor’s
footsteps including Dealgan’s Amy Broadhurst and Youth Olympic
Silver medallist from Mayo, Ciara Ginty to name but two who have
prospered since Taylor arrived on the scene to inspire a new
generation. Broadhurst though would probably have been a boxer
anyway as Dad, Tony is a coach and former boxer whilst her two
brothers have annexed many Irish titles at different grades.
In other non-Olympic weight categories the no.1 spot goes to
Kazakhstan’s Nazym Kyzaybay (45-48kg), Marzia Davide of Italy
(54kg), Zinaida Dobrynina (Russia) 57kg, Xiayoli Yang (China)
81kg, and Zenfira Magomedalieva of Russia (81kg). The Russians
thus continue to dominate the heavier weights.
Enjoy the debates currently taking place on the correctness or
otherwise of the rankings lists. Should the AIBA not issue such
monthly lists based on current form rather than mixing 2014
results with some points from tournaments going back almost two
You can find all of the rankings here (males included :
http://aiba.org/default.aspx?pId=4248# (top three on
left – complete rankings weight by weight on the right)