Boxers are rated and ranked
(a) only in one weight division and
(b) only if they are "active".
Being "active" means:
(a) they have not
formally retired, and
(b) they have fought in the last 18* months.
with the June 2011 rankings this inactivity limit was raised
from 12 to 18 months, one month at a time.
The computer program gives active boxers points for each fight by rating:
- how convincingly the fight was
(i.e. KO or TKO, type of decision - unanimous, split, majority, or draw), and
- each fight's competitiveness,
based on both boxers' previous results.
Rating the Fights
All fights in the
WBAN fight database are considered, but only the previous two years' fights are used
for the head-to-head comparisons between ranked boxers (see below).
The program decides how many rating
points should be at stake in any given fight after going through the
entire database to
"learn" which fights were the most competitive.
The program rates the fights as well as rating the fighters,
i.e., more points are available for "big" competitive fights than for bouts between novices, or
for bad mismatches. The score a boxer gets from a given fight depends on
whether she wins or loses it, and how, and on the quality of her opponent. In this system,
a boxer cannot get a high rating
just by winning many fights against weak opponents. The only way to get a
high ranking is to win, draw (or lose narrowly) in "big fights"
as rated by the program --- and the only way for boxers near the top of the
rankings to move up is to take fights against high-ranked
Note that this program can rank a boxer
with a losing record ahead of one with a winning record ... if it concludes that the
first boxer lost narrowly to quality opponents while the second boxer
piled up a winning record against easier competition. The program looks at quality of wins, not just
Rating the Fighters
The program uses the principles that
the most recent fights and the most difficult fights count most in determining
the final rankings.
It works in two steps, for each weight
- It first calculates a preliminary "career score"
every boxer in the weight class. The number of points awarded to a boxer for
any given fight is based entirely on how she won
or lost the fight (by KO or TKO, by unanimous, split or majority decision, or a draw) and by the strength of her opponents'
to that fight.
- It then looks at head-to-head
competition between the boxers in the
weight class. This step looks only at fights in which the rankable boxers competed against each other, and it re-adjusts their scores, giving
the most weight to
the most recent fights. Head-to-head fight results are allowed to
control the ranking order of the boxers for up to two years
following each fight. If a rematch changes a head-to-head result, then
the most recent result always controls the ranking.
Boxers who've retired are dropped only at
the end of the ranking process, so all fights involving retired boxers have been
considered even though those boxers are not listed themselves. Boxers with less
than a minimum number of wins are not ranked unless they have defeated a
I've run this ranking/rating program
since 2001. Since 2005, only small adjustments have been made to the ranking method. I've found that
boxers can eventually work their way into the lower rankings by consistently defeating enough lower-ranked
boxers, but the only way to climb high in these rankings is to
defeat, fight to a draw with, or narrowly lose to, higher-ranked boxers in head-to-head
If the top boxers in a weight
class often compete head-to-head, then all of them may benefit by
getting larger, and better determined, rating scores in this
system. The ranking scores in the more competitive weight classes
are therefore higher than those in which competition is thin. For
that reason, you should not directly compare scores of boxers who are
in different weight classes, e.g. when trying to make "pound for
pound" rankings. Only relative scores within a weight class are
significant with this system.
The Opponent Rating
As well as computing a rating score for
each boxer, the program rates her "strength of schedule" by calculating her average "Opponent Rating" (higher
number for stronger opposition).
The final tables list an average opponent rating for all that boxer's
fights. This career average is not directly used in the final
rankings ... it's there just to help you see "at a glance" which boxers have
fought generally strong, or generally weak, schedules. The individual (fight-by-fight) opponent ratings are
however used when rating the individual fights, and when deciding how many rating points to
award for winning a given fight.
The "opponent rating" can
be high even for a boxer who has lost most of her fights (and therefore
gets a low ranking). It's a figure like the "degree of difficulty" rating for a dive in
competitive high-diving ... it measures how hard the boxer's fight
schedule was, and not how successful she was in it (in terms of winning fights).
You can use the opponent ratings to see
who's won-lost record has been discounted for fighting mainly weak opponents, or
who's been ranked despite having a poor won-lost record, because she had some
key wins, draws or close losses in a tough schedule.
The Ranking Lists
The WBAN ranking pages list
- The top 10 ranked boxers
in each weight class with their records, opponent ratings
final rating scores.
- Detailed lists for all the ranked
boxers in each weight class, including a list
of recent fights for boxers in the weight class.
The ranking order is simply the order of
the final rating scores. The "opponent ratings" for individual fights have
already been taken into account while rating the fights, so the overall average
opponent rating is not used again to determine the ranking order. Note that small differences in the
final rating scores mean that
the ranking order is uncertain for those fighters.
rating score (in the hundreds rather than thousands) also implies that a boxer's ranking could easily
be changed by a single "big fight".
© Dee Williams
Page last updated:
Friday, 02 December 2011