Rankings are an important but controversial part of boxing. I
began to list my own rankings on my Women's Boxing Page web
site in 1998 because I saw signs of favoritism in
the rankings done by some boxing federations. For example, boxers
who were about to fight on the cards of certain promoters appeared to
rise in their rankings for no other reason, while boxers who had fought
for titles of other federations
were sometimes ignored. Some boxers who had long
retired were being ranked while active boxers who didn't have
the "right" connections to the federation weren't.
Since 1998 I've produced my own independent rankings, based
solely on the fight results. I'm not connected to any
boxer, trainer, manager, promoter or federation in any way. I am a
reporter on, and a supporter of, this sport who's been in contact many of its
people since I started
the Women's Boxing Page web site in 1997.
For over fifteen years I
have compiled a database which now has over 10,800 fight results for
over 4,100 female professional boxers worldwide and is as
complete as possible for pro fights since 1996. Since 2005, Sue
TL Fox and I have maintained this database together --- it is the basis
for all of the boxer and fight results data pages on the WBAN Records
The number of pro female boxers and
pro women's bouts happening per year makes ranking all the boxers
"by hand" a daunting task. In 2001 I decided it was getting too hard to be completely consistent
when reviewing so many results for so many boxers, so I began to explore ways to
have the computer do the rankings directly from my database.
I've learned that this approach has both advantages and disadvantages, which
I'll describe below.
Pros and cons of computer rankings
of ranking by computer is that a program will automatically
impartially assess every fight
result --- it is guaranteed to apply its rules to all boxers
equally. Given a set of ranking rules, it will apply those
rules impartially to every boxer and to every fight
in the database.
ranking is that it can't account for some subtleties that humans can
see. It uses ONLY the actual fight results. As I don't
scorecards for every fight, the program uses only information
that's available to me for EVERY fight: number of rounds, KO or TKO
results, evidence of closeness in the fight from split or
majority decisions, or from draws.
There are other nuances that could go into a ranking done by a knowledgeable
person, e.g., ignoring blatantly unfair decisions, which the program doesn't do
I do not claim that a computer program is a panacea for doing women's
boxing rankings, but -- the complete
and uniformity of computer rankings should make them interesting to
anyone who wants to see all boxers treated the same way, regardless of their country
or affiliation, when rating their fight records.
Since I joined WBAN in April
2004, Sue Fox and I have often discussed how best to use my computer
ratings to provide an independent WBAN ranking system. The
computer program now includes rules that we both agreed on to
determine eligibility for being ranked . These rules include (a)
recent (last 18 months) activity by the boxers and (b) setting a minimum
rating score for the boxer's rating to be listed and
Here are some details on how the computer rankings are produced:
For any computer ranking program work at all,
as complete as possible for every fighter, and it must record her name exactly
the same way every time.
This isn't as easy to do as it sounds!
sources of fight results are equally careful about checking
and reporting the boxers' names. So we cross-index the
WBAN database by weight class and boxer name in various ways to weed out any inconsistencies. The
WBAN database is also regularly checked against the data at
I believe that both of these databases are similarly complete for fight
results, especially a few weeks after the fights have taken
place. There may be differences in their spellings of fighters'
names, or other fight details, however.
If you see any errors, omissions or
inconsistencies in any ranking list produced from the WBAN database,
please send me an
email. I'll investigate and make changes as soon as possible when
A difficult issue with rankings for
pro female boxing is that even the top boxers may take fights
in several different weight classes in order to keep active and to get enough good fights. There
aren't as many females as males in each weight class, and promoters are often more stingy
about paying expenses for female boxers. A female boxer is more likely to fight out
of her preferred weight class to get a fight at a good time or place than is a comparable male boxer.
The computer program requires that each boxer is ranked in just one weight
class. Where there's a lot of choice I will assign her to the
class that she's fought in most often recently, or (if
it's different from that)
the one in which she holds what I think is her most reputable title belt, or (if it's different
yet again and I think it's justified) the weight class that she or her management have personally
asked me to
list her in.
(Boxers: if you would like to be ranked in a weight class other than
the one I'm ranking you in now, please send me an
How it's done
The computer program's rules are sophisticated and not easily
described in just a few lines or formulas. An in-depth account of is given here; what
follows is just a summary ...
This program doesn't just
look at won-lost records, but it rates the "importance"
of every fight based on both boxers' fight records. It learns who the tough
opponents are and it gives bigger scores for winning big (competitive) fights
and smaller scores for wins over easier opponents. In that sense, it rates
the fights as well as the fighters. (This principle is essential to
rankings/ratings system work well!)
This program does its rankings in two stages. The first stage makes a "short list"
of rankable boxers. The second stage adjusts the scores for the rankable
boxers so that the results of the most recent head-to-head fights between
them determine the final ranking order. This second stage is
particularly important to "rising stars" of the sport -- it guarantees progress up these
rankings whenever a boxer defeats higher-ranked opponents, with the most recent
results getting absolute precedence.
WBAN lists the "top 10" boxers from
my computer rankings in each weight class, with their numerical rating
scores. It also lists my full rankings
and recent "relevant fights" for each weight class, on the "details" pages.
These listings are updated monthly, usually close to the beginning of the
month. Rankings from earlier months are also archived on WBAN.
The ranking program is still being
tweaked, but now I have been running it for years I
keep any changes small to ensure month-to-month consistency. I'll be happy
to have your feedback about any
oddities that you see coming out of it.
I've tried to make this ranking
system as fair, and as responsive to recent results, as I can.
I've been encouraged by how its results have been received by the
women's boxing community. Several women's
federations use these rankings as the basis for their rankings,
and I have given them permission to do so --- but that is my only
connection with those federations. I do not accept ... and never
will accept ... any compensation from anyone for doing these
rankings. No boxing federation, promoter or manager has, or will
ever have, any direct influence over them.
However, I am open to
suggestions for how to improve the general rules inside the computer program. I
welcome feedback from
anyone who is interested in women's boxing. My only
requirement is that future changes to the rules in the computer must be ones that can be
applied to all boxers and to all fights in the database, to preserve
the program's impartiality. Please send me any suggestions or comments
about the ranking system by email.
© Dee Williams 2011
Page last updated:
Friday, 02 December 2011