SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS (168 POUNDS)
1. Carl Froch (33-2)
2. Arthur Abraham (42-4)
|Abraham made the second defense of his second 168-pound title reign Sept. 27 in the comforts of home in Germany when he faced England's Paul Smith. It was a highly entertaining fight, one that was extremely close and competitive all the way. But you wouldn't know that by the horrendous scorecards in favor of Abraham -- an unconscionable 119-109 and two questionable 117-110 cards. It's hard to argue against a close Abraham win, but the scores were way too wide. So they met again Feb. 21, in Germany again, and this time Abraham won a clear unanimous decision. Next Abraham will face rival and former titleholder Robert Stieglitz (47-4-1) in the fourth fight of their series, which Abraham leads 2-1.
Next: TBA vs. Stieglitz
3. Robert Stieglitz (47-4-1)
|The former two-time super middleweight titlist met former four-time middleweight titlist Felix Sturm on Nov. 8 in a big all-German showdown. Stieglitz and Sturm, who moved up to meet him at a catch weight of 166½ pounds, rumbled in an unexpectedly action-packed fight that ended in a legitimate split draw. Stieglitz, the mandatory challenger for titleholder Arthur Abraham (42-4), is headed to a fourth fight with his biggest rival, hoping to even their series 2-2.
Next: TBA vs. Abraham
4. George Groves (21-2)
|After two disappointing knockout losses in a row challenging titlist Carl Froch (including in the first highly controversial fight), England's Groves returned on Sept. 20 and looked pretty sharp outpointing Christopher Rebrasse of France to win the European title and become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Anthony Dirrell (27-0-1). In a Nov. 22 stay-busy fight, Groves looked awful in a seventh-round stoppage of American Denis Douglin on the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew II undercard.
5. Anthony Dirrell (27-0-1)
|As a mandatory challenger, Dirrell got a title shot against Sakio Bika in December 2013, and it was a terrific fight. Dirrell dropped Bika in the fifth round of the slugfest and many thought he had pulled out a close decision, but Bika kept the title on a draw. In the rematch on Aug. 16, Dirrell left no doubt as he outpointed Bika in a rough, ugly, foul-filled fight to claim a world title. Although Dirrell's mandatory against George Groves (21-2) is due, he got an exception and will make an optional defense against Badou Jack (18-1-1) in Chicago in a Spike TV main event.
Next: April 24 vs. Jack
6. James DeGale (20-1)
|DeGale, a 2008 British Olympic gold medalist, won his 10th fight in a row on Nov. 22 on the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew II undercard, blowing through veteran tough guy and former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban. DeGale, one of countryman Carl Froch's mandatory challengers, dominated and stopped Periban in the third round. Froch, however, gave up a belt, leaving DeGale to face Andre Dirrell (24-1) for the vacant title, possibly on April 25.
Next: TBA vs. Andre Dirrell
7. Sakio Bika (32-6-3)
|In August, Bika lost his world title by unanimous decision to Anthony Dirrell in a rematch of their grueling December 2013 draw. In his return from the loss, Bika will move up to light heavyweight to challenge champion Adonis Stevenson (25-1) on Stevenson's turf in Quebec City in the main event of the first "Premier Boxing Champions" card on CBS.
Next: April 4 vs. Stevenson
8. Andre Dirrell (24-1)
|The 2004 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and former world title challenger, very inactive since 2010, is getting busy at last. Since ending an 18-month layoff in August, he has won three fights, albeit against pedestrian opposition. In his most recent outing, Dec. 19 on Showtime, Dirrell rolled to a near-shutout of Derek Edwards. The win moved Dirrell into the No. 2 position in a sanctioning body and will result in Dirrell getting a chance to fight James DeGale (20-1) for one of the belts Carl Froch vacated.
Next: TBA vs. DeGale
9. Gilberto Ramirez (31-0)
|Mexico's Ramirez, a potential star, looked devastating in some recent fights; on Nov. 15, he defeated former world title challenger and big puncher Fulgencio Zuniga via an eighth-round knockout. But against Russia's Maxim Vlasov, in Ramirez's Jan. 24 HBO debut, he put in a methodical performance to win a hard-fought decision in a fight that probably didn't excite too many. But it will go a long way in terms of helping Ramirez develop.
10. Felix Sturm (39-4-3)
|Sturm, a former four-time middleweight titleholder, moved up in weight to face countryman and former super middleweight titleholder Robert Stieglitz in a big all-German showdown Nov. 8. They battled to a draw in an excellent fight. Sturm will next challenge Russia's Fedor Chudinov (12-0) in Frankfurt, Germany, for his interim belt.
Next: May 9 vs. Chudinov