The purpose of this blog is not to disparage light heavyweight contender Nadjib Mohammedi. The Frenchman has campaigned for a decade as a professional boxer. He’s had 40 fights and won 37 of them. All true fans should have respect for what he’s accomplished in the sport.
But to proclaim him the No. 1 contender to the world championship, as the IBF has done, is a wild exaggeration. There’s nothing in Mohammedi’s resume that remotely justifies such a distinction. He does not have a win over a single, notable contender.
The Ring has Mohammedi ranked at No. 9, but even that seems like a stretch. What has he done to justify ranking above former WBO champion Nathan Cleverly, who beat him in 2010? What has he done to justify ranking over Dmitry Sukhotsky, who TKO’d him in 2011? They have both lost more recently than Mohammedi, but only against top fighters in the division.
Why should Mohammedi rank above Edwin Rodriguez, who has lost only to Andre Ward? Why should he ranks over Tommy Karpency, who has only lost to Cleverly and the very tough Andrzej Fonfara in recent years and recorded a win over former champion Chad Dawson last year? Dawson is clearly a badly faded version of his past self, but it’s still a more impressive win than anything on Mohammedi’s record. Why does Mohammedi rank higher than Tony Bellew, who has lost only to Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson, and recently avenged the loss to Cleverly?
Aside from the length of his career, it’s tough for me to see any valid reason for Mohammedi to even rank above undefeated former Olympian Marcus Browne, or other unbeaten light heavyweights like Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Sullivan Barrera.
The best win on Mohammedi’s resume was a Round 7 TKO of Anatoliy Dudchenko in June 2014. Dudchenko had been stopped previously by a 7-17 opponent, but that was in 2007. In recent years, his only loss had come by Round 2 stoppage against Eleider Alvarez, one of the better talents in the division.
So maybe it’s not completely unreasonable to find a spot at the very bottom of the top 10 for Mohammedi. But the fact that he can be debated alongside fighters like Karpency and Bellew shows he is a marginal contender at best. For the IBF to place him at No. 1 is an absurdity.
Yet, it is an absurdity with consequences. In order to keep his belts unified, Sergey Kovalev is forced to face him as a mandatory defense. Kovalev is one of the sport’s most exciting fighters, but Mohammedi will not make for a very exciting opponent.