Currently lightweight boasts four excellent champions in the form of: Vasyl Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia, Robert Easter and Ray Beltran. Luckily it appears that this appealing quartet will face off soon enough, with the winners hopefully coming to blows to crown an undisputed champion at the 135-pound weight limit.
Promotional free agent Garcia holds the WBC crown he brutally extracted from Dejan Zlaticanin in 2017 and that will be on the line when he boxes IBF champion Robert Easter Jr on July 28 in Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Garcia will start as favourite but tall, rangy Easter can punch and will give the former Top Rank talent a good run for his money.
The PBC will promote the show and Showtime will televise the action. Easter won the IBF title against Richard Commey in a 2016 vacant title affair. After three successful defences, each of which raised more questions than answers about Easter’s future prospects, the Ohio native now puts his chunk of silverware on the line in an elite clash.
Meanwhile, WBA king Lomachenko and WBO champ Beltran are still eager to clash in a title unification of their own. Rugged Beltran has had his own problems out of the spotlight, with US Visa issues dogging his personal life and PED usage clouding his in-ring activities. Beltran is a fringe contender in reality but finds himself with a belt after defeating Namibia’s Paulus Moses. That belt will serve as little more than a bargaining chip for any purse cuts if and when he eventually tangos with Lomachenko. The Mexican, in truth, has close to zero chance of beating the Ukrainian ringmaster. Originally the bout between the pair had been pencilled in for August 25 but Lomachenko sustained an injury in his clash with Jorge Linares and is currently undergoing rehabilitation following a shoulder operation.
Other lightweights currently making some noise in and around the world scene include Newcastle’s Lewis Ritson who has been cutting a swathe through the best lightweights the UK has to offer. Ritson should find the sport slightly tougher once his opponents’ class and resilience levels start to rise.
Despite his loss to Lomachenko, there was little disgrace attached to the performance of Jorge Linares who dropped Loma and fought him every step of the way before a brutal body shot ended his title reign in the 10th round.
Former Linares victim Luke Campbell enjoys a lofty lightweight ranking, and the Hull southpaw will be looking to wipe away a loss to French tough guy Yvan Mendy if the pair rematch, as expected, in September time.
Looking in to the past, there have been a plethora of great names establishing their legacies and passing through the weight class over the years. Panamanian legend Roberto Duran ended up as high as super-middleweight but it was his spell at 135 that is rightly lauded. Duran knocked out quality Scotsman Ken Buchanan (by fair means or foul, you decide) in New York in 1972 to win the WBA crown and went on to defend it 12 times across a six-year time span, defeating the likes of Esteban De Jesus on two occasions, with the second being a WBC and WBA unification. Remarkably, during this time, Duran not only defended his belt but also engaged in numerous non-title affairs as well.
Talking of longevity, German-based Armenian Artur Grigorian made 17 consecutive defences of his WBO title from 1996-2004 when Brazilian power puncher Acelino Freitas finally outpointed him in America. It was of course the lesser WBO belt and the standard of opposition was not always the strongest but Grigorian’s staying power and solid boxing ability carried him far. Solid Italian veteran Stefano Zoff, Matt Zegan and Michael Clark (both 24-0 when Artur beat them), Sandro Casamonica, Antonio Pitalua and Raul Balbi were some of the more recognisable names on his final slate. Admittedly the early years in Grigorian’s run were particularly weak but the standard raised significantly as he reached the end.
Boxing Weight Classes
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Boxing Weight Classes | Super-welterweights
Boxing Weight Classes | Lightweights
Boxing Weight Classes | Super-featherweights