April 24, 2015
April 24, 2015
Terence-Crawford

Feedspot followFeedly follow

COULD light-welterweight turn out to be the most interesting division in boxing, following last week’s Lucas Matthysse-Ruslan Provodnikov war and the move up from lightweight by Terence Crawford?

If so, it would be quite an achievement by a weight class that has always been something of a red-headed stepchild, stuck between the more glamorous lightweight and welterweight. Indeed, the light-welters (junior-welter to the Americans) was so lightly regarded that when Roberto Duran grew out of the 135lbs class in the late 1970s he jumped straight over light-welter to mix it with the welters.

The 140lbs division was created by the New York State Commission in 1922, with Pinkey Mitchell recognised as champion by popular consensus. It existed through to the end of World War II, but the only real “name” to hold it was Tony Canzoneri – and he was better known as a champ at featherweight and lightweight, with 140lbs recognition being an add-on to his other belts.

It fell into abeyance between 1946 and 1959, when it was revived and finally got going for good. Even then, it was often taken more seriously outside than inside the US, especially in Europe and Latin America. (But not in the UK, where it wasn’t recognised until a brief spell in 1968-69, followed by permanent status in 1973).

Eventually light-welter produced quality champions in Nicolino Locche, the defensive master from Argentina, and Colombia’s Antonio Cervantes (the man Duran could have challenged for the title if he’d wanted). But even when the exceptional Wilfred Benitez became the youngest ever world champion by beating Cervantes in 1976, he was only passing through the division on the way to bigger things at higher weights.

American fans finally began to take an interest when Aaron Pryor, with his relentless aggression, ended Cervantes’ second reign in 1980. But despite twice beating Alexis Arguello, Pryor could never snag a match with Sugar Ray Leonard, then the sport’s biggest star and a welter.

Since then there have been many belt-holders at 140, but not many have cast a long shadow. And that sense of impermanence remains with one of the current best, Danny Garcia (who beat Matthysse last year), ready to move up to 147. Mind you, given the way Garcia’s form has dipped recently, maybe it’s not such a great loss for the light-welters.

But last weekend “Bud” Crawford made a winning debut in the division, picking up a belt with a stoppage of Thomas Dulorme. That win alone doesn’t make Terence anywhere near the division’s best, but he has time on his side.

Given that Matthysse and Crawford both fought on HBO last weekend, the fact that the former is promoted by Golden Boy and the latter by Top Rank ought not to be an impediment to a showdown later this year. (Former rivals, GB and TP have recently started co-operating). Now, who wouldn’t want to see Matthysse v Crawford?

FOR RINGSIDE REPORTS ON CRAWFORD, MATTHYSSE, download BOXING NEWS