HISTORICALLY the title of ‘boxing’s hottest division’ has been reserved for one of three weights; either the heavyweights, the middleweights or the welterweights. Right about now though a new sheriff has strolled into town. With the culmination of the very successful World Boxing Super Series tournaments in the cruiserweight and super-middleweight divisions, there is one division that is stacked with talent and crying out for clarity … the super-lightweights (or light-welters, whichever you prefer!).
Terence Crawford unified the titles, solidified himself as the best super-lightweight without doubt before moving up to 147lbs to start his assault on yet another division. Crawford left behind a void which needs to be filled and several hungry, talented fighters hope to be the one to do it. The general boxing consensus was that Mikey Garcia would be the man to take over the division after Crawford’s departure. Garcia won the IBF title vs Sergey Lipinets but decided to go back down to lightweight to take on Robert Easter in a unification bout hopefully leading to a showdown with pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko. Common sense would dictate that it made more sense for Garcia to go that direction than battle it out in the 140lbs weight class devoid of true household names and the mega-fights he craves.
What we have been left with now is a division of fighters who not only possess great skills but also the drive to prove themselves to be number one. The WBSS has been a revelation since its inception, a knockout tournament containing the best fighters in the division. The man left standing at the end is the undisputed number one of that division. The people spoke, and the boxing gods listened…
The latest instalment will see clarity brought to the 140lbs weight division. This week it has been confirmed that the winner of the upcoming contest between WBC Interim champion Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco will take their place in the tournament alongside a host of top names. Thus far we have the following fighters confirmed and ready to lock horns:
Kiryl Relikh (WBA champion) 22-2 – coming off an emphatic revenge victory against former conqueror Rances Barthelemy, the Belarusian will be confident against any of the others.
Eduard Troyanovsky (WBA mandatory) 27-1 – the 38-year-old big punching Russian is the elder statesman in this tournament but will be hoping to continue his bone-crunching form and prove the first round KO loss to Julius Indongo (as with a lot of first round KO’s) was just a blip.
Anthony Yigit (IBF mandatory) 21-0-1 – former Olympian Yigit is somewhat unheralded in this tournament, having yet to mix with the kind of opposition as some of the others but the slick southpaw will be hoping to spring the surprise.
Ivan Baranchyk (IBF mandatory) 18-0 – another marauding Belarusian. He has flown under the radar thus far in his professional career unable to attract the kind of names that could catapult him to boxing notoriety but will have ample opportunity in this field.
Scotland’s Josh Taylor (WBC mandatory) 13-0 – perhaps the biggest prospect in world boxing, the ultra-talented Scotsman has just defeated former world champion Viktor Postol and solidified himself as the WBC mandatory. This tournament now gives Taylor the platform and opponents to go forward and stake his claim as the best in the world.
The remaining spots are rumoured to be announced within the coming weeks, the rumour mill is currently in overdrive. The WBC champion Jose Ramirez makes a defence of his title this coming weekend against the very capable Danny O’Connor. Should Ramirez come through unscathed the boxing public hope he doesn’t follow suit with his Top Rank stablemate Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, who for whatever reason didn’t take part in the 168lbs tournament. The relentless, hard punching, pressure fighting style of Ramirez would be a welcome addition the line-up.
British fight fans will be casting an eye towards this tournament with an excited gaze. With Josh Taylor’s recent victory over Viktor Postol and his entrance into this tournament, we have a genuine boxing superstar on our hands. Whichever way the draw of the tournament goes, Taylor and his camp will be extremely confident. A tall, fast, hard punching southpaw who now has a win over a legit former world champion is a tough match up for anyone. His trainer Shane McGuigan must be relishing the prospect of potentially having two WBSS Ali trophy winners by 2019. Trainer of the year anyone…