As Devin Haney and Vasily Lomachenko battle for the Undisputed crown this Saturday, we take an in-depth look at what is perhaps the best division in the sport.
The Lightweight Titles
29-0 (15 Knockouts) Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney won the WBC title in 2019 in somewhat controversial circumstances. With former unified WBA, WBO, and WBC champion, Vasily Lomachenko being elevated to the WBCs ‘Franchise Champion’, Haney was free to be upgraded from interim status to ‘full world champion,’ whatever that actually means.
Many labeled the slick backfoot boxer an ’email champ’ after this upgrade, however, there was no doubt of his championship caliber after his two away wins, to first take George Kambosos’ undisputed crown, and then defend it against him, both times in the Australian’s home town of Melbourne. At only 24 years of age, Haney seems destined to move up in weight at some point in the near future, the only question being if he does it as the reigning lightweight champion of the world or not. Haney has a bout scheduled with former unified lightweight, and 3-weight world champion Vasily Lomachenko on Saturday.
The Top Lightweight Contenders
17-2 (11 Knockouts) Vasily Lomachenko is the elder statesman of the division, the two-time Olympic gold medalist has had a fantastic pro career, winning a world title in just his 3rd fight at featherweight, and being the quickest man to win titles at 3 weights. ‘Loma’ is definitely in decline now at the age of 35, and with his smaller stature, there is a question of his ability to really compete at the elite at this point.
Loma lost his unified title to Teofimo Lopez in 2020 and has since bounced back with two impressive wins over Richard Commey and Masayoshi Nakatani. After these two wins he was offered to opportunity to face George Kambosos for his unified titles, Lomachenko turned this opportunity down due to the war in his homeland of Ukraine, which had just erupted. Lomachenko returned late last year in a very shaky performance against Jamaine Ortiz. Lomachenko faces Devin Haney on Saturday night.
20-2 (10 Knockouts) George Kambosos won the unified title in 2021, with an upset-of-the-year win over Teofimo Lopez. Having fought his way into a mandatory position with the IBF with away from home wins against Lee Selby and Mickey Bey, he scored a huge knockdown in the first round at Madison Square Garden, on his way to winning a split decision.
This shook up the division, with Kambosos being deemed a ‘weak champion’ everyone wanted a shot. The fight that was eventually made was Devin Haney, in The 53,000 seat Marvel Stadium, in Melbourne. Kambosos would lose a wide decision to Haney, as well as get beaten in a similar fashion in the rematch. Although not in the elite tier of lightweight, being a former unified champion, he will look to take big fights against prospects in pursuit of getting his hands on world honors for a 2nd time. Kambosos will face Maxi Hughes in the US this summer.
29-0 (27 Knockouts) Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis is probably the ‘money fight’ of the division. The explosive power puncher is coming off of the biggest fight of his career against Ryan Garcia and currently holds the WBA regular title, for whatever that’s worth.
The former super featherweight champion is well renowned for being the most accurate puncher in the sport and has devasting power at 135 lbs. He will probably be out of the ring for a while, as the Baltimore native is currently on house arrest for a hit-and-run incident. It will also be unlikely that he fights any of the TopRank fighters previously listed, as Davis and his time have been notorious when it comes to making fights on the ‘right terms’.
20-0 (10 Knockouts) Shakur Stevenson could well be the most talented lightweight in the world, at 25 years of age, he holds an extremely impressive CV, winning an Olympic silver medal in 2016, as well as a world title at featherweight as a pro. He followed this up by winning a unified championship at 130 lbs. Stevenson made his lightweight debut earlier this year with an impressive stoppage over Shuichiro Yoshino. He will look to fight the winner of Saturday’s bout, with both Haney and Lomachenko being with TopRank currently.
The dark horse of the division is perhaps an unbeaten Mexican volume puncher, 28-0 (24 knockouts) William Zepeda. The exciting Golden Boy Promotions fighter holds great wins over former champions Jojo Diaz, and Rene Alvarado. In his most recent outing, he took care of Jaime Arboleda in a 2 round demolition job, getting the win by way of a body shot knockout.
The Best Lightweight Prospects
135 has one of the deepest talent pools when it comes to prospects, Olympic silver medalist, Keyshawn Davis 8-0(7 Knockouts) is moving along nicely with TopRank, recently beating Anthony Yigit. The man who beat Davis in the 2020 Olympic final, Andy Cruz, has recently inked a deal with Matchroom after defecting from Cuba.
As well as these two, 19-year-old Abdullah Mason 7-0 (6 Knockouts) looks a terrific prospect, the TopRank fighter takes another step up on Saturday nights undercard. 14-0 (11 Knockouts) Floyd Schofield looks to be progressing nicely with PBC and will look to push on this year. Gary Cully also fights on Saturday on the undercard of Katie Taylor vs Chantelle Cameron, the Naas man will look to gatecrash the world scene in years to come.
The lightweight division is simply excellent, and in all honesty, I could have named another 20 lightweights who have genuine world-level ability, the division is simply so deep in terms of talent at this stage. It really says something about a division when an undisputed title fight is happening between two elite pound-for-pound level operators in Haney and Lomachenko, yet a large portion of boxing fans would have both Shakur Stevenson and Gervonta Davis starting as a favorite to beat both (me included).
With only Lomachenko being in his 30s, and with the talent at the prospect level of Keyshawn Davis, Abdullah Mason, and in particular Andy Cruz, who is probably in the top 3 amateurs in my lifetime, the division is in a great place to maintain its status as the best in the sport. We can only hope, as fans of boxing, that the fights we are all salivating at the thought of actually happening. Whether they will or not remains to be seen!