The Featherweight Division Will Be Almost Unidentifiable From Last Year Come April 1 As 3 New World Champions Will Be Crowned
The ever-changing landscape of the Featherweight division has had another cycle of titles changing hands in the last few months.
The WBC Interim Featherweight Championship clash between former titleist Mark Magsayo and ex-Super Bantamweight champion Brandon Figueroa on March 4 was expected to eventually be for the full title. But with the champion Rey Vargas suffering defeat at the hands of American O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC strap at the weigh above, a return to featherweight is now likely for the Mexican meaning the Magsayo-Figueroa winner must also get through Vargas – another round of terrific in-house matchups for the PBC.
This past weekend the WBA Featherweight Title swapped owners, with Mauricio Lara defeating Leigh Wood in the Brit’s first defence to claim the crown.
We’ve also seen developments on the WBO side of things. Emanuel Navarrete has moved up to Super Featherweight and relinquished his 126 lbs title.
The vacant WBO title is due to be contested by 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist, Robeisy Ramirez and former world champion Isaac Dogboe, from Ghana in a contest promoter by Top Rank on April 1st in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A fight many are picking the Cuban to come through comfortably.
Top Rank is notorious for moving their champions up weight classes at the same time and maintaining control of the WBO belt. Navarette has moved up twice in just over two years and had vacant WBO title fights both times, when he leaves 126 the unoccupied title is now contested by two other TR fighters.
Elsewhere in the division, newly minted IBF champion, Luis Alberto Lopez is rumoured to be defending his belt in the coming months, against former title challenger and Olympic medalist, Michael Conlan, with the bout expected to land in the Irishman’s home city of Belfast.
An final eliminator for the IBF title is also scheduled for Japan, on April 8th between former 2 weight world champion Kiko Martinez, and Japanese Champion, Reiya Abe, on the undercard of the Light Flyweight Unification between Kenshsiro Teraji and Jonathon Gonzalez.
This leaves the 126lbs division with a lot of potential for great fights and intriguing matchups, despite promotional hurdles. Matchroom and DAZN have two main opponents for their man Lara, with a Leigh Wood rematch likely next. If the Wood fight doesn’t happen, a potential Stadium fight in Leeds against former foe Josh Warrington could await Lara.
Should Kiko Martinez be successful in Japan, he could also be an option for a homecoming fight for Lara. Another potential fight for Lara, or Leigh Wood, could be Michael Conlan, who appeared on a Matchroom show last March when challenging for Wood’s WBA title. Conlan is represented by TR though.
Over at Top Rank, Bob Arum will have two of the world title belts in his stable, with Luiz Alberto Lopez holding the IBF, and the winner of the WBO title fight between Ramirez and Dogboe. This could mean a unification in a division that has been starved of them in recent years. Arum also has contenders Joet Gonzalez and Michael Conlan. The latter is rumoured to be next for Lopez. Should Conlan beat Lopez it potentially sets up a mega fight between two Olympic Medalists in Conlan and Ramirez.
PBC is full of talent at 126. With the addition of Unified Super Bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton looking to move into the division, after his bout with Naoya Inoue this spring. There are many options for Fulton, with a rematch of the 2021 fight of the year contender against Brandon Figueroa an option. As Well as bouts against Magsayo and Vargas.
The Featherweight division looks to be heading in a very exciting direction over the next 18 months, given all of these potential matchups. It is very difficult to predict how this division will look in twelve months’ time, but one thing for sure is that we will see some spectacular moments, huge upsets, and brutal wars.