WBC: Miguel Berchelt
WBA Super: Jezreel Corrales
WBO: Vasyl Lomachenko
IBF: Gervonta Davis
European: Guillaume Franois
British: Martin J. Ward
Commonwealth: Martin J. Ward
In none of boxing’s 17 established weight classes is there a quartet of reigning champions – with such an eclectic mix of contrasting assets and attributes – to rival those in the super-featherweight division.
WBO boss Vasyl Lomachenko isn’t just the incontestable ‘Top Dog’ at 130lbs, for many experts he’s the finest fighter on the planet at any weight. A double Olympic gold medallist and twice world amateur champion, the 29 year old Ukrainian genius has already won seven world title fights and defeated five world champions in his opening nine paid gigs.
BoxNation subscribers can witness his otherworldly gifts on August 5th when he should get an honest argument from combustible Columbian Miguel Marriaga at the Microsoft Theater in LA.
Hot on ‘Hi-Tech’s’ tail comes brilliant Baltimore southpaw Gervonta Davis. ‘Tank’s’ flashing blades and potent punch -17 stoppages in 18 wins – place him as arguably the sport’s hottest riser, period. And the 22 year old can expect to convert more to his cause when he makes a high profile second title defence – ‘sacrifice’ still to be selected – on the undercard of the Mayweather-McGregor pantomime in late August.
Hispanic hotrods Miguel Berchelt (Mexico) and Jezreel Corrales (Panama), who reign on the WBC and WBA thrones respectively, are set to collide to determine their place in the 9st 4lb pecking order before this year is through.
Twenty-five year old Berchelt, 32-1 with 28 early casualties, boasts the division’s heaviest hands while ‘El Invisible’ Corrales, a scything southpaw stakes his claim as the most evasive and awkward customer at the weight. Whoever prevails, if and when they meet, will close in on superstar status.
Bubbling beneath, you’ll find a plethora of highly rated and well seasoned former world titlists, all credible challengers able to deliver fan friendly fare for ringsiders and sofa sitters, without unduly threatening to uproot the monarchy. Stand up Orlando Salido, Francisco Vargas, Javier Fortuna, Jason Sosa plus Tokyo ‘Takashi’ terrors Uchiyama.
At home, the division is in a state of transition. Liverpool’s Stephen ‘Swifty’ Smith and Cromer’s Liam Walsh have both had their ambitions exposed at world level recently. Nevertheless, they remain rated and relevant as potential contenders to the victor of Berchelt-Corrales, especially if home court can be secured. However, they might make more money matched against each other, provided opposing promotional and TV alliances can be hurdled. Pray for it.
A rung below, flash, frenetic but feather-fisted Brentwood traveller Martin J. Ward holds the Commonwealth title, and recently acquired permanent custody of the Lord Lonsdale Belt. The 26 year old is undefeated in 20 (two draws) but world ranked by nobody.
A logical way to address that would be to vacate his current belts and focus on an upgrade against French tickler Guillaume Frenois, 33 year old custodian of the European crown. The man from Aisne’s CV shows just one loss in 45 but only 10 stoppages. He is world ranked by both the WBC and IBF but imminently beatable.
If Ward abdicates the British and (or) Commonwealth crowns, expect an almighty scramble for the vacant belts with BoxNation foursome of George Jupp, Mitchell Smith - both previously world rated – plus unbeaten fliers Lyon Woodstock and Zelfa Barrett all vying for contention.
Match-ups between any of the four would cause salivation. Belvedere’s Jupp and Harrow Weald’s Smith have previous – the former scoring an upset 10 round points win for the WBO Inter-Continental crown at Manchester Arena in December 2015 - and a sequel would sell.
The charismatic Smith, a former Boxing Writer’s Young Fighter of the Year, would be favoured to avenge, now that he has hooked up with elite coach Adam Booth. However, his huge talent is matched by his heavyweight appetite. At 24, the time is ripe for ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ to do his fighting on the canvas rather than on the keyboard. He has the raw ingredients to be special.
However, Leicester’s Lyon, the charismatic and malicious Midland Area king strongly contests that and the starlets have lately been embroiled in some spiteful spars on social media. The 23 year old, unbeaten in nine, carries a clout and shifts tickets.
‘Brown Flash’ Barrett, the 24 year old nephew and ward of ex WBO welter challenger Pat ‘Black Flash’ Barrett is swift and spiteful in equal measure. Already 18-0 (11), the Mancunian is poised to explode at championship level after a quality undergraduate education in the unforgiving northern small halls.
With Belfast’s two-weight world champion Carl Frampton threatening to crash the 130lb party over the next 12 months, civil wars fought for global gongs appear more probable than possible before this decade is done.