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Turning Dough to Bread: How Near or Far are We to Crowning One World Champion Per Division? (Second of three parts)

By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
PhilBoxing.com
Wed, 23 Nov 2022


Devin Haney is the undisputed champion at Lightweight.
Since finally and belatedly realising the confusion and the inanity of having as many as four world champions for each of boxing's now 17 (actually 18 if we include the so called Bridgerweight), authorities have dreamt of crowning just one true universally recognized boxing champion for each.

This has led to tournaments as Super Six which resulted to Andre "SOG" Ward being crowned as undisputed super middleweight king in the 2010s and the World Boxing Super Series that enthroned the likes of Oleksander Usyk and Josh Taylor at cruiserweight and super lightweight respectively. It should have also crowned the one true champion at bantamweight had the WBO not pulled out of the tournament on account of injury to then champion Zolani Tete.

This December, that delayed coronation would happen when unified WBC-WBA-IBF and Ring Magazine lineal world champion Naoya Inoue is expected to add the WBO title of Paul Butler to complete the crown jewel.

As the year winds down, it is appropriate and timely to review how near or far boxing has been to its dream of one world champion per division.

In this three part series, we will look into the situation (the dough) and assess the potential of attaining the goal of one true champion (the bread) for each of boxing's universally recognized 17 weight classes or divisions.

In the first part, we covered the minimumweight (maximum weight limit of 105 lbs) through the super bantamweight or junior featherweight ( Maximum weight limit of 122lbs) classes.

In this second part, we will review the situations in the next five weight divisions, i.e. from the featherweight through the welterweights. Read on.

Part Two- From Featherweight to Welterweight

Featherweight (Maximum weight limit of 122lbs)

The Dough: Five fighters hold the championships in this division as recognized by the major boxing bodies, namely: Mexico's Rey Vargas (WBC) and Leo Santacruz (WBA super); UK 's Leigh Wood (WBA regular), and Josh Warrington (IBF); and another Mexican Emmanuel Navarette (WBO).

Prognosis: Prospect for even a two title unification is bleak as the division is in a flux which was started by the moving up of very talented former titlist Shakur Stevenson and the defeat of long time WBC titlist Gary Russell Jr.

Newv WBC titlist Vargas is fighting for the vacant WBC junior lightweight title. If he wins, he has to decide in which division he is going to fight. Americans Brandon Figueroa and Stephen Fulton will fight for a rematch for the interim title. If Vargas doesn’t return to featherweight, the winner will become full champion. Filipino ex titlist Mark Magsayo and Ghana's Isaac Dogboe will meet in a final eliminator.

Super Featherweight (Maximum weight limit of 130 lbs)

The Dough: The division is also in a state of flux with the moving up of prodigious former titlists Gervonta Davis and Shakur Stevenson and Leo Santacruz deciding to move back down to the featherweight. Only two of the four titles have champions, namely: Hector Luis Garcia (WBA) and Russia's Shavkatdon Rakhimov (IBF). American O’Shaquie Foster and Rey Vargas will meet for the vacant WBC title in January. There's no announced plan yet on how to fill the vacant WBO title.

Prognosis: As the division would be occupied with filling up vacancies and later with mandatories with no certainty of having steady champion/champions unlike when the likes of Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez were still titlists, prospect for even a two title unification is highly unlikely.

Lightweight (Maximum of 135 lbs)

The Bread: Talented American Devin Haney is the undisputed world lightweight champion holding the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO as well as the Ring Magazine lineal belt following two wins over former King Australian George Kambosos. Kambosos took the belts from Teofimo Lopez who was originally "the man who beat the man," Vasily Lomachenko of Ukraine.

Prognosis: Fights for the undisputed world championship in this division will most likely continue in 2023 with the likes of Tank Davis, Shakur Stevenson, Ryan Garcia and ex undisputed champion Loma lurking around.

Super Lightweight (Maximum of 140 lbs)

The Dough: UK's ultra talented Josh Taylor used to hold all the belts in the division, attaining undisputed status last year after adding the WBC crown to his harvest with decisive win over Mexican Jose Ramirez. But after an unexpected struggle in defense against fellow Brit Jack Catteral, he found himself left with just the WBO recognition. Alberto Puello is the new IBF titlist.
Mexican KO artist Jose Zepeda and ex titlist Regis Prograis will fight for the vacant WBC title in Los Angeles on November 26. The winner has to face Jose Ramirez. Teofimo Lopez will fight Sandor Martin to decide the second mandatory.

Prognosis: With the division virtually back to square one and would be busy filling up the remaining vacancies and the eventual champions with fulfilling mandatory defenses, prospects for unification are slim for 2023 unless Taylor assert his priority right as the immediate former undisputed champion who was actually still unbeaten inside the ring. It may help that both Ramirez and Prograis, if victorious over Zepeda, could claim "unfinished business" with Taylor Zepeda himself if he wins over Prograis will be an interesting match for Taylor if he decides to try to get back what is rightfully formerly his.

Welterweight (Maximum of 147 lbs)

The Dough: For a time now, the world championships in the division are held by only two men: Americans Errol Spence who holds the unified WBC-WBA-IBF titles and Terrence Crawford who has the WBO belt. Attempts have been made for the two to meet to decide the one true world champion of the division but personal prides and the business as well as politics in boxing got in the way.

Prognosis: Prospect for full unification fight within 2023 remains very slim. Crawford is defending his WBO crown versus Russian David Avenasyan this December while Spence has been ordered by WBC to make a mandatory defense against former WBA super titlist Keith Thurman which could happen in early 2023. There have been speculations that one or both would be moving up to campaign for world titles in the super welterweights after those fights, more accurately winning those fights. That would open opportunity for one or the other to become undisputed welterweight champion or for the likes of Vergil Ortiz and Jaron Ennis to win title or titles they would leave behind

To be continued

Click here for Part I of this series.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.

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