Most Exciting Divisions In Boxing Currently
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Thu, 18 Feb 2021
Only time and most importantly, signed, delivered contracts bearing the names of Manny Pacquiao and either Terrence Crawford or Errol Spence will tell how far Manny has really succeeded in bringing back excitement to the welterweight division.
As of now, it has all been talks and speculations surrounding a division that is ironically brimming with stars and talents including two supposed top pound for pound fighters in the planet currently, three if we still regard Manny as one.
However, we have to doff our hats to Manny for keeping the division abuzz and in limelight again with a bombshell of a press announcement publicly challenging Crawford, the widely acknowledged topman and bogeyman of the 147 pounders, to a fight. For a price, though. A cool $40 million purse for him, translated to nearly two billion Philippine pesos.
Manny's missile in February caught everybody by surprise, most of all Crawford and his promoter who was also once Manny's long time handler and respected father figure, Bob Arum. Whoever are they advising Manny from his MP camp or the Senate or both, should be commended and deserving of early year bonus for this coup!
The Arum-Crawford camp has yet to publicly respond to Manny's surprise offensive. They are, to include Errol and even Mikey Garcia used to telling all and sundry that they are the ones chasing after Manny for a fight.
Now the role has been reversed. Manny has now offered a public challenge to Crawford and Spence.
It is now their turn to respond.
Pending any earthshaking development in the aftermath, the welterweights will remain in the background of the other weight classes which to most fans, including Pinoy boxing fanatics have become attractively exciting.
These include the heavyweights, the bantamweights, the super flyweights and the lightweights in which all important fights for title unification or divisional supremacy are already in the works or are being paved by authorities with the cooperation of the concerned fighters and their respective camps.
As of this writing, details of the heavyweight unification and supremacy fight between WBA-IBF-WBO unified titleholder Anthony Joshua and WBC and Ring lineal champion Tyson Fury are already being ironed out for their much awaited clash in June.
As this is happening, all is likewise set for the rematch between Russian Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte of the UK which will virtually be the final eliminator to determine the challenger to whoever wins in the Joshua-Fury match.
The bantamweights meanwhile continue to heat up with four vital championship matches coming up in the next few months bannered by the division's biggest gun and superstar in the making, Naoya 'The Monster' Inoue of Japan.
Inoue, the objective of the sweepstake race in the 118 lbs class, will be making a defense of his IBF title against his Filipino mandatory challenger Michael Dasmariñas tentatively set in Japan this April. Inoue also holds the WBA super belt and the Ring lineal title which he defended late last year by stopping Australian challenger Jason Moloney in the USA.
All four of Naoya's perceived fiercest rivals and competitors will be battling each other in separate title bouts which are seen as vital steps towards an eventual final confrontation with the Monster later in the year or early next year.
French WBC titlist Nordine Oubaali has decided to forgo an interim fight coming back from a bout with Covid 19 and will go straight to a mandatory title defense against former WBA super champion and multi division belts holder Nonito The Filipino Flash Donaire, also before the middle of the year.
Both Oubaali and Donaire has not seen action since November 2019 when Oubaali last successfully defended his WBC title against Takuma Inoue, Naoya's younger brother and Donaire lost his WBA super crown to Naoya in Japan.
Meanwhile, Filipino WBO kingpin John Riel Casimero who has recently amicably resolved a long running managerial dispute with Morris East is reportedly fighting Cuban WBA regular titlist and former unbeaten super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in the US in April or May.
Casimero was supposedly Inoue's title unification opponent in the Japanese grand championship bout debut and reintroduction in the US ring but the pandemic got in the way. When boxing returned, both fighters found themselves battling different title foes, with Inoue halting Moloney and Casimero brutally stopping Ghanaian Duke Micah.
Casimero has since accused Inoue and Arum of avoiding him while Donaire fans believe he has still an unfinished business with the Japanese star. But both Rigondeaux and Oubaali are far from being pushovers, either.
So the plot thickens.
A division below, fans are endlessly thrilled by the rematch between WBC and Ring lineal super flyweight titlist Juan Francisco El Gallo Estrada of Mexico and reigning Nicaraguan WBA super champion Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez with their respective titles and the bragging right as the top super fly fighter on the line.
The fight is already set this March 13 and will be beamed live to over 100 countries through DAZN.
Boxing fans have been waiting for this rematch since their first fight at light flyweight in 2012 which was a thrilling match from start to finish won by Gonzales by a controversial 12 round close but unanimous decision allowing him to keep his then world title.
A bee line is also forming to fight the winner with Thai ex WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvusai who holds victories over both Gonzalez and Estrada leading the pack that also includes Japanese WBO titlist Kazuto Ioka and Filipino IBF ruler Jerwin Ancajas.
This division promises to continue to excite fans for some time to come.
There is no denying that the lightweight class has been on the upswing as far as the fans attention is concerned since the 'Takeover' by the brash and bright Teofimo Lopez last year at the expense of the superb but not too fan friendly Vasiliy Lomachenko.
But it is still up to Teo Lopez to keep the excitement going even if his forthcoming fight and defense will be against an unfamiliar George Kambosos of Australia.
Kambosos has made a name for himself not only by serving as Manny Pacquiao's favorite sparring partner but also notching some noteworthy wins lately.
But fans are apt to look past him in favor of guys like Devin Haney, Tank Davis and the Oscar de la Hoya second coming wannabe Ryan Kingry Garcia.
And then there is always the possibility of Lomachenko coming back to complicate matters up at 135 especially if Teo Lopez decided to move up to 140 sooner than later.
Lopez moving up to the super lightweights will certainly raise the amps of excitement in that division where big names as Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis and recent KO sensation Jose Zepeda are making big splashes the past couple of years or so.
True, Big fights really have to happen in the welterweights for the division to recover its place as among the most exciting, competitive and glamourous in all of pro boxing.
Manny has tossed the gauntlet at Crawford and Spence.
But words, as they say, is cheap.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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