Regarded as one of boxing’s original glamour divisions, lightweight is arguably the most prestigious when it comes to legendary greats. Joe Gans, Benny Leonard, Ike Williams, Henry Armstrong and Roberto Duran are among those who were mainstay champions at the weight, while Sugar Ray Robinson, Sam Langford and Willie Pep all had brief stints there too.
With such a deep history of iconic names, the current 135 pounds landscape has long been in need of a modern-day rejuvenation with the most illustrious match-ups involving today’s biggest and best fighters.
That latest surge in lightweight relevance sees a host of top names lead the charge for division dominance and undisputed supremacy. Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis has rocketed to pay-per-view and pound-for-pound stardom of late, while George Kambosos Jr. has battled himself to the pinnacle and Devin Haney continues to shine on the biggest stage.
Mix in the likes of three-division world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, former division ruler Teofimo Lopez and popular rising contender Ryan Garcia, among others, then the present lightweight scene looks set for a hugely promising near future.
Following recent high-profile fights, BOXRAW outline the current lightweight leaders and potential showdowns ahead of what should be a massive 2022.
Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis has swiftly risen to boxing superstardom in recent years, climbing the pound-for-pound ladder and attracting huge Box Office success through his devastating knockout power and in-ring ferocity.
Having first become a world champion at super-featherweight, ‘Tank’ has since jumped up divisions to continue adding to his ever-growing legacy. In 2019, he stopped experienced Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa to add a lightweight title to his collection, before knocking out Mario Barrios to claim a light-welterweight belt.
With more exciting ventures at lightweight for Davis next year, the Floyd Mayweather-promoted star has already declared intentions of remaining at 135 pounds ahead of even further PPV showdowns.
In his most-recent victory over Isaac Cruz, ‘Tank’ showcased that he’s about much more than just pure power. Against a dangerous, come-forward Mexican challenger, Davis boxed his way to a unanimous decision success in California (despite suffering a serious hand injury in the sixth round).
Davis is undoubtedly the top name among his division peers and any clashes with fellow champions George Kambosos Jr. or Devin Haney would make for massive boxing spectacles, as the undefeated Baltimore-native leads the charge towards becoming the undisputed lightweight ruler in 2022.
George Kambosos Jr.
An Australian warrior who never gave up hopes of a world title shot, George Kambosos Jr. finally realised his lifelong dream of becoming champion with a stunning shock triumph over Teofimo Lopez.
Overcoming the fighter who has previously dethroned Vasyl Lomachenko for the unified lightweight crowns, Kambosos Jr. rallied to a split decision victory at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
At ‘The Mecca of Boxing’, the fighter from Down Under came out on top to clinch the WBC, WBA, WBO and Ring Magazine titles from Lopez to arguably put himself at the forefront of the lightweight division. Following his career-best win and personally calling for fights with Davis and Haney next year, Kambosos Jr. has set himself up for a highly prosperous 2022.
A high-profile Box Office battle with ‘Tank’ could be made early next year in America but a maiden title defence and unification meeting with Haney on home territory of Australia looks more than likely of being made.
While Davis got past a tougher than expected late replacement in Cruz and Kambosos Jr. shone at The Garden, Devin Haney came through a testing encounter with Joseph Diaz Jr.
Retaining his WBC lightweight strap with a unanimous decision victory in Las Vegas, Haney had to withstand some rocky moments in an otherwise solid performance.
The unbeaten Californian now has his sights on a showdown with Aussie Kambosos Jr. and has admitted his willingness to travel Down Under to make the unification fight.
At just 23 years of age and now holding a 27-0 record, Haney is one of boxing’s biggest talents and a clash with Kambosos Jr. next in 2022 would become an early defining night for ‘The Dream’.
There’s one more somewhat forgotten (or ignored) but unavoidable piece of the current lightweight puzzle; Vasyl Lomachenko. The Ukrainian three-division world champion was previously regarded as the number one pound-for-pound boxer on the planet before an upset loss at the hands of Lopez in 2020.
Once seen as the division’s main man, ‘Loma’ looks to continue his rejuvenation first against Richard Commey before hopefully moving on towards a crack at reclaiming his former honours.
One defeat does not define a fighter and Teofimo Lopez is another dethroned champion who is hungry to quickly bounce back in the title mix early in 2022, following a shock setback against Kambosos Jr.
Meanwhile, rising star Ryan Garcia has been steadily making a name for himself and will be aiming to finally take the next step under the guidance of Eddy Reynoso next year.
Recent ‘Tank’ challenger Isaac Cruz may yet prove to be a genuine contender in the division as well, while Joseph Diaz Jr, Jorge Linares, Javier Fortuna, Rolando Romero, Francesco Patera and Michel Rivera could all still have a role to play in upcoming lightweight match-ups as the division enjoys a welcomed resurgence.
Header image: Showtime Boxing