The Next World Boxing Super Series: Part 2
By Danni Rocket: In the first part of this article, I wrote about my personal ideal fighter selection for the Bantamweight divisions recently announced WBSS tournament. I considered popularity, world ranking/titles held, the fighters’ justification in being involved in the event, and the likelihood of them participating. In part two, I will utilize the same grading system and breakdown the fighters I’d like to see selected from the Light Welterweight division.
Firstly, I’d like to say that I feel there are far more interesting and deeper divisions than the Light Welterweight (or Super Lightweight) class. Not to say that fighters in that division aren’t talented, and if the plan of the WBSS is to introduce lesser known talent to the world, then this is a great division to select, however I feel it does not contain very many stars as it stands. However, sources have stated that the 140lbs tournament is all but ready to go and as a result we must embrace it.
Secondly, this will not be as must an article of my personal choices, as the same sources have said that six of the eight fighters have already been selected, leaving us with only two to find.
So, to start with, let’s have a look at the state of the 140lbs division. There are currently two vacant belts (the WBO and IBF) as well as The Ring Magazine title. The Champions are; a rare single WBA Champion, Kiryl Relikh, and two WBC Champions, Full Champion José Ramírez and Interim Champion Regis Prograis. The WBO vacant belt is due to be competed for on the 9th of June by undefeated fighters Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker.
It would appear, as previously stated, that six of the eight fighters have already been selected. They are WBA Champion Kiryl Relikh and his mandatory challenger Eduard Troyanovsky, WBC Interim Champion Regis Prograis, Ivan Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit who will be fighting for the Vacant IBF strap, and American contender Ryan Martin. This leaves us with two places left to ponder over.
Unfortunately for the fans, Terrence Crawford has moved up to 147lbs, Mikey Garcia has moved back down to 135lbs to unify his WBC belt with Robert Easter Jr’s IBF title, and it looks like Adrien Broner will be fighting either Jessie Vargas in a catch weight rematch or moving up to Welterweight to take on Amir Khan. José Ramírez and his promoter have also already stated that he has no intention in fighting in the upcoming WBSS.
This leaves us with, in terms of popularity at least, our pick of the second-tier fighters and the choices for me come down to the fighters.
My first pick is a simple one; the winner of the June 23rd fight between Victor Postol and Josh Taylor. The winner of this bout will be highly ranked across the sanctioning bodies and would have proved themselves against a top-level fighter in the build up to this tournament. Postol is also one of the more recognizable names of the Light Welterweight division due to his victory over Lucas Matthysse and losing effort against pound for pound fighter Terrence Crawford. They would also have become the WBC mandatory challenger, making an entertaining quarter final bout against Regis Prograis likely.
The other three fighters are Omar Figueroa Jr, the winner of Flanagan and Hooker and Antonio Orozco.
Omar Figueroa Jr was scheduled to fight Adrien Broner earlier this year but had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury. This seems to have healed by now making him surely available by the late Summer start date. He was a strong champion at Lightweight and has had three decent wins, all be it against faded former champions, since moving up to 140lbs. In his last fight against Robert Guerrero it was hard to tell if he looked fantastic, or if Guerrero was just a shot fighter. I think both had a hand to play in Figueroa’s three round destruction of the former multiple weight world champion, however it must be noted that in the two years leading up to the fight both Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia had failed to stop the rugged Guerrero. Because of this, he is my second choice for the 140lbs WBSS.
The winner of the Flanagan vs Hooker bout is another option, predominantly since they will have final title not currently in the tournament. Flanagan was a long-term champion at lightweight, holding the belt for two years and defending it five times, though it must be said against competition that leaves plenty to be desired. Hooker hasn’t really beaten anyone of note at this stage of his career, and I expect Flanagan to win this fight by a boring lopsided unanimous decision. Neither fighter has a very large fan base and other than bring the WBO strap to the party, they wouldn’t bring much else.
Antonio Orozco is current ranked WBC #5 and IBF #10 and he has received decent public exposure, fighting as chief undercard support on the above mentioned Postol vs Matthysse card, and headlining his own event last year at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He had a very promising amateur career and was expected to make waves in the paid ranks. However, for one reason or another, this hasn’t really happened. His resume is bare, except for a few faded fighters (Humberto Soto and Miguel Acosta) and gatekeepers (Emmanuel Taylor and Steve Forbes). He has performed well in all these contests it must be said, and I feel like he still has much potential, but he is now 30, and he needs to be making inroads into the elite sooner than later.
I’ll finish part two of this trilogy of articles the way I finished my first part, by listing the fighters I’d like to see, and the order I see them being seeded: Regis Prograis, Kiryl Relikh, the winner of Postol vs Taylor (I think more likely Taylor, but I wouldn’t bet money on it), Omar Figueroa Jr, Anthony Yigit, Ivan Baranchyk, Eduard Troyanovsky and Ryan Martin.
What does the reader think of the WBSS? Are there any fighters I’ve missed you would like to see included? And which final division would you like to see in this Super Series tournament? Keep an eye out for the final part of this article where I will state the division I’d like to see included, the fighters, and my reasons for picking them. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.