The lightweight division is one of boxing’s original eight weight classes. From Joe Gans to Benny Leonard to Henry Armstrong to Carlos Ortiz to Roberto Duran to Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather, some of the sport’s greatest legends have campaigned at 135 pounds.
But in recent years, the sport has definitely lacked for big-name charisma. Terence Crawford won a world title and fought there briefly in 2014, but it was merely a layover on the way up to bigger fights at 140 and 147 pounds. Right now, there is no clear-cut top dog in the division.
The picture at 135 will clarify a great deal this weekend in Manchester, when WBA title holder Anthony Crolla takes on Jorge Linares, in front of a racaus hometown crowd. This is one of the best possible matchups for the division.
Crolla and Linares both claimed world titles last year with terrific stoppages. Crolla finished Darleys Perez in November with a single body shot in Round 5. In May 2015, Linares climbed off the canvas to stop Kevin Mitchell in a bloody shootout, claiming the WBC belt. Linares was stripped of that title last February, when he injured his hand while training for a defense against Dejan Zlaticanin, who later claimed the vacant title in June.
The Ring rates Linares No. 1 in the world and Crolla at three, with Zlaticanin between them. They will be presenting the winner with their own version of the world title. The Transnational Rankings have Linares at two, behind Zlaticanin, and Crolla five, in back of Terry Flanagan and Rances Barthelemy at three and four, respectively.
No matter where in the top five somebody places them, the winner of Linares vs. Crolla is going to walk away with the division’s biggest win and a very solid claim to No. 1 status in the division. Hopefully he will face somebody else in the top five early in 2017.