I always like to see a card that is structured to sell other potential fights, further down the line. That’s the case with Carl Frampton’s rematch against Leo Santa Cruz this weekend. While Santa Cruz attempts to reclaim his WBA featherweight belt from Frampton, IBF champ Lee Selby will be defending his strap against Jonathan Victor Barros.
If I were ranking on prestige, I would have to place the WBA ahead of the IBF version of the title at 126 pounds. Santa Cruz was an undefeated, two-division champion when he claimed the vacant WBA crown by virtue of beating three-division champion Abner Mares in August 2015. Selby’s IBF belt hasn’t been worn by a top-three featherweight since Yuri Gamboa vacated it back in 2011.
But neither the WBA or IBF champion at featherweight can legitimately claim to being the true world champion at this point. Until the various belt holders at 126 pounds start facing off in unification fights, nobody at that weight can truly call himself the man.
By placing this fight on the card with Frampton vs. Santa Cruz, it suggest itself as the next logical step. I’d rather see the winner of this fight face WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. But whenever belt holder man up to face off, I am loath to complain.
Selby won the IBF trinket when he defeated Evgeny Gradovich by Round 8 technical decision in May 2015. Gradovich never really deserved to rank above the lower half of the division’s top 10 and he hasn’t even looked like a top-50 fighter since that loss.
With 46 professional fights, Barros is an experienced veteran. He became the WBA “regular” world champion in 2010, when he beat Irving Berry, who has never even been a legitimate contender. I never pass up on a chance to denigrate the legitimacy of WBA “regular” world titles, so it goes without saying that Barros was never any sort of world champion. What he has been is a long-time contender. At just 32, this fight with Selby gives him one of the biggest opportunities of his career.