Last week on this site I wrote about the situation in boxing’s light heavyweight division, where just one fight would yield that rare unicorn: a true, undisputed champion. Sergey Kovalev holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts while lineal champion Adonis Stevenson hangs onto the WBC strap. One fight would end any possible debate over who is truly the man at 175 pounds.
The light welterweight division could have taken a strong step in that direction last weekend, when WBA, WBC and lineal champion Danny Garcia faced IBF strap-holder Lamont Peterson. Unfortunately, neither man was willing to risk his titles and the fight instead took place at a 143 pound catchweight.
With or without belts on the line, Garcia and Peterson put on a compelling, if not truly thrilling, fight. Garcia escaped with a majority decision. I’ve already seen a lot of debate over who should have won on social media sites and a scorecard in Peterson’s favor would not have been out of line. However, in my own estimation, Peterson gave away too many rounds early due to a lack of activity. He definitely came on strong in the final third of the fight and if one were to judge merely by looking at both fighters’ faces at the post-fight press conference, Peterson certainly seemed to have gotten the better of the action. A rematch between the two could be a possibility. Next time, let’s do it with the hardware up for grabs.
Attention will again be on the light welterweight division this weekend, as HBO will broadcast a twin-venue card.
In Arlington, Texas, undefeated 2014 Fighter of the Year Terence Crawford will face Thomas Dulorme for the vacant WBO strap at 140 pounds. I don’t normally get especially excited for a vacant title fight where neither man is ranked top three in the division, but Crawford’s dominant run last year at lightweight lends the matchup more credibility. And Dulorme is undefeated at 140 pounds and a legitimate contender there. It’s an important fight, no matter how you consider it.
On the same night, light welterweight sluggers Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov will battle at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. This has Fight of the Year written all over it. Matthysse is the irresistible force and Provodnikov is the immovable object. Bank on explosions.
Matthysse and Provodnikov are also two of the top five at 140 pounds. Although he lost by decision in 2013 to Garcia, Matthysse also recorded a brutal, Round 3 TKO of Peterson. Matthysse went life-or-death with pound-for-pound, welterweight star Timothy Bradley in 2014’s Fight of the Year and also captured the WBO belt at 140 pounds in October 2014 by dismantling Mike Alvarado via Round 10 TKO.
No discussion of the situation at 140 pounds would be complete without mentioning Chris Algieri, who captured the WBO strap from Provodnikov last year via contested split decision and later vacated it to fight Manny Pacquiao. Jessie Vargas’ WBA “regular” belt at 140 pounds is not worthy of respect, but Vargas’ undefeated record and boxing talent certainly are. Undefeated Ukrainian Viktor Postol has to be in position for a title fight sometime soon.
A lot of people feel Mauricio Herrera deserved the nod over Garcia when he lost to him by majority decision in Puerto Rico last year. Herrera also holds a win over Provodnikov. Three-division belt holder Adrien Broner will also factor into big fights at 140 pounds over the next year or two. Whether or not we ever end up seeing unification fights at light welterweight in the next two years, we can be sure we’ll at least see some great fights.