This weekend, Showtime and HBO are both featuring extremely important light welterweight bouts. On HBO, Lucas Matthysse will face Viktor Postol for the vacant WBC belt. On Showtime, three-division belt holder Adrien Broner tries to hang on to relevancy when he faces the once-beaten Russian, Khabib Allakhverdiev. All four of these fighters are top-10 talents at 140 pounds.
With the big weekend ahead, here is my current rating for the light welterweight division:
1. Lucas Matthysse. Matthysse is arguably the best active fighter in the world who has yet to win a world title. He already has victories over two fighters widely viewed as top-five at 140 pounds: a majority decision over Ruslan Provodnikov earlier this year and a sensational Round 3 TKO of Lamont Peterson in 2013.
2. Terence Crawford. Crawford has just one win at 140 pounds, but it was a terrific one. Last April he knocked out Thomas Dullorme for the vacant WBO belt at light welterweight. Dullorme is on the bubble for the top 10 at 140. But Crawford’s high ranking here is based on his resume at lightweight. It’s tough not to think he’s the best fight in the world at 140 and a future world champion at full welterweight.
3. Lamont Peterson. Peterson was dispatched with sudden violence by Matthysse in 2013, but overall, his record at 140 pounds is hard to assail. I thought he deserved to win against Danny Garcia earlier this year, in a very close fight that judges gave to Garcia. He’ll be in action later this month.
4. Ruslan Provodnikov. One of the most rugged and exciting fighters in the sport. In a brief move up to welterweight in 2013, he inflicted tremendous damage on Timothy Bradley, even as he lost a very close unanimous decision in the best fight of recent years. He lost another close fight to Matthysse last April. I thought he actually deserved to win against Chris Algieri, although I had him losing a close fight to Mauricio Herrera.
5. Viktor Postol. The undefeated Ukrainian gets his first major step up this weekend, against Matthysse. If he wins, he has to be viewed as one of the sport’s players.
6. Adrien Broner. Fans like to hate on Broner, but there’s a good argument he actually deserves to be ranked top five at 140. He has three good wins there and held titles at 135 and briefly at 147.
7. Khabib Allakhverdiev. The Dagastan native is a highly skilled technical boxer who applies great pressure. I had him beating Jessie Vargas in April 2014, though he lost by unanimous decision. A win over Broner would be his ticket into more high-profile fights in the U.S.
8. Mauricio Herrera. Herrera is perpetually on the wrong side of close decisions. Many fans will tell you he is the true champion at 140 pounds, because he deserved to win his majority decision loss to Danny Garcia in 2014.
9. Amir Iman. Iman has less than 20 professional fights and hasn’t really fought a big-name opponent. But he has been walking through some very good second-tier fighters over the past two years. Was a runner up to rising welterweight star Errol Spence Jr. at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
10. Jose Benavidez. Benavidez is the interim WBA belt holder and his resume looks good on paper. I thought his title-winning victory over Herrera was one of the worst decisions in recent years. Still, he deserves to be in the top 10 here and his belt makes him relevant.