clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the Super Featherweights: Lomachenko rules, Davis moving up

Vasyl Lomachenko is the clear No. 1 at 130, while young Gervonta Davis is making moves every time out.

Vasyl Lomachenko v Jason Sosa Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

1. Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KO)

Arguably the best fighter in boxing today. Lomachenko, 29, lost his second pro fight to a gritty, tough veteran in Orlando Salido, then beat Gary Russell Jr and suddenly couldn’t find anyone to fight at 126, which is why we got him in title defenses against Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Gamalier Rodriguez, and Romulo Koasicha. Reading the lay of the land, Lomachenko shrugged his shoulders and moved up to 130, immediately dominating and knocking out Rocky Martinez to win the WBO title. He’s pretty much embarrassed both Nicholas Walters and Jason Sosa in his two title defenses since then, and we’re at the point, like with Terence Crawford, where it’s not even so much a question if anyone in the division can beat him right now, but if anyone can even hang with him. He might be facing Salido in a desperately-wanted rematch in August, and Orlando may still have some arguments about that whole “no one can hang” idea.

2. Jezreel Corrales (21-1, 8 KO)

Corrales, 25, came out of nowhere in April 2016, when he traveled to Tokyo and stopped the long-reigning top dog of the division, Takashi Uchiyama, with a second round KO. That was a shocker. In December, he went back to the same venue, and proved it was no fluke, winning a 12-round split decision over Uchiyama in a rematch. Knocking someone out early can be the result of a lot of things, especially when Corrales’ record doesn’t indicate being any huge puncher; winning a decision on the road generally says something even more. Recently signed with Golden Boy, he’ll bring his talents to HBO in July, when he faces veteran Robinson Castellanos.

3. Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28 KO)

Speaking of that July HBO card, the headline fight will be Berchelt, 25, taking on Takashi Miura in what could be a barnburner. Berchelt scored a minor upset of Francisco Vargas on January 28, beating Vargas down before knocking him out in the 11th round with Vargas still standing, but battered almost beyond belief. That netted him the WBC title and the fight with Miura, who won his shot earlier in the night by beating Miguel Roman. Berchelt still has something to prove, and it’s worth wondering if beating Vargas wasn’t more due to Vargas’ previous wars with Miura and Salido. He’ll get a chance to prove just how real he is on July 15.

4. Gervonta Davis (18-0, 17 KO)

IBF World Championship Boxing Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Currently Floyd Mayweather’s pet project — we’ll see how that plays out as Davis gets more famous and successful, but for now, this is Floyd’s “guy” under the Mayweather Promotions banner, and they’re throwing a lot behind him. Davis, 22, is living up to the billing so far, as “Tank” ran over Jose Pedraza to win the IBF belt in January, then went to London to tear through Liam Walsh in his first title defense last Saturday. This is a very good division right now, so I have a hard time ranking him higher than this, and you could argue him a couple spots lower. But I think the talent is very real, and he may have a higher ceiling than anyone on this list other than Lomachenko.

5. Orlando Salido (43-13-4, 30 KO)

Salido, 36, never goes away. In 1996, he lost his first pro fight, against a guy named Ivan Cazarez, who was also making his pro debut in Mexicali. Ivan Cazarez went on to post a career record of 12-6-2 (4 KO) between ‘96 and his last fight in 2005, which included another win over Salido eight months after their first meeting. Salido also lost his U.S. debut in 2001, dropping a fight against a guy named William Abelyan in Owensboro, Kentucky. Abelyan finished his career 24-6-1 (13 KO), also last fighting in 2005. Salido’s career picked up enough that in 2004, he got to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in a featherweight title bout. He lost a wide decision. But he just kept fighting. All these years later, he’s a two-time featherweight champion and in his last three outings, all super featherweight title fights, he’s 0-1-2 against Rocky Martinez (twice) and Francisco Vargas, and could’ve been argued as winner in each of those bouts. He returns on Saturday in Mexico for his first fight in 11 months, hopefully setting up a rematch with Lomachenko.

6. Francisco Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KO)

I’m ranking Vargas, 32, where I am on the benefit of the doubt, but I really didn’t like anything I saw in him when he lost to Berchelt in January. Part of that is credit to Berchelt, a young, strong fighter — no question about it. But I think a big part of it is due to back-to-back wars with Takashi Miura and Orlando Salido. He rallied to beat Miura in an instant classic in 2015, and his battle with Salido in 2016 was almost as good. Vargas only knows one way to fight, and that’s going straight ahead. He’s no spring chicken anymore, and this is a guy whose style suggests time will catch up with him sooner than later. The question right now is whether or not it already has, but I don’t want to totally write him off because of that loss, either. I have the concern that he’s finished as a top fighter, but not enough evidence.

7. Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24 KO)

Miura, 33, has won two straight since the famous loss to Vargas, the important of those coming on January 28, when he beat Miguel Roman in a scrappy, entertaining fight where Roman basically had to be beaten down until he physically couldn’t fight on. It was a valiant effort, but I thought Miura was the clear better fighter. Now, the Japanese veteran will try to knock off young Berchelt this summer, reclaim the WBC title, and rejoin the tip top ranks of this division. I think it might again be a matchup coming at the right time for Berchelt, but even if it is, he’ll have to earn it.

8. Nicholas Walters (26-1-1, 21 KO)

Walters, 31, might be the second-best fighter in the division. I mean, I don’t know. His lone loss came to Vasyl Lomachenko, where Walters was outclassed until he quit after seven rounds. Walters is still most famous for his 2014 win over Nonito Donaire, where he punished the former pound-for-pound contender and made a name for himself in the process. He never got to defend that title, missing weight when he tried in 2015, and then moved up to 130. He drew with Jason Sosa, but that was a clear win for Walters that the judges got wrong, in my view, and then waited around until he got the right deal to lose to Lomachenko. I can’t rank Walters higher than this. I think he’s better than he looked against Lomachenko, but I don’t know where he’s at mentally coming off of that loss, either.

9. Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20 KO)

Uchiyama, 37, has lost two straight and his days are surely numbered. But he came back from a KO-2 defeat to push the man who beat him to a full 12 rounds, fighting valiantly in doing so, so I don’t see him as a shot talent, just one past his prime. There’s no guarantee he’ll fight again, either, but for now I’m keeping him in the back end of the top 10.

10. Rocky Martinez (29-3-3, 17 KO)

Martinez, 34, is also at the back end of his career, but I can’t find compelling reasons to rank Jason Sosa or Jose Pedraza over him right now. His last three fights have all been against top fighters — two with Salido, one with Lomachenko — and he battled Salido in 24 close rounds before Lomachenko wiped him out in New York. He’s still potentially dangerous against a lot of fighters. He’s never been elite, but he’s been good for a long time.


Boxing at Wembley Arena Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images
  • Leduan Barthelemy, 27, 13-0 (7 KO)
  • Evgeny Chuprakov, 27, 18-0 (10 KO)
  • Erick De Leon, 25, 16-0 (10 KO)
  • Christopher Diaz, 22, 21-0 (13 KO)
  • Eduardo Hernandez, 19, 22-0-3 (18 KO)
  • Alberto Machado, 26, 17-0 (15 KO)
  • Shavkat Rakhimov, 22, 10-0 (8 KO)
  • Alfredo Santiago, 8-0 (2 KO)
  • Martin Joseph Ward (pictured), 25, 17-0-2 (8 KO)
  • Andy Vences, 25, 18-0 (10 KO)

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bad Left Hook Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your global boxing news from Bad Left Hook