clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the Lightweights: Lomachenko, Garcia rule the division

It’s a good division with a lot of good fighters, but two elites run the rankings.

Jorge Linares v Vasiliy Lomachenko Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

1) Vasiliy Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KO)

I’ve decided to go along with the change from “Vasyl” to “Vasiliy” because BoxRec finally did it. Oddly, he’s Vasyl on Twitter and Vasiliy on Instagram. So I don’t really know, but everyone is spelling it “Vasiliy” now, so we might as well join. Anyway, I think he’s the best lightweight in the world and probably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport right now. Lomachenko, 30, is a generational talent who only lost a pro fight because he dared to fight someone like Orlando Salido in his second pro bout. If he’d taken even, say, two or three more fights first, at least one of them with a crafty, Salido Lite sort of veteran fighter, I think he’d have beaten Salido, because he would’ve learned those pro game tricks beforehand instead of in the middle of the fight with Orlando. Not to say he didn’t lose, he did, but there is nuance to these things. Next: vs Jose Pedraza, December 1

2) Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KO)

Garcia, 30, has a good claim, though. He’s undefeated, never come seriously close to losing a fight. Just at 135, he’s beaten Dejan Zlaticanin, a good win and a highlight reel KO, and Robert Easter Jr, a very nice victory where he outboxed a longer, taller, talented opponent. Garcia is also a top pound-for-pound guy. It looks for all the world like Mikey will take the risk and move up to 147 to fight Errol Spence Jr next. It’s too bad. I’d actually like to see him in against more of the top guys at 135, even if a fight with Lomachenko is simply not happening due to promotional and TV issues. Next: TBA

3) Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KO)

Linares, 33, didn’t quite become the great top fighter a lot of folks thought he’d be early in his career, but he’s had a very good career. He’s won titles at 126, 130, and 135, and even with some losses along the way, all four of them by stoppage, he’s shown his talent over and over again. He’s not a great fighter, but he’s a very, very good one, and let’s not forget that when Lomachenko stopped him in the 10th, the cards were even: 86-84 Loma, 86-84 Linares, and 85-85. Next: TBA

4) Jose Pedraza (25-1, 12 KO)

Pedraza’s big win over Ray Beltran gave him the WBO title and a likely date with Lomachenko on December 1. He thinks he’s got the style to beat Loma. I don’t, but he’s as good an opponent as is out there at 135 right now, too, so I have no issue with the matchup. In the win over Beltran, Pedraza, 29, showed how good he can be when he’s on his game, but to go the other way a bit, I mean, we’ve seen him in with Gervonta Davis before. It wasn’t close between them. Lomachenko is going to be too much for Pedraza, I think, and by quite a bit. But Pedraza has for the time being earned this spot. He’s quite a good fighter. Not elite, though, and that’s going to be the difference. Next: vs Vasiliy Lomachenko, December 1

5) Robert Easter Jr (21-1, 14 KO)

Easter, 27, is part of this pack after the top two and before the last three on this list, who I think are all about the same quality. The Toledo native took some flak for his performances against Luis Cruz, Denis Shafikov, and Javier Fortuna. He beat Cruz easily but without anything special in the win. He beat Shafikov wide on two cards, but it was a competitive fight. He beat Fortuna, who missed weight, by split decision. But Shafikov and Fortuna are both good fighters, too. Easter wasn’t particularly competitive against Garcia, but had his moments. Again, it’s the difference between being a good fighter, maybe even a very good one, and an actual elite fighter. Next: TBA

6) Richard Commey (27-2, 24 KO)

Robert Easter Jr. v Richard Commey Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

I still think Commey, 31, is Easter’s best win. Easter beat the Ghanaian by split decision to win the vacant IBF belt in 2016, and then three months later Commey went to Russia and lost to Shafikov by questionable split decision. Commey remains a solid contender, though. He’s won three straight and he’s the IBF mandatory. He’s not going to get to fight Garcia unless Mikey or Spence or someone who makes that fight has a change of heart, but it’s kinda too bad, I think Commey would be a pretty fun style matchup for Garcia. I’d still favor Mikey, absolutely and clearly, and expect him to win something like a 9-3 or 10-2 card, but I think it could be an interesting fight at the same time. Ah, well. Life will go on and Commey will probably fight someone for the vacant belt, maybe even a rematch with Easter. Next: TBA

7) Luke Campbell (18-2, 15 KO)

Campbell, 30, has two losses. One to Jorge Linares by split decision last September, the other an upset against Yvan Mendy in December 2015. With no big fights out there right now, he’ll rematch Mendy on September 22 on the Joshua-Povetkin card at Wembley Stadium. That’s a good call. As for why I have Campbell a few spots ahead of Mendy, it’s pretty simple, really. I think Campbell has gotten better, and Mendy has not at all taken that win and run with it, instead going back into relative obscurity. Mendy got an overconfident Campbell on the right night and beat him. I don’t think it happens again, because Campbell seems to have legitimately learned from that, going on a good run. Next: vs Yvan Mendy, September 22

8) Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13 KO)
9) Ray Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KO)

Let me just talk about Crolla, 31, and Beltran, 37, at the same time, because I have similar thoughts on both. These are good, battle-tested veteran fighters who are not going to beat top talents but will give a fight every time out. Beltran was outboxed by Pedraza and even dropped in that fight, but he got dropped because he never stopped taking chances trying to win. He left himself open for that pretty uppercut. Crolla and Beltran are two guys I’m always happy to see fighting. They’re not world-beaters, they’re probably never going to be top five guys in a strong division, but they are guys who come to fight and compete against anyone. Next: TBA for both

10) Yvan Mendy (40-4-1, 19 KO)

Mendy, 33, got that big headline win over Campbell in 2015 and was, like, “Terrific! Well, back to France.” And he’s just been in France ever since. He’s won seven straight fights and the WBC silver title since then. All in France. All outside of the spotlight. None against a particularly good opponent. He gets another shot at Campbell next month. If he beats him again, let’s hope he shows bigger ambition. Next: vs Luke Campbell, September 22

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