Can Lopez-Kambosos & Haney-Diaz Unlock The Lightweight Division?

When you decide to become a boxing fan, you quickly learn to temper your expectations. Whether it be for fights getting made, fighters getting tested, unification matches happening, etc., you soon realize that boxing is a waiting game of sorts.

So many factors contribute to these periods of wait-and-see for boxing, with everything from broadcasting and promotional politics to disagreements over splits and fight demands adding to the difficulties boxing faces when it comes to progress.

Unlike, for example, basketball, where teams are required to face one another based upon a set schedule with very little deviation from the season opener to closer, boxing is a trickier animal to tame. As a fan of the sport, you grow to accept that you will need to somewhat understand this dynamic of the game to ever enjoy the sport itself. You need to at least somewhat know, even if only on a surface level, why the sport can seem to get in it's own way at times.

It's the only way to remain somewhat sane while following the fight game.

Still, even for the most cynical of boxing fans, a fan used to the back door deals and step asides the sport so often produces, a division like Lightweight can come along and bring you new frustrations you haven't felt in quite a while.

On the one hand, it's almost refreshing. It's good to know you can still get infuriated by the sport and feel those passions that drew you to the sweet science in the first place. Still, you're left with a division that has all the talent in the world and seemingly the exact opposite in the ambition department.

Top to bottom, Lightweight could make an argument for the division with the most pure talent in the sport. At the very least, it has the most potential. Still, for all it's strengths, the weakness seems to come in the form of the top fighters unwillingness to step into the ring together. Which, kinda/sorta, makes you question just how special are these talents.

In some form or fashion, nearly all the top combatants at 135 pounds have used the generic boxing excuses as to why fights haven't been made.

Now former-champion Teofimo Lopez spent most of the last year preparing to lose to George Kambosos (more on that in a bit), but seemed disinterested in re-matching his biggest rival in Vasyl Lomachenko or in completing his unification at the weight with WBC titlist Devin Haney.

Guys like highly-rated Ryan Garcia had fights with both Javier Fortuna and Joseph Diaz fall through due to mental health concerns and then a hand injury, leaving him effectively inactive for the entirety of 2021 (sans a seventh round knockout of Luke Campbell on January 2nd).

The two most willing fighters at the weight seem to be the aforementioned Haney and former world champion Lomachenko, but both have struggled to get big name opponents secured for one reason or another. Some fighters crying promotional ties are blocking fights, others claiming that opponent X is just not a big enough name. Literally an endless supply of "no thanks" from the group just south of Jr. Welterweight.

Talented, hard-hitting Gervonta Davis had as much as his promoter, former world champion Floyd Mayweather, flatly express that he only cares to see his fighter matched against Premier Boxing Champions fighters for the foreseeable future.

Honesty, as maddening as it might be.

The four-headed division -- now including Kambosos as opposed to Lopez, that also includes Haney, Garcia and Davis -- has been almost jokingly referred to as the new Four Kings of boxing, a reference to the original foursome of Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler of the 1980s. I say jokingly, because, you know, they literally all fought one another. Meanwhile, we are met with little more than social media spats.

While some interesting fights have been made, including the Haney-Diaz fight scheduled for this Saturday as a prime example, the division has yet to really catch fire outside of Twitter wars and expletive-laden interviews that lead to nothing but eye-rolling from most.

However, with the aforementioned Kambosos win over the weekend, could we finally be on the brink of seeing the pendulum swing the other direction?

While it is typical that a former champion receives an immediate rematch, in the case of Kambosos and Lopez, that might not ring true. Kambosos was a mandatory and their fight went to purse bids, meaning that no such rematch clause was included in negotiations. That leaves the Aussie free to pursue whatever fight brings him the best opportunity. Judging by his remarks post-fight, that could be the winner of Haney-Diaz.

With Kambosos, you have a fighter that other pugilists feel is an easier mark than Lopez, despite the fact he handled the Hoduran-American relatively easily. This is already evident when guys like Garcia, who is still recovering from a serious hand-injury, tweet he was willing to face Kambosos in his first fight back. No warm up, nothing. Right into the fire.

It's unlikely he would have been so willing to face Lopez, especially under the same conditions. Whether sensible or not, fighters being willing to face another top fighter with gold on the line can only be a good thing.

What's more, Kambosos might have an easier time with making fights with the likes of Diaz, Haney and Garcia than a Lopez or Lomachenko might, based on promoters and broadcasters. Kambosos, promoted by the famed Lou DiBella, is free to work with whomever he sees fit. Lopez and Lomachenko, signed to Top Rank Promotions and fighting regularly on ESPN, might not have such an easy time making fights happen with the aforementioned stable over at DAZN.

Even looking at things the other way around, for the right fee, one could imagine Kambosos fighting the Lomachenko-Richard Commey winner or even Lopez once more if Top Rank is interested in covering the hefty fee for a now-considered 50/50 fight. It's easier to consider both sides actually vying for the shot to fight for all the gold, and one of the more willing fighters in Kambosos now sits within the driver's seat.

Kambosos creates a target some foolishly see as easier to hit that will be seemingly easier to work with -- provided he is paid the way he should be, considering his accomplishments.

A similar situation happened relatively recently in the Heavyweight division. Just a handful of years ago, the weight class had some bubbling talent, but the perceived invincibility of long-reigning world champion Wladimir Klitschko made many afraid to make the wrong move. They all wanted the singular Klitschko payday, but few were willing to take on all challenges.

Then, in one of the biggest updates of 2015, Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury did the unthinkable, beating Klitschko in his adopted home country of Germany. Just like that, overnight it seems, fighters were far more willing to step forward and take their chances against the man with all the gold (at the time).

While the comparisons aren't perfect, the point remains the same: When the talent at or near the top of a division feels they have increased their chances of success -- in this case, buy simply waiting for someone else to do the work -- they all get a little more courageous and far more ambitious.

We had an interesting tumbling of dominos take place in a matter of 8 days. First we had Lopez dethroned by Kambosos, who seems willing to make the fights fans want to see, and now we have Haney taking on a very underrated test in Diaz this Saturday.

If Kambosos turned the key that unlocks the division, Haney-Diaz could be the hand that turns the knobs and opens the door.

Another thing you learn quickly when becoming a boxing fan is not to get your hopes up too high. At times, it seems too often boxing will take one step forward only to take two or three giant leaps backwards. However, one does get the sense that this week could be a pivotal one in regards to finding some clarity at 135 pounds.

Let's just hope these guys can get their asses off Twitter and into the ring.

Thank you for reading, I truly hope you enjoy the piece. I appreciate any and all feedback. If you're interested, I have predictions you can check out as well. For Devin Haney-Joseph Diaz, click here. For Lyndon Arthur-Anthony Yarde II, click here.

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