Thrilling End To Year For The Lightweights Can Springboard Division Into Blockbuster 2022

Lightweight stars Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis are both in action this weekend
09:35, 04 Dec 2021

About this time last year, in this same publication, I wrote that 2021 would be a landmark year for boxing’s lightweight division. Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia had taken over at 135lbs and it seemed we had the closest thing to the Four Kings (Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler) since the legendary quartet reigned supreme in the 1980s. Let’s not forget the ultra-talented Vasiliy Lomachenko on the fringes either. 

Unfortunately, the prediction turned out to be something of a damp squib. That’s not to say it’s been a complete wash out; Garcia stopped the tough Luke Campbell in January, while Haney put in a career best effort to beat three-weight world champion Jorge Linares in May. Last weekend was the most impressive of them all, with underdog George Kambosos Jr shocking the world to beat Lopez on the judges’ scorecards and snatch the WBA, WBO, IBF and The Ring belts from the American’s grasp. Overall though, we’ve seen only a smidgen of potential from boxing’s most stacked weight class.

George Kambosos Jr
George Kambosos Jr

However, in the dying embers of 2021, starting with Kambosos’ Upset of the Year contender against Lopez on Saturday, the division has kicked itself back into life and it could provide a springboard for a blockbuster 2022. The Australian is the guy right now and has a bevvy of world class options in front of him including Garcia, who voiced interest in the fight on social media, Haney and Davis, should they win their bouts this weekend, Lomachenko, should he also emerge victorious later this month, or a second fight with Lopez.

And that’s just Kambosos, who wasn’t even in the frame this time last year. This weekend sees two of the aforementioned lightweight superstars in action: Haney and Davis. Like Lopez before him, Haney faces another potential curveball for the 135lbs division in the form of 32-1-1 (15) Californian Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz when ‘The Dream’ defends his WBC strap at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

The following day, just 270 miles away in Los Angeles, ‘Tank’ Davis defends his WBA regular belt against Isaac Cruz, hoping to extend his unbeaten record and make it 25 knockouts from 26 fights. Kambosos will be on a recon mission at both bouts before he heads back down under, signalling that one of these men could be in the opposite corner when he decides to defend his crown, A tantalising proposition that would kick off the new year with a bang.

Devin Haney
Devin Haney

Our lightweight feast concludes next week with a man who’s largely been shut out of the conversation on the division’s current best: Lomachenko. A decorated amateur and three-weight world champion in just a handful of fights, ‘Loma’ is widely regarded as one of the finest technicians in the game.

His career came off the tracks in 2020 when he was stunned by Lopez, losing the same titles Kambosos holds now in the process. It’s been a year of rebuilding for the two-time Olympic gold medallist and following on from a TKO win against Masayoshi Nakatani in June, he takes on former IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey on December 12. A win against the tough Ghanian puts the 33-year-old right back in the mix. Perhaps Lopez, who has no guarantees of a rematch with Kambosos, will be more willing to entertain round two with the great Ukrainian now.

So imagine Lomachenko, Haney and Davis all win over the next fortnight, which, on paper, they should. We could hypothetically have Lomachenko vs Lopez, Haney vs Kambosos for the chance to become undisputed and Garcia vs Davis on the side all in the first half of 2022. 

Vasiliy Lomachenko
Vasiliy Lomachenko

Sadly, boxing is never that straight cut. There’ll be twists, turns and promotional red tape before the year is even out - maybe even this weekend should Haney and Davis get unstuck in their respective bouts - but that is just a taste of some of the fun that could be had at lightweight next year.

We’re witnessing a golden generation at 135lbs, let’s just hope we actually get to see it shine.

Diaz is 5/1 to upset Haney with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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