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One of the hottest divisions in boxing, the 135lb class contains the so-called ‘four princes’ - a quartet of exciting American boxers coming into their prime, each one with a different skilset. In addition, there is a modern pound-for-pound legend - still with plenty to offer at age 33.
So lightweight has a clear, elite-level top five. But even outside of that there’s a mixture of dangerous contenders and grizzled veterans with something to offer. Now, we just need them to start fighting one another as - with one major exception - none of the top five have actually clashed in the ring. Let’s hope it’s all on the horizon.
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W: 19 (10 KOs), L: 0
Outspoken and fun to watch, Kambosos arrived at world level with wins over Mickey Bey then ex-featherweight world champ, Lee Selby. That last victory earned the Australian a shot at Teofimo Lopez and while his workrate, hand speed and punch variety was too much for Selby, he will need to be wary of Lopez’s power and accuracy. Kambosos has apparently sparred 250+ rounds with Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card gym. Let’s hope that proves his chin is solid.
W: 21 (15 KOs), L: 1, D: 1
The 5ft 5fin ‘Pitbull’ Cruz had his breakout victory in June when he bullied the veteran Francisco Vargas to defeat. Coming forward with his head down, winging hooks to body and head, there’s nothing subtle about the Mexican’s style. But he’s riding an 11-fight winning streak (his pro draw and defeat came early in his career) and he gets plenty behind his endless supply of punches. Raw, relatively unproven but a potential 135lb dangerman.
W: 47 (29 KOs), L: 6
The best days of this multi-weight world champion are behind him, but he remains a threat, as he showed when he buzzed Devin Haney in May before losing a decision. Even at his best, Linares was a vulnerable fighter - you could never tell if he was going to knock out his foe or find himself on the canvas - but he’s such a natural, stylish, fluid boxer to watch. Once sat Lomachenko on his backside (no easy feat) and may still be capable of beating all but the best.
W: 32 (15 KOs), L: 1, D: 1
A welcome surprise package to this division, as many thought ‘JoJo’ would be too small to compete at 135lb. However he stepped up and looked sturdy in defeating Javier Fortuna in July. The ex-featherweight’s sole loss is to the slick Gary Russell Jr - no shame there - while his signature win was using educated pressure to take Tevin Farmer’s 130lb world title in 2020. TBC whether Diaz has the size and power to beat the best at lightweight but he’ll be a high-intensity test.
W: 30 (27 KOs), L: 3
From the fighting city of Accra, Commey’s record is misleading. His first two setbacks were hotly-contested split-decision losses that could have gone either way, so this teak-tough Ghanian could be 32-1 rather than 30-3. Finally won a world title in 2019 and while he lost it to Teofimo Lopez by KO, Commey is a serious right-hand puncher in his own right. That power makes him a threat to anyone in the division and Lomachenko is reportedly up next.
W: 21 (18 KOs), L: 0
Tall, good-looking, hard-punching with a huge social media following: Garcia markets himself (literally) to perfection. Being pals with Cancelo Alvarez, with whom he shares a trainer, helps. However Garcia’s last win over Luke Campbell showed his good and bad side. Stopping an Olympic gold medallist who went the distance with Lomachnko was a statement. But the way Garcia crashed to the canvas in round two was worrying. Puts his punches together, and works the body, beautifully - but this exciting prospect has to polish up defensively.
W: 26 (15 KOs), L: 0
A smooth, stylish boxer who in his last fight unwisely decided to turn puncher. A marketable pro with a million-dollar smile who seems to be irritating plenty of fans. A lot of contradictions in Haney - but worth remembering he’s only 22 and has already beaten the likes of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Linares. The Linares win showed Haney at his best as he ouboxed the veteran - before getting wobbled in the 10th and having to grab and hold in the final two rounds. A learning fight for a boxer with nimble footwork, a slick jab and a very high ceiling.
W: 25 (24 KOs), L: 0
We’re including the explosive ‘Tank’ Davis even though his last fight was at 140lb because - surely - that was a one-off. Lightweight is where the 5ft 5in southpaw belongs, although with his raw power, he could probably wobble some heavyweights. Though he may require a step ladder. The Floyd Mayweather-managed Davis has, unfortunately, been dogged by outside the ring issues. But inside it he’s more than just a puncher: he’s shown underrated boxing finesse to set up his shots. A thrilling talent.
W: 15 (11 KOs), L: 2
Rumours of his demise may have been exaggerated. Lomachenko’s points loss to this list’s No 1 had many questioning if age and injuries had taken a toll on this modern great. But in his comeback fight it was a case of ‘The Matrix’ reloaded, as he outclassed and stopped Masayoshi Nakatani. Still has that otherworldly footwork, a boxing brain and style like nobody else and - if a shoulder injury really did impede him against Lopez - we wouldn’t bet against him in a rematch.
W: 16 (12 KOs), L: 0
‘The Takeover’ lived up to his nickname when he upset the reigning pound-for-pound king Lomachenko in October 2020. That victory saw Lopez box smartly behind a heavy jab to race into an early lead, then seal a close-but-clear win by sweeping the last round. However the New Yorker’s vaunted power is real, as evidenced by his destruction of Commey in 2019. May not be at 135lb for long as he’s huge at the weight, but let’s hope Lopez gives us a Loma rematch - or a fight with anyone from No 5 to No 3 - before he heads off to conquer 140lb.
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