The featherweight division has been ravaged in the past few years by fighters moving up in weight and abandoning the weight class. However, at the same time, a flock of bantamweights and super bantamweights have moved up, and the division is hotter than ever. Now the featherweight division in boxing is one of the deepest and most exciting in the sport, with some huge potential bouts that can be made.
Featherweight division rankings (126 lbs.) last updated September 2015
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Featherweight Division Champion:
Vacant – Nicholas Walters appears headed to 130 lbs after failing to make weight in his last bout
Top 10 Featherweight Contenders
- Vasyl Lomachenko – After losing to Orlando Salido in his 2nd pro fight, Lomachenko wasn’t done with breaking boxing tradition. And clearly, that experience made him vastly better. He proved that by outclassing the unbeaten Gary Russell, long one of the top (unproven) prospects in the sport. Five fights into his pro career, Lomachenko has a fringe title strap, a top class win, and a ticket to future super fights.
- Leo Santa Cruz – I’ve been as critical of Leo Santa Cruz as anyone. He’s been spoon fed the softest opposition of any big-name television fighter in recent history. However, he has finally earned a legit win after his decision victory in his exciting fight against Abner Mares. Now, let’s keep the big fights rolling.
- Gary Russell – After years spent waiting to see him in against a top opponent, he came up short against Lomachenko, who was making just the third pro start of his career. There was always so much raw talent and potential, and such little career progression. Faces Christopher Martin next. Dominated Christopher Martin, and then stopped Jhonny Gonzalez to jump back to the top of the division. Stylistically, that was a tailor-made opponent for him.
- Lee Selby – The once-beaten Welshman is coming off a huge breakout performance, dominating Evgeny Gradovich en route to a title-winning victory. Has also defeated Rendall Munroe and Joel Brunker. His sole setback was a 4-round fight in his fifth pro outing.
- Abner Mares – Mares wasted no time in getting to work at 126 lbs, impressively stopping Daniel Ponce de Leon and picking up a title strap in the process, but then got starched by Gonzalez, losing by 1st round KO. He originally wanted the Gonzalez rematch right away, but then was on the shelf for nearly a year. Won a few in a row before losing to Santa Cruz. It was a game effort, but still, it feels like a very, very long time since we’ve seen Mares at his best.
- Jesus Cuellar – In his last five fights, he’s defeated Vic Darchinyan, Ruben Tamayo, Claudio Marrero, Rico Ramos and Juan Manuel Lopez. Maybe not as good of a stretch as those names say on the surface, but nevertheless, taking care of business and moving his streak to 10 straight wins.
- Simpiwe Vetyeka: Went from virtual unknown to on top of the division in the span of a year. Defeated Daud Yordan, and then finally put an end to the reign of Chris John. Handed John his first career loss, in his 52nd fight, and sent him onto retirement. Didn’t get much of a real chance to defend his title, when his fight against Donaire gets halted just in time for Donaire to grab the belt via technical decision due to a cut, which may or may not have been from a punch. Has only fought once since then, unfortunately.
- Evgeny Gradovich – Gradovich has always been pretty raw, and that proved itself out against Lee Selby, a slick technician. He’s a tough match-up for anyone with his aggression, strength, and desire though. Should have gotten the W, and not a draw, against Jayson Velez.
- Marvin Sonsona – Marvin Sonsona is back on the scene following his win over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in their rematch, which also follows a nice win over Akifumi Shimoda. Marvelous Marvin still just 24 years old, and on the rise. Had a year-long layoff after the Vazquez win though, just returning to action in May.
- Robinson Castellanos – The record sure ain’t pretty, but almost all of those losses came early. Since stunning Celestino Caballero a few years back, he lost to Rene Alvarado, but then knocked out the previously unbeaten Ronny Rios, and defeated the somehow still fighting Rocky Juarez.
Other names: Jayson Velez, Josh Warrington, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Ronny Rios, Billy Dib, Vic Darchinyan, Joel Brunker, Miguel Roman, Miguel Marriaga, Christopher Martin, Celestino Caballero, Elio Rojas, Orlando Cruz, Daud Cino Yordan, Terdsak Jandaeng, Mario Santiago, Guty Espadas Jr., Bernabe Concepcion, Ricardo Castillo, Steven Luevano
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