Defending Super Bantamweight as the Best Weight Division in Boxing Today:
First it was Abner Mares, then it was Nonito Donaire. The super bantamweight division has been gradually eroded of its biggest names as they seek titles and riches in the lager and more traditional featherweight class. What is left is a division that seems not to know what do with itself.
Guillermo Rigondeaux is the lineal champion, having comfortably out-boxed Donaire. He is arguably the finest pound for pound boxer going today, but it doesn’t bode well for the division’s future entertainment that a man so high-class holds sway over the rest.
Among the contenders are three hungry young lions in Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg. All of them possess admirable traits. Santa Cruz’ work-rate reminds many of a young Antonio Margarito, Frampton has drawn parallels with Irish legend Barry McGuigan for both his skill and popularity, Quigg is a burgeoning talent with plenty of power.
The questions remain however – will any of these men meet? Can anyone challenge Rigondeaux? The division could well provide us with great fights and legendary fighters down the line, but exactly where does it stand today?
See the full series – Which weight division is the best in boxing today?
The super bantamweight division is lucky enough to have the rising star that is Leo Santa Cruz within its ranks. Santa Cruz is a fast-paced volume puncher with a growing spite in his shots, evidenced by his last victory; a third-round knockout of Victor Terrazas. Santa Cruz’ relentlessness is almost matched by Spaniard IBF titleholder Kiko Martinez, who doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word “defense”.
Carl Frampton is a talented boxer-puncher who is also comfortable throwing hard leather when needed to. He flattened the aforementioned Martinez in the ninth round of a hard battle earlier this year. Frampton’s rival Scott Quigg has beaten him to a world title, becoming the WBA’s “regular” world champion. Quigg demonstrated his power in Saturday’s fight with Diego Silva, who he finished in the second round.
Unfortunately for those anti-puritans who prefer Gatti-esque wars to slick boxing, the division is ruled by Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux, a man who has probably taken fewer clean punches in his career so far than most do in one single fight. The chances of him being dethroned are slim, so expect his cautious yet sumptuously skilled boxing to win out for the foreseeable future.
Following the move to featherweight of Nonito Donaire, the super bantamweight division lost its biggest star. Unless he is to return, the hype will fall on the shoulders of men who are not yet at the peak of their promise, such as Santa Cruz, Frampton and Quigg, and men who are perhaps past their best but still draw a crowd, such as Vic Darchinyan and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. All in all, the chances of seeing Jack Nicholson show up ringside for a super bantamweight clash are unlikely at this moment.
Guillermo Rigondeaux may stand out as far and away the best fighter in this division, but beneath him lies a reasonable sized group clamoring for what he has. Santa Cruz, Frampton and Quigg promise a great deal, and already share two world titles between them all, while Kiko Martinez and Jeffrey Mathebula (who fight later this year) have often been under-rated.
Jhonathan Romero, Cristian Mijares, Vic Darchinyan and Efrain Esquivias make up the supporting cast, but in truth the division relies heavily on its main men.
Potential & Influence
Guillermo Rigondeaux possesses the quality to dominate the division for years to come, and he could indeed establish a long and admirable reign that may lead to him becoming a contender for pound for pound number one status.
In the UK, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg’s rivalry has been bubbling fiercely for years, and the time is ripe for them to meet in a blockbuster event that would probably sell out most arenas it attempts to fill, particularly in Frampton’s Belfast hometown. Should that fight happen, it would level with Froch-Groves in significance, and could well match-up in performance too.
Leo Santa Cruz is improving all the time and seems to be attracting the mainstream in the US and Mexico, though the question mark remains as to whether he will move up or not. People have often thought of him facing Mares – a featherweight – and he does seem to have the frame to carry his power up one more weight class. The super bantamweights have plenty of potential to cash in on, but the specter of Rigondeaux’s possible dominance could cast a long shadow over the rest of the division.
Pound for Pound:
Guillermo Rigondeax lies at #3 in our pound for pound ratings, earning the super bantamweight division three points. Leo Santa Cruz lies outside the top twenty for the time being.