Welterweight class may be deepest, but other divisions are catching up

Mikey Garcia, left attempts to hit Adrien Broner during a boxing bout at 140 pounds, Saturday, July 29, 2017, in New York.
Mikey Garcia, left attempts to hit Adrien Broner during a boxing bout at 140 pounds, Saturday, July 29, 2017, in New York. AP

The welterweight division deservedly earns plaudits as boxing’s deepest division.

From the career-resuming Floyd Mayweather Jr. to current sanctioning-body belt holders Keith Thurman and Errol Spence to the still relevant Manny Pacquiao and established contenders Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, the 147-pound class allows fight fans to continue envisioning appealing matches.

Yet, for all the warranted praise directed toward the welterweights, the neighboring weight classes below the division are also noted for their growing and talented depth.

After his convincing decision victory over Adrien Broner on July 29, Mikey Garcia suddenly has some intriguing options. Garcia is already a recognized lightweight champion but defeating four-division champion Broner in a 140-pound bout makes Garcia worthy of discussion among the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters.

Reigning junior-welterweight champion Terence Crawford also merits similar distinction. Recognized as titleholder by two sanctioning bodies, Crawford will pursue additional belts when he faces Julius Indongo in a unification bout on Aug. 19 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Indongo owns the division’s two other sanctioning body belts.

Crawford ventured into pay-per-view territory in another unification match against Viktor Postol last year. The viewership results were dismal, resulting in Crawford’s follow-up fights on HBO and ESPN, which will televise his bout against Indongo.

However, if Crawford and Garcia meet, the match features the qualities of a pay-per-view event. The obvious obstacle to such a bout is Garcia’s bitter split with his former promoter Top Rank, which currently guides Crawford.

Garcia also could resume his lightweight reign and find appealing unification bouts against Jorge Linares, who will defend his belt against Luke Campbell on Sept. 23, or Robert Easter.

Finalizing a match between Garcia and Easter should face fewer obstacles, considering that both fighters are under the Premier Boxing Champions stable directed by influential manager Al Haymon.

“I’ve said it, an exciting fight that interests me at 135 [pounds] — title unification or a good title defense — I’ll do that,” Garcia said after his victory over Broner. “If that’s not available, we know boxing. I can’t be waiting or sitting around chasing anybody. I’ll move on with my career at 140 [pounds] or possibly 147.”

The 135-pound lightweight division could become more appealing if Vasyl Lomachenko ends his stay in the 130-pound class.

Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and professional world champion in two separate classes, might find more lucrative opportunities as a lightweight, following his successful title defense late Saturday in Los Angeles Lomachenko scored a TKO win over Miguel Marriaga when Marriaga failed to answer the bell for the eighth round.

“If I can’t get [top] fights at 130 [pounds], we’ll move up to 135,” Lomachenko said after Saturday’s fight.

Valdes Wins

Miami resident Niko Valdes remained undefeated following his unanimous decision victory over Jaime Solorio on Friday in Indio, California.

Two judges scored the super-middleweight bout for Valdes, 59-55. The third scorecard had Valdes winning, 60-54. The fight was the first in Valdes’ young career that lasted the distance.

A Gulliver High graduate, Valdes is now 6-0.

Gamboa Returns

Three months after a TKO loss against journeyman Robinson Castellanos, Miami resident Yuriorkis Gamboa returns to the ring Saturday night. Gamboa is scheduled to face Alexis Reyes in Cancun, Mexico.

Gamboa (26-2, 17 KOs) suffered two knockdowns against Castellanos in a featherweight bout before the fight was stopped before the start of the eighth round. Gamboa, whose career has been plagued by repeated periods of inactivity, was attempting to resume a quest for a third world title in a separate weight class.