Vastly becoming the division to watch, the 140 pounders are competing with the talent rich welterweights up north, putting on explosive fights and competitive battles throughout the year. The division is pretty deep, and we have 3 new alphabet titleholders this year to turn the division upside down, with the average age of the current four titlists at a toddler age of 25.
There may only be one Ricky Hatton, but he sure isn’t number one. Timothy Bradley claimed top sport following his victory over Kendall Holt in April, which was one of the best fights this year, but still not the best in the division. He cemented his position with an impressive display against Nate Campbell even if it only lasted three rounds before the fight was declared a no contest because of a cut above Campbell’s eye. He began to build a layer of bricks to defend his top spot with a very resilient display against previously unbeaten Lamont Peterson.
Manny Pacquiao left the division after a devastating knockout of now number 2 Hatton. The grossly overweight Brit doesn’t look like making the weight in a million month of Sundays, but maybe, just maybe, without kicking lady luck in her front teeth, he may have enough courage to drop his pint and train hard enough to make weight.
Following another trainer switch, this time to the best in the business in Freddie Roach, Amir Khan completed a treble of victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Andreas Kotelnik and Dimitry Salita. Roach has taught him a bit of defence, and pulled out the boxer inside Khan to make him a star. He’s one of the three new titlists this year, and hopefully he defends against someone that throw punches back at him, unlike Barrera, Kotelnik and Salita.
Undefeated Devon Alexander won the green belt he’d been dreaming of winning since he was a little boy, making Junior Witter quit on his stool after eight rounds of clumsy action on the Brit’s part. Alexander however, thinks there’s only one way, and that’s forward. Searching for an unification fight, he’s landed it with the final new titlist, Juan Urango. Urango dominated Herman Ngoudjo in a fight much closer than the scorecards suggested, before moving up to be dominated himself by Andre Berto. He came back from a knockdown to stop Randall Bailey in an explosive bout that showed how much difference there is between a regular ten round fighter and a twelve round fighter.
Paulie Malignaggi got back to winning ways, even if he didn’t get the decision in Houston, he still managed to get his revenge on the hometown fighter Juan Diaz, by outboxing him from the opening bell to clinch a unanimous verdict. Miraculously, after calling Pacquiao every name under the sun and accusing him of taking performance enhancing drugs, Malignaggi is in the frame to fight the Philippines icon in March, but might lose out to a rabbi.
Still in line for a big fight, Kendall Holt drummed up attention after narrowly losing to Bradley in April, but disappointingly sat out the rest of the year. He’s planning a busy comeback next year including four possible fights, starting with an IBF eliminator against once beaten Tim Coleman. Can he still make waves at light welterweight, or does he need to chase down Ricardo Torres for a fan-friendly rubber match?
Cuban Joel Casamayor looks likely to settle down in his new division, possibly for a rematch with Nate Campbell, where Casamayor was successful the first time. Another one that could throw the cats between the pidgeons, Casamayor will be a feared fighter from the young guns, even if he’s 37. He’s still a clever spoiler type fighter that could frustrate the mentally weak youngsters.
Overhyped Victor Ortiz suffered another setback, this time to Marcos Rene Maidana in a slugfest that define all meaningful slugfests. Maidana was not going to lie down, oh no, he was there to win, which was unexpected to Ortiz, the crowd and the Golden Boy matchmaker, who didn’t earn his bonus. Maidana hung in there to slap Ortiz around the ring in the sixth, and Ortiz quit following a mouse under his eye. But Maidana has been transferred the hype, and I’m telling you, he’s not that great. I would tip Ortiz to win in the rematch, he lost his head in the first. He can be easily outboxed, but easily underestimated, that’s why he’s a wildcard and could be a fighter to watch in 2010.
Lamont Peterson is still up there with the outsiders despite receiving an experience boosting fight with Bradley. He should be able to get himself back into contention with a handful of victories against shot fighters.
Elsewhere, Paul McCloskey, Ajose Olusegan and Lenny Daws are quickly becoming the most protected fighters in Europe. Mike Alvarado keeps on winning ten rounders in the fashion Dimitry Salita did. Victor Manuel Cayo took a massive leap over the new stepping stone that is Julio Diaz. Ionut Dan Ion is probably the second best name in boxing. Cesar Rene Cuenca has added new meaning to feather-fisted. Gavin Rees could face Amir Khan next year, yes I groaned as well. He did win Prizefighter though, which is a gateway for shot retarded British fighters. Vivian Harris is finished and will get blasted out of the top rope by Lucas Martin Matthysse on the Mosley-Berto undercard. Antonio Pitalua will move up in weight following his defeat to Edwin Valero. Soulymane M’Baye is still fighting ten year olds that have two fights on their resume. Edner Cherry might receive another lifeline, but will probably fail again.
This division has gripped our community, and the intense fights are almost certainly going to continue through 2010. There are many questions left unanswered, but will we see a major upset next year, or even a change at the top?
Dafs’ Ranking Assessment
#1 Timothy Bradley (USA) (25-0, 11 KOs)
Wins: Kendall Holt UD 12, Lamont Peterson UD 12; No Contest: Nate Campbell NC 3;
Next Opponent: TBA
Summary: My runner-up for Fighter of the Year, Bradley succeeded all expectations with a tremendous year defeating Holt by unanimous decision over 12 gripping and competitive rounds, Campbell psychologically, and Peterson in a performance which has seen him on the verge of breaking into the top 10 p-4-p. More to come from Bradley surely.
#2 Ricky Hatton (GBR) (45-2, 32 KOs)
Losses: Manny Pacquiao KO 2;
Next Opponent: TBA
Summary: Hopefully, Hatton retires. He’s 190+ lbs and is hoping to lose 50 lbs to make weight. Marquez has also shown him the door. He’s finished after a devastating second round kayo by Pacquiao, but can he prove me wrong and compete with the younger generation in the top 4?
#3 Amir Khan (GBR) (22-1, 16 KOs)
Wins: Marco Antonio Barrera TD 5, Andreas Kotelnik UD 12, Dimitriy Salita KO 1;
Next Opponent: Marcos Rene Maidana, TBA
Summary: I’m not a hater, I respect every fighter. Khan is the most naturally gifted fighter in the division, and that’s evident with his hand speed. But he also has the weakest set of whiskers. Outpointed the legend that is Barrera and Kotelnik to capture his first world title crown, before hammering mandatory challenger Salita in a flash.
#4 Devon Alexander (USA) (19-0, 12 KOs)
Wins: Jesus Rodriguez KO 9, Junior Witter RTD 8
Next Opponent: Juan Urango, March 6
Summary: Another talented undefeated American that will fight on HBO next year, he has the perfect mentality to succeed as a champion. He’s already been chasing down Timothy Bradley unsuccessfully, but has finally found a unification fight with IBF titleholder, Urango, following his stoppage victory over Junior Witter in August.
#5 Kendall Holt (USA) (25-3, 13 KOs)
Losses: Timothy Bradley UD 12;
Next Opponent: Tim Coleman, February 20
Summary: One of my favourite fighters and a underappreciated one at that, the skinny armed Holt has only fought once in the calendar year, that being a defeat to top dog Timothy Bradley, where he knocked him down twice in the fight. Needs to mix it up with the top 10 to stay there.
#6 Paulie Malignaggi (USA) (27-3, 5 KOs)
Wins: Christopher Fernandez UD 8, Juan Diaz UD 12; Losses: Juan Diaz UD 12;
Next Opponent: TBA
Summary: Controversy is never far away from the ‘Magic Man’ and after a poorly scored contest with Juan Diaz in Houston, he quickly mouthed off for a rematch, which he won comfortably. The record doesn’t lie, he can’t brake an eggshell, but has impressive boxing ability. Can the Brooklyn boxer keep his position next year?
#7 Juan Urango (COL) (22-2-1, 17 KOs)
Wins: Herman Ngoudjo UD 12, Randall Bailey TKO 11; Losses: Andre Berto UD 12
Next Opponent: Devon Alexander, March 6
Summary: The only power punching Colombian bomber not to be deactivated in 200, Urango roughly smashed his way through Ngoudjo, and smashed himself in a my turn-your turn bout with Randall Bailey in August, which was one of the highlights of the year. Needs to pull off an upset to keep his title.
#8 Andreas Kotelnik (UKR) (31-3-1, 13 KOs)
Wins: Marcos Rene Maidana SD 12; Losses: Amir Khan UD 12;
Next Opponent: TBA
Summary: What is Kotelnik still doing there, and where’s Maidana? Kotelnik defeated Maidana in February in a fight that could have gone either way, but a Khan loss dropped him straight back down the ladder. Needs to fight name fighters not tomato cans over 2010.
#9 Marcos Rene Maidana (ARG) (27-1, 26 KOs)
Wins: Victor Ortiz TKO 6, William Gonzalez KO 3; Losses: Andreas Kotelnik SD 12;
Next Opponent: Amir Khan, TBA
Summary: Some of you think Maidana is a second coming after his fight with Ortiz. In a blood pumping fight with Victor Ortiz, Maidana came up from the canvas to land a bullet right hand to drop the American in the first in The Boxing Tribune’s Round of the Year. Suffered his first career defeat to the Ukranian Kotelnik in a close decision. Ranking him anywhere above Urango is daft.
#10 Lamont Peterson (USA) (27-1, 13 KOs)
Wins: Willy Blain TKO 7; Losses: Timothy Bradley UD 12;
Next Opponent: TBA
Summary: The scorecards didn’t reflect how good a fight Peterson put up against Bradley, but he convinced me that he has the tools to be a future alphabet titleholder, well you can by them at Wal-Mart for $19.99 now. Should return with a bang, but wouldn’t be surprised if he relaxed and took a break.