by Paul Magno
The 140 lb. division has been regarded as the deepest, overall best weight class in the sport. With several prime, high-profile fighters displaying a general willingness to meet one another in crucial bouts, the division has already produced some solid, meaningful contests– with much more on the way.
Here’s a look at who’s who in the jr. welterweight division:
Timothy Bradley: (27-0, 11 KOs)
Since beating Devon Alexander in a January unification bout, The WBC/WBO 140 lb. champion has opted to put himself on ice, at least until his promotional deal with Gary Shaw runs out at the end of June. Bradley passed on a July unification with Amir Khan, but based off past history, there is no duck in “Desert Storm.” Still the top dog in the division, Bradley will get the benefit of the doubt until he hits the open market as a free agent.
Amir Khan: (25-1, 17 KOs)
Possibly the most physically talented fighter in the division, WBA title holder, Khan has established himself as an elite player in the weight class. With wins over Paulie Malignaggi and Marcos Maidana as well as a scheduled, July 23 unification with IBF titlist, Zab Judah, Khan has proven his willingness to truly step onto the world stage. If he should get by Judah, there will be a solid argument for making him the division’s alpha dog.
Zab Judah: (41-6, 28 KOs)
There’s no doubting the IBF champ’s talent, but, throughout his career, his performances have run hot and cold. During this run in the division, the former welterweight lineal champ looked lackluster and unsure of himself in winning a close split decision over Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse, but looked like an absolute killer in stopping Kaizer Mabuza and Jose Armando Santa Cruz within the distance. Judah’s set to meet Amir Khan in July and stands a very good chance of pulling off the upset, depending on which Zab we see.
Devon Alexander: (21-1, 13 KOs)
Six months ago, the St. Louis native would’ve likely been listed among the elite. After a tepid and often embarrassing performance against Timothy Bradley in January, the 24-year-old’s stock has fallen considerably. Questions about his mental toughness were brought up after that tenth round technical decision loss. Those questions could very well get answered June 25th, against heavy-handed Lucas Matthysse. A loss or another poor performance could result in even more lost ground.
Marcos Maidana: (30-2, 27 KOs)
The heavy-handed Argentine slugger’s stock dropped greatly after a tougher-than-expected tussle with 34-year-old Erik Morales in April. Although always dangerous because of his power, his technical flaws have become more and more apparent with each passing fight. He’s scheduled to face Robert Guerrero in August and appears to have made the list of high-profile, but beatable trophy wins– Maidana needs a big win to change that.
Lucas Matthysse: (28-1, 26 KOs)
Matthysse is solid, but not exceptional in any one area, except for punching power. Argentina’s power punching contender has passed all of his lesser tests and nearly beat Zab Judah last November. He faces Devon Alexander in the biggest bout of his career on June 25. A win means a continued presence on the world scene. A loss signifies a return home and a rebuilding period.
Kendall Holt: (27-4, 15 KOs)
Holt has the talent to be in a much better position on this list. Unfortunately, he has never been able to maintain a consistent, high level presence. On any given night, you could get the Holt that dropped and nearly beat Timothy Bradley or the lackluster Holt that gave Kaizer Mabuza an easy night.
Andriy Kotelnik: (31-4-1, 13 KOs)
The skilled boxer from the Ukraine has been up and down over the course of his career. Kotelnik’s marquee fights have been a split decision win over Marcos Maidana and a near win against Devon Alexander. Technically sound, disciplined, and experienced, Kotelnik is a tough out for anyone in the division
Lamont Peterson: (28-1-1, 14 KOs)
The talented Peterson is good enough to beat anyone in the division. The proof of this is his recent draw against Victor Ortiz as well as a solid effort against Timothy Bradley in 2009. Peterson is set to face another good jr. welterweight, Victor Manuel Cayo, in July.
Victor Manuel Cayo: (26-1, 18 KOs)
The Dominican Republic’s Cayo is skilled and classy, but is he world class? A blow-out loss to Marcos Maidana and a rather thin overall resume put that into question. Against Lamont Peterson in July, he has a chance to make the case for himself.
Kaizer Mabuza: (23-7-1, 14 KOs)
Mabuza’s only win of note was against a passive Kendall Holt in February of 2010. After that, he was blown away in six rounds by Zab Judah— before that, he was mostly fighting on the African club circuit. Mabuza is going to need one more quality bout before he can be labeled anything other than a passing fancy.
Mauricio Herrera: (17-1, 7 KO’s)
Herrera’s upset win over prospect, Ruslan Provodnikov, put him on the map. Now, the talented boxer needs to prove himself against another top 20 fighter in order to truly justify his status as a factor at 140 lbs. He faces Mike Dallas Jr., June 25.
Ruslan Provodnikov: (19-1, 13 KOs)
The entertaining Russian pressure fighter slipped in status slightly after his loss to Mauricio Herrera, but having a fan-favorite style will always allow for the benefit of the doubt. Provodnikov is back on TV and still looking impressive as an all-action bruiser.
Ajose Olusegun: (29-0, 14 KOs)
Nigeria’s Olusegun is a relative unknown in the division and on the world stage. From his time on the UK circuit, he has shown himself to have a good, solid skill-set, but what’s going to happen when he fights a world class talent?
Mike Alvarado: (30-0, 22 KOs)
Strong, confident and fan-friendly, Alvarado’s only drawback is the fact that, at 30 years of age, he has yet to step up the level of his competition. He need to make a move, now.
Paul McCloskey: (22-1, 12 KOs)
McCloskey didn’t show a lot against Amir Khan in April. Awkward and tough, the UK’s McCloskey looks to be strictly regional/national fodder.
Tim Coleman: (19-1-1, 5 KOs)
With wins over Patrick Lopez and Mike Arnaoutis under his belt, Coleman is on the verge of making it onto the jr. welterweight main stage. Quick and skilled, Coleman has recently shown a bit of a punch as well.
Josesito Lopez: (29-3, 17 KOs)
Lopez has already eliminated two other prospects in Mike Dallas Jr. and Marvin Cordova Jr. In his physical prime and riding high from several impressive wins, the boxer-puncher from Riverside, California would likely give anyone in the division a tough time.
Danny Garcia: (21-0, 14 KOs)
The 23-year old Garcia has already notched a handful of quality wins over the likes of Mike Arnaoutis, Nate Campbell, and Ashley Theophane. A well-schooled, disciplined boxer with poise beyond his years, Garcia is a half-step from rising to the next level.
Jesse Vargas: (15-0, 8 KOs)
Vargas’ only real win of note was a first round KO of badly faded Vivian Harris in April. The 22-year-old looks the part of a real, world-class fighter, but only time and a higher level of opposition will tell.
Robert Guerrero: (29-1-1, 18 KOs)
The talented three-division titlist has outgrown three divisions in three years and will be making his 140 lb. debut in August against Marcos Maidana. Guerrero looked impressive in his last bout, against Michale Katsidis in the lightweight division, but the question remains whether he can do as well among the heavier-hitting main stage players in a packed jr. welterweight division.
Erik Morales: (51-7, 35 KOs)
The veteran three-division world champ looked reborn against Marcos Maidana in April. Was it a case of a veteran finding a second wind for one more run at a title or was it just a matter of having the right style to fight a guy like Maidana? Morales will likely get another chance against a big name in the coming months.
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