The 70s was the heavyweight divisions with Ali vs Frazier and Ali vs Foreman and everybody in between. The 80s saw the four horsemen, Leonard, Duran, Hearns and Hagler, go after each other. The 90s didn’t as much include a division but a man, Oscar De La Hoya, as he carried the sport on his back while Manny Pacquiao did the same in the opening decade of the new millennium. One can argue that Floyd Mayweather Jr is the man in the second decade of the 2000s but can 2015 be the year of the featherweights?
In the last eighteen months we have seen the resurgence of the division and the possibility of some quality super bantamweights that by next year have expressed their interest or might benefit from making the jump up the four pounds. Here is a quick review of the best of the best.
1. Jhonny Gonzalez The WBC champ is the “Cinderella Man” of the division as hardly anybody gave him a chance against Abner Mares in their 2013 fight. Gonzalez promptly knocked him out in the first.
2. Nicholas Walters Possibly the candidate to take over the division, he stopped Nonito Donaire in six rounds last month and has shown interest in unifying Gonzalez’s WBC belt to his WBA strap.
3. Evgeny Gradovich The IBF champ might be the weakest of the four but known as the “Mexican Russian”, his style might make for fun fights against any of this list.
4. Vasyl Lomachenko The Eastern European captured the WBO title in only his third pro fight after an extensive amateur career. Possibly the best fighter of the bunch but must prove lack of experience won’t hinder him in the future.
5. Abner Mares The former WBC champ has not had an easy time in the division despite capturing the title in spectacular fashion against Daniel Ponce De Leon. He might be better suited for the 122-pound division but has decided to stay with the feathers.
6. Robinson Castellanos Despite his multiple losses, Castellanos says he is ready for the best of the division. Proved that he is more of a gatekeeper when he knocked out up and coming prospect Ronny Rios pretty easily.
7. Leo Santa Cruz The Mexican dynamo has said that one of his goals in 2015 is to go up to the featherweight division and win a title there. Also wants to defeat Mares at the weight to place him as the best little Mexican in the Golden Boy stable.
8. Cristian Mijares A champion at multiple weight classes, even though very long of the tooth, he might still have enough to ruin somebody’s night.
9. Rocky Juarez The WBC interim champ, Juarez has never been ever to capture that world title although given many opportunities. Like Mijares, the best of Juarez’s career might be in the rear view mirror but might still have enough in the gas tank for one final trip to the top.
10. Guillermo Rigondeaux Quite possibly the most feared man in the 122-126 pound division despite never having fought as a featherweight, the thirty-four year old Cuban says he is ready for anybody and that he only wants the big fights.
Maybe in 2015 he gets them.