As British boxing continues to enjoy a renaissance of sorts, one of the most talent deep divisions at domestic level is undoubtedly the lightweight class. The 135lb weight class if full of excellent fighters, many of whom have treated the British boxing public to a series of massively exciting fights over the last few months.
Just last weekend there was yet another almighty domestic dust up- the rematch of Gavin Rees and Gary Buckland, the sequel to their 1st ‘Fight of the Year’ contender in February. Furthermore, last month the British fight fans were treated to an epic clash between fellow Manc warriors John Murray and Anthony Crolla in a bout that will live in the memory such was fierce intensity of the action in the ring.
This thrilling sequence of fights in the 135lb weigh class is set to continue as newly crowned British lightweight champion, and veteran of many pulsating ring wars, Derry Matthews, will defend his shiny new Lord Lonsdale belt against unbeaten Manchester prospect Terry Flanagan (24(8)-0-0) on the 26th July, at the Phones 4 U Arena in Manchester.
The 30-year-old Scouser will put his title on line as he seeks revenge in the rematch with Flanagan, who defeated Matthews in the semi-final of the 2012 Prizefighter tournament, which he went on to win via a split decision victory in the final over Gary Sykes. However, each bout in the popular Prizefighter is only scheduled for 3 rounds and it remains to be seen how Flanagan will cope with the experienced and durable Derry Matthews over a 12-round contest. However, fortunately for the fans, Matthew’s history of being involved in fight of the year type slugfests suggests the second coming of his bout with Flanagan is sure to be a barnburner.
The lightweight division is a gift that just keeps on giving to British boxing.
The thriving scene domestically, however, is in stark contrast to the largely forgotten lightweight division at world level since the one big name fighter Adrien Broner left to compete in the welterweight divisions.
One suspects many domestic fighters will have serious designs on making a dent at world level in the lightweight division in the coming months and years ahead.
Indeed, former WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns, who recently lost his crown to the new rising star in the 135lb weight class Terrence Crawford, is locked into a WBC title eliminator against the undefeated Dejan Zlaticanin (18(13)-0-0) who he will fight at the Braehead Arena on the 27th June. Should Burns manage to emerge successfully from his comeback contest then he may get a shot at current WBC champion Omar Figueroa Jnr at some stage in 2014, unless of course Figueroa has a unification contest with one of the other champions at Lightweight which include; Richard Abril (WBA), Miguel Vasquez (IBF) and Terrence Crawford (WBO).
Additionally, Kevin Mitchell will contest an IBF world title eliminator against Ghislain Maduma (16(10)-0-0) on the Carl Froch and George Groves undercard on the 31st May, with the winner hoping to secure a showdown with long reigning IBF champion Miguel Vasquez.
The lightweight division will also receive a shot in the arm when Terrence Crawford takes on the danger man of the division, Yuriorkis Gamboa (23 (16)-0-0), in a hotly anticipated contest set to take place Omaha, Nebraska, USA on 28th June. This clash between two undefeated fighters and exciting ring technicians will shine light on the division and give the 135lb class some much needed media exposure.
However, this fight aside, there aren’t many really big names in the lightweight division at world level and this could be a blessing in disguise for domestic fighters such a Derry Matthews, Tommy Coyle and Anthony Crolla who all obviously have aspirations to secure a world title shot in the not too distant future.
It truly is an exciting time in lightweight division in Britain and long may the entertaining sequence of fights continue. Let’s also dare to dream that our exciting crop of lightweights at domestic level will make step up and win world titles sooner rather than later.
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