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10 Thoughts on Boxing’s Lightweight Division, George Kambosos’s Next Move and More

Kambosos may have several titles, but the deepest division in boxing still has plenty of questions to answer as we head into the new year.

SAN ANTONIO — Ten rounds as we wrap up a pretty decent year in boxing …

10. The dust has settled on the lightweight division after a month of compelling fights. So who is at the top? George Kambosos has four belts, Devin Haney has one but it’s hard to pick anyone at 135-pounds to beat Vasyl Lomachenko. Loma battered a game Richard Commey last weekend, even inviting Commey’s corner to stop it during the seventh round. Lightweight, even with Teófimo López exiting, is arguably the deepest division in all of boxing. I’d still put Lomachenko at the top of it.

9. Kambosos will be sifting through offers in the coming weeks, but understand this: He won’t be choosing between Lomachenko, Haney or Gervonta Davis. He will be choosing multi-fight packages that include fights with Lomachenko, Haney or Tank Davis. Kambosos’s team is seeking a 2–3 fight deal for the right to challenge Kambosos for his four belts, and he’ll get it. My money says Matchroom, backed by DAZN, has the winning offer. DAZN will pony up big money not just for a fight against Haney, but also Ryan Garcia, a rising star who is set to return early next year.

8. Representatives of Daniel Jacobs and John Ryder have finalized a deal for a fight between the two super middleweight contenders in February, sources familiar with the negotiations told Sports Illustrated. The working date is February 12th in London. Jacobs, a former middleweight champion, has not fought since November 2020, when he won a lackluster decision over Gabriel Rosado. Ryder is on a two-fight winning streak since a controversial loss to former super middleweight titleholder Callum Smith. If Jacobs wins, his team hopes to match him up against light heavyweight champion Joe Smith in the middle of next year. 

7. Please, WBC: Order Jermall Charlo to fight Demetrius Andrade. If I have to put up with anymore insignificant title defenses for either one of them, I’m going to lose it.

6. When is Gervonta Davis going to face a compelling opponent? Davis is 27 and the biggest win on his resume was a stoppage of Jose Pedraza … nearly five years ago. Davis’s team at Mayweather Promotions are treating Davis like he is Mayweather. But by his mid-20’s Mayweather had fought Genaro Hernandez, Diego Corrales and José Luis Castillo, twice. At 28, Mayweather pummeled Arturo Gatti in Gatti’s backyard in Atlantic City. Davis refuses to push for those type of opponents … while fighting in the hottest division in boxing.

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George Kambosos Jr (white/black trunks) and Rey Perez (not pictured) box during a lightweight boxing match at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Kambosos Jr won via unanimous decision.

5. I like Conor Benn. But I won’t be sold on Conor Benn until he gets in the ring with a legitimate puncher. Benn’s knockout of Chris Algieri last weekend was spectacular, but Algieri was a faded, ex-140-pound champion with limited power, especially at welterweight. The 147-pound division is home to some huge punchers. I’d like to see what Benn’s chin looks like before I anoint him as the next big thing.

4. What’s happened to Dmitry Bivol? Bivol looked like a rising star early in his career, with a run of early knockouts giving way to solid wins over Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal and Joe Smith. Lately, though, Bivol has looked uninspired. He successfully defended his 175-pound title against Umar Salamov last weekend, but against an inferior opponent, Bivol refused to fight at the kind of pace that could have led to a stoppage. Bivol’s light heavyweight title gives him relevance, but he needs to face a top-level opponent sooner than later. Speaking of which …

3. Gilberto Ramirez will return to the ring on Saturday when he faces Yunieski Gonzalez. It’s a stay busy fight for Ramirez; Gonzalez has won three low-level fights in a row since returning from a three-month layoff, but before that he lost three of his previous five, including a knockout defeat to Oleksandr Gvozdyk in 2017. Ramirez’s interest in a Bivol fight isn’t subtle. His team puts out monthly press releases, and in interviews Ramirez makes it clear that Bivol is his preferred opponent. Golden Boy, Ramirez’s promoter, has made Bivol a seven-figure offer for the fight, a source told SI. If Bivol can’t get a unification fight with Artur Beterbiev, he should take it. 

2. Jake Paul, who will face Tyron Woodley in a rematch of Paul’s close decision win last August on Saturday, is good for boxing. Not because Paul’s matches are great, though anyone that watches boxing closely has seen worse. But for the attention—and paydays—he is giving traditional boxers on his card. Montana Love was a relatively unknown junior welterweight when he fought Ivan Baranchyk on Paul’s undercard. A knockout win earned him a lucrative multi-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing. Amanda Serrano’s profile has increased significantly since her appearance as the co-main event on Paul’s last card, which she will be again on Saturday, when Serrano takes on Miriam Gutierrez. A win will send Serrano into a showdown against Katie Taylor, the biggest fight in women’s boxing and one that will be bigger with Paul, Serrano’s promoter, as part of it. 

1. You asked, I answered. Carlos asks: You think the fight between Usyk and Canelo at Cruiserweight is possible?

God—I hope so. I’m more or less indifferent towards Canelo moving up to cruiserweight to face Junior Makabu. I get it—a win gives Alvarez a title in a fifth weight class. But Makabu, though a dangerous puncher, lacks the skills to compete with Canelo. Usyk does not. What I’d love to see is Canelo-Usyk at 201 pounds. That’s heavier than what Canelo would want and lighter than what Usyk, who weighed 221 pounds against Anthony Joshua, would want to go to. Canelo-Usyk is a huge fight. If Canelo can beat Usyk—and he would be a sizable underdog, in my opinion—it would be a crowning achievement and give him a strong case to be called the greatest Mexican boxer of all-time. 

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