I had a lot of fun sorting out the super middleweights last week, figure I’ll try to do the same with the lightweights. There’s a lot of talent in this division, here’s how I’d like to see it stack up in 2023:
Haney and Lomachenko seems to be happening next year. That has fight of the year potential. Should Haney win, I’d like to see him take on the winner of Tank and Cryan Garcia, which is already in the works apparently. If Loma wins, there’ll be a rematch with Haney for sure.
Tank/Garcia is the other lightweight fight in the works, and I’m looking forward to it. It looks to be coming in mid 2023, so the winner will have time for a title fight to close out the year barring injury. The loser, in my opinion, should fight Kambosos. I’m thinking that if they beat Kambosos, it’ll thrust them into title consideration, even with their 0 gone.
Shakur Stevenson is the other top 135er who needs an opponent in 2023. If like to see him take on Pitbull Cruz. He’s a very tough fighter who’ll likely go the distance with Stevenson and test his strength in the new division. If he wins, a title mandatory will be in order.
With the top guys in order, here’s some other fights I’d like to see in 2023:
Jamaine Ortiz vs Zaur Abdullaev: 2 really talented fighters who’ve only lost to the top guys in this division. The winner gets at least a mandatory fight, for sure. The loser is probably out of the rankings, though. High stakes fight for both guys.
Gustavo Daniel Lemos vs Maxi Hughes: Lemos is a big unknown in the division who’s looked impressive against lesser guys. Maxi Hughes is a guy who’s trying to prove himself but is too risky for the top guys to take on. A fight between the two of them gives the other exactly what they need: Lemos gets a name on his résumé and Hughes gets a tough opponent, probably in the UK where he’s a good draw.
Billy Dib vs Frank Sanchez: The fast rising, unbeaten Sanchez gets a big name, albeit a shot one, on his résumé, and Dib gets a fight to retire on, perhaps in his home country. This fight reminds me a little bit of Arturo Gatti’s final bout: fighting a rising fighter (though not unbeaten) in Alfonso Gomez in front of a bunch of fans who love him. Not his hometown, but Atlantic City went rabid for Gatti when he entered the ring. If Dib were to fight in Australia in his farewell fight, it’d do extremely well. He could even chief support a Haney card (which would be great publicity for Martin)
William Zepeda vs Denys Barinchyk: 2 undefeated fighters who’ve had some bad luck getting top level opponents. What better way to demand attention than to headline a card themselves? Winner gets a title shot, loser has to rebuild his name through 2024. Like my previous idea for Ortiz/Abdullaev, this fight is high stakes, which is what makes it so interesting (and also probably why it won’t happen)
Let me know other fights you’d like to see in the lightweight division for 2023