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Boxing Ranks in Review: Junior Welterweight

danny garcia
Photo Courtesy of AP

Welcome to Today’s Knockout’s “Ranks In Review,” a feature where we examine one boxing division, starting with the heavyweights and ending with the 105-pound minimumweights. Our champions will be the men who have earned it the ring, not been handed a belt by a combination of letters, and our rankings come from the computers of boxing’s most valuable website, BoxRec.

This week, instead of another weight class where Floyd Mayweather has vacated the title, we’re looking at one where the champion appears to planning to do so – the junior welterweights. The 140-pound class is usually a stepping stone to the richer glories of the welterweight division, and many great fighters have gone directly from lightweight to welterweight without bothering to stop here. Roberto Duran and Mayweather were both champs at 135 and 147 but never spent much time at junior welterweight.

CHAMPION: Danny Garcia (31-0, United States)

AP Photo

AP Photo

True to form, Garcia won the 140-pound title by filling the vacancy left by Manny Pacquiao’s departure, knocking out Amir Khan in the fourth round in 2012. He’s defended against some big names, like Erik Morales and Zab Judah, although both were well past their primes by the time he beat them.

He last defended the belt with a majority-decision win in March 2014 over the relatively unknown Mauricio Herrera, but hasn’t fully committed to a move to 147 pounds. He beat club fighter Rod Salka at 142 pounds last August, then won a majority decision over talented Lamont Peterson at 143 pounds.

His first full welterweight bout came two months ago against what’s left of Paulie Malignaggi, winning on a ninth-round TKO. Given the weight problems that led to the two catchweight fights, it’s not likely he will see 140 pounds again, meaning we need to fill yet another vacancy.

No. 1 Contender: Terence Crawford (26-0, United States)

Garcia bolting for 147 on a full-time basis would leave the title in the control of Crawford, since the No. 1 contender has the power to fill vacant championships. He is certainly a good enough fighter to take the belt, having just vacated the lightweight title to move up to junior middleweight.

In his first fight in this class, he took apart a top-10 fighter in Thomas Dulorme, knocking him out in six rounds, and he’s fighting Canadian Dierry Jean later this month in his hometown of Omaha. After that, he should be looking for a fight with someone else in the 140-pound title picture.

No. 2 Contender: Lucas Martin Matthysse (37-3, Argentina)

Matthysse is a big puncher who could probably have an exciting fight with a punching bag. He’s fought everyone at 140 pounds, and with a little luck, he could be a 40-0 division champion. His three losses are a split-decision loss to Judah, a split-decision loss to Devon Alexander and a narrow decision loss to Garcia.

He blew out Lamont Peterson in three rounds, and in April, beat Ruslan Provodnikov on a majority decision. He is scheduled to fight Ukrainian Viktor Postol – more on him later – Saturday night in California. The winner of the fight will be looking for Crawford for a possible title match.

No. 3 Contender: Lamont Peterson (33-3-1, United States)

Peterson is another guy who has fought a tough enough schedule that his rating has survived some losses. Besides his losses to Garcia and Matthysse, he’s lost to former champ Timothy Bradley and drew with a good fighter in Victor Ortiz.

He does hold a split-decision win over Khan that would have been a draw had Khan not lost his second point of the fight for pushing in the final round. No wants to see a second fight with Matthysse, so his best chance is to get a shot at Crawford as quickly as possible. First, though, he’s fighting 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic on NBC in two weeks.

No. 4 Contender: Viktor Postol (27-0, Ukraine)

He’s got the gaudy record, but there’s not much depth to the resume. He’s not a hard puncher – only 11 knockouts, and he’s going to be up against a guy who hits like he’s using a baseball bat in Matthysse. The HBO card will be his first big exposure in the United States and he needs to pull off the upset in a competitive division.

No. 5 Contender: Amir Iman (18-0, United States)

There are often fighters with built-up records against less than vicious opponents, but Iman has been protected better than the president of the United States. When he was 6-0, he fought Franklin Frias, who came into the fight with a 3-20-3 record, then he took on 4-45-3 Alejandro LeBron. After a break to fight a semi-warm body, his ninth and 10th fights came against guys with a combined record of 3-36-2.

He did knock out Fernando Angulo in July to move himself into the top five, but he has a long way to prove himself as anything but a prospect with a silly record.

If you’ve missed out on any of our previous rankings, be sure to check them out below:

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