by Paul Magno
The so-called experts rarely agree on anything in Boxing, but when it comes to the Jr. Welterweight division, the Boxing world’s inteligencia agrees on 3 basic truths:
1) The winner of Ricky Hatton vs. Paulie Malignaggi will be the undisputed #1 guy in the division.
2) The winner’s main rival will be WBC champ, Timothy Bradley.
3) The winner of Holt/Torres 3 and Andreas Kotelnik will be notable and worthy rivals, but unlikely to take control of the division.
So, from reading this, you’d think that the 140 lb. division is a tightly-wrapped ball of pre-welter predictability. Well, not exactly. Here are some wildcards at 140 who could mix things up and turn the division on its ears:
Herman Ngoudjo: Nobody at 140 has been in tougher, sooner than this adopted Canadian. With less than 20 fights under his belt, he has already faced: Emanuel Augustus, Jose Luis Castillo, Randall Bailey, Souleymane M’baye and Paulie Malignaggi. He’s 3-2 against the stiff competition, but both of his losses were controversial affairs that could’ve gone either way. Ngoudjo is set to do battle with Colombian strongman, Juan Urango for the vacant IBF strap in January and, whether he wins or not, will be a tough, poised rival for anyone looking to dominate the Jr. Welterweight division.
Demetrius Hopkins: One of the finest, best-skilled boxers in the division, Hopkins is a threat to beat any of the very best. If he becomes more active, and resists the urge to take a stab at 147, there will be few who can stand in the way of a D-Hop assault on 140. Keeping him active is the main goal for his team.
Randall Bailey: Bailey’s not the same free-swinging KO artist that he was back in ’03. That version of Bailey was little more than a tough kid with a monstrous right hand. After suffering several defeats at the hands of the division’s top dogs, he went back to school and worked on the weakest parts of his game. To his credit, the 34 year old Bailey of 2008 has developed some pretty solid skills to go along with that one-punch power and has had the success to prove it. The only blemish on his post-conversion record was a tight and controversial loss against Herman Ngoudjo in Canada during a bout that saw everything from weird officiating to a lightning storm-caused black-out in the outdoor stadium.
Manny Pacquiao: No doubt that the reigning Pound 4 Pound King brings excitement everywhere he goes, but the thought of what he may be able to do at 140 has been debated on message boards and in gyms across the world. After his catchweight fight with De la Hoya in December, The Pacman may very well make a stop at 140 as he works his way back down to 135. Pacquiao/Hatton is a lot more attractive than Pacquiao/Malignaggi, but Manny has the ability to shake things up considerably if he were to campaign at 140 for any significant period of time.
Zab Judah: Judah, with his power and hand speed moving down from Welterweight, will instantly be considered a major threat to any and all champions at 140. Judah’s name will bring in more attention (and money) than almost anyone else at 140, so it’s a given that he’ll get his shots if he plans on making the Jr. Weters his home. How will an average Jr. Welter punch feel after he has taken shots by the likes of Cotto and Clottey?
Lamont Peterson: A quick, sharp, mobile Jr. Welter backed up by Top Rank? The kid will be at the top soon and he has the skill set to become the King sooner rather than later.
Junior Witter: I wouldn’ t count out the awkward, crafty Witter just yet, Junior’s got the name to score another big fight and the frustrating style to steal a win over most of the top guys at 140.
Mike Alvarado: The pressure-fighting Alvarado makes for compelling, competitive fights. Before long, he’ll be making serious waves at the deep end of the top 10 list.