Sure, you may know your Anthony Joshuas from your Gennady Golovkins, but how about giving these fab eight a look
BOXING, especially when it comes to the lower weight classes, is a niche sport.
There’s something about the ‘glamour divisions’ – ranging from heavyweight to welterweight – which appeals more to the average man on the street.
However when you begin to get lighter than 147lbs, the casual audience dwindles.
It’s a shame too, as some of the sport’s most talented fighters exist in these lower weight classes, with some of them not getting nearly as much credit as the recognition they deserve.
So here are eight world champion fighters from boxing’s lower weight divisions who you should be paying attention to, but probably aren’t.
Mikey Garcia (WBC lightweight champion)
Mikey Garcia is without doubt the biggest name included in this list, but we decided to put him in as he hasn’t quite crossed over into the public’s wider consciousness yet.
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Garcia is an impressive technical boxer, but also a ruthless finisher and boasts an unblemished record of 37-0 with world titles in three weight divisions (so far).
Miguel Berchelt (WBC super-featherweight champion)
Miguel Berchelt has only recently burst onto the scene in the super-featherweight division as he became the WBC champion through a thrilling win over Francisco Vargas back in January.
The 32-1 Mexican also demonstrated his boxing ability as he picked apart Japanese warrior Takashi Miura in his first defence.
Gary Russell Jr (WBC featherweight champion)
Featherweight is one of the most stacked divisions in boxing today with four unbelievably talented champions, but America’s Gary Russell Jr is widely considered the best of the bunch.
He has been far too inactive for most fans’ liking over the last couple of years, but when he does fight, the 28-1 puncher guarantees excitement.
Oscar Valdez (WBO featherweight champion)
One of the sport’s young stars, Mexico’s Oscar Valdez has also thrown his hat into the ring at featherweight over the past 12 months.
The 26-year-old won his title by smashing Matias Rueda back in July 2016 and has since made two successful defences to date, including a thriller against Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga.
Shinsuke Yamanaka (WBC bantamweight champion)
Shinsuke Yamanaka is boxing’s longest-reigning current world champion with an impressive 12 consecutive defences.
The hard punching Japanese boxer is considered the best at bantamweight, and is always a thrilling watch as he often fights in a manner which displays his vulnerabilities.
His next fight will be on August 15 against Luis Nery.
Zolani Tete (WBO bantamweight champion)
One man who wouldn’t agree that Shinsuke Yamanaka is the world’s best bantamweight is South Africa’s Zolani Tete.
Tete was once the IBF super-flyweight king, but vacated his title and in April picked up the ‘interim’ WBO bantamweight crown.
As the reigning champion was then stripped, Tete has since been upgraded to the full champion.
Now he has a belt back, hopefully we will see him in some big fights again at bantamweight – perhaps even with Yamanaka.
Naoya Inoue (WBO super-flyweight champion)
After just eight professional fights, Naoya Inoue was already a two-weight world champion and now, following five successful defences of his WBO super-flyweight belt, he is considered one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport.
The 24-year-old is known as ‘The Monster’ for good reason, as he looks set to crush all others in his division for years to come.
Daigo Higa (WBC flyweight champion)
Twenty-two-year-old Daigo Higa is the youngest world champion in boxing today.
The 13-0 Japanese flyweight put in a stunning performance as he battered his last opponent Juan Hernandez to win the vacant WBC belt and will definitely be one to watch as his career progresses over the coming years.
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