5 Fights to Make at Lightweight

The 135 lb. division, often a mere stopover for smaller fighters en route to the more lucrative junior welterweight class, is starting to heat up. Despite veterans Juan Manuel Marquez, Robert Guerrero, and Humberto Soto leaving and Yuriorkis Gamboa still noncommittal on his willingness to fight at 135 lbs., lightweight remains an infinitely interesting division.

Here's a look at the five best fights to make in the lightweight class:

Brandon Rios (29-0-2, 22 KOs) vs. Antonio DeMarco (27-2-1, 20 KOs)

Any way you slice this one, there will be action, violence, and drama. The all-action "Bam Bam" Rios has found himself in the de facto top position in the division and, given his recent body of work, the designation is not too far-fetched. Tijuana's DeMarco established his place among the division elite last year with a bloody stoppage of Jorge Linares. Rios-DeMarco would be a guaranteed fan favorite.

Jorge Linares (31-2, 20 KOs) vs. John Molina (23-1, 19 KOs)

The slick, technically perfect Linares has a lot to prove following his loss to Antonio DeMarco last year. He's scheduled for a July rematch, but a bout with the tough and earnest Molina would also go a long way in terms of making his mark as an elite lightweight. For Molina, a Linares win would represent a move from the second tier of the division to the main stage.

Miguel Vazquez (30-3, 13 KOs) vs. Henry Lundy (22-1-1, 11 KOs)

Despite being an IBF titlist, the slick Vazquez has found a tough time in attracting a fan base among the brawl-loving Latino audience. Lundy, who is on the verge of graduating from second-tier status, is an entertaining fighter without a real big punch. Together, with Lundy pushing and Vazquez forced to engage, this bout could be exactly what both fighters need. Vazquez could find himself in an entertaining scrap while Lundy would have a real chance at a world title.

Michael Katsidis (28-5, 23 KOs) vs. Urbano Antillon (28-3, 20 KOs)

With both fighters needing a win to remain relevant in the division, this battle between entertaining action fighters would be a guaranteed fan favorite. Both fighters appear to be battle-weary and on the decline, but in a bout against one another, expect fireworks.

Ricky Burns (34-2, 9 KOs) vs. Gavin Rees (36-1-1, 17 KOs)

There are better European fighters for Scotland's WBO world champ to face, but few would provide the kind of spirited effort that Welshman, Rees, would deliver. A former junior welterweight world titlist who moved down in weight in 2010, Rees makes up for a lack of technical skill with plenty of hard-boiled toughness. Burns, a former super featherweight titlist, is also supremely tough and willing to go to battle. Burns-Rees would be an instant classic.

Other Articles by This Writer:

Masters of war: Boxing's 10 best offensive fighters

5 Fights to Make at Middleweight

5 Fights to Make at Junior Featherweight

Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. He is also a contributor to Fox Sports. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.

Sources:

Boxrec, Boxing Records and Statistics

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Follow Yahoo! Sports' boxing coverage on Twitter.
Updated Saturday, Mar 31, 2012