It's hard for the lighter weights to get any sort of mainstream exposure for many reasons-- Mostly because few American or European fighters compete at those weights. However, as most hardcore fight fans will acknowledge, some of boxing's fiercest action takes place between some of its smallest giants.
Here are five all-star battles that need to be made below 126 lbs.:
Nonito Donaire vs. Abner Mares
Donaire is a already a pound-for-pound star and one of the favorites for 2012 Fighter of the Year honors. Mares is a two-fisted battler with underrated skills who is currently one or two solid fights away from pound-for-pound status. Provided neither fighter losses their upcoming match-ups, this junior featherweight battle would thrill both the hardcore and casual fan. The winner would reach a new level of popularity and professional respect. Donaire-Mares might not ever happen due to the Top Rank-Golden Boy feud, but if it happens, expect an instant classic between two well-regarded 20-something stars.
Vic Darchinyan vs. Fernando Montiel
If you like fierce battles between heavy-handed veteran fighters who desperately need to keep winning, then this junior featherweight clash would be right up your alley. Armenia's Raging Bull, Darchinyan, recently stopped a two-fight losing streak with a decisive victory over Luis Orlando Del Valle in September. Montiel lost two high-profile bouts in 2011-- a crushing TKO 2 loss to Nonito Donaire and a decision to Victor Terrazas. Since then, he's 2-0 and looking to rebuild his career. Neither fighter can afford a loss at this stage of their careers and would surely come out swinging. Fans will likely see a highlight reel knockout in this battle.
Giovani Segura vs. Edgar Sosa
This flyweight clash of Mexican battlers and former world champions would be an instant war. Sosa is past his prime and starting to show signs of twelve years of tough fights, but he's a still a tough, world class fighter. Segura is coming off an ugly loss to Brian Viloria, but is looking to put that behind him. Still tough and exceptionally heavy-handed for his weight class, Segura is a legitimate threat to anyone at 112 lbs. The winner of Sosa-Segura would immediately find himself back on the path to a world title and, perhaps, waiting in line for a shot at the winner of the upcoming Brian Viloria-Hernan Marquez title unification battle.
Kazuto Ioka vs. Mario Rodriguez
Japan's wonder boy, Ioka, has managed to capture two world titles in just ten professional contests. At just 23 years of age , the current and reigning WBC/WBA strawweight world champion has hit his professional stride a lot quicker than most fighters and if it weren't for the fact that he weighs a mere 105 lbs., he would be getting pound-for-pound consideration. Rodriguez is a heavy-handed Mexican who recently captured the IBF strawweight title from South Africa's distinguished champ, Nkosinathi Joyi. This title unification clash would be an all-action affair and either serve to cement the legend of Ioka or dispel the myth of a 23-year-old front runner.
Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, Rigondeaux, has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best all-around fighters in the sport. Along the way, the crafty southpaw managed to capture the WBA junior featherweight title. Vazquez, a second generation star from Puerto Rico, has had his ups and downs, but is back on a championship track after an impressive dismantling of tough fellow-Boricua, Jonathan Oquendo last month. Rigondeaux-Vazquez would be an interesting match-up of styles and temperaments with a lot on the line. The Cuban would likely be the solid betting favorite, but Vazquez is an underrated talent keen on making up for lost ground.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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