The best division in boxing changes from year to year. With the influx of a few young prospects or a few fighters from neighboring weight classes, a stagnant, boring division can quickly become loaded with talent. Conversely, if the top fighters in a weight division suffer bad setbacks or move up to greener pastures, a formerly exciting division can fall back to the pack. So what is the best weight class in boxing today?
In my mind, there are two ways to look at this. First, I looked at a top 20 pound for pound list. The division with the most representation is Super Bantamweight, with four fighters - Nonito Donaire (#5), Abner Mares (#10), Toshiaki Nishioka (#12) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (#14).
This was followed by Welterweight, with three fighters, including numbers 1 and 2 on the list, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, as well as Timothy Bradley (#8). Next, both Super Middleweight and Featherweight had two fighters in the top 20.
According to this list, 122 lbs is the best division in boxing right now, with four pound for pound fighters. Welterweight has three, but a much higher average rank of 3.67, as opposed to the average position of 10.25 for the Super Bantamweights.
Certainly, any discussion of the best divisions in boxing would include the ones mentioned above. However, looking solely at a pound for pound list doesn't paint a clear picture. A division could be top-loaded, and then largely vacant beneath the big guns.
The real best division in boxing should be one which has the deepest collection of talent, making for a promising crop of 10 to 15 or even more legitimate titlists, contenders and challengers. In this case, I believe the two best divisions in boxing may actually be Junior Welterweight and Junior Middleweight.
At 140 lbs, you have a deep cast with Juan Manuel Marquez, Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson, Brandon Rios, Lucas Matthysse, Mike Alvarado, Ajose Olusegun, Kendall Holt, Zab Judah and others.
At 154 lbs, you'll find Miguel Cotto, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, Carlos Molina, James Kirkland, Sergiy Dzinziruk, Gabriel Rosado, Vanes Martirosyan, Cornelius "K9" Bundrage and so on.
As the dust continues to settle, and the hierarchy of these two weight classes is more clearly established, they'll find more representation at the top of pound for pound lists, as the legit champions will have to fend off many respectable would-be conquerors.
So while the numbers say that Super Bantamweight or Welterweight is where the most action is, each is a bit more top heavy than the vast talent pools found at Junior Welterweight and Junior Middleweight.
Sources: Boxrec.com, ProBoxing-Fans.com top 20 pound for pound list
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing, along with interviews, rankings and breaking news stories at the site, or you can follow ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
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