Welcome to “Road To Undisputed,” a series where I look at every weight class in boxing, look at the champions and contenders and map out a road to crowning an undisputed champion and the chances of it happening anytime soon.
This week, we’ll take a look at the super featherweight division, a weight class filled with young talent mixed with some of the best boxers today.
Here are the divisions covered so far:
- WBA “Super:” Gervonta Davis
- WBA “Regular:” Rene Alvarado
- WBC: Miguel Berchelt
- IBF: Joseph Diaz
- WBO: Jamel Herring
- Shakur Stevenson
- Chris Colbert
- Carl Frampton
- Oscar Valdez
- Leo Santa Cruz
- Kenichi Ogawa
- Xavier Martinez
- Roger Gutierrez
- Abraham Nova
- Rocky Hernandez
- O’Shaquie Foster
- Lamont Roach
This division is just as fun to watch as it is tricky to decipher. As far as the collective talent in the top 10, few divisions in the sport are as loaded as super featherweight.
However, things change on an almost monthly basis. In September, Jamel Herring retained his WBO title against Jonathan Oquendo. In October, Gervonta Davis knocked out Leo Santa Cruz to win the WBA title. This past weekend, Chris Colbert kept his interim WBA belt with an impressive win over Jaime Arboleda. In January and in February, titleholders Rene Alvarado, Jamel Herring and Joseph Diaz Jr. are also expected to defend their respective titles.
As for the WBC title, current champion Miguel Berchelt was set to defend his title in December, but he tested positive for COVID-19, which meant it had to be pushed off.
All in all, the group of champions is a very solid one. Berchelt is one of the most dynamic offensive boxers today, mixing a blend of suffocating pressure and relentless speed and power that can knock virtually anyone out in this division. Similar thoughts can be echoed with Davis, Floyd Mayweather’s protégé. Davis is a fighter with plenty of knockout power in both of his hands and is slowly morphing into one of boxing’s next top stars, having headlined his first pay-per-view event in October.
Even though the focus of the super featherweight division has been on its titleholders, the wild card is the young, unbeaten Shakur Stevenson. Despite being a super featherweight for a few months, Stevenson has already emerged as a future pound-for-pound star. Possessing a level of boxing acumen and defensive skillset matched by only a few, Stevenson will more than likely crash the division and beat one of the champions if he gets a shot in 2021.
The list of contenders is also deep with the likes of Colbert, O’Shaquie Foster, Xavier Martinez and Abraham Nova quickly making runs at the top 10 in their mid-20s.
With the immense talent at 130 pounds, there is no shortage of great fights for the champions to have. Whether those fights are against champions is another matter entirely.
What will it take to get an undisputed champion?
The best way to create an undisputed champion would be to have a World Boxing Super Series style tournament. I made a similar suggestion when writing about the light flyweights a while back.
However, such a tournament will never happen when it comes to dealing with the promotional and management bodies in play. Berchelt and Herring, both promoted by Top Rank, have title defenses lined up. However, there’s no guarantee that both champions are going to line up for a unification with a victory.
In addition, Diaz is expected to defend his IBF title in February while Alvarado’s next fight is set for early January. The one titleholder without a fight scheduled is Davis and his future is very uncertain. As the holder of titles in more than one weight class, there’s no real indication of where Davis will fight next. For an undisputed champion to be crowned, Davis will have to play a factor, but there’s no telling when he’s back at 130 pounds.
If one were to map out the road to an undisputed super featherweight champion, the easiest step would be to get Berchelt and Herring to fight in a unification, but that wouldn’t happen until this summer at the earliest. From that point forward, it’s a matter of securing a fight against Diaz. Although Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank have been able to make title fights together in the past, putting Diaz against a hypothetical Berchelt vs. Herring winner might be a task too tall to make.
There’s also the issue with Diaz’s immediate future. Not only does his next fight involve a mandatory title defense, but the next fight will more than likely be a rematch against former champion Tevin Farmer.
There’s no concrete way to predict when multiple unifications will happen. Davis’ future is uncertain and Diaz doesn’t have much in the way of title unifications happening anytime soon. In addition, the easiest champion vs. champion fight isn’t even a guarantee to happen.
Don’t expect an undisputed champion to be crowned in the near future or in the next few years.
Chances of there being an undisputed champion in the next 18 months: 5%