A huge amount of talk in boxing as 2021 opens surrounds the red-hot lightweight division.
Boxing has its own Fab Five, with Vasiliy Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis and Devin Haney and there seems to be little between any of them.
But trainer Shane McGuigan has seen two of the brilliant crop while up close and personal having trained perennial contender Luke Campbell in spirited defeats to firstly Lomachenko and more recently Garcia.
He thinks that Lopez is the best of the bunch.
“If you’d asked me that 18 months ago I would have said Lomachenko but in that last fight he lost to Lopez,” McGuigan explained. “My dad [International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan] thinks Lopez beats Lomachenko every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but I’m not sure.”
Some contend that style-wise Lopez will always have the superb Ukrainian’s number but Shane looks at the grey areas in between the opinions.
“It was well known to Bob Arum and Lopez’s team that he was getting injections in his shoulder so they knew he was slightly injured and compromised going into the fight,” he added.
“How did that effect his performance? I’m not sure. Personally, I think when he [Loma] did start throwing punches and he started working he was winning the rounds, so you can’t really say that Lomachenko is written off. It would have to be a toss-up between the two of them, so if you want to say Lopez is No. 1, Lomachenko is No. 2 and I think Gervonta Davis at No. 3, Ryan Garcia at No. 4 and then Devin Haney. That would be my top five at the moment. It’s hard to say Haney is that good because he’s fought nobody. What he’s done he’s done in good fashion but he’s not really fought anybody with the will to win and he didn’t stop an old Gamboa.”
Lopez, on the BBC Bunce and Costello podcast, had himself at No. 1 with Davis at No. 5. He also had Lomachenko at two, Garcia at three and Haney at four.
He had Tank bringing up the rear because he’d only had one fight at 135, against Yuriorkis Gamboa.
McGuigan accepts that perspective but cordially disagrees.
“You could say that but he boxed Pedraza and Pedraza is now up at 140, so I think he’ll handle guys well at 135 but that’s just down to opinion,” Shane continued. “Yes, at the moment he hasn’t really established himself as a lightweight, he’s boxed a 122-pounder or even at 118-pounder and he obviously boxed Pedraza at 130.”
And the last one McGuigan saw was the mercurial Garcia. Some thought he would be all sizzle and no steak, but he showed so much more against Campbell earlier this month.
“Oh for sure,” McGuigan added. “He [Garcia] boxed guys he was more than capable of beating up until then and obviously he’s done it in spectacular fashion, beating the Fonseca’s of this world, so he’d shown his power but now he’s shown his versatility, and the fact he got off the canvas and bit down on the gumshield and fired straight back is a credit to him as a fighter and also shows you where his ambitions lie and where he wants to go in the sport.
"Clearly he’s made lots of money outside of boxing, this is probably the first fight where he’s made proper money inside the ring and he’s more than capable of going through the mill to get a result, I was very impressed with him. Not just that he was fast, powerful and athletic but his boxing IQ – he rushed in a few times but he was quite patient on the whole and he didn’t get frustrated when he was missing against Luke.
"Luke was making him fall short quite a bit and it didn’t faze him, he just kept his head, he was poised and you never know how you’re going to react when you get caught, some people get caught and they’re straight back up and their still focused and concentrating and their vision is still there. I was very impressed. And there are certain things he’s got that you can’t teach and he’s got them in abundance. I think he’s going to be one of the guys that transcends the sport.”
Overall, it will be hard for any of them to trump the career achievements of the great Lomachenko and McGuigan reckons history might remember Loma as the best of the lot, and he’s certainly set a mightily impressive standard and it’s going to be an awful lot of fun watching the others trying to surpass his incredible haul of titles.