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The Featherweight Division: Where Does Everyone Stack Up?

The featherweight division as on full display this weekend.

The featherweight division (126 lb) is one of the most exciting divisions in boxing at the moment, not just because of the talent in the division, but because that talent is actively pursuing fights with the other guys at the top. This weekend highlighted some of the best it has to offer.

Leigh Wood (27-3, 16 ko) won against Mauricio Lara in a rematch of a fight he was stopped in just under four months ago, and Luis Alberto Lopez (28-2, 16 ko) dominated Michael Conlan en route to a 5th round stoppage. Wood was losing his fight with Conlan at the time he knocked out Conlan in round 12 in an absolute classic. 

Wood, now the WBA champion and Lopez, now the IBF champion are both making their case for being the top guy, but who are some of the other guys in the mix?

Theres Brandon Figueeroa (24-1-1, 18 ko), who is currently the WBC “Interim” champion (a term I absolutely hate) and Rey Vargas (36-1, 22 ko), who despite losing a decision to O’Shaquie Foster in his move up to 130 is still the legitimate WBC champion and a dangerous one at that. 

Then you have Robeisy Ramirez (12-1, 7 ko) the ITRBoxing prospect of the year for 2022 who has quickly become a full on contender with dominant wins over Abraham Nova and Isaac Dogboe. Just on the eye test, Ramirez looks like the most well rounded and intelligent boxer in the division. He has a fight scheduled for 7/25 against 2012 bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu, so at least for the moment Ramirez is occupied.

And you can’t forget the many interesting contenders and fringe contenders at this weight, including the losers of the weekend Lara and Conlan, Josh Warrington, Mark Magsayo, Joet Gonzalez, and Isaac Dogboe, all of whom seem willing to fight each other or anyone else at the top of the division. 

After this weekend, another guy you could throw in the mix is Nick Ball (18-0, 11 ko), a 5’2” Isaac Cruz type of fighter that dominated the tough and skilled Ludumo Lamati, stopping him in the 12th on the undercard of Lopez vs Conlan. Stylistically, there isn’t really anyone like Ball at featherweight, who despite his physical disadvantages has a very smart way of working his way to the inside with his jab and head movement where he can then maul and bully you around the ring with his stocky frame. 

The last guy I’ll mention is prospect Ray Ford (14-0-1, 7 ko), who we have watched grow and mature dramatically in his last 3 fights or so, dominating Jesse Magdeleno over 12 in his last outing. Based on that fight, it seems like only a matter of time before Ford is a real contender and in a fight with any of the fighters mentioned above. 

I’m sure there are guys who are missing here, but if as a fan you ever have to stop and ask yourself “is there anyone worth watching at featherweight?”, trust me there is. And more than likely, you’ll get the matchups you want to see, something boxing so constantly denies us. 


In one of the worst fights I can remember seeing, Chris Billam Smith “won” a unanimous decision over Lawrence Okolie. I put won in quotations because in many ways, it was really Okolie who lost the fight. I am always hesitant to be critical of fighters because of how brutal this sport can be, but this one was as ugly to watch as any fight I can recall, and at a world level you expect that the top guys in any division will know how to do something other than hold and maul. 

There was a time not too long ago where I thought Okolie could revive the cruiserweight division and ultimately become a pretty successful heavyweight because of his height, frame, and boxing ability. He had a nice long jab, good hand speed and power, and above average mobility for a man his size. But in his last few fights, despite have all of the physical and talent advantages, Okolie has become more of a chronic holder, often making fights he is otherwise dominant in extremely difficult to watch. Its been easier to excuse this in fights where he has been  dominant and winning the entire time, but when things got even mildly rough against Billam-Smith, it seemed that Okolie was incapable of throwing so much as a jab without trying to reach out for Billam-Smith to grab him. It started to look like a panic reaction. The referee gave Okolie MORE than enough chances and legitimately could have disqualified him 4-5 times and wouldn’t have gotten any argument from me.

Billam-Smith (18-1, 12 ko) was able to find his moments to catch Okolie (19-1, 14 ko) with clean shots in the pocket, putting him down in 4th, 10th, and 11th with Okolie also losing points for holding in the 5th and 7th, making it virtually impossible for him win a decision. As much as I would like to praise Billam-Smith more for this win, there wasn’t very much redeemable about his performance other than his ability to drop Okolie, but he often looked complicit in holding as well.  Hopefully this win can catapult him into fights with more of the top guys at cruiserweight, but hopefully one of those guys is not Lawrence Okolie, though a rematch seems likely.

  • Jack Catterall (27-1, 13 ko) looked slick and smooth in a dominant win over rugged contender Darragh Foley (22-5-1, 10 ko). Catterall, out for nearly 16 months since his controversdial loss to Josh Taylor, didnt miss a beat and came out assertively jabbing and moving around the ring, making for an elusive target and opunishing Foley with every mistake. He showed in the Taylor fight thatg he isone of the best guys at 140 and only reminded us with this performance.
  • Terri Harper (14-1-1, 6 ko) won a tough but impressive decision over Ivana Habazin (21-5, 7 ko) in just her second fight at 154 after moving all the way up from junior lightweight (130 lb). Harper looks comfortable at this higher weight and has likely positioned herself for a big fight with someone in her weight neighborhood with these last few performances.
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Dakota McCormick

Dakota McCormick

Gym rat, trainer, and host of "The Slip and Weave Podcast"