Miguel Vazquez Wins Clear Decision Over Denis Shafikov, but Does He Impress?

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Miguel Vazquez is good; he might even be the best living lightweight around right now or even the best Mexican fighter fighting right now. Watching him on tape delay on HBO2 against Denis Shafikov I couldn’t help, but think isn’t this the perfect metaphor for the division once held by Adrien Broner. Vazquez the IBF lightweight champion has been champion for four years. After winning the vacant title from Ji-Hoon Kim, the boxer Vazquez, has become unpopular with many fans since his tactical movement style is not typical of a Mexican fighter like Julio Cesar Chavez or Erik Morales.

Vazquez is good, but not great and that is the problem. It feels as though with Vazquez as champ the division as a whole is in a lull. A  truly elite fighter might dominant Vazquez in order to  kick start his career. This is no knock on Vazquez, who worked his way into a successful career. His debut was against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and he has never had the easy road, constantly fighting the best available, but at what point do we just say the competition was just not that great during his era?

Since making it to American television, Vazquez struggled against Marvin Quintero, who moonlighted as a substitute teacher, and many felt Vazquez lost. Vazquez then returned to fight Mercito Gesta in late 2012. Gesta has yet to return to the ring since.  Vazquez having Sergio Martinez walk out with the belt at that fight might have been the most exciting thing about his performance. Vazquez is essentially aligned with HBO/Top Rank, that truly doesn’t really matter much as it is.

All of the stars of lightweight division have gone. Frpm Adrien Broner to Brandon Rios, with others being big question marks rather than fighters of true dominance, the fighters Vazquez could face down the line would be Yuriorkis Gamboa, a fighter who is a shell of his former self and fights so infrequently the Mike Tyson of the little guys label is all but gone.  Mikey Garcia may move up to lightweight simply because jr. lightweight is one of the shallowest divisions. John Molina always is relevant in the lightweight picture. Juan Diaz, who returned to the division last year after a brief break from the sport, could fight. Rustam Nugaev who has an upcoming fight may also be an option.

The others available are Terrance Crawford, who should defeat Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title, but at the same time don’t hold your breath when the fight is contested in Burns’ backyard where he has been skating by with borderline robberies.  The only others left are Ray Beltran and Rocky Martinez who fight at the Pacquiao PPV and that could be an audition to see if they could unseed Vazquez.

Boxing, right now, is closer to the circus than it is a sport. Simply being dominant or the very best is not good enough – you have to be entertaining, and if you aren’t the perks of stardom are much more elusive. Vazquez is the very best at what he does, yet it is hard to believe any promoter would be thrilled for Vazquez to keep the belt for another four years. Unlike Felix Sturm, who sell well in a certain area, Vazquez is void of that kind of charisma. Vazquez is what you call a specialist, one of the best at dominating a fight for all 12 rounds, yet at what point do we crown Vazquez as the very best to do it in his era? Personally, I feel I am still about two years away from saying that Vazquez is there, but after Saturday the thought began to enter my mind, at lightweight it begins and ends with Vazquez and what does that say about the lightweight division?