1. Gary Russell, Jr.- The WBC champion fights only once per year, but his last four wins are a fine body of work against top-notch opposition: Tugstsogt Nymabayar, JoJo Diaz (now a 130-pound champion), Oscar Escandon, and to a lesser extent, ex-122 pound title holder Kiko Martinez. Boxingtalk would love to see Russell unify vs. other featherweight champions, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards since Shakur Stevenson and Josh Warrington fight on the "other side of the street" at ESPN, and WBA title holder Can Xu is still a virtual unknown. This leaves Russell likely to seek big fights at higher weights (Leo Santa Cruz at 130 or Gervonta Davis at 135).
2. Shakur Stevenson - With Russell talking about moving up to chase bigger fights, the WBO champ ion represetning Newark, New Jersey looks to be the future of the division. Stevenson faces Colombia's Miguel Marriaga next. It was though that a summer unification bout vs. IBF champ Josh Warrington was in the cards, but Stevenson said he was not on board, and Warrington announced he is signing with Matchroom, seemingly making that fight less likely.
3. Josh Warrington - IBF champ is 30-0 with wins over Carl Frampton, Lee Selby, Kid Gallahad and Kiko Martinez. He seems unafraid of facing Stevenson in a unification bout, even if he would be an underdog. Note: On Feb. 12, Warrington announced he would be changing promoters, leaving Frank Warren for Eddie Hearn's Matchroom. Since Warren does a lot of business with Shakur Stevenson's promoter (Bob Arum), this news seems to indicate a Warrington-Stevenson bout is not in the cards. Stay tuned to Boxingtalk for further details.
4. Can Xu - Inherited the WBA title when Leo Santa Cruz moved up in weight, but he's got some decent wins lately, including Jesus Rojas. Golden Boy needs to increase his profile.
5. Jessie Magdaleno - former 122-pound title holder whose only loss was to Isaac Dogboe. Since moving to 126, he's 2-0 with a quality win over Rico Ramos.
6. Kid Galahad - Only loss is by split decision to Josh Warrington, and this British boxer has wins over Claudio Marrero and Toka Kahn Clary.
7. TJ Doheny - another former 122-pound title holder. He cleared out of super bantamweight after losing to Daniel Roman in a unification contest.
8. Ryo Sagawa - Japanese boxer is just 9-1 but has beaten six quality domestic opponents in a row.
9. Ryan Walsh - British champion has three straight high quality wins since a 2018 draw vs. Isaac Lowe.
10. Tugstsogt Nymabayar - Mongolia's finest active boxer lost his title shot to Gary Russell, but has recent wins over Oscar Escandon and Claudio Marrero.
11. Ruben Villa - Californian is 18-0 with a fine amateur background and some wins against decent competition.
12.Oscar Escandon - Colombian had lost three straight bout bounced back with a win over previously undefeated Jhack Tepora.
13. Mark Magsayo - Japanese boxer is 20-0 with a win over former bantamweight title holder Pungluang Sor Singyu. Asian Boxing reports Magsayo just arrived in the United States and is training at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym.
14. Lerato Dlamini - South African lost his pro debut but has run off 13 straight wins, including one over former world champion Simple Vetyeka.
15. Claudio Marrero - Dominican was riding high off a win over Eduardo Ramirez until he got stopped by Kid Gallahad in his most recent fight.
16. Isaac Lowe - Brit is 19-0-3 with some soft wins on his record. A draw vs. Ryan Walsh recommends him for the top twenty.
17. Michael Conlan - Irishman has been brought along carefully by Top Rank but has some decent wins.
18. Leigh Wood - Brit is 23-1 but with an inflated win total. Stopped previously unbeaten David Oliver Joyce last time out.
19. Anselmo Moreno - former bantamweight champ has two wins in the division since moving up from back-to-back losses.
20. Miguel Marriaga - former Colombian Olympian has won four straight since a loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko. A non-competitive loss to Shakur Stevenson will drop him from the top twenty.
Others: Jesus Rojas, Eduardo Ramirez, Jamie McDonnell, Hector Luis Garcia, Hinata Maruta, Musashi Mori, Christopher Diaz, Joet Gonzalez, Kiko Martinez, Jhack Tepora, Andoni Gago.
Biggest disappointment: Easily, the biggest disappointment in the 126-pound division is Gary Russell, Jr.'s activity level of one fight per year.