Everything Wrong with the State of Boxing, Summed up by the Middleweight Division
By Jonah Dylan
Two of the three middleweight world titleholders were in action this weekend, as Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo both cruised to title defenses in their hometown. It’s always frustrating when two world champions defend their belts in separate fights on the same night, but this night pretty much illustrated all the problems boxing has in this day and age.
First of all, I like Andrade. He’s a fun personality, he comes to fight and he has really impressive skills. The mainstream boxing media seems to be obsessed with him, and I don’t totally get it. His resume is pretty thin and he’s never really been tested, so I don’t quite get why everyone is acting like he’s up there with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Maybe he is, but there are still a lot of unknowns.
Andrade and Charlo would be a nice fight, but there’s almost no chance it happens. That’s because of the fact that Andrade is with Eddie Hearn and DAZN and Charlo is with PBC, a huge promotional divide that rarely gets crossed. That’s one of the main problems in the sport in this day and age, where promoters are extremely reluctant to let their fighters cross the metaphorical street and face other top fighters. So even though we’d like to see Charlo fighting the DAZN guys, there’s almost no path for him to do so.
Then there’s the nonsense of promotional bodies. Nothing illustrates that better than the absurd decision by the WBC to make Alvarez the “Franchise Champion,” a designation that makes no sense. In doing so, they elevated Charlo – who had been the interim champion – to the full titleholder and Alvarez now only holds the IBF and WBA belts.
First off, no one should ever be defending an interim title. If there is an interim title fight, the winner should either fight the full titlist in the next fight or someone should be stripped. It’s absurd that anyone would ever be defending an interim title. Charlo was set to defend it for the second time and then was elevated to the full champion earlier this week. The timing of the WBC’s decision was clearly based on the timing of Charlo’s fight, because they wanted him to be defending the title he’d actually be holding after the fight. It’s all nonsense.
Alvarez had been on a quest to unify the entire division, so the WBC should have ordered a fight between him and Charlo if he wanted to keep his title. For all the nonsense about sanctioning bodies, the one thing they can actually do that’s beneficial is order fights between fighters from different promotional companies. In this case, they could’ve ordered Alvarez (DAZN) to meet Charlo (PBC) and if Alvarez turned down the fight then it would’ve made sense to strip him. Stripping him without even giving him the chance to defend the belt doesn’t really make sense.
After the WBC’s decision, there’s little to no chance that we’ll see an undisputed champion in the middleweight division.
To cap it all off, another issue in the sport is that oftentimes the best fighters never share the ring, for one reason or another. Alvarez and Golovkin are the two best guys in the division, but Alvarez is chasing Callum Smith and Sergey Kovalev, so it looks like we won’t see that fight next. Add it to the list, honestly.
There are lots of intriguing fights in the middleweight division, and it really should be one of the hottest divisions in the sport. But for the foreseeable future, we’re probably gonna see Charlo against PBC guys, Andrade against Matchroom guys and Canelo against super middleweights and light heavyweights. If Canelo is moving up, Golovkin vs Andrade is the fight to make, but I see why Golovkin’s team doesn’t have much incentive to chase that fight. In just a few months, the division went from one of boxing’s best to a mess. And there’s no end in sight.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.
Heavyweight Boxing – Out of the Crossroads and Into the Light
By: Aziel Karthak
A thundering right and a follow up left from the most potent hands in boxing dropped Tyson Fury in the 12th round of the WBC heavyweight title fight in December. The die seemed cast. But the hulking Englishman rose up from the canvas, before the fat lady could belt out the first note and just after Referee Jack Reiss had counted “nine.” In a way, his astonishing recovery mirrored the revival of heavyweight boxing in recent times.
The sport overall is healthier than people give it credit. The middleweights have Canelo and Golovkin. Below them in a range of weight divisions are refulgent talents such as Terrence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, Mikey Garcia and the incredible Vasily Lomachenko. Old hands like Pacquiao are still around. Yet, it is the heavyweights, or rather DeontayWilder’s classic with Fury that was the apex of 2018.
Sometimes, we make too much of too little. Yet, it’s understandable in this case. For so long, the heavyweight division was the most important in boxing, though fans of Sugar Ray Robinson and Marvin Hagler may take umbrage. To be heavyweight champion was to be the most famous sportsman on the planet.
So, what happened in the 21st century that made the division so forgettable? Was it lack of skill? Was it lack of personality? Was it both? The Klitschko brothers were doubtless amazing, albeit robotic fighters, even if the competition around them left a lot to be desired. Alas, they did not have the fighting style or the controversy to keep the division at par with what the likes of Pacquiao and Mayweather were doing do in the lighter weights. Yet, their most damning issue was the comparison against what came before in the division.
The 1970s had Ali, Frazier and Foreman as champions and a rung below them were accomplished fighters such as Norton, Quarry and Bonevena who were capable of holding their own against anyone. Between them Ali, Frazier and Foreman fought each other a combined six times, some of them wars that are indelible marks on the game’s history. Norton himself fought Ali to three close fights, winning one in the process.
The closest decade to the 1970s in terms of genuinely skilled heavyweights at or close to their prime was the 1990s. There was Holyfield, Bowe and Lewis, with Tyson missing for a large part of the first half of the decade. The one issue with this lot was that, apart from Holyfield who fought the other three a combined seven times, the rest did not meet each other in their primes. By the time Lewis knocked out Tyson in 2002, the latter was a mere shadow of the wrecking ball that had terrorized admittedly average competition in the 1980s. (You can argue Tyson was never the same after he fired Kevin Rooney late in the decade.)
The first 15 years of the new millennium had very few memorable heavyweight fights. Lewis-Tyson was 10 years too late and Lewis–Vitali Klitschko was a case of what could have been. Then suddenly out of the blue like an Ali short right, we were blessed with the surprisingly good Joshua–Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 that provided gasoline to the flickering embers of heavyweight boxing.
The current generation has it in them to make the next few years a special time in what is historically the blue-riband division of the sweet science. For one, as Fury and Wilder showed, they are willing to fight each other. Is Joshua willing to dance with them like he did with Wladimir? Chances are, he is, but boxing promoters have always sought to protect their golden geese from the time of Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey.
Joshua remains the most marketable – a good-looking and seemingly well-mannered champion, who has three of the four belts and is the youngest of the triumvirate. The matchmaking though sometimes embarrassing is understandable in this day and age. How wonderful would it be though, if his handlers just bit the bullet and put him in against any of the other two?
What’s amazing to note is that the two Englishmen and the American have never lost in the combined 91 times they’ve stepped into the ring. Also, that the division’s health is peachy is reflected by the competition immediately below them. The likes of Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz are hardly cans and have the skills and the styles to give anyone fits.
Said the immortal Rocky Marciano after besting Jersey Joe Walcott to win the heavyweight crown in 1952, “What could be better than walking down any street in any city and knowing you’re the heavyweight champion of the world?”
The answer may still be “nothing” as long as today’s promoters stay out of the way and let these warriors at each other. We shall wait and hope.
In the Middle with this Division
By: Rich Mancuso
Canelo Alvarez holds the WBC Middleweight title and last week became the richest athlete in sports with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN. Saturday evening two championships in the division changed hands and now the middleweights are the talk of boxing.
Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden, Daniel Jacobs gets his opportunity on HBO with the iBF title middleweight title up for grabs. Jacobs (34-2, 29 KO’s) opposes Sergly Derevyanchenko, 12-0, the undefeated pro formerly of Feodosia Crimea, Ukraine who has more of an amateur background.
Welcome again to the middleweight division. Daniel Jacobs sits in the middle of this, a division that suddenly is compared to the elite fighters at 147. That weight class has dominated and is highly contested.
Similar to the complexion and change of televised boxing, so goes the middleweight title that has been highlighted with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. And according to Eddie Hearn, promoter of Matchroom Boxing, the middleweight division has the top fighters.
“The middleweight division is class,” Hearn said on a conference call Monday afternoon. Hearn now has rights to Canelo Alvarez and said the winner of Jacobs-Derevyanchenko could fight Alvarez in May.
So the process, and as difficult as it can be, is to unify the middleweight titles. And with the different promoters, titles, and networks unifying the titles can be difficult. However, Hearn has the capability to get that accomplished and every fighter in the division will be aiming at getting that opportunity to challenge Canelo Alvarez.
“I think its a great time to be a middleweight in the division,” Jacobs said on the conference call. “A great time for the middleweight championship.”
Though Daniel Jacobs “The Miracle Man” knows this is the proper time, he sits in the middle. Alvarez is also aiming for the super middleweight title at Madison Square Garden in December but still holds the number one spot.
Rob Brant dethroned Ryota Murata on the WBA side and former 154lb world champion Demetrius Andrade defeated Walter Kautondokwa and claimed the vacant WBO middleweight title on Saturday night. Yes, in a matter of a few hours the complexion of this division changed.
And this is all good for boxing. As always, there has to be unity and Daniel Jacobs with a victory at the Garden Saturday night would no longer be sitting in the middle.
Eddie Hearn could be the promoter that gets the unity accomplished. Again, he has been at the forefront of changing the complexion of the sport with DAZN and signing big name fighters.
“You are going to see a lot of these big unification fights,’ he said. “Another champion in Andrade. Think with now the championship spreading out, three champions, the winner Saturday night is in prime position to fight Canelo.”
Assuming Jacobs gets the win, anything is possible. The middleweights have become as good as the always talked about welterweights.
“Being in one of the hottest divisions I’m looking to take advantage,” Jacobs said “Time to get a middleweight belt and campaign for some of these bigger and better fights. I don’t believe in sharing belts. I want unification ”
He added: This is a good time. The fans are the one who will benefit the most.”Jacobs has the advantage Saturday night and is the favorite. His opponent is undefeated in 12 professional fights
but is also motivated for something bigger, a piece of this middleweight title.
“This is a respected belt,” he said. More so, this is how Daniel Jacobs gets out of the middle of this pile and once again becomes a dominant middleweight.
And all you have to do is listen to co-promoter Lou DiBella. His perspective of where this division will stand after the Jacobs fight does speak volumes. That elite division of welterweight champions and contenders is in good company.
“Boxing is a business,” said DiBella. “When you get past the heavyweights we’ll see big middleweight fight after big middleweight fight.”
Best of the Rest: The Heavyweight Division
By: Oliver McManus
Last week we focused on the “elite” heavyweight fighters and in an ever-changing division with contenders coming and going, this article seeks to take a look at the next crop of challengers looking to force their way to a world title.
Where better a place to start than with the man who will challenge Anthony Joshua for the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles on September 22nd – Alexander Povetkin. Now if this was written three, four years ago then Povetkin would easily walk into your top 5 on any given day but a whole range of factors have seen his profile and, indeed, fear-factor cascade down.
Obviously part of that is due to his failed drugs test which, rightly or wrongly, cast a shadow over all performances both past and future and if we’re being honest the Russian superstar looked slow and lacklustre in his two fights of 2017 – namely against Christian Hammer and Andriy Rudenko – whilst against David Price on March 31st of this year he showed fragility when Price gave him a major scare in the third round.
That’s the negativity out of the way with, then, we can now focus on the positives which is, to be frank, that Povetkin is an absolute animal in the ring and despite that scare against David Price he also showed a killer instinct to get the job done in the fifth with one of the most brutal knockdowns of recent memory.
His power is frightening as too, by the way, is his icy, steely persona which remains seemingly unfazed during conflict, and that emotional detachment from the sport, his job, is something that is quite scary but clearly plays into his favour because, in a way, he does treat this like a job and it’s just something he needs to get done. And boy he doesn’t half do it well.
“Big Baby” Miller, next on our list, is, well, a huge lump of muscle and one huge brawling machine.
That’s not to do him any disservice because it’s got him the results he needs – against Gerald Washington back in 2017 he took his American counterpart to town in a brutal beatdown that lasted eight rounds whilst against Mariusz Wach he exhibited his sheer power in exploding the Polish veteran out of the ring in the ninth round.
Of course this come-forward, swing at all costs, style of fighting has it’s downsides as does, evidently, weighing near 300lbs so the natural to criticism to levy his way is that he’s not that great a mover and he’s open to get hit and, true as that may be, I’ve been impressed with his opening explosivity and hand-speed although, naturally, he does fatigue an awful lot quicker than his nearest rivals.
Undeniably being lined up to face Anthony Joshua, Miller signed with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom USA recently and has already been making noises with regards that fight, appearing at the DAZN press conference and getting under the skin of AJ already (as scripted as it looked).
Next out on October 6th, Miller is at the stage of his career where he needs to fight legitimate Top 15 contenders – Carlos Takam is a name that comes to mind – in order to prove that he’s more than first impressions would suggest and really catapult him into the top brass of this division.
The ageing Cuban who, for a long time, has been heralded as the purest heavyweight in the division knows that time is against him with the 39 year old knocking on the door of a world title for the last time.
A former interim WBA World Heavyweight champion, the power of the Cuban is undeniable – as we saw in back-to-back destructions of Martias Ariel Vidondo, Bryant Jennings and Tony Thompson in a five month period between October 2015 and March 2016.
Since then we’ve seen Ortiz look stale when up against Malik Scott and David Allen, his two fights under the promotional banner of Eddie Hearn, but in contrasting fashion his fight against Deontay Wilder in March re-established himself as a threat – it was do or die throughout the fight for Wilder with many seeing Ortiz as leading on the scorecards prior to the stoppage (though Wilder was officially ahead by 1point on all three).
Twice having failed drugs test since 2015 there will always be those who raise eyebrows when his name is mentioned but a fiery salvo in the seventh round against Wilder was all you need to see to know, “yeah, this guy’s got it”. Not instinctively fast, when King Kong turns it on then, trust me, it is ON and, like a switch, he can become dynamism personified for the round as he piles the pressure on.
In need of the big fights, Ortiz is a man who looks infinitely more polished and threatening when in with a better calibre of opposition and relies on 12 rounds (or less) of fighting as opposed to a nuanced tactical battle.
Take his fight with Anthony Joshua away from his CV and it’s easy to forget that Joseph Parker was actually WBO heavyweight champion of the world with thanks to a uninspiring victory over Andy Ruiz followed by, equally uninspiring defences, against Razvan Cojanu and “Shades of Ali” Hughie Fury.
Nonetheless he was the world champion and the first man to take Anthony Joshua to task for a full 12 rounds so we shouldn’t be overly critical and the Kiwi, unlike Ortiz, is a man that needs to have a careful, controlled fight to enable him to work the body and get his footwork into play.
At least that’s what we thought until he got in the ring with Dillian Whyte in a fight that, whilst still not superfluously impressive, answered a few questions with regards David Higgins’ poster boy – for the first time in a long time we saw the power that Parker packs as he rattled Whyte, dropping him in the process, and rallied for an absolute barnstormer of a final two rounds.
Questions answered but, simultaneously, questions raised. Namely, why on earth does Parker not show that heart, conviction and sheer fire throughout the whole fight instead of saving it for a final flurry? Only he knows the answer to that but it showed the fans that he’s certainly a class act and not someone that anyone is going to go out of their way to fight – except Whyte, of course.
The next fight is key for Parker, a win is a necessary must for him to get back into title contention.
The hardest man in boxing? Old school hard, that is. A man you wouldn’t want to meet in the back alleys of Newport on a blustery Sunday night. And that’s what makes him such a threat to this current crop of heavyweight challengers because you can never write Chisora off.
Sure he has his bad days, need we mention Agit Kabayel? But he outnumbers those, by a significant handful, with stellar fights against the likes of Dillian Whyte and, more recently, Carlos Takam. That Takam fight, let’s be clear, wasn’t all Dereck, either, but he looked cool, he looked breezy and he finished the job with a scintillating knockout in a fashion that made Anthony Joshua’s victory over Takam look, well, mediocre.
That’s another thing about Del Boy, you can’t really attempt to analyse him in too much detail because his style is, in the nicest way possible, get stuck in, throw some punches and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. Not a brawler, for that term has so many negative connotations, but a perfectly executed FIGHTER.
Rumours murmur that he could be in the pipeline for Joshua, a $5million offer has been made to Deontay Wilder but Chisora has options for the more immediate future – a lucrative rematch with Dillian Whyte, a WBA Regular shot at Manuel Charr, maybe even Tony Bellew, who knows, but the point is that the future is looking as bright as I can remember for Steve Goodwin’s fighter and, good god, the ride promises to be exciting!
The Elite Boxers in the Heavyweight Division
By: Oliver McManus
Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora produced the two best performances of the night on Saturday at the O2 Arena and with that set up the potential for super fights across the heavyweight division, here we take a look at the five ‘elite’ heavyweights in the world and assess their credentials before a subsequent article next week will look at five ‘contenders’ –
Anthony Joshua – WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO Heavyweight Champion of the World
Where else to start but the face of heavyweight boxing? Anthony Joshua is capable of selling out Wembley Stadium with just the mere mention of his name and his record in the sport is simply remarkable – a gold medallist at his home Olympics in 2012, the pressure was always going to be on but, boy, has he handled the pressure supremely.
The 12th of December 2015 saw emotion seep into his fight-mentality for the first time as he let the rivalry between Dillian Whyte and himself get the better of his, previously, cool and calculated game plan with Joshua drawn into a firefight. Arguably that was the best thing that ever happened to him because it brought out a completely different animal within him, the killer instinct was born.
Wladimir Klitschko was legacy defining, there can be no other way of putting it, and whilst that clash highlighted the fact AJ was mortal – hard to believe, I know – you simply cannot knock the Watford-man for taking on and pulling off a feat of monumental proportions that many had previously tried and failed in, in only his 19th professional bout.
Oddly you could say his stock has fallen or, rather, the gap has got closer between himself and his closest competitors over the weekend with Chisora destroying Carlos Takam in a fashion far more convincing than Joshua and Dillian Whyte dropping Joseph Parker – once legitimately, once questionably – on the way to a unanimous decision.
Joshua is a rare breed of fighter in that he is seemingly willing to fight anyone and up against Alexander Povetkin in September he faces, previously, one of the most feared heavyweights in the world and, certainly, a huge puncher but someone that should be a relatively easy fight over Joshua’s last few tests.
2019, then, is the year for Anthony Joshua to continue in his pursuit of ever-lasting greatness.
Deontay Wilder – WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World
The ‘Punch’ to Anthony Joshua’s ‘Judy’ – a reference which anyone outside of the UK will need to Google – Deontay Wilder has a rather reasonable claim to being the hardest puncher in the current heavyweight division and is famed for his “windmill” shots which, when unloaded, signal a trademark finish to the fight.
Questions have, rightfully, been raised at the quality of Wilder’s recent opponents with the likes of Chris Arreola, Bermane Stiverne (the second time) and Artur Szpilka not exactly screaming “world class” but, having said that, Wilder has consistently dispatched the people put in front of him in a fashion you’d expect from the WBC Champion of the World.
Against ‘King Kong’ Luis Ortiz in March this year, the American was in the toughest fight of his career and took the best that Ortiz threw at him. Whilst the fight was a strong 50-50 prior to the stoppage that the Bronze Bomber managed to pull out of the bag, the contest showed that Wilder was capable of taking a shot to land a shot and that is the phrase that best defines his style.
Even when in with the best, genuine elite level fighters, he sticks to what he does well and that, very simply, is PUNCH. Now some may argue that shows a weakness in ability to adapt to the styles of challengers and whilst that is something that could be his downfall in the future, it’s worked with tremendous success thus far.
Not necessarily a household name in the United States – indeed you could say he’s more well-known on this side of the pond than in his own backyard – you can understand the strategy from those around him of building him up with all-American match-ups (Dominic Brezeale is rumoured to be the next defence) which enable him to gain profile and keep the belt with, relatively, easy fights.
BUT then comes the question of why on earth should a world champion need to have his profile built up? The fight with Anthony Joshua is a fight that NEEDS to happen in order for Deontay Wilder to be able to put to bed questions regarding the legitimacy of his reign and, for many, we’ve still yet to see the WBC champ fully tested.
Dillian Whyte – WBC Number 1 ranked heavyweight contender
Whyte proved his doubters wrong on Saturday with a scintillating win over Joseph Parker, make no mistake, he was sincerely rocked and challenged by the former WBO Champion, dropped to the canvas at one point, but what was most impressive about taking the barrage of punches was that he proved his chin has developed far more than anything else since he faced Anthony Joshua in 2015 –we always knew he had the agility, the power, the energy, that was never in question.
It’s hard to believe that it’s 18 months since Whyte went to war with Dereck Chisora, winning a split decision, but that bout seems to be symbolic of the way he goes about every fight – with an attitude of “guts and glory”, leaving everything on the line, and that’s something you cannot criticise because it produces excitement galore.
Up against Robert Helenius, Whyte really failed to click into gear when in the ring with the Nordic Nightmare and whilst the fight wasn’t aesthetically pleasing it was a valuable lesson for the Brixton Bomber because it showed him that, sometimes, you can’t go all-out for a knockout and have to box around the opposition, out-working them and simply fatiguing them into defeat.
With Deontay Wilder having been offered a princely sum – a career high pay day – to face Whyte (in the United Kingdom) and turning it down, there can be no doubt as to the stature of Eddie Hearn’s fighter and the attributes he possess all point to him being a world-champion in waiting.
Mild controversy erupted when he, and his team, turned down fights with Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev in world title eliminators with many saying he was ducking the respective fighters but the fight with Joseph Parker seems to have answered all the questions being lobbied at him because whilst Parker isn’t as explosive as Ortiz he is faster, he is more sprightly and he’s every bit as technical as Pulev so, in a way, he got the best of both worlds.
I wouldn’t have said it three years ago but Dillian Whyte has proved me, and many critics wrong, and I’m happy to hold my hands up with regards to that because it was never anything personal but, for me, Dillian Whyte is the best heavyweight outside of the world title holders.
AJ in April? Sounds like a plan.
Kubrat Pulev – IBF Number 2 ranked heavyweight contender
Pulev is an interesting character, vastly underrated by fans and extensively avoided by fellow fighters, his technical style of boxing is one that hasn’t exactly played into his hands because with him not being a HUGE puncher, his technical and defensive aspect are exponentially enhanced and it makes him one heck of a challenge for anyone brave enough to take him on.
Dillian Whyte opted not to travel to Bulgaria to face Pulev and Jarrell Miller is another to have avoided stepping into unknown territory for the fight – which the IBF sanctioned, in both cases, as a final eliminator – and it’s not the location that is the sticking point but rather the risk-reward factor which strayed significantly into the risk region.
As I’ve said, Pulev relies on the technical fundamentals not to blast his opponents out of the ring but rather to get the better of them in the longer run, over the scheduled distance, with calculated punch output, shot selection, and beautifully timed footwork culminating in style of fighting bordering on art but so under-appreciated.
Another fighter to have taken on Dereck Chisora, emerge from the fight win the win and be levied with headlines of “Chisora fails to perform” as opposed to “Pulev outclasses Chisora”, Pulev hasn’t been one to avoid fights for the duration of his career and as a former European champion the Bulgarian has produced convincing wins on the big stage for a long, long time with the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko, Alexander Ustinov and Tony Thompson all falling foul of The Cobra’s leathal bite.
A former world title challenger Pulev has the experience of that level and whilst he’s not looked as sharp as his previous years, since his loss to Klitschko (in 2014) he has looked mentally more prepared whenever he steps in the ring – albeit against lesser opposition – and many were expecting him to provide Anthony Joshua with a stern test when they were scheduled to face-off and with Pulev back in the world title scene, there could still be life in the ageing cobra yet.
Tyson Fury – Lineal heavyweight champion of the world
This isn’t wrote in any order so before anyone gets in a huff as to my positioning of Fury in this list – or indeed my inclusion of him at all – let me explain why the lineal champion is in this “elite” overview;
Whatever you think of his last opponent – Sefer Seferi – Tyson Fury was the man who beat the man and, in doing so, made Klitschko look average and that is an achievement that simply cannot be overstated, it was beyond unexpected and Fury produced the goods.
Further to that his mental strength is, for me, the best of anyone in the division. He has had several well documented struggles and, let’s be clear, earned more than enough money for him to afford to retire and live comfortably for the rest of his life. So there was no need for Fury to comeback, he had proved his doubters wrong, but it was his inner motivation to prove that he was better than Joshua, better than Wilder, better than everyone that pushed him to return and lose 8stone in the process. That’s super-human.
Fury himself is unconventional in fighting style with the ability to switch stances with ease combined with his freakish height and surprisingly lucid movement marking him out as one of the most unpredictable men in the ring – one second he’ll be staring out into the crowd and the next launching a furious flurry into the body of his opponent.
And that is what marks him out from the other guys on this list because whilst they are all exceptional fighters in their own right, they are distinctly predictable – you know what you’re getting with each of them – but with Fury you get the impression that not even he knows. He’s no stranger to being an underdog, either, and dealing with the pressure of fighting in the away corner so his ability to handle those situations are incredible.
Fighting Francesco Pianeta on August 18th, Fury is targeting two further fights by the end of 2018 before mounting a serious challenge to the belts he used to own and with discussions already being held about the potential for a fight with Deontay Wilder, you’d be inclined to suggest it’s only a matter of time before he’s back where he belongs.
AND THERE WE HAVE IT, a look at the heavyweight elite boxers and of course the use of the term elite is entirely subjective, it’s merely my top 5 and there are plenty of guys that could have warranted being featured but, hey, nobody said it was easy!
Is the Welterweight Division Still the Strongest in Boxing?
By: Ken Hissner
The welterweight division is packed with talented boxers and mentioned as the toughest division in boxing. The WBA Super World champion is Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), of Clearwater, FL, who lost the WBC title due to inactivity. He defeated Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), of Las Vegas, NV, in June of 2016, and Garcia in his last bout and is scheduled to fight on August 4th at the Barclay Center in NY, with an opponent yet named. Since his top two contenders are scheduled it may be No. 3 Jamal “Shango” James, 23-1 (10), of Minneapolis, MN. He last fought in April defeating Abel Ramos, 18-2-2. His only loss was to the Cuban Ugas.
Thurman in his last bout some fifteen months ago by split decision defeated WBC champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, 33-0, at the Barclay Center, in Brooklyn, NY. Porter won the WBC Silver title in November 2017. He entered the ring over the weekend barking at Garcia who had just defeated Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, 34-4-1 (25). Porter had to be escorted out of the ring. He and Garcia will fight!
Former champion Kell Brook, 37-2 (26), lost to Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr., 24-0 (21), in May of 2017 and rebounded defeating Siarhei Rabchanka, 29-2, of Belarus. Spence of DeSoto, TX, who in his second defense on June 16th in Dallas, TX, knocked out No. 1 contender Mexico’s Carlos Ocampo, 22-0, in the first round, who was his mandatory. Brook is rumored to fight fellow UK and former champion No. 9 WBC Amir “King” Khan, 32-4 (20), who in April stopped Phil Lo Greco, 28-3.
Lucas “La Maquina,” Matthysse, 39-4 (36), of Argentina won the WBA World title stopping Tewa Kiram, 38-1, of Thailand, in January. He is now scheduled to meet former champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 59-7-2 (38), on July 15th. “Pac Man” hasn’t fought since losing a highly disputed decision to Jeff Horn in July of 2017.
Speaking of Horn, he was defeated by former unified super lightweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, 33-0 (24), in June stopping him in the 9th round. He is scheduled to return home to Omaha, NEB, in October to defend his title. Custio Clayton, 15-0 (10), of Montreal, Canada, is his No. 1 contender.
Garcia, 34-1 (20), of Philadelphia, PA, lost his WBC title to Thurman in March of 2017. He just had his first fight since then stopping the former WBA Lightweight champion Brandon Rios, 34-4-1, this past weekend. Garcia was asked afterwards if he wanted a rematch with Thurman and he said “that’s up to him.” Garcia is No. 1 in the WBC and will meet No. 2 the former champion Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), for the vacant title. Porter hasn’t fought since November.
Pacquiao is ranked No. 1 in the WBA. Cuban Yordenis Ugas, 22-3 (11), of Miami, FL, who is No. 2 in the IBF with the top spot vacant stopped “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, of Philadelphia, PA, in June to earn that ranking. He may be the next opponent for Spence.
Jesse “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas, 28-2-1 (10), of Las Vegas, NV, is No. 2 in the WBA, No. 3 in the WBC and WBO. He lost to Pacquiao in November of 2016. In April he drew with former champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner, 33-3-1, of Cincinnati, now No. 4 in the WBO.
So, as you can see there are plenty of possible matches to be made. Though Thurman was the man to beat he has been idle and coming off an injury. So now the main fight fans want is “when do Spence and Crawford meet?” Don’t be in a hurry to see this one for there will be a big build-up for that one!
Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue Becomes 3-Division World Champion
By: Ken Hissner
Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue, now 16-0 (14), won the WBA World Bantamweight title on May 25th stopping champion Jamie McDonnell, 29-2-1, of the UK @1:52 of the 1st round at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. This is the third division title Inoue has won.
In Inoue’s next to last fight in December of 2017 Inoue defended his WBO World Super Flyweight title for the seventh time stopping Yoan “Yo Boy” Boyeaux, 41-4, of Beaune, France, at 1:40 of the 3rd round at the Bunka Gym, in Yokohama, Japan.
In the sixth fight of Inoue’s career he won the WBC World Light Flyweight title stopping Adrian “Big Bang” Hernandez, 29-3-1, of Toluca, MEX, at 2:54 of the 6th round in April 2014. He made one defense.
In December of 2014, Inoue knocked out the former WBO Flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez, 43-1-2, of Chubut, Argentina, to win his WBO World Super Flyweight title @3:01 of the 2nd round. Narvaez still holds the all-time record of 27 title defenses. In Inoue’s only bout outside of Japan he fought in the US stopping Antonio Nieves, 17-1-2, in September of 2017 at the Stub-Hub Center, in Carson, CA.
Inoue has wins over three current world champions including WBA Super World Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, 19-0 (9), of Belfast, No. Ireland, the WBO World Bantamweight champion Zolani “Last Born” Tete, 27-3 (21), of Eastern Cape, So. Africa and IBF World Bantamweight champion Emmanuel “Manny” Rodriguez, 18-0 (12), of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. All were in the World Boxing Super Series.
In Inoue’s only non-stoppage wins in his fourth fight he won the Japanese Light Flyweight title defeating Ryoichi Taguchi, 18-1-1, over 10 rounds. The other decision win was defeating David “Severo” Carmona, 20-2-5, of Mexico City, Mexico, over 12 rounds in a WBO World Super Flyweight defense.
The WBC title is vacant. Their No. 1 contender is the WBC Silver champion Nordine Oubaali, 14-0 (11), of France who on June 23rd will meet the No. 2 contender Tassana “Petch Sor Chitpattanna” Sanpattan, 46-0 (31), of Roi-Et, Thailand. The site has not yet been announced. Neither fighter has fought outside his country.
From 2010 to 2012 as an amateur Inoue competed in five major tournaments winning but one of them. He was 13-4 losing to Cuban Yosvany Veitia twice, Iran’s Masoud Rigi and Kazakhstan’s Birzahn Zhakipov of which none of these three ever turned professional.
Since Inoue has defeated the WBO, IBF and WBA Super World champions in the past they may not be too eager to unify titles fighting him. He just turned 25 in April so he is young enough to wait them out or possibly move up the Super Bantamweight division. The four world champions are the IBF’s Ryosuke Iwasa, 25-2 (16), of Chiba, Japan, WBC’s Rey Vargas, 32-0 (22), of Otumba, Mexico, WBA Daniel “Danny the Baby Faced Assassin” Roman, 24-2-1 (9), of L.A., CA, and the newly crowned WBO’s Isaac “Brave-Son” Dogbe, 19-0 (13), of Accra, Ghana. The No. 1 WBA contender is the interim champion Reymart “Assassin” Gabalo, 19-0 (16), of General Santos City, Philippines.
So the future is very bright for the 3-Division champion Inoue who joins two other current multi-division champions. The IBF World Super Lightweight champion Mikey Garcia, 38-0 (30), of Moreno Valley, CA, is a 4-division champion who in July defends his title against the IBF World Lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. He held the WBO Feather, WBO Super Feather and WBC Lightweight titles. The WBA Super World Lightweight champion is the Ukraine’s Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 11-1 (9), of Oxnard, CA. He also held the WBO Feather and Super Feather titles.
So as you can see there are many opportunities in the future for Japan’s unbeaten newly crowned WBA World Bantamweight champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue!
The Current Future of Boxing’s Heavyweight Division is Bright
By: James Risoli
In the pugilistic art form of the boxing world the title of heavyweight champion has always reigned supreme. Even the term heavyweight bears a deeper unknown subconscious meaning to the sport. Those brave warriors who seek after the glory of one day having their hands raised inside the square circle and being crowned heavyweight champion bear the “heavy weighted” burden of boxing’s life force. Heavyweights have always carried the sport from its lowest of lows to its highest of highs. From the roaring 20’s and 1930’s when “The Manassa Mauler” Jack Dempsey and “The Brown Bomber” Joe Louis would become cultural icons for their aggressive fighting styles and sensational boxing power to the golden age of boxing of the 1960’s and 70’s where names like Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and many others were spoken in every household across America and throughout the boxing world. In the 1990’s “Iron Mike” Tyson and Evander Holyfield, as well as, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe continued to carry the torch and brought fights inside the homes of boxing fans to forever to be watched, scrutinized, awed, and watched again for years and years to come. These men and many others imprinted their legacy on the sport and cemented the idea that the man who holds the heavyweight title holds the keys to the heart of boxing and its masses.
Then something happened. Boxing fell into a seemingly dark age. An age where Wladimir Klitschko and his brother Vitali would reign supreme and seemingly freeze the heavyweight division of boxing for over a decade. Nothing against Wladimir Klitschko. The man himself is an all-time great and a future hall of famer, who achieved the highest distinctions any one man before him named could achieve, yet something was missing. The glory that was once the heavyweight division started to fade and boxing’s life blood was being diverted elsewhere as were many of it fans. The lighter divisions started to stamp their own mark on the sport of boxing with fighters like Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao now being where most eyes of the fans were being diverted. Why? What happened to the heavyweight division and the days where fans would flock to their televisions or to the arenas to witness these warriors that once held the hearts of the fans?
Boxing Dark Ages was not the fault of one man. It was not brought about by Wladimir Klitschko. By no fault of his own Wladimir Klitschko ruled in a time where the heavyweight division was bogged down by mediocre competition and the honest lack of quality opposition, talent and durability. Or could it have been an even deeper unsaid theory that threw the heavyweight division in a state of limbo? Could it have been the lack of an American or English Heavyweight contender for fans to get behind?
Either way all one has to do is to look at the heavyweight division as of today and see that those two questions are moot. The heavyweight division is teeming with young talent with the likes of Adam Kownacki, Dominic Breazeale, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, Daniel Dubois, Jermaine Franklin, and Darmani Rock. We just recently in the past 30 days got to witness four undefeated heavyweights in title bout eliminators, one of which took place at Principality Stadium in Cardiff Wales in front of 80,000 fans and viewed across the worlds by millions. The other in New York City, the mecca city of boxing, where two undefeated champions went toe-to-toe for ten grueling rounds. Americans now have their first true American heavyweight champion to get behind in decades and our friends across the pound over in the U.K. have theirs. Those of you reading this article have seen and have beared witness to the two men that now seek to release the heavyweight division from the shackles of the dark ages. Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are becoming the new household names of the heavyweight division. They are battling the ghosts of the past to become the new legends of the future. It is an exciting time for the heavyweight division. One of these men wants to have his hand raised in that square circle with the same meaning the title held previously and you can best believe the competition behind will be gunning for the same. A division that has been asleep has now been stirred from its slumber and once again the warriors of the heavyweight division are on a mission to become the life force of the boxing world and take back the most important and prestigious division in boxing.
Is the Welterweight Division the Strongest in Boxing?
By: Ken Hissner
The welterweight division is packed with talented boxers and mentioned as the toughest division in boxing. The WBA Super World and WBC champion is Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), of Clearwater, FL, who defeated Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), of Las Vegas, NV, in June of 2016. Thurman is scheduled to defend his title May 19th at the Barclay Center, in Brooklyn, NY, with an opponent to be named. Thurman hasn’t fought since March of 2017. Porter won the WBC Silver title in November 2017. He also lost to Kell Brook, of the UK. He entered the ring over the weekend barking at Garcia who had just defeated Brandon Rios. He had to be escorted out of the ring.
Devon Alexander “The Great”, 27-4-1 (14), of St. Louis lost his IBF title to Porter in December of 2013. He drew with the former WBC champion Victor Ortiz, 32-6-3 (25), of Ventura, CA, this past weekend and was robbed. Porter lost it to Kell Brook, of the UK, in August of 2014. Brook lost it to Errol Spence, Jr. in May of 2017 and hasn’t fought since and dropped out of the ratings. Spence still holds the title and is 23-0 (20), of DeSoto, TX, and in his once defense he stopped Lamont Peterson, 35-4-1, in January of 2018 who is no longer in the ratings. Spence is scheduled to defend his title on June 16th in Dallas, TX, with an opponent to be announced.
Lucas “La Maquina,” Matthysse, 39-4 (36), of Argentina won the WBA World title stopping Tewa Kiram, 38-1, of Thailand, in January of 2018, and Kiram is no longer in the ratings. Matthysse lost to Danny “Swift” Garica in 2013 at Super Lightweight.
Garcia, 34-1 (17), of Philadelphia, PA, lost his WBC title to Thurman in March of 2017. He just had his first fight since then stopping the former WBA Lightweight champion Brandon Rios, 34-4-1, this past weekend. Garcia was asked afterwards if he wanted a rematch with Thurman and he said “that’s up to him.” Garcia is No. 2 in the WBC and No. 1 in the WBA.
The WBO champion is Australia’s Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, 18-0-1 (12), who won the title on a gift decision over former world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 59-7-2 (38), of the Philippines in July of 2017. Horn must fight his No. 1 contender Terence “Bud” Crawford, 32-0 (23), of Omaha, NEB, who held the four organization title at Super Lightweight and is having his first welterweight fight. That is scheduled for April 14th in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao is ranked No. 3 by the WBC and No. 2 by both the WBA and WBO. He is scheduled to fight Mike Alvarado, 38-4 (26), of Thornton, CO, April 14th in Las Vegas. The IBF’s No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant. Cuban Yordenis Ugas, 21-3 (10), of Miami, FL, who is No. 14 and stopped No. 11 “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, of Philadelphia, PA, over the weekend with the winner promised the No. 2 spot.
The No. 3 spot in the IBF is held by Carlos “Chema” Ocampo, 22-0 (13), of Baja CA, Mexico, who has never fought outside of Mexico. He has not defeated anyone of record but still has that high rating. Either Ugas or Ocampo may get that title shot at Spence.
Jesse “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas, 28-2 (10), of Las Vegas, NV, is No. 3 in the WBA and No. 4 in both the WBC and IBF. He lost to Pacquiao in November of 2016. Vargas outgrew his WBA Super Lightweight title after his November 2014 defense and has gone 2-2 since.
The UK’s British champion Bradley Skeete, 27-1 (12), is the WBO No. 3 and IBF No. 5 contender. He hasn’t fought since July of 2017. Another unbeaten contender is Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, 32-0 (13), living in Big Bear, CA, ranked No. 9 in the IBF and No. 8 in the WBC.
So, to summarize the situation in the welterweight division both WBC and WBA champion Thurman and IBF champion Spence, Jr. have defenses scheduled without opponents at this time. Horn will be meeting Crawford who is heavily favored to take that title. Thurman may be fighting his No. 1 contender Porter. Spence could fight Ugas, Ocampo or Vargas. The division is wide open for some great fights!
Timothy Bradley Jr.: The Desert Storm
Timothy Bradley Jr.: The Desert Storm
By: Francisco Martinez
Timothy Bradley Jr. one of the most exciting fighters in boxing today has been out of action since his loss this past April to 8 division champion Manny Pacquiao in what was a tie breaker in a very unexpected trilogy. Bradley was in attendance for commentary work for this past Saturday’s Top Rank PPV card at the StubHub Center which saw Oscar Valdez, Zurdo Ramírez and Jessie Magdaleno all successfully defend their WBO titles in front of a packed house.
After the fight Bradley gratefully gave his time to the media and answered a few questions. The very first question was actually from a fan who asked Bradley when he was going to step back into the ring and Bradley replied “I don’t know I think I honestly need a tune up fight on the way back” as to who Bradley had in mind as a possible tune up he quickly noted Adrien Broner and when asked of Broner’s recent troubles he said “I don’t know but I think that would be a good tune up for me” when asked why he liked Adrien Broner as a tune up he replied “why not? why not? That’s the question and I think it makes a lot of sense. I think people would love to see that” all fans present quickly agreed by shouting yes to Bradley’s belief of Broner making good for a tune up and an exciting fight.
Timothy Bradley Jr. is in a packed division with the likes of Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook and legend Manny Pacquiao still out there beating guys half his age. Also young up and comers like Errol Spence Jr and primed veterans like Danny Garcia as well the already mentioned Adrien Broner. However Bradley keeping in mind he’s been out of the ring for about a year or so a tune up makes all the sense for his career as he eyes a possible September return date. As for the lay off Bradley said this about it “it kind of just happened that way but you know what I believe everything happens for a reason and there’s a reason why I had this big long lay off. Let my body heal up and give my brain a rest from taking all them punches. I’ve been doing this for 23 years man, you know, it’s been a long journey but I can’t wait to get back in it. I got super excited seeing this fight tonight it got my blood boiling boy, I’m boiling”
Maybe Bradley can look for a MMA fighter for his tune up? Given the back and forward between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC star, MMA’s pound for pound number one fighter in the world Conor McGregor anything seems to be on the table granted McGregor wouldn’t mind Manny Pacquiao either if Mayweather “craps his jocks” and doesn’t go through with their fight why wouldn’t Bradley be as good of an option? Anyways Bradley touched on the potential mega fight between Mayweather and McGregor had this to say about the boxing vs MMA circus act
“what do I think about it? Honestly man, I’m gonna watch the fight, in my honest opinion, I’m gonna watch the fight. We know what it’s about, we are fight fans and everything, Conor McGregor has never been in the ring, yeah he’s the best MMA fighter, he’s the biggest name and it makes sense. He called out Floyd Mayweather and Floyd Mayweather is just trying to make it real like, okay, alright, put your money where your mouth is. If you really wanna do this let’s do this but we’re gonna do it in the ring so, I mean, the advantage goes to Mayweather. Mayweather is always strategic and he’s strategic with his business as well, you know, so I think it’s a money grab and I think everybody is gonna watch it. We know what it’s about but I think it’s gonna be fun and I think Mayweather destroys, destroys like destroys Conor McGregor”
Obviously Timothy Bradley knows the business side of boxing as he clearly states that Mayweather vs McGregor is just that, a good business move. During his time off Bradley made a business move and has now ventured into the business side of boxing by managing a couple of fighters along side his wife something to keep him busy until he finds his way back into the ring. This is what sets Bradley apart from the other fighters being a very intelligent individual and thinking his every next move outside of boxing as he does inside the squared circle.
Options for Timothy Bradley are wide and vary earlier in the year Miguel Cotto was mentioned at a possible 155lbs catch weight there’s also 2 division champion Jessie Vargas who’s been hunting down a rematch with Bradley after a controversial ending to the first one that actually took place in the same venue BoxingInsider caught up Bradley. Visit us on a daily as we bring you the latest and breaking news in boxing.