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State of the Game: Welterweights

04
Jul

This is the 11th in a series of stories from “The State of the Game,” the popular annual feature of THE RING magazine. We’re posting one weight class per day, starting with strawweight and working our way up to heavyweight. The package was featured in the July issue of the magazine. The August issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the cover story, is on newsstands now. Today: Welterweights.

It’s often been said that in boxing, the top two percent of the fighters make about 98 percent of the money. Well, we’re about to feed directly into that inequity. Not only do the top two percent get most of the money, but they get most of the attention too, and in “The State Of The Game,” we focus primarily on that top two percent – the cream of every weight class. Maybe it’s not fair to the 145th best junior featherweight in the world, but hey, there’s a reason he’s only 145th best.

Still, you have to admit, we go deeper and include more fighters in State of the Game than just about any other article you’ll read all year. Where else will you find Wladimir Klitschko, Fernando Guerrero, Alfonso Gomez and Hekkie Budler all discussed in the same story?

Basically, the State of the Game is just what it sounds like: an all-encompassing exploration of where every division in boxing stands at this particular moment. As for the state of the sport as a whole, we know the balance of power is continuing to shift away from American fighters and away from the heavyweight division, but does that mean boxing is any worse off than it was a year ago or five years ago or 10 years ago? In a global sense, and judged in relativity to the economic climate across most of the world, no. Remember, some people in both the boxing community and the mainstream media opined three years ago that Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather was going to be the last megafight we’d see for years. How laughable is that now? We’ve since had four different pay-per-views cross the million-buy mark, and if Manny Pacquiao vs. Mayweather ever happens, it will crush every number Mayweather-De La Hoya posted.



Of course, all that this means is that the guys at the very top are getting exponentially richer while everyone else is struggling to make ends meet. Hey, that’s the way boxing has always been, and in a nutshell, that’s how life works. Boxing has loads of problems, no doubt, but year after year, it entertains and amazes those loyal followers who persevere through all the crap to get to the good stuff.

WELTERWEIGHT

Needless to say, the fight on everybody’s mind is No. 1-rated Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. No. 2 Manny Pacquiao, for which promoter Bob Arum says negotiations are going well. Mayweather claimed the No. 1 spot by dominating No. 4 Shane Mosley on May 1, which prompted many Pacquiao fans to cry foul. We hope they will settle the argument in the ring in November or next year.

Obviously, Mayweather and Pacquiao make this division go ’round. But they’re not all the welterweight class has to offer.

No. 3 Andre Berto is charging up the ratings by cleaning out the rest of the division. He hasn’t tangled with Pacquiao, Mayweather, or Mosley (which is probably a good thing for him), but the list of next-level guys he’s beaten is impressive: Cosme Rivera, David Estrada, Steve Forbes, Luis Collazo, Juan Urango, and, most recently, Carlos Quintana. It’s a who’s who of ESPN headliners and HBO “B-sides.”

Mosley, who is scheduled to fight Sergio Mora in a junior middleweight bout on Sept. 18, remains a factor as he approaches his 39th birthday. Miguel Cotto moved up to 154 pounds (at which he beat Yuri Foreman) after his brutal knockout loss to Pacquiao but remains at No. 5 in the 147-pound ratings for now. One veteran who’s definitely lost all positive momentum is Joshua Clottey, whose strategy against Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium never advanced beyond “cover up and survive.” On the other hand, Collazo remains perhaps the division’s most dangerous second-tier veteran in spite of his loss to Berto in January.

The bottom of the ratings is filled with foreign fighters with modest resumes — which, of course has not stopped some of them from claiming alphabet straps. This category includes No. 7 Rafal Jackiewicz of Poland (whose main claim to fame is beating current titleholder and No. 8 Jan Zaveck) of Slovenia, No. 9 Vyacheslav Senchenko of Ukraine, another titleholder, and No. 10 Selcuk Aydin.

Fortunately, there are some more familiar, intriguing fighters, just beyond the Top-10 ratings. From Alfonso Gomez to exciting Argentine Luis Carlos Abregu to lingering ex-superstar Zab Judah to solid vets Delvin Rodriguez and Randall Bailey to up-and-comers Mike Jones, Saul Alvarez, Antwone Smith, and Mike Alvarado, this is a deep division.

Think About It: What if Mayweather-Pacquiao can’t be made? Who could they fight and still capture the imagination? Arum has floated Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto (in a rematch) as viable opponents for Pacquiao should Mayweather and the Filipino icon fail to come to terms. Margarito, with a substantial fanbase among Mexicans and an aggressive style, wouldn’t be a horrible choice in terms of entertainment value. Cotto doesn’t deserve a rematch. Mayweather’s options are few. The only worthy welterweight possibility is Berto, although even the No. 3 welterweight might be overmatched against the defensive wizard. Beyond that, one of the rising young stars at 140 pounds — Timothy Bradley or Devon Alexander, perhaps — might be an intriguing option if he’d be willing to take the enormous risk. Bottom line: Nothing in any division comes even close to Mayweather-Pacquiao.

WELTERWEIGHT

Best Puncher
Shane Mosley
Best Boxer
Floyd Mayweather
Most Protected
Daniele Petrucci
Most Avoided
Antwone Smith
Is He Still Around?
Paul Nave
Matchmaker’s Dream
Pacquiao vs. Mayweather
Deserves A Title Shot
Luis Collazo
Most Fun To Watch
Manny Pacquiao
On The Way Up
Saul Alvarez
On The Way Down
Carlos Quintana
Best Fight In 2009
Andre Berto W 12 Luis Collazo

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/ blog/2069/state_of_the_game_junior_welterweights /

LIGHTWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/ blog/2067/state_of_the_game_lightweights/

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/ blog/2061/state_of_the_game_junior_lightweights /

FEATHERWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2059/state_of_the_game_featherweights/

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2058/state_of_the_game_junior_featherweights/

BANTAMWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2057/state_of_the_game_bantamweights/

JR. BANTAMWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2050/state_of_the_game_junior_bantamweights/

FLYWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2048/state_of_the_game_flyweights/

JR. FLYWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2047/state_of_the_game_junior_flyweights/

STRAWWEIGHTS: https://www.ringtv.com/blog/2044/state_of_the_game_strawweights/