Who is the future of the welterweight division?
By Hector Franco
Last Saturday night we saw the rubber match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao once again defeated Bradley in a competitive bout. The bout was between two of the top three welterweights in the division. According to boxing’s transnational ranking’s Pacquiao is now the first fighter in the history of boxing to become the lineal champion five different weight classes. There is, however, the question about Pacquiao’s retirement.
Pacquiao stated that he will retire and that his fight with Timothy Bradley was his last. But no one has taken it as an official retirement and he hasn’t been dropped from any welterweight rankings as of yet. Even if Pacquiao were to return it seems that the two opponents that may be in line to face him won’t take place at welterweight. A bout with Terence Crawford could take place at welterweight, but Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has stated that he would like that fight at 140. The other bout that is more hyperbole than reality is a fight with WBC middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. That fight would likely take place at some catch weight from 155 or below. The fact is even though Pacquiao put on an impressive performance against Timothy Bradley, it’s time for the new era at welterweight to officially begin. Let’s take a look at some of the contenders and champions in the division to see who will be the next king at 147.
The current WBA welterweight champion has a big matchup coming up in June against Shawn Porter. Thurman was less than impressive in his last fight against Luis Collazo. Before that he did pummel Robert Guerrero to win a wide unanimous decision. Thurman needs an impressive performance against Shawn Porter to show that he is the top welterweight. Porter will be the biggest test of his career and a fight that fans have been anticipating for the last few years. Thurman has the skills to be the best in the division, but hasn’t proved it yet against the other top welterweights. The jury is still out on Thurman.
Shawn Porter is the one fighter in the welterweight division who wants to step up and face all the top fighters. It was no surprise that Porter wanted the Thurman bout. He has already faced one of the other top welterweights in Kell Brook. Porter lost the fight against Brook, but has gained respect with fans for his willingness to fight top competition. In his last bout he dominated Adrien Broner even with the odds were stacked against him. The fight took place at a catch weight as a way to weaken Porter, but backfired on Broner as he proceeded to lose in embarrassing fashion. If Porter defeats Thurman in June he will regain a welterweight title. If history tells us anything, he will be looking to unify the titles of the division against the likes of Danny Garcia, Kell Brook and Jessie Vargas.
Kell Brook could possibly be the most athletically gifted fighter in the welterweight division. At times he looks to be the fastest and strongest fighter in the division. Unfortunately, this has been showcased against subpar competition. Ever since defeating Shawn Porter to win the IBF title, Brook has stayed defending his title in England. After his last title defense against Kevin Bizier, fans have grown tired of Brook and want him to step up against the other top fighters at welterweight. Not every fighter has an easy road in boxing and Brook can dare to be great by coming over to America. Brook has looked impressive enough against a certain level of opponent; it’s time to take it to the next level.
Danny Garica may be the most controversial welterweight in the division. Garcia over the last few years has seen his stock drop in the eyes of fans. His close bouts with Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson did him no favors. To this day fan’s still complain and deride Garcia for his mismatch against Rod Salka in August 2014. Garcia this past January won the vacant WBC welterweight title against Robert Guerrero. It was a competitive bout that Garcia pulled away with in the second half. Garcia has the best resume in the division sans Pacquiao and Bradley. Many view him as a loss waiting to happen, but Garcia is an experienced fighter with impeccable timing who will not be an easy out for anyone in the division. With talks of being the only fighter that Floyd Mayweather would come back to face, Garcia should look at cementing himself as the best at 147.
After Saturday night the fighter at welterweight who has the most questions surrounding him is Timothy Bradley. With new trainer Teddy Atlas and Pacquiao coming off of an 11-month layoff with a shoulder surgery, Bradley had the best opportunity to defeat Pacquiao. It still wasn’t enough. Bradley was dropped twice as he lost another decision to the Filipino. Bradley is the oldest fighter out the bunch besides Pacquiao himself and has the most wear and tear. He also by far has the most experience in the division. He’s faced off against legitimate hall of famers in Marquez and Pacquiao, while taking on top contenders in between. Look out for Bradley to make a comeback and have a rematch with newly crowned WBO champion Jessie Vargas.
It may be to soon to include Spence as one of the top welterweights in the division, but sometimes you need to trust your eyes. Spence looks like the total package inside the ring. He has a calm and relaxed demeanor in the ring with the poise of a veteran. Spence has shown that he can take out his opponents to the body and the head. He faces his biggest test this upcoming Saturday against former 140-pound champion, Chris Algieri. If Spence defeats Algieri he will be the number one contender for Kell Brook’s IBF title. Spence will be looking for a knockout against Algieri as Manny Pacquiao wasn’t able to stop him in 2014. Spence has the look of future champion, but we just need to see him against better competition. This Saturday night we’ll see where Spence stands.
As of now Crawford is at 140 pounds. Fans can look forward to seeing him against Ukrainian Viktor Postol in the summer. Afterwards, it’s only a matter of time before Crawford makes the move up to welterweight. If Manny Pacquiao decides to not retire, Crawford could make his debut against the future hall of famer.
Khan is taking his chances by moving up in weight to take on Canelo Alvarez. What happens in this bout will determine the rest of Khan’s career. Khan could stay and fight at either middleweight or junior middleweight for the rest of his career if he beats Alvarez. Depending on how he loses to Alvarez, Khan still has big match ups waiting for him at welterweight. There are rematches he can have with Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia along with the much-anticipated bout with Kell Brook. Whatever happens to Khan, fans know that he has options after Alvarez.
The newly crowned WBO champion would be considered an underdog against most of the top welterweights. Vargas may finally get his rematch against Timothy Bradley later this year. Vargas as of late has also been looking for a match up with Danny Garcia. Victories over Garcia or Bradley would put Vargas in the conversation as one of the best in the division.
Welterweight has always been one of boxing's glamour divisions. Even with the Mayweather and Pacquiao possibly leaving the sport for good, the welterweight division will be in good hands. The future of the division will be exciting if all the top fighters step in the ring with one another.
Featured Photo: (Reuters/Steve Marcus)