We continue our way through the Super Official Boxing Rankings No Seriously Guys Rankings with welterweights today. Welterweight is one of the deepest divisions in the sport if not the absolute deepest, and the top ten is filled with big names and talented fighters. We’ll go in-depth on all the big guys today.
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|LINEAL CHAMP||WBC CHAMP||WBA CHAMP||IBF CHAMP||WBO CHAMP|
|Floyd Mayweather||Floyd Mayweather||Floyd Mayweather||Kell Brook||Manny Pacquiao|
Champ: Floyd Mayweather, USA (47-0, 26 KO)
While Floyd is also the junior middleweight division champ, welterweight is really where he naturally fights. This is his domain, his kingdom, and he is as close as we can get to an undisputed champion in today’s boxing world. We already discussed Floyd in depth in the junior middleweight rankings, but with rival Manny Pacquiao noticeably fading and taking a horrendous knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012, dissent has quieted and the defensive maestro has entrenched himself as the division’s clear #1.
The Other Beltholders and Top Contenders:
Manny Pacquiao, Philippines (56-5-2, 38 KO)
Pacquiao, the second superstar of boxing, took the fight world by storm in the late 2000s with an absurd whirlwind run through the top names in the sport and an unprecedented run up weight classes. He transformed himself from a fast flyweight with a great left hand and a useless right into a two-handed nightmare for opponents, using speed and odd angles to confuse and batter challengers to the ground. For a small guy from the Philippines who barely speaks English to turn himself into one of the most popular athletes in the world is an incredible feat, but he earned it in the ring, with wins over legends like Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Miguel Cotto.
Since the Cotto fight in 2009–arguably the high tide point of Manny’s career–the fighter has slipped noticeably. Once a feared puncher and destroyer, Manny hasn’t stopped anybody since that Cotto match. He still has that speed, and still is one of the top fighters in the world using that speed–but he’s lost twice (though one was a horrendous botched decision), and no longer seems to have that same explosion that made him such a big star.
Part of the issue is general aging–an athletic dynamo like Manny is bound to slow down. But a large part of the problem is that the man’s heart doesn’t quite seem to be 100% dedicated to boxing. He is a Congressman in his native country, has taken to singing (terribly), starring in action movies and owning basketball teams. He is a celebrity through and through, but this is not a forgiving sport. You can’t be a part time fighter. When you are, things like this happen:
That said, Pacquiao remains one of the top boxers in the world, and a legitimate threat to anybody he steps in the ring with. After an uninspiring decision walkover win over Brandon Rios last November, he got back after it with a great performance in the spring in a rematch with Timothy Bradley–one in which he got the decision this time around. However, his upcoming fight with Chris Algieri leaves a lot to be desired, and he is running out of opponents in his promoter’s stable. Everybody still wants to see him against Floyd, even though that fight is about 5 years too late already. Manny has a couple fights left in him still, and is a future boxing Hall of Famer. At his apex he was one of the best we’ve ever had, and we should appreciate him while we have him.
Kell Brook, United Kingdom (33-0, 22 KO)
After years of fighting European-level opponents, Kell Brook finally stepped up and fought world-class competition for the first time this year in a clinch-filled snoozer of a fight against Shawn Porter, deservedly taking the win Porter’s title and establishing himself as a name in this division. Brook is a talented fighter, but it’s hard to gauge those Euro-level guys before they step up against real competition. Prior to beating Porter, Brook’s biggest wins were against Vyacheslav Senchenko and Carson Jones–not exactly world beaters.
That said, Brook performed well on the big stage, proving himself to be a skilled and smart fighter. He neutralized Porter’s bull rush attack with smart clinching and precision punching, and he seems to be a versatile fighter who knows what he’s doing in the ring. He still has a lot to prove–while Porter had some hype and momentum going in, the jury is still out on him–but it will be very interesting to see where he goes from here.
Timothy Bradley, USA (32-1, 12 KO)
The aforementioned Bradley is a bit of an anomoly in the fight game. He is a supremely talented boxer, a well-spoken American from California with serious skills. However, despite his talents and record, he does not draw fans at all and his uninspiring performances coming up all came together to make most boxing fans pretty ambivalent about him. He fought infrequently, his much-hyped matchup with Devon Alexander in 2011 was one of the worst fights in recent memory and his robbery decision over Manny in June of 2012 made things worse for him, as ambivalence turned to outright disdain.
Since then, Bradley has begun to turn things around. He threw caution to the wind and chose to drop the technical boxing and go toe-to-toe with fearsome puncher Ruslan Provodnikov, a decision that was a terrible fight tactic in the ring (and likely took years off of Bradley’s life, to be honest) but a great one to endear himself to fans, as he showed himself to be a true warrior in 2013’s Fight of the Year. He followed that up with a skilled and deserved decision win in a chess match against Juan Manuel Marquez, beating the old master at his own game. Even his loss earlier this year against Manny did not hurt his image, as he put up a game effort and did not fight in a boring style.
Bradley still doesn’t have any charisma, and his fights will be hit and miss forever–his crazy chin will ensure that he rarely gets visibly hurt (Pacquiao never really had him hurt in either fight) and his lack of punching power will never make him an offensive destroyer, but he’s on the map and a respected fighter all around. He’ll be around the top for the rest of his career, as long as he continues to stay in shape.
Juan Manuel Marquez, Mexico (56-7-1, 40 KO)
The 40-year old Marquez is a living boxing legend, a precise veteran counterpuncher with snap to his shots and experience in multiple wars over the years. Most known for his four fights against Pacquiao–in which he took two disputed losses and a draw before brutally knocking his rival out–Marquez remains a top contender today. He may have lost a step, as he dropped a close but clear decision to Bradley last year and won a decision against the very limited Mike Alvarado in May, but he still commands respect.
He has ceased to be as active so his relevancy is perhaps lower than it should be, and he has always been a bit of a whiner. According to Marquez, he is always getting robbed in close fights, Pacquiao does not deserve a rematch (despite Manny granting him rematches when he was the one on the winning side) and he seems to have begun handpicking opponents, choosing to fight the diminished and one-dimensional Alvarado over fighting Ruslan Provodnikov after Alvarado had already gotten dominated by Ruslan a few months earlier.
Regardless, Marquez is a legend who has given the sport a lot of big moments. His career is winding down, but one has to feel that we haven’t seen the last of Marquez yet, and that the Pacquiao-Marquez saga isn’t quite over yet.
Marcos Maidana, Argentina (35-5, 31 KO)
Maidana is a hard-punching Argentine who has evolved from a limited puncher into a smarter mauler in the ring. He’s dirty, he’s rough and he’s there to make you feel him. His crazed, smothering and seemingly random attack gave Floyd Mayweather the most trouble Floyd has seen in years in their May matchup, though he did look more tentative and frustrated as Floyd blew him out in the rematch. He is a bit small for a welterweight and the type to struggle with slick boxers; Devon Alexander took him to school a few years ago and though Maidana has improved since then, the Alexanders of the world would still give him trouble.
After years of being diehard boxing fans’ favorite maulers, Maidana has established himself as a name boxer in the last 12 months, starting with his impressive win over Adrien Broner in what was perhaps the most entertaining bout of 2013 and then of course his two 2014 fights with Mayweather. He is a notch below the very top, but will remain a fun watch and a dangerous opponent for anybody.
Keith Thurman, USA (23-0, 21 KO)
Keith Thurman is a 25-year old with scary power, boxing skills and potential, and he is a candidate to become a household name down the line. He’s well-spoken, smart and seemingly driven, and fans will always flock to guys with stopping power like this.
He’s still unproven, and has been fighting gatekeeper level fighters as he takes his time stepping up. That said, he’s passed every test in front of him, including stopping the tough Diego Chaves and the limited but solid Jesus Soto Karass. He’s missed some time in 2014 with a shoulder injury, but once this train starts rolling it may be hard to stop. Expect fireworks with Thurman. You’ll be hearing from him.
Amir Kahn, United Kingdom (29-3, 19 KO)
Kahn, a one-time top prospect with blazing fast handspeed and a swarming offensive game, has seemed on the verge of true boxing stardom for some time now. He had major networks in his corner, he’s good-looking, cocky and tended to make for good fights.
However, the man has one major, major weakness, and that is that he has been cursed with a chin made of glass. After recovering from an early career knockout against gatekeeper journeyman Breidis Prescott to rebuild his name, he lost a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson before being totally movie-actor hammered in a fight against Danny Garcia.
Kahn, who was winning the Garcia fight at the time that shot landed, has tried to reinvent himself as a more careful fighter by hiring trainer Virgil Hunter, who outside of Andre Ward hasn’t really proven himself to be a great thing for his fighters–Kahn has looked awkward and uncomfortable in the ring, thinking too much at times and losing that explosive power and attack that made him a rising star in lackluster wins over Carlos Molina and Juan Diaz.
Kahn screwed his career up a bit when it looked like he was going to land the Mayweather fight last May, as he backed out of a fight against Devon Alexander and looked like an idiot doing it. But he looked a little better and more comfortable fighting his new style against Luis Collazo on the Mayweather undercard, effectively clinching and outpointing Collazo in a fight where he was effective and less exciting than he’d ever been before. His name (undeservedly) remains on the Mayweather shortlist, but unless he finds his balls-to-the-wall attack, the new Virgil Hunter-calculated style is going to do him no favors against Floyd. Kahn is an interesting fighter and a decent name, and he’s still only 27, but he may never live up to his early career expectations due to that glass jaw and making poor career choices.
Shawn Porter, USA (24-1-1, 15 KO)
Porter is a young American fighter who was getting pound-for-pound buzz after an impressive win over Devon Alexander and blowing out veteran Paulie Malignaggi for a belt, but the hype train derailed after a pedestrian performance against Kell Brook this summer. Porter is a likable guy, short and stocky, bull-rushing physical power, but Brook made him look pedestrian and like a man who gets lost when his initial onslaught is stymied, a man without a plan B.
Adrien Broner, USA (29-1, 22 KO)
Cincinnati’s Adrien Broner is a fighter straight from the Floyd Mayweather School of Personas: flashy, abrasive, cocky behind belief, Broner’s personality is like a pale imitation of Floyd’s, except trashier and unsubstantiated. Broner, a still-young (25) and incredibly hyped fighter who built a name beating up on smaller guys in the lightweight division, moved up and took a decision against Paulie Malignaggi before getting his won ass shoved down his throat by Maidana in ridiculously entertaining fashion. The loss saw his star fall back to earth a bit, and he has since looked just decent in wins against Emmanuel Taylor and Carlos Molina.
Broner is physically talented, a fighter that packs a pretty solid punch and has athleticism and skills to be dangerous. He is technically subpar though, and is far too inactive in his fights, content to load up on one or two punches at a time. His defense is not even close to as good as he seems to think it is, though he does have a chin and a heart, which he proved by recovering from an initial beating by Maidana to recover and finish the fight competitively. With his youth, he has a shot to be something again one day, but he needs to take boxing more seriously. He’s trying to live the life of Floyd Mayweather without putting in the work and earning his paychecks in between the ropes.
Other names of interest: Devon Alexander, USA (26-2, 14 KO); Robert Guerrero, USA (32-2-1, 18 KO); Brandon Rios, USA (32-2-1, 23 KO); Ray Robinson, USA (18-2, 8 KO); Luis Abregu, Argentina (36-1, 29 KO); Leonard Bundu, Italy (31-0-2, 11 KO)