Over the weekend, boxing fans got a real treat from watching the hyped-up fight between Saul Alvarez and James Kirkland, which got a live gate of 30,000 fans.
The fight ended with Alvarez (45-1 with 32 knockouts) decking Kirkland (32-2 with 28 KOs) for a real knockout in the third round, which was expected. Some boxing writers saw the fight somewhat as a balm for the disappointing outcome of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight held a week earlier.
Alvarez-Kirkland was like a trip to the best eat-all-you-can restaurant at a bargain, while Mayweather-Pacquiao was like eating at a hamburger stand when you paid for a five-star hotel meal.
The bout between Alvarez and Kirkland, however, was also about showing to the whole world that boxing is not only about Mayweather and Pacquiao, because Alvarez and a host of other exciting fighters are ready to create their own era where the thunder no longer belongs to the heavyweight division, again.
Besides Alvarez, who was the former world junior middleweight champion, the other boxers at the welterweight to middleweight divisions who can save boxing are Gennady Golovkin, Erislandy Lara, Keith Thurman and Terrence Crawford.
Golovkin is the reigning World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Organization world middleweight champion who is undefeated at 32-0 with 29 KOs, while Lara lost a close decision to Alvarez on July 2014 but now holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) junior middleweight title. His record is 20-2 with 12 KOs.
Thurman now holds the WBA world welterweight title and is undefeated at 25-0 with 21 KOs, while Crawford, who is the World Boxing Organization world lightweight and junior welterweight champion, has a record of 26-0 with 18 KOs.
We can also add to the mix a rejuvenated Miguel Cotto (39-4 with 32 KOs), Amir Khan (30-3 with 19 KOs), Marcos Maidana (35-5 with 31 KOs), Lucas Matthysse (37-3 with 34 KOs) and Danny Garcia (30-0 with 17 KOs).
I dropped Ruslan Providnikov (24-4 with 17 KOs) from the list because he has sustained three successive close losses, while Chris Algieri (20-1 with 8 KOs) still has to make an impressive showing.
Two things are common to all the boxers I mentioned: they love to mix it up, and except for Cotto and Khan, none of them have suffered a terrible stoppage loss.
At this point, it is Alvarez who can take the place of either Pacquiao or Mayweather if he continues his winning streak, while Golovkin is regard-ed as the deadliest. Lara, on the other hand, is the only counter puncher in the group but he is no snoozer.
Only Alvarez and Maidana have links to Mayweather, who defeated both boxers via decision.
There are mounting calls for Alvarez to face Cotto and then Golovkin, which may result to fights having the thunder of the bouts when the best of those in the welterweights and middleweight divisions were slugging it out.
With so many young and powerful boxers around in the welterweight to middleweight divisions, Pacquiao and Mayweather should consider stepping aside or retiring and let the “young guns” take the spotlight. Of course, I do not want to see Pacquiao being urged to fight Alvarez, Lara or Thurman. You know what I mean. As for Mayweather, he may likely not gamble fighting Alvarez anew, or getting into the ring with Lara.
The only thing that can spoil the potential excitement in the welterweight to middleweight divisions in the coming years is promoters and managers will “protect” their boxers, or not allow them to take risky fights.
So that means Alvarez-Golovkin or even Thurman-Lara, among others, will have to wait for up to five years just like Mayweather-Pacquiao. That’s bad for boxing but good for mixed martial arts.