• Welterweight division crowded, competitive

    Conrad M. Cariño

    Conrad M. Cariño

    The welterweight unification title bout between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia over the weekend showed how competitive the welterweight division is today.

    I wasn’t expecting the fight to end in a stoppage much less a knockout because both fighters would somehow show respect for each other’s power. And both fighters could take a punch and turned out to possess good fighting skills. There were a few exchanges but overall, both elected to box and even counterpunch during much of the fight.

    Thurman’s edge in power and Garcia’s granite chin proved to be major factors in the fight, but as the final bell sounded, it was Thurman who got the nod of two of the three judges. It was a competitive fight!

    With the win, Thurman unified the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association welterweight titles.

    Thurman-Garcia was only the third bout between two undefeated welterweight titleholders in boxing history. And it drew a crowd of at least 16,000 showing it was much awaited by the sport’s fans.

    If the bout ended with one fighter getting beaten badly, by stoppage, knockout or a shutout decision, that would have been good news for welterweights like Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao, among others. But Garcia the loser hardly looked shaken after the bout.

    Even Shawn Porter, who lost to Thurman by decision in June last year, looks far from being a finished fighter. Porter is the former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion.

    Lurking behind the Thurman-Garcia bout is the fight between undefeated Errol Spence Jr. and current IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in May in what I see as a very significant one for the division.

    If Spence wins, he would establish himself as among the top five welterweights in the world, counting also Pacquiao.

    But another fighter is looking to invade the welterweight ranks: Terrence Crawford who is actually is large for junior welterweight (140 pounds). He is the WBC and World Boxing Organization world champion at junior welterweight.

    Going into the May bout between Brook and Spence, the fight ending in a close decision with neither fighter looking badly beaten, even if the title changes hands, will further show how competitive the welterweight division is.

    Brook, despite losing to knockout artist Gennady Golovkin in his last outing for the middleweight (160 pounds) championship, is ranked the top welterweight in the world by The Ring magazine.

    This “mix up” in the welterweight division between top fighters Brook, Thurman, Garcia, Spence and even Porter means there will be fighters who will have to fall by the wayside to determine who is the top dogs in the division. Then there’s Crawford looking to crowd the welterweight ranks. Those who will fall by the wayside can come from the ranks of the top fighters or those who are no longer competitive in the division.

    With a good number of top fighters at welterweight, the division looks like it is entering another “golden era.”

    The welterweight division had a golden era when the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Wilfredo Benitez, among others, were trading leather. That was followed by the Oscar Dela Hoya era that was also made up of Felix Trinidad, Ricardo Mayorga, Fernando Vargas and Shane Mosley, among others.

    Now the question is: what’s next for Pacquiao given the very competitive welterweight scene?


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