By Asif ‘Doc’ Mahmood
We recently witnessed a very good fight between two belt holders in a division with a deep and rich history. The WBC belt holder Badou Jack fought back to a fair draw against IBF champion James DeGale. Those who follow me on twitter may have come across a few comments I made at the time. The end result of the fight was fair and I got satisfaction from Eddie Hearn’s prediction, which was wrong, in that Degale would win every round and that the winner would be the best in the division. The other belt holders include Mexico’s undefeated WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez with the scandalous WBA title being shared between Fedor Chudinov and Tyron Zeuge.
Over recent years we have witnessed an excellent Super 6 tournament with great fighters such as Andre Ward, Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler.
It made me realise that the division now has four champions but no actual proven elite or even world class boxer. Yes, they are very good boxers caught in a great triangle theory by throwing George Groves into the mix given his history with both Degale and Jack. The latter is moving up to light-heavyweight so he is now out of the picture. Jack is seeking a fight with Adonis Stevenson which is very much feasible but Superman is in negotiations with Joe Smith Jr and also has a mandatory (Bute/Alvarez) to commit too.
We then have Callum Smith who will likely face Anthony Dirrell for the soon-to-be-vacant WBC trinket. There was a lot of hype around probably the most talented Smith brother but his long wait for the WBC mandatory seems to have fizzled this out somewhat.
“King “ Arthur Abraham is a shadow of his former self and is in a WBO eliminator vs Robin Krasniqi which is horrendous as nobody wants to see him rematch the aforementioned Ramirez where he was beaten comprehensively.
You know the division is weak when the disgraceful Paul Smith Jr can get recurrent world title fights despite not progressing beyond British level.
My personal hope is that if our British fighters can get hold of the IBF, WBC and WBA belts we can see some excellent domestic unification fights to see who the man on this side of the Atlantic is. I rate Gilberto Ramirez highly and feel he causes any current champion problems if he can remain injury free.
The current crop of middleweights would have failed miserably in the Super 6 tournament and reflects the poor standard of the division but I feel the winner of Gilberto Ramirez versus the last Brit standing can call themselves world class.
There have been mentions of Golovkin stepping up but given his age I don’t see him having the longevity at super-middleweight. I do think that should he continue to improve Chris Eubank Jr can ask questions of all those currently at the Division. #warIBO
Photo Credit: Sky Sports
By Asif Mahmood
The middleweight division is one of my favourite divisions, ever since we saw the emergence of Gennady Golovkin when he faced Proksa on his HBO debut. Most boxing fans are aware that the best fight that can be made is between the unified champ, nicknamed “Triple G” or “GGG”, and one of the biggest Pay-Per-View (PPV) stars in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
The gulf between these two and the rest of the division is HUGE, which could be due to the elite quality of the above or due to the mediocrity of the rest. There are a few sound contenders making some noise and this article will discuss the current state of the division.
Golovkin is due to fight “miracle man” Daniel Jacobs which is arguably, on paper, the fight between the two best middleweights. I say this because Canelo can’t seem to make up his mind about what his real weight class is but whichever it is his management will make sure it is not the same as GGG for now. Jacobs has some good wins over names like Quillin, Truax, Mora and Fletcher. It is the best fight out there for both boxers at the moment and I for one am happy this got made. The reason for this is, we know Jacobs is advised by Al Haymon but the consensus was that a deal would never get made due to the politics in boxing. The PPV segment of the fight made this fight and although it is not a PPV fight, if that is what it takes to make this fight then so be it.
The rest of the division has been cleaned out by GGG. He has wiped the floor with fringe contenders and champions with the likes of Lemieux, Wade, Monroe Jr, Murray, Macklin, Curtis Stevens and blown up welterweight Kell Brook all being defeated.
I do not see the GGG–Canelo fight happening this year, as the latter will go on to rematch boxing’s diva Miguel Cotto
We have the very inactive Billy Joe Saunders who reminds me of former cruiserweight Guillermo Jones, given his high levels of inactivity as champ. In reality he is just buying time to see which promotion offers him the most money for his WBO belt – Golden boy or K2. We know the WBO mandatory is now Canelo but as he is seeking a fight versus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr I expect Saunders to sit quietly in his caravan.
Chris Eubank Jr is an enigma as looking past him (and his father’s circus act) he is actually a very talented fighter with very good hand speed. I actually believe he causes GGG a lot of problems. Yes he already lost to BJS but I feel he is a much better fighter now and hence why a lot of people see him beating BJS should they ever rematch. It remains to be seen if he returns to middleweight as there are plenty of domestic fights for him at super-middleweight.
Maciej Sulecki has been fighting on PBC over the past two years and has an undefeated record with a recent step-up in competition which he won all by KO. He has wins over the likes of Proksa, Cunningham, Findley and probably his best win to date came against Hugo Centeno Jr. This was a battle between two undefeated prospects which the Pole won impressively.
Rated: Asif enjoyed Sulecki’s battle with Centeno Jnr
Hassan N’dam N’jikam is a funny guy as he has two losses, both in title fights where he was dropped six times, but still won six rounds in those fights. He is coming off a Knockout of the Year victory over Alfonso Blanco to put himself in a good position to fight GGG at some stage. Most likely he will get dropped multiple times but it would be interesting to see if GGG can be the first guy to STOP the Frenchman. Personally I think he should fight fellow French fighter Michel Soro who is also a fringe contender fighting between light-middleweight and middleweight.
Jorge Heiland is an unlucky man as he beat Mathew Macklin many moons ago in a WBC Eliminator. We all know Jose Suleiman bent his fat rear end over for Cotto and Canelo only for them to leave him crying. Heiland was forced to wait around for the past two years and has now been told he must fight in a four-man tournament with Lemieux, Stevens and Khytrov for the winner to fight for the WBC title against Golovkin. Personally I hope he does go on to win the tournament which I think he can as I don’t want to see GGG fighting his own leftovers.
I will end with Avtandil Khurtsidze who was the original mandatory for Billy Joe Saunders before the Puerto Rican-based WBO saw more money in their pockets with Canelo. To be fair, they did not break any of their rules but once again the brutality of the business shows how a smaller-promoted fighter struggles in the world where money is the root of all evil. At 37 years of age he is waiting for that final pay day which WILL be for the WBO title but either versus Canelo or BJS at a yet unknown date.
Khurtsidze beats Douglas but has struggled to secure a title shot
Once again the gap between the two levels is very large and I anticipate many fighters in the lower divisions such as the Charlo Brothers, Lara and Andrade will all eventually move up to middleweight but with the luxury of multiple titles I do not see many fights where they fight one another.
Whatever happens as long as Golovkin remains active he can dispose of these fighters before Canelo gets his hands on them forcing him through no other path but his.
Follow the Doc on Twitter @Doc_Asif
Photo Credit(s): HBO Boxing, roundbyroundboxing.com.