The Welterweight scene has traditionally been a deep division, and today’s 147-pound division, even with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao removed, is still red-hot. Its champions have plenty of bona-fide threats rising through the ranks, and 2016 to 2017 should feature a number of meaningful fights, all beginning with June’s Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter.
So, with that in mind, let’s check out the current scene, what’s been going on in recent times, and what fight fans have to look forward to in the near future.
Welterweight Scene Overview
Champions: Kell Brook, IBF (36-0, 25 KO), Keith Thurman, WBA (26-0, 22 KO), Danny Garcia (32-0, 18 KO), WBC (32-0, 18 KO), Jessie Vargas, WBO (27-1, 10 KO)
Game-Changer: Errol Spence Jr vs Chris Algieri, TKO 5 (May, 2016). Spence pulled off a breakout performance against the steely operator, knocking Algieri down three times in the 5-round demolition job.
Best Fight: Jessie Vargas vs Sadam Ali, TKO 9 (March, 2016)
Biggest Upset: Jessie Vargas vs Sadam Ali. Jessie Vargas got his second shot at capturing the WBO Welterweight strap against top prospect Sadam Ali, and boy did he perform. The pair engaged in a thrilling tear up, with Vargas knocking down the previously undefeated Ali with sledge hammer right hands en route to a 9th round stoppage.
Best Boxers: Kell Brook, Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KO), Errol Spence Jr (20-0, 17 KO). Note: Boxing Base, for now, considers Amir Khan a Welterweight (though he will meet with Canelo Alvarez at 155-pounds on May 7th).
Undefeated Destroyers: Kell Brook, Errol Spence Jr, Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KO)
Division Top Dogs: (See Boxing Base’s 147-Pound World Top 10)
Noteworthy Top 10 Outsiders: Victor Ortiz (31-5-2, 24 KO), Andre Berto (30-4, 23 KO), Chris Algieri (21-3, 8 KO), Sammy Vasquez Jr (21-0, 15 KO), Brandon Rios (33-3-1, 24 KO), Sadam Ali (22-1, 13 KO), Diego Gabriel Chaves (23-2-1, 19 KO), Frankie Gavin (22-2, 13 KO), Jeff Horn (13-0-1, 8 KO) Leonard Bundu (33-1-2, 12 KO), David Avanesyan (21-1-1, 11 KO)
Best Prospect: Errol Spence Jr. The uber-prospect has been making mincemeat of some notable fringe contenders and most recently became the first man to stop iron-willed Chris Algieri. For the record, neither Manny Pacquiao (who knocked down Algieri six times) nor Amir Khan were able to achieve that feat.
Great Gatekeepers: Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18 KO), Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-2, 23 KO), Aaron Martinez (20-5-1, 4 KO)
Most Protected: Danny Garcia. The two-weight champ is a fine boxer-puncher but has received much criticism for participating in a bunch of mismatches – including an odd catchweight affair with unheralded Rod Salka – since destroying Amir Khan down at 140 pounds in 2012. At Welterweight, Garcia is yet to cross a legitimate threat, having beaten a shopworn Paulie Malignaggi last August, and a limited Robert Guerrero in January.
Amir Khan. The British standout is a fantastic talent but – while Mayweather and Pacquiao were still in town – did a superb job of staying busy against…well, stay-busy opponents. Khan remained relevant by defeating a string of beatable ex-champs in Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri.
Most Avoided: That’s a tough one. Not many fighters in the current Welter Top 10 have locked horns recently, but it would be inaccurate to say it’s due to ‘avoidance’ behavior. If anything, it’s due to boxing politics and maybe to do with Al Haymon representing a host of the biggest names and plumping them up for mega fights in the seeable future.
Can’t Land a Big Fight: Kell Brook. Boxing Base’s undefeated No.1 Welterweight won a Majority Decision over Shawn Porter back in 2014, but has struggled to meet with a Top 10 opponent since. A plague of injuries – even being stabbed while on vacation – plus difficulty negotiating terms with US marquee names, has presented major problems in this area.
Big Upcoming 2016 Fights: Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter (June 25th), Andre Berto vs Victor Ortiz (April 30th), Frankie Gomez vs Mauricio Herrera (May 7th)
Winners in Defeat: Sadam Ali. He may have been eventually savagely chopped down by Jessie Vargas in their March encounter, but it was a furiously competitive barnburner before Vargas found that fight-changing right hand. Ali’s record may now contain a blemish, but he helped produce what was arguably the best Welterweight scrap in recent memory.
Timothy Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KO). The athletic all-rounder faced adversary Manny Pacquiao for the third time recently, but this time was gracious in defeat, stating the better man simply won (more below).
Catch HBO’s Vargas vs Ali Fight Highlights:
Out With a Bang: Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KO). The future politician and boxing Hall of Famer bowed out of the sport by knocking down rival Timothy Bradley twice en route to earning a clear Unanimous Decision. Pacquiao settled the score once and for all in their rubber match, leaving the sport on a high note, even if it wasn’t the matchup fight fans were clamoring to see.
On the Way Down: Chris Algieri. The gritty warrior tasted world glory briefly after defeating nightmare-banger Ruslan Provodnikov in 2014, but has struggled with elite opposition ever since. His determination to remain at top-level is most admirable, but his appeal surely took a major hit when he was demolished inside five one-sided rounds by Errol Spence Jr a week ago.
Robert Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KO). The former champ has plenty of drive and fight left, but has been turning in sub-par performances ever since being whipped by Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Defeats to Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia are understandable, but hard-fought close decisions over gatekeeper-types Yoshihiro Kamegai and Aaron Martinez have raised some questions.
Is He the Real Deal?: Errol Spence Jr. Now, I think it’s fairly obvious Spence doesn’t deserve to be in this category, granted. Stepping off the hype train for a minute, however, we all have to accept that question marks will remain over this standout’s head until he comes face to face with a legitimate Welterweight threat. A win over any Top 10 player should be more than enough to do the trick.
Will They Return?: Floyd Mayweather (49-0, 26 KO) and Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather left the sport after trumping Andre Berto last September, with Pacquiao recently following suit after conquering Timothy Bradley earlier this month. Their gloves are off, but the sport of boxing is a proven temptress who has seduced many a fighter back from retirement before. We’ll soon see.
Dream Fights: Amir Khan vs Danny Garcia II, Kell Brook vs Errol Spence Jr, to name but a few.
Time to Hang Em’ Up: DeMarcus Corley (44-27-1, 26 KO). The ex-champ, now 41, is way past his best, but remains one of boxing’s pugilists. There’s a long list of other Welters who could probably do with calling it a day, with fighters like Paulie Malignaggi, who performed underwhelming en route to getting crushed by Danny Garcia last August, being some of the more notable ones.
Threats From Below: Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KO) and Terence Crawford (28-0, 20 KO). Both are unbeaten standouts and champions with very impressive resumes at 140 pounds, and could prove a real handful up at Welter; Postol being the more obvious given his 5’ 11” stature.
Give us your thoughts on today’s Welterweight boxing scene and what’s to come in 2016/17. Agree with our review? Have something you’d like to add? Fire away in the comments below.