By Anthony George
The welterweight division has always been known as the glamour division of boxing. For decades, 147-pound fighters have captivated audiences with their unique combination of brute force and scientific prowess. No other division can claim as many scientific boxers, gritty brawlers, great chins, knockout artists and proud champions, as does boxing’s welterweight division.
Indeed, pugilists such as Barney Ross, Henry Armstrong, Carmen Basilio, Emile Griffith, Jose Napoles, Carlos Palomino and Pipino Cuevas are champions for all-time. They would have ‘brung it’ in any era. There is a reason why many boxing purists point to Wilfred Benítez as “The Bible of Boxing’ for his great defensive prowess. If that were not enough, the welterweight division is also home of Sugar Ray Robinson, the other ‘Bible of Boxing’, who is also regarded as boxing’s favorite son.
The welterweight division is also home to some of the greatest fights in boxing history, Basilio vs. DeMarco, The Griffth vs. Paret Trilogy, Duran vs. Leonard, Leonard vs. Hearns, Honeyghan vs. Curry, Davis vs. Breland, Mosely vs. DeLahoya. I can go on…
The history of the 147-pound division does not take a backseat to any weight class in boxing. Any further greatness to unfold in this division would be gravy to an already great stew.
The current welterweight division appears to have an abundance of gravy. Here is a look at some of the impressive boxers who are now lacing ‘em up in the welterweight division.
Egis Kavaliauskas- Heavy hands is the best way to describe “The Mean Machine” Egis has been brought along by Top Rank and appears to be ready for that next step. While he can punch through walls, Egis’ approach in the ring is one of patience, always working off his jab. A jab that is indeed a power punch. In his last bout, against David Avanesyan, the commentators where inpatient with Egis’ offensive output, ‘where are the fireworks?!’ was the cry of the announcers. Well, just as the television crew were criticizing Egis’ lack of firepower, the undefeated pugilist placed a perfectly looped right hand over the tight guard of Avanesyan. The end came soon after that great punch. Egis has more than a punchers chance against any top welterweight.
Yordenis Ugas- On the surface, it might appear that Ugas is a tier below the top welters. However, unlike most of the other fighters in this great division, Ugas has been very active, and is getting better on the job. His sneaky counter right hand could be a problem for the southpaw Errol Spence, as well as the come right out you Shawn Porter. Nobody can question that this guy has been fighting his way to a title shot at 147. If he gets one soon, it is great for boxing.
Shawn Porter- Porter fights ugly, but it is ugly on a high level. A kind of style that no other pugilist will ever feel comfortable fighting. Porter is always in shape and has a strong chin. Close losses to top competition like Kell Brook and WBC titleholder Keith Thurman is what is keeping Shawn from being an undefeated champion.
Danny Garcia- His only blemish was a split decision loss to Thurman. A fight that I did not think was that close, however, it cannot be said that “Swift” was physically dominated by “One Time.” While some might be saying Danny should have more loses; and I hear you loud and clear, that doesn’t really matter in this division right now. What is more substantial is that Danny can fight, has a great chin and is coming off a spectacular KO over the more than game Brandon Rios. Still a dangerous draw for any champion.
Jeff Horn- I admit that I do not know much about Horn. Should I? If not for a terrible decision against the long in the tooth Manny Pacquiao, Horn would not even be in the discussion of the top welterweights today. I respect Horn in the sense that he is a tough guy, for sure, but will anybody be talking about him after the Terence Crawford fight? If we are, that means I, along with everyone else, will be eating the biggest pot of crow ever prepared.
Errol Spence Jr.- If you have watched Spence since he turned pro you will notice the subtle improvements to his all-around style. His performance against Lamont Peterson was textbook offense. Spence is sheer brute force who knows how to finish. Some insiders have whispered to me that Spence cannot take a punch. While I cannot endorse this whisper as Gospel, and I have seen no evidence to support this claim, I do know we will find out soon enough, as big fights, against big punchers, are on the horizon for this impressive young star.
Terrence Crawford- Bud is a popular choice for many boxing writers as the top P4P star in the sport. I cannot say I agree with this notion because I do not believe in P4P lists. With that being said, there is no doubt that Crawford is one of the best in boxing today and his entrance into the 147-pound division is terrific news for boxing fans. My only issue with Crawford is I think he has, for the most part, feasted on undersized opponents. I am eager to see him face boxers who are more in keeping with his size the day after the weigh in. While Crawford is fighting a champion in Horn in his first fight at 147, Horn is not even close to being in the top five at 147. The good news is that Terrence should soon have a belt to defend and hopefully unify.
Keith Thurman- The undefeated Thurman should still be considered the top 147-pound champion at this point. For one, he holds two belts, the WBA & the WBC. Two, his back to back wins against Porter and Garcia is more impressive than anything the other title holders have on their resume. Indeed, Thurman has not been active and will be coming back from right elbow surgery; there is no guarantee he will ever be the same, and, unlike some of the other top welters, might not get any better than what we have already seen from him. Which is pretty dam good. Do not get me wrong, however, if his best days are behind him, what will that mean if he fights Spence or Crawford, fighters who are no doubt improving? Or Egis or Ugas? Two fighters who are improving and are hungry. Or Garcia or Porter? Two veterans who have been more active than he has and are still hungry. Indeed, Thurman will have to keep his top status by fighting against an unbelievable crop of talent. Good news for us, if we get to see it.
If all goes well, we should have a definitive 147-pound boxer by the end of 2019. But this is boxing, while there is no excuse for these welters not to fight each other in some capacity, injuries and politics often spoil the best laid out plans in the sweet science. The former is part of the sport and there is nothing we can do about that; the latter is the ugly stain we may never get rid of.
The fact that Terrence Crawford is a Top Rank fighter and most of the others are not should mean nothing, but we all know it means everything. The one bright spot is that all these fighters appear to care about being the best, and not afraid to face the best. Therefore, maybe they will force the issue when the time comes. They have a chance to make the welterweight division proud and the fans euphoric. Let’s make a fight!
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