Super welterweight division still up for grabs
By Gav Duthie: The Super Welterweight division has to be the most interesting division in boxing right now. Titles are being passed around like a basket of breadsticks as nobody seems to be able to get a foothold on the division. Kell Brook fought and won on Saturday night and instead of his usual calling out Amir Khan he stated his intention to become a 2- weight world champion. What are his chances? Who are the other title holders and will we get anyone to finally dominate the division be it Kell or anyone else?
This article examines the most frenetic division in boxing to predict a more stable future with dominant champions.
List of champions
Since Floyd Mayweather retired from competitive boxing the 154lb division has exploded. Floyd held the titles to ransom for a while whilst he was WBC and WBA champion making it hard for any stars to emerge. Despite being at the summit for a few years Floyd only fought Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana (2nd fight) from 2012-15 (Conor McGregor aside). Upon his retirement there was a chance for new stars to emerge but 5 years later it still has yet to fully happen but for a different reason. Everyone keeps beating each other. There have been several changes of the guard in the last half of the decade.
Champions since Mayweather’s retirement
Jermell Charlo, Tony Harrison, Jermell Charlo
WBA Super and Regular
Erislandy Lara, Brian Carlos Castano, Jarrett Hurd, Julian Williams, Jeison Rosario, Erislandy Lara
Jermall Charlo, Jarrett Hurd, Julian Williams, Jeison Rosario
Liam Smith, Saul Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Sadam Ali, Jaime Manguia, Patrick Texeira
At present the most successful champions don’t even fight in the division anymore. Manguia made 5 quick defences of his title he won from Sadam Ali but now resides at 160lbs as is the case with Jermall Charlo who gave up his IBF belt before moving and is now the current WBC middleweight champion.
Jermell Charlo looked to be the divisions best after his twin brother moved up. When he defended his title against Tony Harrison he was a huge favourite. Harrison has power and is a good boxer but had been knocked out previously by Willie Nelson and Jarrett Hurd so he was not expected to cause problems. Harrison boxed a disciplined fight to win against Charlo. Respect to Charlo for winning the rematch but he definitely showed cracks in both fights.
I have been hearing for the best part of 5 years that Erickson Lubin was going to be a star and take over either at welterweight or super welterweight. When he got his chance against Jermell Charlo he was knocked out in 1 round by the first meaningful landed punch. To his credit he hasn’t let it derail him too much winning 4 fights since then. He will get another chance.
Jarrett Hurd looked like an unstoppable force. He knocked out Tony Harrison with one big punch and is the only man to stop Austin Trout. Trout showed great defensive skills early but like a freight train Hurd just kept going. He outfought arguably the divisions most talented fighter in Erislandy Lara so his defence against Julian Williams was seen as straight forward. Hurd never got going and lost to Williams on points.
Hurd decided not to take an immediate rematch as he could have so J-Rock Julian Williams took what was seen as a soft voluntary defence against Jeison Rosario. Rosario was seen as decent but having lost to second tier contender Nathaniel Gallimore this was seen as nothing more than a homecoming showcase for Williams but he was knocked out in the 5th round.
It really feels like a division that nobody can dominate. Can any of the current champions break out from the pack or will it come from some of the others.
The division is still there for the taking by any of the current champions plus a host of others. Here are some of the other contenders and my take on their chance to become champions and even unified belt holders. From most likely to least.
1. Brian Carlos Castano 16-0-1 (12)
Negotiations are ongoing for the Argentine to have an all South American clash against Patrick Texeira for the WBO title. Texeira just recently won the belt but I fully expect Castano to take it from him. His only blemish was a draw against Lara but many felt he was aggressive and accurate enough to have deserved the win. This fight should take place in April or May.
2. Kell Brook 39-2 (27)
Brook scored a good win over Mark De Luca on Saturday night. Because of Brooks inactivity only the WBC kept him ranked at #10 with the other organisations dropping him. De Luca was ranked #7 with the WBA though so Brook should take his place there at least. The bout was also for the WBO inter-continental title meaning that Brook should be ranked by the WBC, WBA and WBO next week. There is talk of a possible match with former world champion Liam Smith but Eddie Hearn has said this only happens if its a final eliminator to face the Texeira v Castano winner.
3. Erickson Lubin 22-1 (16)
It was a skilled but strange counter punch that knocked Lubin out when he faced Charlo. Lubin was ducking down when he got hit. I still think he’s a great talent, its boxing, people get knocked out as simple as that. Lubin has manoeuvred his way into the #1 position with the WBC again. It is a credit to him that he would be happy to face Charlo again.
4. Jeff Horn 20-2-1 (13)
The Aussie can’t be completely discounted. He has been a world champion before beating Manny Pacquaio and is very resilient. Horn made an ill advised move to go from Welterweight up to middleweight. At the time it made sense because he destroyed Australian legend Anthony Mundine in 1 round. That gave Horn a false sense that he had power at 160 but in reality it was more to do with Mundine being completely past it. He stayed to fight another compatriot Michael Zerafa and ended up getting knocked out and winning a close rematch. After the bout his management team said Horn will never fight at 160 again and is now signed to fight another compatriot in Tim Tszyu at 154 lbs which will be his home for the foreseeable future.
5. Sergio Garcia 31-0 (13)
The current European champion has gone a bit under the radar but has built up a decent record and is well ranked at #2 with the WBC. He is a good defensive boxer that links well with a solid jab. The left hook to the body is probably his best punch. He doesn’t look to be talented enough to take over but the way things are going who knows what he can achieve.
6. Magomed Kurbanov 18-0 (11)
The Russian is a solid fighter who’s last outing was a win over Diego Chaves who is well past his best. He is a solid fighter who is aggressive and tight. The 154lb division with guys like Williams, Rosario, Castano has a lot of toe to toe potential fights and this suits Kurbanov.
7. Tim Tszyu 15-0 (11)
Obviously if Tszyu beats Horn he takes his place. There is no rematch clause for the bout and this is really Tszyu’s come out party. At present it is obviously difficult for him because he is living in the shadow of his famous father Kostya Tszyu. Of what I have seen he looks good, patient but with power. He hasn’t faced anyone near Horns level. Horn will look to rush Tszyu and take him out of his comfort zone. It should be a good bout and the winner will have a good chance of getting a title shot soon.
154 lb domination
At the moment the topsy turvy nature of the division is making it the most exciting out there. Despite their being few stars numbers have been good for fights like Charlo-Harrison and Williams-Rosario because fans don’t quite know who is going to win. Maybe the division doesn’t need an out and out star with the prospect of 50/50 fights being the unique selling point at super welterweight. My gut tells me that if anyone can dominate over the next 3 years it will be between Jermell Charlo or Kell Brook.