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The Fall of the Welterweight Division

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COMMENTARY | For twelve rounds on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Devon Alexander fought Randall Bailey as though Bailey were made of angry bees. Run, Run, Run...Swing at air, swing at air.

For his part, Bailey averaged just under seventeen punches thrown per round. The 38-year-old was unable to catch the fleet-footed Alexander and never even really bothered to try.

More nauseating than the ring reality of this Ambien-coated Showtime snoozer was the fact that Bailey was actually the defending IBF world welterweight champ.

When Alexander was awarded the belt via unanimous decision, fans rightfully greeted the new champ with a chorus of boos. It was quite possibly one of the worst welterweight title fights of all-time. And, without the aid of a boxing historian at my side, I'll even venture so far as to say that it could've been the worst of all-time.

Later that evening, fans were treated to WBA welterweight champ, Paulie Malignaggi being Paulie Malignaggi. Light-hitting and in a perpetual prevent defense, the Brooklyn native does his best work in the pre-fight and post-fight interviews. Everything after the opening bell and before the closing bell is pure nothingness. The only time things get interesting is when he's getting pounded into hair product sludge by a true world class fighter.

Looking to the WBO, their 147 lb. champ can't even get a fight. Timothy Bradley is so damaged from his controversial split decision win over Manny Pacquiao last June that he seems to be on the outs with everyone-- the fans, his promoter, the media. Even Pacquiao, himself, opted not to exercise his rematch clause for a chance at correcting the vile injustice committed against him.

In the WBC, the main welterweight title is vacant, but division newcomer, Robert Guerrero holds the interim title and will defend it against former two-time titlist Andre Berto in November. There's a chance that this could be elevated to a bout for the full title, but who really cares?

The welterweight division, historically one of boxing's glamor divisions, has fallen on hard times. This was the division of Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran. Just a couple of years ago, it boasted names such as Pacquiao, Mayweather, Cotto, Mosley, and Margarito.

Now, Manny Pacquiao is fighting an unranked arch-rival in Juan Manuel Marquez, for the fourth time, while Floyd Mayweather is busy throwing hundred dollar bills at five dollar strippers and wasting everyone's time.

Victor Ortiz will be sidelined for some time after the jaw that was busted by Josesito Lopez failed to heal properly and required a second surgery. Bailey and Alexander, with their horrid performance, pretty much eliminated one another from the good graces of fans. Except for one or two flat-footed, relatively mediocre welters from Eastern Europe, everybody seems to be on the decline or rushing to get out of the picture.

One of the few bright spots at welterweight is Kell Brook, the flashy prospect from the UK who has gradually upped the level of his opposition and is now Devon Alexander's mandatory opponent for the IBF strap. Thomas Dulorme, Shawn Porter, and Jessie Vargas show promise, but are still far away from being truly battle-tested top welterweights.

A serious and work-ready Floyd Mayweather would be a big first step in getting the division back in order. Pacquiao, Berto, and Ortiz are also key figures. Former contender, Mike Jones, was demoralized after getting KO'd by Randall Bailey late in a world title bout he was clearly winning, but a return to action would only be a good thing for the division.. And if Brook develops to his full potential, he could make some serious waves.

But, overall, the division is in a bad place at the moment and won't likely get better until the next wave of stars begins to enter the scene.

In the meantime, let's just hope that the snoozers are held to a minimum and that the pretenders get the belts snatched from their grasp.


Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.


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