The welterweight division has been traditionally known as one of boxing's glamor divisions and that's still very much the case these days.
Containing the sport's two biggest cash cows and at least three of boxing's top five pound for pound fighters, there's no denying that there's an absolute embarrassment of riches to be found in the 147 lb. class. And, right below the top level, the division also boasts a deep roster of quality second and third tier fighters.
Assuming absolute matchmaking power in a world without promotional rivalries, here's a look at five welterweight battles that must be made:
Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) V
After four thrilling battles, it certainly seemed as though Mexico's Marquez had slammed the lid on the Marquez-Pacquiao saga with his devastating sixth round knockout of the Filipino icon. However, talk has started to spread about a possible fifth meeting between the future first-ballot hall of famers. Considering the entertainment value of all four previous contests, boxing could do a lot worse than to revisit this compelling series. With vengeance and redemption on his mind, Pacquiao could very well enter the ring more motivated than ever. Marquez, with the confidence generated from having knocked Pacquiao cold, could be even more confident of his abilities the fifth time around.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (43-0, 26 KOs) vs. Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs)
Just a few weeks ago, many would've laughed at the idea of matching Guerrero,a former featherweight and super featherweight titlist, against the five-division world champ, pound-for-pound alpha dog. Now, after Guerrero's solid handling of Andre Berto last month and the apparent falling apart of any Mayweather-Pacquiao hopes, the match-up doesn't look that bad. Guerrero has shown that he can physically compete with anyone in the division and has displayed a legitimate toughness to go along with his world class abilities.
Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) vs. Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs)
Since winning the WBO welterweight title via controversial split decision against Manny Pacquiao last June, Bradley has found himself on the outside, looking into a division carrying on quite well without him. Oddly, the big money Pacquiao bout and the world title belt around his waist seems to have somehow worked against him. Ortiz was on his way to a junior middleweight showdown with Saul Alvarez when the relatively unknown Josesito Lopez broke his jaw and stopped him in nine rounds. Since then, the Mexican-American former world champ has been recovering from two jaw surgeries and planning his ring return. Although Bradley and Ortiz belong to rival promotional companies (Top Rank and Golden Boy, respectively), a pairing of the two would allow for some damage control for both sides since the byproduct would likely be a spirited battle.
Paulie Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs) vs. The Winner of Devon Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs)-Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs)
Malignaggi is the reigning WBA welterweight titlist, but is also universally recognized as the most vulnerable of all current 147 lb. champs. Devon Alexander just won the IBF title and will be defending it against the well-regarded UK prospect, Kell Brook in January. Malignaggi vs. the winner of Alexander-Brook would be for the right to become a two-belt champ and, more importantly, for the right to move to the top spot of the division's second tier. Don't expect a Fight of the Year candidate from this match-up, but it would be a solid, divisional fight that could help lead to bigger, better contests down the line.
Marcos Maidana (32-3, 29 KOs) vs. Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs)
Forget about world titles, interim titles, or eliminators, this war would be all about entertainment value and the vicarious thrill generated by bloody ring wars. The heavy-handed, battle-tested Argentine, Maidana, against the old school toughness of Lopez would produce a memorable ring battle and, likely, calls for a rematch.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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