COMMENTARY | For the first time in a long time, there's an embarrassment of riches in boxing's middleweight division – and that's even taking into consideration that the undisputed champ, Sergio Martinez, is on the shelf with an injury and top division draw, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., may be headed to super middleweight.
Best of all, though, the top guys all want one another and are willing to put everything on the line to prove their dominance. Or at least that's what they say.
WBA middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin has been on the prowl for quite some time, looking for Martinez but willing to face any of the top stars, either in his own division or one weight class to the north or south.
Australian IBF champ Daniel Geale has worked his way into a solid top-three spot in the division with wins over Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester and will be making his main stage U.S. debut on Aug. 17 against Darren Barker on HBO. Geale relishes his role as the division underdog and has also stated his desire to face the best of the best at 160.
"They probably believe that I'm one of the weaker champions and that excites me because I love being the underdog, the person that gets overlooked,'' Geale said recently.
WBO champ Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin wants them all, if a recent interview is to be believed, but he wants to save Martinez and Golovkin for last.
"And after I beat him [Martinez], I want Gennady Golovkin," he told ESPN. "That's a superstar fight, a big pay-per-view. We'd build to that."
While Golovkin, Geale, and Quillin circle around the 38-year-old Martinez and eyeball one another, the fact remains that all three are still relatively unknown to the casual boxing fan and don't really generate enough heat to force an immediate showdown with the reigning "real" middleweight champ. And even if they did have the Nielsen Ratings mojo to force the fight, Martinez is legitimately injured, recovering from knee surgery, and won't be back until next year.
So, in the meantime, why doesn't everyone put their money where their mouth is and agree to a good, old-fashioned, four-man mini-tournament for the right to face Martinez in the second half of 2014?
The tournament would need a fourth entrant, of course. In a perfect world, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would step in and lend some star power to the event, but Chavez seems to be struggling with whether he even wants to keep fighting at 160 pounds – and from a recent photo taken of him looking bloated and out of shape, he appears to be losing that struggle.
No worries, though. There's plenty of talent to fill that fourth tournament slot.
Former three-time champ Felix Sturm is back to active duty and has already expressed his desire to reclaim his belt from Geale. Former interim WBO and WBA titlist Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam actually saw his stock rise in a gutsy unanimous decision loss to Quillin, which saw him fight back from six knockdowns. Martin Murray is the tough British battler who came within a whisker of beating both Sturm and Martinez in their own back yards. Even second-tier retreads like Andy Lee, Marco Antonio Rubio and Sergio Mora could be solid No. 4 seeds.
The tournament would give the fighters a chance to make an even bigger name for themselves while simultaneously allowing Martinez to take a well-deserved break. After the four-man scramble, the winner would emerge a bigger star walking into a showdown with a Martinez, who should be at 100 percent.
Martinez, for his part, has already stated that he's willing to take on any and all challengers once he's fully recovered.
Boxing politics, however, might once again be the turd in the punch bowl for fight fans as Golden Boy's Quillin is a Showtime fighter, while Golovkin and Martinez do business with HBO.
But if words are to be believed, everyone's so eager to prove themselves that something could surely be worked out. Right?
"My man Kid Chocolate will destroy any middleweight out there," Golden Boy President Oscar De la Hoya recently wrote to his social media followers. "I wanna see Golovkin vs. Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam and then I'll see if he's good or not."
OK, then. Everybody seems to want in. Let's do it.
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.
Sources: Boxingscene, ESPN, Examiner.co, Badlefthook
- Sports & Recreation
- Sergio Martinez
- Gennady Golovkin
- Felix Sturm