Maidana Vs. Lopez Kicks Off Welterweight Game of Thrones, Featuring Pacquiao, Marquez, Etc

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COMMENTARY | The worst that can be said about this Saturday's Marcos Maidana-Josesito Lopez welterweight clash at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California is that we might end up with a fun, sloppy brawl.

The optimist, however, may point out that Maidana-Lopez will be the stage setter for a series of potential quality clashes in a suddenly deep and parity-heavy welterweight division.

Even with Manny Pacquiao looking to recover from a brutal knockout loss and Floyd Mayweather temporarily moonlighting at junior middleweight against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the 147 lb. division looks deep and competitive throughout the top 10-20. Best of all, though, boxing politics may have little impact on the signing of the best match-ups.

Here's a look at the high-profile welterweight bouts already on the schedule:

June 22

Paulie Malignaggi vs. Adrien Broner--Behind the trash talk and lowbrow hype, we have a 23-year-old lightweight champ moving up two divisions to face a veteran ring presence. Malignaggi is the current WBA welterweight belt holder, but is also bigger and significantly more experienced than anyone Broner has fought.

July 13

Kell Brook vs. Carson Jones--In a rematch of last July's thrilling battle, Brook will be looking to prove that his majority decision win over the tough journeyman was not just the product of home country UK scoring. The 27-year-old welterweight prospect will also be looking to keep close to a world title shot after injuries forced him to pull out of a scheduled bout with IBF champ Devon Alexander earlier this year.

July 27

Andre Berto vs. Jesus Soto Karass--Two years ago this bout with the well-traveled journeyman, Karass, might have been seen as a bit of a tune-up for Berto. Now, however, after going 1-2 in his last three and after suffering ugly beatings in those two losses, Berto is one poor showing away from disappearing from the main stage permanently.

Keith Thurman vs. Diego Chaves--Depending on whom you ask, the 24-year-old Thurman is either a heavy-handed future superstar or a one-dimensional product of hype. We won't likely know the truth about Thurman after his bout with unknown and untested WBA top contender, Chaves, but a win will take him up to that next level of opposition where he will be tested.

October 12

Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez--Before he knocked Manny Pacquiao out cold, Marquez was not considered a serious title threat at welterweight. Now, he has a chance to become a five division champ against WBO welterweight titlist, Bradley and many are giving him more than a fair shot at taking the belt. Anyway you look at it, though, one can't help but get the impression that every effort will be made to get the winner of this battle of Pacquiao conquerors in the ring with the Filipino icon by mid-2014.

November 23

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios--Will Manny be the same after the knockout? Will Rios bring his usual ferocity with him to welterweight? This all-action thriller in Macau, China can't be anything but a Fight of the Year candidate.

As good as these bouts are, though, there are many other possible fights out there, just waiting for certain chips to fall into place before someone makes them.

It has been strongly rumored that a Devon Alexander-Amir Khan clash for Alexander's IBF belt is in the works and that the winner could very well be next in line for a shot at Floyd Mayweather.

Victor Ortiz is back in the gym and looking for a big fight. He wants the winner of Mayweather-Canelo, but will likely be pushed towards high-profile rematches with Andre Berto, Marcos Maidana, or Josesito Lopez.

Also consider Roberto Guerrero to be in the market for a big fight in a couple of months. Despite a one-sided decision loss to Mayweather on May 4, "The Ghost" is still a viable top contender at welterweight and could give a great performance against any of the best in the division.

The winner of Broner-Malignaggi will be a candidate for a big bout later this year. Heck, consider even the loser to be a legitimate opponent for any of the top guys.

In the Top Rank corner of the division, the winners of Bradley-Marquez and Pacquiao-Rios will move on to bigger and better things, perhaps against one another. Meanwhile, hard-charging Russian, Ruslan Provodnikov will be lurking in the background, pushing for another well-deserved run at a title.

Consider the welterweight division to suffer from an embarrassment of riches-Two mega superstars in Mayweather and Pacquiao at the top with at least a dozen or so quality fighters below them, all roughly at the same level and all in desperate need of a big win. Hopefully, fans won't have to pine away for the fights they want and will have to do nothing more than sit back and enjoy this upcoming welterweight game of thrones.


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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