Fan's take: The next wave of super middleweights

Yahoo Contributor Network

The World Boxing Classic tournament was designed to take six top fighters in one of boxing's best divisions and pit them against one another until a consensus best fighter was determined. Well, 26 months after its 2009 opening bout, former U.S. Olympic gold medalist, Andre Ward, walked away with the top honors and is now regarded as the undisputed top dog at 168 lbs.

Super Six participants Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, and Andre Dirrell are still around and Lucian Bute, who was left out of the tourney, is also still near the top of the food chain despite a crushing TKO loss to Froch in May.

Light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson will be making a cameo appearance at 168 when he challenges Ward in September, but behind the established names there's a whole crew of new faces coming through the super middleweight ranks.

Here's a look at seven super middleweights who have a chance to shake things up at 168:

Thomas Oosthuizen (20-0-1, 13 KOs)

South Africa's "Tommy Gun" is looking less and less like a regional contender as time passes and he begins to add some quality names like Aaron Pryor Jr. William Gare, and Marcus Johnson to his resume. The 24-year-old Oosthuizen is starting to look like a legitimate top contender and may just need some fine-tuning before making a legitimate run at a world title.

Adonis Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs)

The heavy-handed Haitian-Canadian is in line for a title shot, but is having the toughest time finding an opponent willing to fight an eliminator against him. The Montreal-based slugger is still rough around the edges and will need some more seasoning before being considered a true player in the division.

George Groves (15-0, 12 KOs)

The U.K.'s Groves was always considered a talented and skilled prospect, but three years ago, few would've imagined him as a true contender on the outer edges of most top 10 lists at this stage of his career. Given a boost by his 2011 majority decision victory over long-time rival James DeGale, Groves has performed like a young fighter on the rise in each of his subsequent outings.

Edwin Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs)

Rodriguez has shown marked improvement in recent fights and has gone from a wide-swinging regional attraction to a legitimate top 10 fighter. At 27, Rodriguez is just reaching his physical prime and should be close to ready for one of the top divisional names.

James DeGale (12-1, 9 KOs)

He's got skill, charisma, and a gold medal from the 2008 Olympic Games, representing the U.K. However, a 2011 loss to George Groves set him back greatly in terms of career momentum with only two ring appearances since the loss. "Chunky" still has the ability to be a major player, he just needs to work more often.

Kelly Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs)

The oldest and most weathered fighter on this list, Pavlik, an old 30-year-old, has not looked outstanding so far against subpar opposition at super middleweight. After years of dealing with alcohol dependency and other personal demons, the former undisputed middleweight champ could very well be at the end of his days as a main stage fighter. Still, he's heavy-handed and has always shown a fierce will to win when pushed in the ring.

Anthony Dirrell (24-0, 21 KOs)

The brother of Andre Dirrell, Anthony is currently recuperating from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Once healthy, though, the 27-year-old has the type of speed, power, and class that would make him a true challenge for any of the top super middleweights.

*******************

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 The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Y! News: Soccer star David Beckham's statue raises eyebrows
Dwyane Wade says LeBron James is playing at Michael Jordan’s level
Vikings rookie LB amazes with a pair of pick-sixes
Eddie Murray charged with insider trading

View Comments