COMMENTARY | The middleweight division has once again become one of boxing's deepest, most competitive weight classes. Always regarded as one of the sport's glamour divisions, the middleweight class experienced a drought for a number of years, but has now rebounded and, provided boxing politics don't get in the way, could turn out to be a hotbed of action.
Here's a look at four questions to be asked of a middleweight division on the verge of a breakthrough:
How Old is Sergio Martinez?
Most qualified observers regard Argentina's Sergio Martinez as the undisputed middleweight champ, despite only owning one of the four recognized world titles. Martinez, by beating Kelly Pavlik in 2010, became the lineal middleweight titlist and then, last year, beat then-WBC titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a long-awaited big ticket grudge match. The question now is whether Martinez, who turned thirty-eight in February, can stay at the top for very long. He's scheduled to face the tough Martin Murray in April and is not too far removed from knee surgery to repair damage suffered in the Chavez bout. With younger challengers like Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, and a rematch-minded Chavez right behind him, it's only a matter of time before an aging Martinez is knocked off his throne-the question is when.
How Good is Gennady Golovkin?
Current WBA titlist, Golovkin, is the flavor of the month among fans and media. It's hard not to like the soft-spoken battler from Kazakhstan, but things are going to start getting real for the 30-year-old. After his upcoming defense against overmatched Japanese fringe contender, Nobuhiro Ishida, Golovkin will be expected to step up his level of opposition or be removed from the American main stage of HBO. Despite the copious amounts of praise heaped upon the shoulder of the affable assassin, the fact of the matter is that Golovkin has yet to really face a world class, Top 10 middleweight. Until he can destroy someone with a chance of beating him, there will be a question mark hanging over his head.
Can Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Find Redemption?
The 27-year-old second generation star was just starting to win over some critics until he followed an impressive win over Andy Lee with a brutally lackluster eleven and a half rounds against Sergio Martinez. Chavez was almost able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with one big shot that dropped and badly hurt Martinez in the middle of the twelfth round. But it was too little, too late for Chavez and he would go on to lose a one-sided unanimous decision to the Argentine. Following the loss, news came out about Chavez testing positive for Marijuana in the post-fight drug test. One nine month suspension and a $900,000 fine later, Chavez is eagerly eying a June return date and has decided to retain trainer Freddie Roach. Despite all of the criticism and bad press, Chavez always had some redeeming qualities that made him worthy of main stage placement. Heavy-handed and usually tenacious, Chavez works the ring like a fighter and reacts in the way fighters should react. The question, now, is whether he can build upon his foundation, put aside his spoiled-child petulance, and truly reach his full potential.
Peter Quillin: Fact or Fiction?
We know that "Kid Chocolate" is good and that he can get by mid-level fighters and fringe contenders, but the question of whether he is true elite, world class material has yet to be answered. Victories over WBO champ Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam and fighters like Craig McEwan and an aged Winky Wright confirm that Quillin is on the right track, but he has yet to face a real killer. His upcoming April title defense against the game, but hardly world class Fernando Guerrero will do little to earn him street cred among the critics.
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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- Sergio Martinez
- Gennady Golovkin
- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
- Peter Quillin