COMMENTARY | Other than the heavyweight division, the welterweights have been, historically, boxing's best and most significant weight class.
2012 was somewhat of a down year for the 147 lb. class with one of its two best fighters, Manny Pacquiao, dropping both of his bouts and the other, Floyd Mayweather, opting to have his only fight of the year at junior middleweight. After the two big names, the rest of the year's action revolved around jockeying for position to lead the division's second tier.
Here's what 2013 has in store for the welterweights:
Oddly, the biggest welterweight clash of the year, Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV, had no real belt on the line as Pacquiao had lost his WBO strap to Timothy Bradley five months earlier via highly controversial split decision. So, despite the 39-year-old Marquez's impressive knockout of Pacquiao, the result won't be too significant for the overall face of the division-- unless Marquez somehow finds himself matched against Bradley for the WBO belt. More likely, though, is a fifth pairing with Pacquiao or a return to 140 lbs.
For Pacquiao, 2013 offers a chance at redemption and rebuilding. Rematches with Bradley and Marquez are at the top of priorities and it's quite likely that he could win both. However, losses to either (or both) could put him in the strange position of being one of the sport's cash cows and a legitimate main stage attraction with no main stage fighters to face.
Meanwhile, it appears as though Floyd Mayweather is returning to the welterweight division with a May 4 bout against Robert Guerrero. After that, it looks as though he'll be moving back to 154 once again, possibly meeting Saul Alvarez in September. Nothing has been announced or confirmed yet, but all the buzz certainly points to Guerrero and Alvarez this coming year for boxing's most accomplished bad guy.
After Mayweather, Pacquiao, and the drama that surrounds them, the division has the potential to be very entertaining in 2013, provide, of course, the right match-ups are made.
IBF champ, Devon Alexander, will face UK prospect, Kell Brook in February in what should be a competitive bout. Alexander has the ability of a main stage star, but has yet to reach his full potential, putting on way too many tepid clunkers and way too few compelling battles to be considered a star. Against Brook, a tremendous talent with no real, world class names on his resume, the possibility of a loss exists or, possibly, another dud of a win. In any case, no matter who wins or how they do it, the winner of Alexander-Brook moves on to bigger and better things. An entertaining win makes the winner a legitimate contender for a truly major bout in the near future.
WBA titlist, Paulie Malignaggi, wanted a big money return bout with Ricky Hatton, but the popular Brit couldn't get by former Malignaggi victim, Vyacheslav Senchenko. Now, the quick-talking Brooklyn native may be headed toward a contest with another faded former champ, Shane Mosley. The WBA, on the other hand, is pushing for a defense against unknown Argentine contender (and current interim champ), Diego Chavez. Either way, it doesn't appear as though Malignaggi will be taking on any main stage talent this coming year.
In the WBC, Floyd Mayweather's clash with interim titlist, Robert Guerrero will stabilize the organization's currently fuzzy championship situation. Even in defeat, Guerrero would still be somewhere in the championship picture, though, since Mayweather is likely to move away from 147 immediately after the bout.
In the WBO, Timothy Bradley remains the champ, although he has no real bites on a first defense. Best case scenario for him is a Pacquiao rematch and a chance at actually beating the Filipino icon this time. Another, but much less appealing alternative, is a defense against Lamont Peterson in what would be a rematch of an okay junior welterweight clash (that Bradley won via unanimous decision) from 2009.
Victor Ortiz will be returning to the ring, likely in mid-2013, after having his jaw broken by Josesito Lopez and having to once again pull the curtain on his own show by removing himself from the contest. Ortiz runs hot and cold, but almost always puts on a good show. Perhaps a rematch with Andre Berto, who is coming off a PEDs scandal and a loss to Robert Guerrero in 2012, would be ideal to rebuild his brand and get him back near the top.
Josesito Lopez, the man who beat Ortiz into submission and then was battered by junior middleweight titlist, Saul Alvarez, the following bout, has to be considered a solid contender at 147, although rumor has him returning to his old stomping grounds of junior welterweight to take on Amir Khan at some point in the middle of the year.
The rest of the second tier talent at welterweight can be considered damaged goods to some extent, but would make for some solid contests. Marcos Maidana, Randall Bailey, Mike Jones, and Luis Carlos Abregu could produce some compelling action if matched properly.
23-year-old prospect, Jessie Vargas is good, but will likely spend 2013 fattening up on journeymen and no-hopers in preparation for a title run in 2014. Meanwhile, 25-year-old prospect, Shawn Porter has been pushed like a true prospect, but technical and tactical deficiencies have kept him from putting on consistent performances. 29-year-old Brad Solomon was looking like a legitimate main stage candidate, but sixteen months of inactivity stemming from promotional issues derailed his momentum. Solomon fought twice in 2012 and will be looking to up the level of his opposition in 2013.
Outside the United States and Latin America, Canada's Antonin Decarie has proven himself to be a solid fringe contender, but has been matched very cautiously along the way. South Africa's Chris van Heerden has scored recent wins over Sebastian Lujan and Kaizer Mabuza, but the 25-year-old is still far away from being considered a bankable star. Turkey's Selcuk Aydin recently signed a deal with Golden Boy, so, even after a solid loss to Guerrero last July, the entertaining battler may get another crack at the big time. Former titlists, Vyacheslav Senchenko and Jan Zaveck are still good enough to be credible regional champs, but are far away from the legitimate world class players.
In the UK, specifically, Kell Brook is headed to the big time and may or may not return home with the IBF belt. Other than Brook, the only real welterweight of note is 27-year-old prospect, Frankie Gavin, who has shown flashes of excellence amid an otherwise inconsistent 14-fight pro career.
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.
Boxrec, Boxing Records and Bios