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Pacquiao, Spence, Crawford, and the Wild, Wild Welterweight Division

The welterweight division—a historical glamor division in the sport of boxing– was supposed to be settled by now. An undisputed king of the 147 lb. class was supposed to be on his throne already.

Instead, even after several high-end encounters, the top-heavy division remains up for grabs and the same main stage players who lined up to try and become the king of 147 are pretty much still in the picture.

Errol Spence Jr., who seemed to be all but guaranteed that top spot after wins over Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter in 2019, suffered a career-stalling injury in an absolutely horrifying late-night car crash in Dallas. The current IBF/WBC world champ is now back in the gym, but, apparently, not all that close to a ring return.

WBO champ Terence Crawford may be the most skilled and versatile welterweight in the world and has made a great case for himself being an active pound-for-pound great, but the resume just isn’t there to assume the throne. Crawford’s exclusive deal with Top Rank Promotions separates him from almost every other top welterweight in the world (who work with rival Premier Boxing Champions) and that has left the Omaha, Nebraska native fighting “best available” opposition one notch below the elite fighters.

For many, Filipino Icon Manny Pacquiao is a surprise top 3 player in the division. More than a few media voices felt that the 41-year-old was done as an elite fighter and whole-heartedly encouraged him to retire. However, wins over Adrien Broner and Top 3 ranked Keith Thurman last year proved that not only wasn’t Manny done but that he still belonged among the very best fighters in the sport. 2020 will see Pacquiao either make his move to become the undisputed top dog in the division or, at the very least, pad his Hall of Fame career.

Keith Thurman sits just beyond the Top 3. He lost a close decision to Pacquiao last Summer, but some have mitigated the weight of that loss by saying that it was only his second fight back from a long layoff due to injury and he wasn’t at 100%. Whether that was the case or not, Thurman has the skill and the talent to beat any one of the top welterweights on any given night.

Shawn Porter gave Errol Spence the toughest fight of his career in a losing effort and lost a close, hard-fought decision against Thurman. Those near-wins combined with victories over Danny Garcia and Yordenis Ugas make the tough battler a true wild card at 147.

Rounding out the top 6 is Danny Garcia, who recently bested Ivan Redkach and came within a whisper of beating both Thurman and Porter in the recent past. Garcia has the skill and the power to upset anyone ranked above him in the division and is currently making his case to get a shot at either Spence or Pacquiao next.

Below Garcia, there’s a mass of talented welterweights pushing hard to make it to the main stage and earn a shot at the really big fights. There’s Yordenis Ugas (who fights Mike Dallas Jr. this Saturday), Sergey Lipinets, Jamal James, Mikey Garcia, and Amir Khan. There are also talented prospects on the verge of breaking through to the big time like 21-year-old Vergil Ortiz Jr., 22-year-old Jaron Ennis, and 25-year-old Josh Kelly.

All in all, there’s a lot of fun to be had in following the welterweights and, given the parity at the top of the division, there’s a good chance that it’s going to be a while before an undisputed king finally assumes the throne.


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Paul Magno
Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com
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