In the first two instalments, this series introduced boxing’s three heaviest weight classes. However, one of boxing’s most underrated divisions is at Super Middleweight (168lbs). In addition, it’s likely that boxing’s biggest star, Canelo Alvarez is going to remain at this weight class for years to come. Boxing’s resurgence is expected to take place next month. The uncertainty is visible whether or not big draw’s like Alvarez will appear in front of empty arenas. Boxing will operate, however, the challenge of replacing live gate revenue will be on every promoters mind. Before any more fights are announced for the upcoming months, let’s take a dive and review some of the elite at 168.
Premier Boxing Champions
The only American champion at 168lbs is none other than Tennessee’s own, Caleb Plant. “Sweethands” won the title after a dominant outing against Jose Uzcátegui. He’s defended the title twice, both via knockout. Plant fights under the PBC banner and Al Haymon. With that in mind, Plant can cross over to his first Pay per View bout with a fellow PBC super middleweight.
That fighter’s name is David Benavidez. The WBC Champion, Benavidez is one of boxing’s brightest future stars. At only 23 years old, the highly touted Benavidez is 22-0. Benavidez tested positive for cocaine back in 2018. He was stripped of the title, only to win it back a year later. Benavidez possesses an incredible reach advantage making him a tough matchup against any challenger. Arguably, the best fight to make in the division is a unification bout with Plant on Showtime PPV.
Hailing from Liverpool, Callum Smith owns the WBA and Ring magazine world championships. At 27-0, Smith is one of the very best in his respective weight class. Recently, Smith failed to excite in his last performance against John Ryder. He was still able to retain his WBA championship, but the lacklustre performance warranted criticism. Smith baulked at the idea of an Alvarez fight last February. Granted, it appears it was just due to finances. Personally, I’m under the belief that Alvarez and Golden Boy will move in a different direction for the time being. Smith is under the Matchroom banner with Eddie Hearn. They stated that former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs is a possibility.
Daniel Jacobs is a two-time middleweight champion. In his last bout, in which Jacobs dismantled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Jacobs made his debut at 168lbs. He is 36-3 and has only competed against the best in the world. He still has the name recognition and it appears that his chance at another championship is still obtainable.
Crafty southpaw Billy Joe Saunders is the WBO Champion. Unlike, Callum Smith, Saunders had a potential bout with Canelo Alvarez scheduled for May 2nd. The event was cancelled due to Covid-19. Many believe that Saunders slick defence would have caused problems for the heavy-handed Mexican. It is unclear if that fight will be rescheduled due to the announcement of a Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin trilogy.
The #1 Pound for Pound fighter according to Ring Magazine is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Owner of the Ring and WBA Championship, Alvarez is the most popular boxer in North America. His first two bouts with the IBF Champion, Gennady Golovkin each eclipsed 1 million pay-per-view buys. The trilogy bout with “GGG” is sure to hover around that number again, however, it will mark two years this September since they last entered the ring together. It’s uncertain whether or not the elapsed time will affect the desire of fans to want to purchase the bout.
Another factor leading into scheduling the 3rd bout is the fact that Golovkin himself, stated his intentions were to fight his mandatory bout against Kamil Szeremeta. Golovkin is considered to be one of the best all-time at the middleweight division. “GGG” did not face off against “Canelo” until he was 35 years of age. Many believe that this was due to the Alvarez camp wanting to catch him at the tail end of his career. Both Alvarez and Golovkin, fight under the DAZN banner and the hope is for this trilogy to come to an end sometime in the next 6-12 months. “GGG” had a very difficult last fight with another DAZN middleweight.
Middleweight Dark Horse
Sergiy Derevyanchenko was on the wrong side of a decision with the hall of famer. However, an argument can be made that “The Technician” should have come away with the victory. He’s had two title fights in his professional career and it’s likely he’ll see a third again. A wild card in the division, Derevyanchenko does not have the star power as other middleweights. Although, “The Technician” is an awful matchup for any 160lb fighter.
DAZN has the 3rd middleweight champion, the WBO Champion Demetrius Andrade. Andrade tends to be the forgotten name at 160. Andrade is not a knockout artist, in fact, he’s one of the premier defensive fighters in boxing. Critics have referred to his resume as weak due to the lack of elite competition. Andrade has a chance to unify the division and boost his stock. A perfect matchup for him would be a fight with PBC’s Jermall Charlo.
Premier Boxing Champions
Jermall Charlo is the WBC Middleweight Champion. One-half of the Charlo twin brothers, he holds an undefeated record of 30-0. He has become a regular headliner at the Barclays Center for the Fox/Showtime networks. There are still questions about how great Charlo can really be. He has all the skills to compete at the very elite of the division. The knock on Charlo is that he has not faced any elite competition. It’s a major problem around the sport, however, Charlo and PBC have a chance to really enhance the American audience.
That other half of the Charlo twins is Jermell. Jermell Charlo is one of the top-ranked fighters in the world at 154 lbs. He defeated fellow PBC fighter Tony Harrison to regain his WBC Championship back in December. Charlo is 33-1 and one of Fox’s more popular fighters.
PBC dominates the junior middleweight division. Jeison Rosario holds the IBF and WBA championship. Rosario defeated Julian “J-Rock” Williams in January via knockout in the 5th round. It was his biggest win to date and you can expect him to defend those belts on network tv when PBC resumes.
Jarrett “Swift” Hurd is a former champion looking to regain his spot at the top. He lost to “J-Rock” back in May of 2019. Hurd returned to the ring in January and won a unanimous decision. He was dealing with a shoulder injury at the time and the layoff should be a positive for the Hurd camp.
Top Rank Boxing is set to be the first promotion to return on June 9th. It is unclear whether or not the other networks will be back in June. It is expected by many in the industry that Matchroom and PBC will be resuming in July. Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series, as the best division in boxing is introduced. Two of the top five fighters in the world are set to be reviewed.
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