by Paul Magno
1) Kelly Pavlik: 34-1 (30 KO)
Wins: Bronco McKart, Jose Luis Zertuche, Edison Miranda, Jermain Taylor, Gary Lockett
Titles: WBC, WBO (1 defense)
2) Arthur Abraham: 28-0 (23 KO)
Wins: Shannan Taylor, Kofi Jantuah, Edison Miranda, Sebastien Demers, Khoren Gevor, Wayne Elcock, Elvin Ayala, Raul Marquez
Titles: IBF (8 defenses)
3) Felix Sturm: 31-2 (13 KO)
Wins: Maselino Masoe, Gavin Topp, Javier Castillejo, Noe Gonzalez Alcoba, Jamie Pittman, Randy Griffin, Sebastian Sylvester
Losses: Javier Castillejo
Draws: Randy Griffin
Titles: WBA (2x) (6 defenses)
4) Sebastian Sylvester: 29-3 (14 KO)
Wins: Steven Bendall, Franck Mezaache, Peter Mitrevski Jr., Alessio Furlan, Amin Asikainen, Simone Rotolo, Francois Bastient, Javier Castillejo
Losses: Amin Asikainen, Felix Sturm
Titles: EBU (2x) (5 defenses)
5) Marco Antonio Rubio: 43-4-1 (37 KO)
Wins: Anthony Ivory, Octavio Castro, Daniel Stanislavjevic, Erik Esquivel, Sherwin Davis, Jose Luis Zertuche, Enrique Ornelas
6) Winky Wright: 51-4-1 (25 KO)
Wins: Sam Soliman, Ike Quartey
Draws: Jermain Taylor
7) Khoren Gevor: 30-3 (16 KO)
Wins: Sergey Khomitsky, Andile Tshongolo, Samir Dos Santos Barbosa, Amin Asikainen
Losses: Arthur Abraham
8.) John Duddy: 25-0 (17 KO)
Wins: Shelby Pudwill, Alfredo Cuevas, Yory Boy Campas, Anthony Bonsante, Howard Eastman, Walid Smichet, Charles Howe
9) Amin Asiksinen: 25-2 (17 KO)
Wins: Walter Fabian Saporiti, Christophe Tendil, Sebastian Sylvester, Alexander Sipos, Lorenzo Di Giacomo, Yory Boy Campas
Losses: Sebastian Sylvester, Khoren Gevor
Titles: EBU (3 defenses)
10) Sebastian Zbik: 25-0 (9 KO)
Wins: Jose Hilton Dos Santos, Fawaz Nasir, Alejandro Gustavo Falliga, Samir Dos Santos Barbosa, Marco Schulze, Mario Alberto Lopez, John Anderson Carvalho
11) David Lopez: 37-12 (23 KO)
12) Javier Castillejo: 62-8 (43 KO)
13) Wayne Elcock: 19-3 (9 KO)
14) Koji Sato: 14-0 (13 KO)
15) Daniel Geale: 20-0 (12 KO)
16) Mahir Oral: 25-1-2 (10 KO)
17) Randy Griffin 24-2-3 (12 KO)
20) Dionisio Miranda: 19-3-2 (17 KO)
18.) Enrique Ornelas: 28-5 (18 KO)
19) Peter Quillin: 20-0 (15 KO)
Historically, the Middleweights have been one of Boxing’s glamour divisions, but the 2009 version of the 160 lb class is sorely lacking in glamour unless you happen to be an Eastern European fight fan.
The top 3 of the division, Pavlik, Abraham and Sturm is as solid a top 3 as you’ll see in the sport, but after that, things fall into a general state of, to put it diplomatically, parity. So much parity, as a matter of fact, that 9 of the Top 20 ranked fighters have been beaten at least once by another member of the Top 20. The division is made up of solid, competent fighters, but aside from Pavlik and Abraham, there’s little real excitement in the division. For the first time in the division’s history, Super Middleweight is more compelling and attractive than the historical home of Bernard Hopkins, Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon.
In the past, the Middleweight division would be loaded with strong, American talent. Now, there are only 5 Americans in the Top 20 and only 2 in the Top 10. The Europeans have shoved the Americans to the back seat and there seems to be a much livelier Middleweight fight scene in Europe than in the States.
All 3 of the recognized world champs have been long-term belt holders, with Abraham setting the standard for number of defenses while Pavlik can make the valid claim of being the true, lineal champion. The only major fights to be made at 160 would involve two of the top 3, but this is highly likely, at least in the short term, as Sturm seems to be cold to the idea while Pavlik seems to be content to stay domestic following his embarrassing loss to Bernard Hopkins at Light Heavy.
The scheduled Paul Williams vs. Winky Wright bout will add Williams to the mix at 160 and interject Wright back into the meat of the division after a long absence. The winner is likely to be a high profile defense for Pavlik later in the year.
Aside from the top 3 and maybe Williams and Wright, there doesn’t seem to be a lot major happening at 160 right now.
The Kelly Pavlik (#1) vs. Marco Antonio Rubio (#5) bout this Saturday promises to deliver some fireworks while it lasts while Arthur Abraham’s (#2) proposed next defense against Lajuan Simon is purely of the “stay busy” variety. Felix Sturm (#3) is scheduled to take on Koji Sato (#14) in late April in a bout that could be a little more competitive than Sturm would like.
Winky Wright (#6) will be taking on Paul Williams in an April bout that will either re-establish Wright as a force at 160 or establish Williams as the next top American Middleweight. Whatever the case, the winner likely gets Pavlik at some point in ‘09.
At this point last year, Pavlik vs. Abraham seemed to be a no-brainer. Now, after taking a beating at the hands of Hopkins, Pavlik has decided to slow things down. After his mandatory with Rubio, expect a defense against the tough, but crude John Duddy (#8) in the Summer and, probably, the winner of Wright/Williams later in the year. Expect Abraham, on the other hand, to stay busy with token defenses in Germany and cross his fingers for an all-German unification with Felix Sturm.
In other upcoming fights, heavy-handed Colombian, Dionisio Miranda (#20) will fight for his spot in the rankings against tough Dominican, Giovanni Lorenzo (#2 in the “5 to Watch”). This fight will also be an IBF Title Eliminator… John Duddy will take on Matt Vanda on the Pavlik/Rubio undercard…Sebastian Sylvester (#4), Sebatian Zbik (#10), Javier Castillejo (#12), Wayne Elcock (#13) and Daniel Geale (#15) will all have “keep busy” fights within a month’s time.
On The Cusp
Jose Luis Zertuche will always have a puncher’s chance to work his way into the mix while veteran boxers like Sebastien Demers, Bronco McKart and Raymond Joval would like to prove that they have enough in their tanks to make one last run.
On the Horizon
The Middleweight division is light on prospects as “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin (#19) and fan favorite Fernando Guerrero are still too green to make an impact on the rankings and, unless there’s a sudden change in career trajectory, James McGirt Jr.’s days as a prospect are done with. British Gold Medalist, James DeGale will make his pro debut this month under the guidance of Frank Warren.
With a light list of young prospects, the only shake ups may occur if veteran Jr. Middleweights like Ricardo Mayorga, Danny Perez and Saul Roman decide to move up to a less-crowded division to make an impact.
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