Next to the typically dominant image of the welterweight division, middleweights have historically given birth to equally brilliant, if not fewer, match-ups. This past year has seen the progression of major middleweight talent into the boxing limelight, and maturity into super-stardom for a select few middleweight and super middleweight fighters. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs, Andre Ward and James DeGale are some of the highlights on an ever-growing roster of middleweight and super middleweight talent in professional boxing. With any luck, boxing fans may have the opportunity to witness a situation comparable to the fabulous four in Leonard, Hagler Hearns and Duran. But for now, sights are turned to recent unfolding of events in these two divisions, and just how this will impact future fights.
Speculative: GGG vs Canelo Alvarez
Cotto vs Alvarez churned up excitement because of the notion of two solid punchers at their peak going at it for all the marbles. And while this may be true of a potential match-up between GGG and Alvarez, skill will play an equally influential role in the outcome of this speculative mega-fight. As Golovkin demonstrated in his showdown with David Lemieux last October, his extensive amateur career very much plays a part in how he adjusts to various styles of opponents. Against a heavy puncher like Lemieux, Golovkin switched gears from Earth-shattering power punches and reverted back to building his performance off of a precisely timed jab. In a similarly schooled fashion, Canelo Alvarez made defensive adjustments to the counter-punching style of Austin Trout and Miguel Cotto. A pairing of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez in a 12-round fight represents a combination of two very well-schooled fighters who can end the night with a single punch from either hand. And with talks of a GGG vs Canelo fight in the works, excitement is definitely in the air.
Outcome: Daniel Jacobs vs Peter Quillin
Two days ago at the Barclay’s Center in New York, Daniel Jacobs upset the odds to score a first-round technical knockout of middleweight champion Peter Quillin. The fight was representative of a trial-by-fire for who would be the new champion of Brooklyn, a neighborhood both fighters call home. Through the media’s superimposed animosity between the two fighters, both men remained cordial leading up to the fight and throughout the fallout of the stunningly brief bout. The brevity did not make room for Peter Quillin to showcase his boxing skills, yet it made for a display of Daniel Jacobs’ hunger for great things. Jacobs’ leapfrogging over Quillin now puts him in contention for fights with top opposition in the middleweight division. Once the dust settles from the GGG vs Canelo rampage, Jacobs will have the opportunity to occupy the middleweight spotlight.
James DeGale: Rising Fast
2008 Olympic gold medalist James DeGale is another in a growing roster of British fighters dominating on American soil. This last May, he twice dropped American Andre Dirrell in a 12-round unanimous decision victory in his first sojourn to an American boxing arena. Since that time, he’s earned international recognition as a top middleweight, and recognition from the extremely prolific American audiences that he is in the top tier in the division.
Andre Ward: Return to Pound-for-Pound Excellence
Following a long absence from professional boxing, Andre Ward is back and as skilled as ever. Since his celebrated return in a fight with Paul Smith, Ward has been mentioned consistently in conversations of potential match-ups with middleweight Gennady Golovkin, and light heavyweights Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson. As all of these speculative opponents fall on either side of the super middleweight weight limit, negotiations have a long way to go in finalizing any fight. Or, championships may be spared at the expense of a catch weight. Either way, the boxing world awaits eagerly to see Andre Ward step back into the ring against some of the modern greats in the middleweight neighborhood.