The Middleweights: How the Land Lies at 160lbs

Marvin Hagler. Bernard Hopkins. James Toney. Sugar Ray Leonard. Roy Jones Jr. Sugar Ray Robinson. Just a tiny fraction of the truly great names of boxing that have passed through or long reigned in boxing’s middleweight division. With such an illustrious history where the names of boxing greats roll seamlessly off the tongue it is all too easy to be caught up in the glory of days gone by, but in 2021 where nothing is quite the same as it once was, what does the middleweight division look like now?


As we know all too well nothing is ever promised in boxing and very little stays the same for all that long. In fact, since pen first went to paper on this summary of the middleweight landscape Ryota Murata (16-2, 13KO) has been elevated by the WBA from Regular to Super champion, the position previously held by Canelo Alvarez and relinquished at the start of this year. There’s every chance that between the final proofread and publishing of this article everything else may well have changed, but let’s go with it and see where we end up.


IBF

As with all other divisions in boxing the claim to the throne is relatively fractured with four main sanctioning bodies issuing titles. We’ll start then with Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KO) the IBF champion and the fighter with most right to claim himself as “the man” in the middleweight division. GGG needs no introduction as his destructive record and reputation precede him. With the only loss on his record a highly contested one against pound for pound number 1 Canelo Alvarez there can be little dispute that GGG deserves to be considered the division’s king.

GGG eyes up the Canelo trilogy | Bleacher Report


At the age of 38 and with little left to prove, GGG may well be looking to cement his legacy by fighting Canelo once more in the hope of righting what he felt were wrong decisions in their previous meetings. Eddy Reynoso, Canelo’s trainer, has been very vocal about the fact though that Canelo has no intention of returning to 160lbs won’t be doing GGG any “favours” by doing so. GGG then, a consummate professional who has hardly shown an inkling of needing to move up in weight, may well be left with no choice but to move up to 168lbs in pursuit of what he wants.


Much of this article will be speculation which in boxing is unavoidable. Of course, there’s always the chance that GGG will want to unify the division again but when Father Time starts catching up there are two things that fighters are left wanting: money and legacy. It just so happens that for GGG those two desires are one and the same with the road leading to Canelo Alvarez.


WBC

For the sake of sanity, we’ll disregard the fact that Canelo is technically a middleweight champion holding the WBC’s money-spinning franchise champion status. In terms of who holds meaningful belts (Are any of them really that meaningful now?), the undefeated Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22KO) holds the WBC crown. Not to be confused with his twin brother Jermell who is currently running riot in the Super Welterweight division, Jermall is the marginally older (by one minute) of the two and looking to make his own mark on the middleweight division.

Jermall Charlo looks to prove himself | Boxing News


Coming off a career-best performance against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Charlo will be brimming with confidence and prepared for whatever challenge lies ahead. The difficulty though is trying to figure out exactly what that challenge is going to be. GGG may well be looking for Canelo, Andrade continues his push for a clash with Billy Joe Saunders (more below) and an unavoidable obstacle of rival networks potentially hindering a fight with Murata of Top Rank it is difficult to see where Charlo goes next.


OK, so if those situations above pan out then what about Charlo fighting the WBC’s number 1 ranked contender? – Jaime Munguia (36-0, 29KO). Sure, that works in theory; The Mexican puncher gets his shot at a world title but this is where it gets messy again… What if Andrade’s Twitter rants get him a fight with Saunders? Well, then Andrade has to vacate leaving Munguia in position to fight Liam Williams for the vacant WBO strap, an option he may consider more favourable than fighting Charlo. Another option touted is that Charlo could hand a title shot to Britain’s Chris Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22KO), a fight relatively easy to make with both fighters under the watch of PBC’s Al Haymon. Again, in theory, that works great but Murata, as mentioned earlier, has just been elevated to WBA Super champion which means, and there is nothing official yet, that Eubank Jr may find himself instated as the regular champion. Much like Munguia’s situation where he has a choice, in Eubank Jr’s eyes, he may well consider Murata, a man with two losses, an easier route to world title honours.


WBO

Are you still with me? OK, so GGG may or may not fight Canelo and there’s no obvious route for Charlo at the moment but at least it’s clear cut with Demetrius Andrade (29-0, 18KO) as he has been mandated by the WBO to defend his title against Liam Williams (23-2, 18KO). At least it should be crystal clear but like most things in boxing, it's not that straightforward.

Andrade movi