The Middleweights: Hard-up, Hammered, High and Not Here

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In my dreams professional boxing’s middleweight divisions function like an actual sport.

That means in 2015 we’d get Andre Ward-Gennady Golovkin. We’d get Carl Froch to cross the goddamn pond and take on a sober and in-shape Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez would take part in this eliminator, and hell, maybe Sergio Martinez could tape himself back together for one last shot at the throne.

In my dreams, professional boxing’s middleweight divisions are as impressive a collection of talent as ever before in the fight game, certainly since the Four Kings era of Hagler, Hearns, Duran and Leonard in the 80s.

The reality is that 2015 looks like it’s going to promise more of the same for boxing’s (potentially) most electrifying classes. Mis-matched fights and more focus on who’s not boxing than who is. Loving this division is like loving the family flake.

Maybe they’ll show up this Christmas!

/Doesn’t show up.

//You’re now taking as many bathroom breaks as possible to avoid getting whomped by your nerdy cousin in Super Smash Bros again.

Ward is still locked in a legal battle with his former management, one that’s kept him out of the ring for 14 months. Do you even remember what the Son Of God looks like? The Northern Californian inexplicably maintains his championship ranking and belts despite the fact that he isn’t fighting and wouldn’t rate a pay-per-view fight if he returned today. He still gets writers hard because he’s eloquent, good-looking and technically flawless. When (if?) he returns, though, they’ll be the only ones waiting on him. It’s amazing to watch a once-in-a-generation talent (he’s probably one of the 3-4 best pure athletes in the game, to say nothing of his considerable ring smarts) sit out a year-plus in his prime. Imagine Kevin Durant walking away from basketball today and you’d get a sense of what boxing is missing.

Then we arrive at the case of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He’s a heavyweight’s middleweight—works the body, absorbs body shots with his biceps and hips, and dishes out one of the more vicious uppercuts in boxing today. When he’s right, Chavez Jr. is essentially Jason Vorhees in trunks—all you can do is run. But, like Ward, Chavez is embroiled in a contract dispute that’s kept him out of the ring for nearly a year, and unlike Ward, you never quite know what you’ll get with Chavez Jr. He rarely trains to his full potential, has had some well-publicized weed and booze problems, and appears to eat like a Labrador when his master’s baby learns to throw—which is to say, gluttonously—every time he’s not training for a fight.

Of the active participants in the divisions, Froch makes too many Euros to want to cross the Atlantic, Cotto is rightfully highly selective, Alvarez only wants PPV-level competition and Martinez is hobbled, probably beyond repair. Thus we’re left with Golovkin as the only anybody/anywhere fighter in the divisions who’s both entertaining to watch and worth a damn as a boxer.

What a fun sport. Excuse me while I look for its living embodiment with this clawhammer.

 

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