Has the Light Heavyweight Division Become Boxing's Premiere Weight Class?

November 4, 2008

A year ago, welterweights Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton were preparing for pound-for-pound supremacy. Fellow 147-pounders Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto had just completed an exciting, competitive matchup in which both fighters came away with increased respect. Talented contenders Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, Zab Judah, and Josh Clottey were waiting in the wings for the right opportunity. And, of course, there was boxing’s biggest draw, Oscar De La Hoya, awaiting the Hatton-Mayweather winner.

Fast forward one year. The Golden Boy is still the Golden Boy, Margarito has become a bona fide star, and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao is trying to stake his claim at 147.

Still, some of the division's shine has faded. Mayweather has retired. Hatton has moved down to 140. Judah has contemplated moving there as well. Williams has flirted with moving up to middleweight. Mosley looked so-so in his fight with Ricardo Mayorga until round 12. And finally, despite some good rounds against Margarito, Cotto’s chin has become more questionable than ever.

Amid these events, the light heavyweights have become much more interesting. The division has some household names and a potential future pound-for-pound king in Chad Dawson. Because of that star power, this division stands as the best in boxing at least for one more year (Yes, even more exciting than a loaded lightweight division).

The Bad

Admittedly there is some age among the light heavies. Geritol-level age. Hopkins is 43. Roy Jones is nearing 40. Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver are in their late 30s. Joe Calzaghe is talking of retirement.

But this is no ordinary senior circuit. Hopkins just whipped young Kelly Pavlik, Calzaghe beat a younger Kessler, and Johnson gave Chad Dawson all he could handle. For now these guys can take on the young lions at least for another year. After that, things begin to look a little thin.

The Good

Chad Dawson: This guy could be boxing’s next superstar. He is that good. Great hand speed. Throws combination after combination. A beautiful, crisp right jab. His dismantling of Tarver was impressive. In addition, his tendency to get careless and get caught also lends itself to excitement (witness the Glen Johnson fight). This guy deserves a big money fight against B-Hop, the Welshman, or Roy Jones.

Bernard Hopkins: A sure-fire Hall of Famer who ages like fine wine. Hopkins’ domination of Pavlik was so thorough it erased any sting from the Calzaghe robbery. What was most interesting was his post-fight interview with Larry Merchant, in which Hopkins more or less conveyed that he would take a more offensive-minded approach to his future fights. If true, a rematch with Calzaghe and a less-cautious Hopkins would be worth seeing.

Roy Jones: Perhaps the greatest fighter of this generation. Had he retired after the Ruiz fight his credentials would never have come into question. He dominated Toney, beat a young B-Hop, embarrassed a host of others, and won a heavyweight belt. Unfairly, the three troubling losses to Tarver and Johnson have clouded his legacy somewhat. If it is true that Jones’ recent problems stemmed from his drastic weight loss, and that he has now overcome that issue, then this guy should have another good fight or two left in him. We’ll know in 4 days.

Joe Calzaghe: Perhaps one of the most overhyped fighters in the history of the game. Its astonishing that many boxing pundits will question Jones opposition through the years while giving this guy a free pass. For years he never left Wales and never fought quality opposition. Now he has calculatingly chosen to fight two legends very late in their careers. He has two respectable victories over Kessler and B-Hop, and one of those vics was really a loss. Nevertheless, despite the fact that many of his punches are ineffective slaps, he possesses that intangible ability, like many of the greats, to figure out an opponent, improvise, and change his game plan mid-fight. A fight against Dawson would remove much of the criticism against him.

Tarver and Johnson: These two are cut below Jones, Dawson, B-Hop, and Calzaghe. Still, they are both very good fighters who, depending on the matchups or styles, could give any of the above a run for their money.

Best Case Scenario

The public wants these guys to fight each other while they still have something left in the tank. Many of those fights would be bad-blood type rematches because some of these guys have already fought each other in the past. For instance, A B-Hop rematch with Calzaghe and/or Jones would be great. A Dawson fight with any of those three stars would be ideal. With luck, ego issues will be set aside and the year will produce an entertaining collection of fights.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...