DIVISION DISSECTION! THE SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS

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Continuing on with our #DivisionDissection we will take a look at the super middleweight division. This was once arguably the most competitive and interesting division a handful of years back, but it’s started to slowly decline.

I would have stuck Badou Jack in this list of fighters but after his draw with James DeGale at the back-end of last year, he has vacated his WBC super middleweight title and moved up to light heavyweight. He would arguably be in the top 2 168lbs fighters if he stayed here.

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James DeGale – IBF Super Middleweight Champion 23-1-1 (14ko’s)

The extremely talented switch hitting James DeGale is without a doubt one of the most successful and exciting super middleweights that we currently have. Born in London and boxing since aged 10, DeGale has had an exceptional career in the amateurs as well as the professional ranks.

In 2008 he won the gold medal at middleweight in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and signed professional the year after in February of 2009. He agreed a deal to sign with Frank Warren along side Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders and the contract was said to be in the sum of £1.5 million.

DeGale racked up 8 wins on the bounce and in 2010 for his 9th fight he was awarded a shot at British champion Paul Smith. DeGale was successful and stopped Smith in the 9th round. Two fights later he suffered his first professional loss, a close majority decision went against him as he faced George Groves.

He continued to fight on but however chose the WBC route this time. In 2014 he signed for Matchroom Sports and made his debut on the undercard of Froch v Groves at Wembley. Within two fights he had become the new IBF super middleweight champion, beating Andre Dirrell for the vacant title.

Two back to back impressive title defences against Lucian Bute and Rogelio Medina earned him a unification bout with WBC champion Badou Jack. The fight was in January and it ended a draw with Jack moving up straight after.

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Gilberto Ramirez – WBO Super Middleweight Champion 34-0 (24ko’s)

Highly regarded by many as the number one super middleweight on the planet, we have undefeated 25-year-old Mexican Gilberto Ramirez. Gilberto turned professional in 2009 aged 17 and has looked impressive ever since.

In 2010 he faced Rogelio Medina for the vacant WBC youth middleweight title, picking up a 6th round knockout against his fellow Mexican. Back to back defences of his title saw him move up to super middleweight in hope of gaining recognized titles at 168lbs.

Ramirez has deadly power and has shown this as he’s progressed through his professional career. He racked up a record of 33-0 and was in line to face German champion Arthur Abraham.

April 9, 2016 the pair would meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Ramirez would score a unanimous decision victory and walk away the new WBO super middleweight champion.

He is penciled in to face Ukrainian Max Bursak on the 22nd April as he makes the first defence of his title.

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George Groves – 25-3 (18ko’s)

George Groves is a fighter that seems to have been around forever. 3 failed world title attempts but a career that still has a lot to give, this man is an extremely exciting addition to the super middleweight division.

Groves had an impressive amateur career winning the ABA’s at middleweight in both 2007 and 2008. In his amateur career he also beat James DeGale, and turned professional with an amateur record of 66-10.

He turned professional in 2008 and fought under David Hayes ‘Hayemaker Promotions’. After Hayemaker Promotions TV deal with setanta collapsed he then signed with Kelly Maloney (At the time was called Frank Maloney).

In 2011 he faced James DeGale for the British super middleweight title. Both men entered the fight undefeated and Groves walked away with the British strap after an extremely close majority decision victory.

Groves then signed to Frank Warren on a three-year deal in hope of Warren guiding his career to world success. His first fight for Warren was against Paul Smith and he stopped Smith in the 2nd round.

In 2013 Groves fought IBF & WBA Regular champion Carl Froch. He entered the fight with a record of 19-0. He was stopped controversially in the 9th round and chased a rematch immediately.

Froch made proceedings extremely difficult and after taking it to court, Groves got his wish and was granted a rematch in Britain’s biggest ever fight. It was at Wembley in front of 80,000 people and Groves was stopped again, this time in the 8th round.

He bounced back later in 2014 and won the European & the vacant WBC silver super middleweight titles against Christopher Rebrasse. This lined him up for his third title shot, this time against WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack. Groves lost by split decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and has since not fought for world honors.

He has however picked up a solid win over Martin Murray, and a brutal win over Eduard Gutknecht. Gutknecht was put into a coma and is yet to be confirmed whether he is better or not.

Groves will face WBA Regular champion Fedor Chudinov later this year in hope of finally securing a world title in his 4th attempt.

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Callum Smith – WBC Silver Super Middleweight Champion 22-0 (17ko’s)

Young and talented prospect Callum Smith is also making noise in the division as he has picked up knockout wins in his last 5 fights. The 26-year-old turned professional in 2012 aged 21 and won the English title in just his 8th fight.

In 2015 he faced Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. He was victorious and picked up the vacant WBC Silver super middleweight title. His next bought was an exciting one against Rocky Fielding for the vacant British title.

The fight didn’t end up as exciting as people had hoped as Smith blasted out Fielding in the first round. Retaining his WBC silver title and picking up the vacant British title, he was making a name for himself.

He then went on to pick up an extremely impressive 1st round knockout of Hadillah Mohoumadi, picking up the European title on the way. He has gone on to have three more fights since that, all of which have been extremely disappointing.

Smith is the mandatory challenger for the vacant WBC strap since it was vacated by Badou Jack and its looking likely that he will face off with Anthony Dirrell for the belt.

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Tyron Zeuge – WBA World Super Middleweight Champion 19-0-1 (11ko’s)

Undefeated German youngster Tyron Zeuge is looking to be a promising future star in the division. He is currently the WBA regular champion at aged 24 and fights out of Berlin.

Zeuge was granted his first world title shot in July 2016 when he faced Italian champion Giovanni De Carolis, the fight ended in a draw after Zeuge suffered a heartbreaking dislocated shoulder and survived the fight with one hand.

They had a rematch immediately and this time Zeuge became the champion when he knocked De Carolis out in the final round of the fight. He makes the first defence of his title in March against Nigerian Isaac Ekpo.

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Chris Eubank Jr – IBO Super Middleweight Champion 24-1 (19ko’s)

Next we have an extremely controversial character in Chris Eubank Jr. He has only stepped up to super middleweight in his most recent fight after campaigning his entire career down at middleweight.

After starting his amateur career in the US, he finished with a record of 24-2 before turning professional in 2011. He is the son of hall of fame boxer Chris Eubank and has been guided by his father his entire life.

His campaign in the professional ranks saw him put the pen to paper with Mick Hennessy as his promoter, and his trainer would be Ronnie Davies, the trainer that was the mastermind behind his father’s career.

An impressive 10 back to back knockout streak saw him earn a shot at the European, British and Commonwealth middleweight titles. He entered the fight 18-0 and was unsuccessful against fellow undefeated Brit Billy Joe Saunders. The hatred the pair had for each other would go on to be a major part of Eubank Jr’s career and it’s still a rematch eagerly waiting to happen.

Eubank bounced back with a victory against Dmitry Chudinov, picking up the WBA interim middleweight title by stopping the Russian champion in the final round of their bout.

He then decided to part ways with Mick Hennessy and joined Matchroom Sports. The director of Matchroom Sports is currently Eddie Hearn, the son of Barry Hearn. Barry Hearn was the man who guided Chris Eubank Sr’s career to fame and superstardom.

A year later he faced Spike O’Sullivan in an exciting but messy fight on the undercard of Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte. The pair clashes and the winner would walk away with a shot at facing WBA Regular champion Danny Jacobs.Eubank Jr was victorious after O’Sullivan retired on his stool in the 7th round with a busted eardrum.

After his bout with O’Sullivan he decided to vacate his mandatory status to fight for a world title belt and instead chose to fight Nick Blackwell for the British title, a decision many found peculiar. This would go on to be one of Eubank Jr’s most memorable nights as a professional boxer.

Nick Blackwell spent almost all of the fight taking repeated blows to the head and sustained serious damage as he continued to get in the way of Eubank Jr’s viscous uppercuts. Blackwell’s face showed serious signs of damage and a problem was clear, despite the referee allowing the fight to continue.

After the 8th round, Eubank’s father Chris Eubank Jr sat his son down in the corner and told him to stop hitting Blackwell in the head. He stated that the referee is not going to stop the fight, and it’s getting dangerous, go for his body instead. Eubank Sr said afterwards he did this because it reminded him of the famous night he ended the career of Michael Watson.

Some people could argue this was a potential life saving move from the Eubanks as after the fight was called off in the 10th, Blackwell collapsed in the ring and was sent to hospital where he ended up in a medically induced coma. He would never be allowed to fight again after that.

After successfully defending his title against Tom Doran, he then moved up to super middleweight where he faced Renold Quinlan for the IBO title in an extremely controversial state of affairs. This would be ITV’s return to boxing, and it was a pay per view event which was met with huge criticism.

The chances are we will see Chris Eubank Jr facing either Gennady Golovkin, Billy Joe Saunders or James DeGale next.

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Avni Yildirim – WBC International Super Middleweight Champion 15-0 (10ko’s)

A very exciting prospect to watch in the super middleweight division is 25-year-old Turkish fighter Avni Yildirim. nicknamed ‘The Robot’ Yildirim has looked extremely impressive since he became a professional fighter.

Yildirim has only been a professional for three years and had his first fight aged 22. He is hoping to become the new flag bearer for Turkish boxing and has been campaigning the latter stages of his career over in Germany.

Two quick knockout victories on the trot have seen Yildirim obtain some serious exposure and recognition. As he is the current WBC International Silver champion he is likely to go down the route of Callum Smith v Anthony Dirrell.

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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr – 50-2-1 (32ko’)

I didn’t really know what division to place Chavez Jr in. He can’t be classed as a middleweight and I don’t think he will ever be fighting at light heavyweight again due to the lack of strength and power he possess at the weight. He is still ranked at super middleweight so I will place him in this division for now.

Chavez Jr is the son of one of boxing’s most iconic and famous figures, Julio Cesar Chavez. Jr turned professional at the age of 17 and looked like he was going to follow in the steps of his legendary father.

His career has been quite a disappointing one as the man possesses clear talent, but his lack of discipline and motivation has seen his professional years spiral out of control. Extremely weight gain and substance abuse has seen Chavez Jr hit numerous hurdles.

He is the former WBC middleweight champion before loosing it in an extremely exciting bout with Argentine Sergio Martinez in 2012. Chavez Jr has fluctuated between weights ever since and has struggled to really find a weight that he feels comfortable making.

He will be facing fellow Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez on May 6th this year at a strange catchweight of 164.5lbs. This is halfway between middleweight and super middleweight, and will be trained by hall of fame strict coach Nacho Beristain.

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The super middleweight division is definitely not what it once was. We used to have extremely competitive and mouth-watering matchups but that seems a thing of the past. There is potential for the division to light up again with some of the talent that is campaigning at 168lbs, however the likely hood of them actually facing each other is slim.

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