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Continuing on with #DivisionDissection I will be looking at the middleweights, the division that personally I think is the best in the current sport of boxing due to the names that are floating around.
The division has potential to steal the limelight with some blockbuster fights, however the likely hood of them getting made seems quite slim. There is many extremely talented fighters in the division, but one man without a doubt is ruling the roost.
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Gennady Golovkin – IBF, WBC, WBA & IBO Middleweight Champion 36-0 (33ko’s)
At the top of the crop is the undefeated Kazakh middleweight king Gennady Golovkin. Known as Triple G or GGG, he has been fighting his entire life and long before he ever laced up the gloves.
Golovkin is one of four brothers born by a Russian father and a Korean mother. When Golovkin would walk the streets with his brothers as a youngster they would walk around picking fights for him with grown men. His brothers would ask him if he was scared to fight and when he said no, he would be told to fight.
Triple G’s two older brothers Vadim and Sergey both joined the Soviet Army when Gennady was only 9 years old. By 1990 his brother Vadim was killed in the army and also his brother Sergey was pronounced dead in 1994.
Golovkin had an incredible amateur boxing record and before turning professional he was already one of the most talented fighters in the game. With a gold medals in the 2002 Busan Asian games, 2003 Bangkok World championships and the 2004 Puerto Princesa Asian championships. He finished with an amateur record of 345-5 and turned professional in 2006.
He first signed with boxing promotional outlet ‘Universum’ but that partnership didn’t last forever as it was clear Golovkin was not their priority. He later cut ties with them after they failed to lead Golovkin to success, and the Kazakh fighter signed with K2 promotions and announced he would be trained by Abel Sanchez.
“I have a chalkboard in the gym, and I wrote Ali’s name, Manny Pacquiao’s name and his name,” Sanchez said. “I told him, ‘You could be right there.’ He was all sheepish, but once I felt his hands, and I saw how smart he was in the ring and how he caught on… sheesh. He’s going to be the most-avoided fighter in boxing, or he’s going to get the chance he deserves.” – Abel Sanchez
The relationship between Sanchez and Golovkin has grown to be something absolutely deadly. Sanchez has bought a Mexican aggressive style approach to Gennady’s strict Kazakh amateur background.
Photo Credit – (@BoxingScene)
In all of Gennady’s 36 fights he has only gone the distance three times. He is within the top 4 pound for pound fighters on the planet and is without question the hardest pound for pound puncher.
He has been a world champion since 2010 with a knockout streak lasting since 2008. In 2014 he faced Marco Antonio Rubio for the WBC interim middleweight title and this would grant him a future shot at Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez.
He then faced David Lemieux in 2015 and won the IBF title, unifying the division once again. Golovkin was the mandatory challenger to face Canelo at this point and despite Canelo voicing his desire to face GGG, he vacated his belt and avoided facing Golovkin, awarding him the WBC title by default.
In 2016 he came over to the UK and fought Kell Brook at the O2 Arena in London. Brook had moved up two weights from Welterweight to face Golovkin and was defeated for the first time in his career, being stopped in the 5th round with a broken eye socket.
Golovkin will face WBA Regular champion Danny Jacobs on the 18th March at Madison Square Garden. He is promoted by Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions. Golovkin is one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the ring and you can guarantee brutality every time.
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Billy Joe Saunders – WBO Middleweight Champion 24-0 (12ko’s)
Next in line we have Billy Joe Saunders who is another undefeated champion and has the only belt left that Golovkin is searching for. Saunders career over the last couple of years has been extremely frustrating as he has slowly digressed since winning a world title.
Saunders is a gypsy boy and has always stuck to his roots. He is the great-grandson of Hertfordshires most famous bare knuckle boxer. The 27-year-old has continued to live by his heritage and is often seen in his caravan’s with his horses.
Billy signed professional in 2008 under hall of fame promoter Frank Warren and was just a teenager. In his 11th fight he became the British Southern Area middleweight champion, and the Commonwealth champion ni his 13th fight.
He faced Nick Blackwell in his 16th fight and won the vacant British title by a unanimous decision victory. Two impressive wins back to back in John Ryder and Spike O’Sullivan saw him earn a shot at the European title in 2014. He faced Emanuele Blandamura and stopped him in the 8th round.
Later on in 2014 he fought one of the most important fights in his career. An incredibly heated rivalry with Chris Eubank Jr stole the show as the pair battled it out and clashed inside and outside the ring. Saunders was victorious and is still the only man to have ever beaten Chris Eubank Jr.
A year and two fights later he finally got his chance at the WBO middleweight title as he faced Irish traveller Andy Lee. Billy dropped him twice in the fight and won by a majority decision, crowing himself as the new world champion.
After ballooning up in weight and having almost a year lay off from the sport, he returned at the end of 2016 almost a year after he won his title and faced Russian hopeful Artur Akavov. Saunders dropped weight extremely quick and showed signs of ring-rust but managed to get the job done.
Saunders keeps hinting at a huge super fight that is ready to be announced, but we are still unsure of who is. He was due to face Avtandil Khurtsidze as he was the mandatory challenger but Khurtsidze will now fight for the WBO interim title. This suggests Saunders will either be opting to try to unify the division with a huge fight with Gennady Golovkin, or he will be moving up in weight to fight elsewhere.
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Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez – 48-1-1 (34ko’s)
The biggest draw and face of boxing is Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez. He has recently left the 154lbs division and is fighting just above the 160lbs limit but has stated he will be coming back down to middleweight after his fight with Chavez Jr.
Canelo Alvarez was establishing himself as one of the sports brightest prospects, making his professional debut in 2005, aged just 15. Canelo was born into a family of 7 brothers and 1 sister and is the youngest.
In 2011, aged just 20 Canelo became a superstar with a unanimous decision victory, picking up the vacant WBC World Super Welterweight title against Matthew Hatton, the younger brother of hall of fame boxer and 3 weight world champion Ricky Hatton.
In 2013 an undefeated Canelo Alvarez with a record of 42-0 and just aged 23, entered the MGM Grand to face undefeated boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr, now retired with a record of 49-0. The pair accumulated the third highest pay per view buying numbers in boxing history with 2.25 million people paying to watch the fight.
Canelo went on to secure three back to back wins and earned himself a world title shot in 2015 against the Puerto Rican boxing legend Miguel Cotto.
Canelo was successful in stepping up weight class and became the new WBC World Middleweight Title aged just 24 with a close victory over one of boxing’s most valuable and marketable fighters.
Canelo is one of the most powerful and marketable fighters in the world. He is the face of boxing, and nobody quite comes close to him in the current state of the sport. Canelo often fights at a weight class extremely lower than he should be, and gets around it by ensuring in the fights that he has, he will be allowed to re-hydrate to any weight he wishes.
Canelo however will fight at a weight division such as 154lbs, and then will hydrate to a rumored weight of anywhere in the region of 175lbs. To put that into perspective, the difference in between the two weights is exactly the same as a Super Welterweight facing off with a Light Heavyweight.
Fans have often questioned the way Canelo’s weight can fluctuate so easily without him seeming to encounter issues that most fighters would face. He has not enrolled for the VADA drug testing program, and chooses to enroll with drug testing programs that are extremely lenient, and are chosen by Golden Boy Promotions.
On the 6th May 2017 we see two Mexican fighters come together on an extremely important day for their culture. It’s the Cinco De Mayo weekend, also known as Mexican independence day.
We will see boxing’s biggest name as 26-year-old, three-time world champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 48-1-1 (34ko’s) will be taking on 30-year-old former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr 50-2-1 (32ko’s) over in America in an all Mexican showdown.
Photo Credit – (@SkySports)
Danny Jacobs – WBA Regular Middleweight Champion 32-1 (29ko’s)
Next we have Danny Jacobs who is nicknamed ‘The Miracle Man’ after surviving cancer and making a return to the sport after a year and half out. He returned and became a world champion!
Jacobs has an exceptional amateur record of 137-7 and has won numerous junior championships. He turned professional in 2007 and made his debut on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather v Ricky Hatton.
The miracle man is an extremely powerful puncher and he too like Golovkin has only seen the final bell 3 times in his professional career. He first fought for a world title in 2010 when he met dangerous Russian champion Dmitry Pirog. Jacobs was knocked out in the 5th round.
Danny almost lost his life along with his boxing career as in 2012 it was announced he had been diagnosed with a life threatening form of bone cancer, Osteosarcoma. After having almost 19 months out of the sport he made a return and by 2014 he became a world champion for the first time.
Since recovering from his cancer Jacobs has knocked out every opponent he has faced and has made 4 back to back successful defences of his titles. He will face Gennady Golovkin later this month.
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Ryota Murata 12-0 (9ko’s)
The 31-year-old Janese professional is a fighter that will be one to watch. He won gold at middleweight in the 2012 London Olympic games and finished with an amateur record of 119-18.
When Murata decided he might give up amateur boxing he declined the opportunity to participate in the AIBA games, saying he was considering retiring. Once it was revealed he would actually be turning professional he was banned from the Japanese amateur boxing federation for his disloyal conduct.
He is signed to Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotions and is highly rated for his boxing talent. He has looked impressive since he turned professional in 2013 and should be in line for some highly regarded interim or silver titles later this year.
Photo Credit – (@BoxingScene)
Jermall Charlo 25-0 (19ko’s)
Jermall Charlo is the newest addition to the middleweight division as he has recently vacated his IBF light middleweight title and stepped up a weight category to pursue titles up at 160lbs.
He is the twin brother of Jermell Charlo who is the WBC light middleweight champion. Jermall had an extremely good amateur record of 65-6 and the 26-year-old turned professional in 2008.
Charlo has had impressive wins over Austin Trout and Julian Williams and is an extremely top class contender in the middleweight division. You could argue that he was one of the top 2 fighters down at 154lbs and we can expect him to be in some big fights later this year.
Photo Credit – (@BoxingScene)
Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam 35-2 (21ko’s)
Cameroon middleweight Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam is currently the interim WBA middleweight champion and will be in like to face either Gennady Golovkin or Daniel Jacobs.
He won gold at the 2003 Yaounde African championships in the amateurs and turned professional in 2004. N’Jikam decided to move to France where he would become a resident and box professional over there as he didn’t feel Cameron was a country he could fulfill his boxing career.
He took part in the 2016 Olympics despite much criticism that it would be unfair for professional fighters to take part in the amateur games, however he was knocked out of the competition in the first round.
N’Jikam only has two losses in his professional career, one to Peter Quillin and one against Canadian fighter David Lemieux. He has since gone on to win the WBA interim title with an absolutely brutal first round knockout of Alfonso Blanco. The one punch knockout came in the first 22 seconds of the fight and was one of the most ruthless knockouts of the year.
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Sergiy Derevyanchenko 9-0 (7ko’s)
This 31-year-old Ukranian fighter has a strong amateur pedigree, winning bronze at middleweight in the 2007 world amateur championships. He has been a professional since 2014 and has only had a small handful of fights, but has looked impressive in doing so.
He is ranked in the top ten by the WBC, IBF and the WBO and is likely to be in some eliminations later this year. Nicknamed ‘The Technician’ he is definitely a prospect to keep your eye on.
Photo Credit – (@BoxingScene)
Avtandil Khurtsidze 32-2-2 (21ko’s)
Georgian resident Khurtsidze cannot be overlooked despite being a ripe old age of 37. The 5ft4 powerhouse is an extremely underrated fighter and has shown us this in his last handful of fights.
Despite being so small, he definitely is a tough little fighter. With ony two losses on his record and one by stoppage back in 2005, he is a very tough man. He was the mandatory challenger to face Billy Joe Saunders however he will now face Tommy Langford for the vacant WBO interim middleweight title.
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Andy Lee 34-3-1 (24ko’s)
Despite being inactive since 2015, The Irish former WBO world champion Andy Lee must be put into the middleweight breakdown as he has recently announced he will be returning to the ring.
Lee turned professional in 2005 and signed to Manny Steward. He lived with Steward up until he died in 2012 and then moved to London to team up with Adam Booth. He won the vacant WBO middleweight title against Matt Korobov in 2014.
He is the first Irish traveller to win a world title and went on to lose it in December 2015 to another traveller, Billy Joe Saunders.
Photo Credit – (@TheGuardian)
Here you have the middleweights I feel are the most exciting. There is of course fighters such as Curtis Stevens, David Lemieux and Willie Munroe Jr but they are very basic fighters that I can’t see making a big impression on the division any time soon.