When undefeated WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin faces IBF belt holder David Lemieux this weekend on pay-per-view, two of the four major titles will be on the line. Unification fights are all-too rare in this age of alphabet soup shenanigans, so GGG vs. the tough young Canadian is a true breath of fresh air for the sport.
But the middleweight division will see a number of truly significant, relevant fights in the year’s remaining months. Obviously, the other big fight in the division is lineal and WBC champion Miguel Cotto’s November clash with Saul Alvarez. While the popular Mexican redhead has never fought at middleweight, his status as the top fighter at 154 pounds, along with his huge box office appeal, makes him a credible opponent. Fans can only hope that the winners of these two high profile fights will come together for yet another superfight in early 2016.
WBO belt holder Andy Lee is something of the odd man out in this picture, but his time should come. In my opinion, the Irishman deserves to rank third in the division, behind only Golovkin and Cotto, and one spot ahead of Lemieux. He knocked out previously undefeated Matt Korobov last December to claim the vacant WBO belt, after Peter Quillin refused to fight the former Russian amateur star. When Lee fought Quillin last April, he came back from two knockdowns in the first three rounds to salvage a split-decision draw. He faces undefeated Billy Joe Saunders of England in December.
Saunders is currently my No. 8 fighter in the division. The undefeated Brit earned a tough split decision over Chris Eubanks Jr. (who I rank No. 9) last November. Between July 2013 and the fight with Eubanks, Saunders beat four straight undefeated fighters. It will be interesting to see what he does against a true top-five talent like Lee.
Quillin, meanwhile, holds down the No. 5 spot in my own rankings and has a hotly anticipated showdown with Daniel Jacobs (No. 6 on my list) in December. The WBA wants you to accept that this fight is a world-title fight, as they designate Jacobs their “regular” world champion and GGG the “super” version. I refuse to accept that kind of stupidity. Alphabet-soup organizations are allowed only one world champion per division, or else the entire concept of a world champion becomes even murkier than it already is.
However, this fight is between two extremely talented, top-10 fighters, battling for the middleweight championship of Brooklyn, and that’s more than good enough for me.
All told, we are looking at four fights in the next three months, featuring seven top-10 middleweights and the top junior middleweight in the world. It’s extremely rare to see this many quality fights happening in such a short space of time in one division. Boxing fans should savor it.