While Super Middleweight has been out of the spotlight over the past two years, it has developed into a legitimate Game of Thrones during that time. There are three belt holders in the division who can all make a fair claim to being the top fighter in the world at 168 pounds.
Two of them fight this weekend in Brooklyn. IBF champ James DeGale will face WBC standard-bearer Badou Jack.
Both men defeated one of the Dirrell brothers to capture their titles. DeGale knocked down Andre Dirrell twice in Round 2 and fought a tactically smart battle the rest of the way to earn a decision. Jack beat Andre’s brother Anthony, eight months after Dirrell had earned the belt with a nice performance against Sakio Bika. The Dirrell brothers are both solid contenders in the division. Neither fight was a true world title fight, in the traditional sense of the term. But they were both excellent contender bouts.
WBO super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez captured his portion of the crown in April 2016. His performance was the hidden jewel in the general malaise of seeing Manny Pacquiao earn exactly the decision everybody knew he would earn against Timothy Bradley. At 36, Abraham is not the fighter he once was. But he is a borderline Hall of Famer, and I actually thought he would out-work the younger man.
It was quite possibly my worst prediction of the year. Ramirez won 120-108 on all three cards and deserved it.
Ramirez is a potential superstar, just 25 and now 34-0 with 24 KOs. For a man with his frame, he is able to throw very good multi-punch combinations and has the boxing smarts to take advantage of his length.
In my view, it’s probably between Ramirez, Canelo Alvarez and Oscar Valdez for who will be the greatest Mexican star of this generation. I think Ramirez would knock Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. out cold.
The winner of this weekend’s fight between Jack and DeGale will have two of the belts and will deserve to be viewed as the reigning top fighter in the world at 168 pounds. But in my view, I won’t be able to view him as the true world champion if he does not fight and defeat DeGale.