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Commentary: The Present State Of The Super Middleweights And Middleweights Divisions
Kingsley Ikeke NEW YORK
NEW YORK— With the upcoming Jeff Lacy-Robin Reid clash, the Super Middleweights and Middleweights are suddenly becoming two hot divisions. Jeff Lacy is fighting a fighter who quite frankly can beat him. Reid is a tough fighter who lost two tough close battles to Joe Calzaghe and Swen Otkke.
While Lacy is the favorite, Reid has been in with the best and has fought higher caliber opponents. For the winner, this means a unification battle with the best of the Super Middleweights, Joe Calzaghe. The loser will still listed as one of the best.
Which brings me to the point. The Middleweights with the emergence of Jermain Taylor and the Super Middleweights with the emergence of Jeff Lacy is becoming a deep division with some great potential fights down the road.
The beauty is that these fighters are young enough and strong enough to carry their rivalry up to the light heavyweight division and maybe to the cruiserweight division.
The biggest problem with these divisions is that most of the better fighters actually fight overseas. And most American boxing fans just don’t know how deep these divisions are. Most Americans don’t know who Joe Calzaghe is but this undefeated fighter has been a champion for nearly eight years.
A slick southpaw, Calzaghe attacks his opponents with quick accurate punches that has snap. With 31 knockouts in 39 victories, Calzaghe can knock you out and he has the skills to out box you.
Other fine European fighters in this weight division include the WBC champion Markus Beyer and the WBA undefeated Mikkal Kessler. And least we forget, there is the German fighter Mario Velt and the undefeated Ukrainian fighter Vitali Tsypko, who still has a score to settle with Lacy when their fight was declared a no-contest as result of a head butt.
The Middleweight is just as intriguing and again, many of the better fighters are European. While many fans are very familiar with Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor, who has heard of Arthur Abraham? This undefeated fighter just beat veteran Howard Eastman for the WBA intercontinental Middleweight and lurking underneath the radar screen is Felix Sturm, whose only lost was a close but very controversial decision to Oscar De La Hoya. ( It could easily be said that Sturm should still be undefeated if not for hometown judging in favor of De La Hoya.).
There is also the Nigerian fighter Kingsley Ikeke, who is a legitimate threat to win a title. With a long reach to go with his 6-foot-4 frame, Ikeke has the potential to move up the weight ladder and be in the championship mix. And after the Hopkins fight, Taylor still has to face maybe the best Middleweight in Winky Wright. No Middleweight can ignore Wright and still be considered the undisputed champion.
The middleweight and Super Middleweight division strongly support a thesis that I have hammered home before, the globalization of boxing. Many of the best fighters in these divisions happen to fight and live across the Atlantic and that is one reason why that many America boxing fans do not realize how deep these divisions have become. And there are some talented young fighters that include Lacy, Kessler, Sturm, Abraham and of course, Taylor.
You contrast these two divisions to the heavyweight, where the only top ten fighters under 30 is Samuel Peters. These divisions are loaded with excellent fighters close to their peak and not much beyond 30 and with the fighters who have yet seen 30.
There are at least four or five fighters in each division who are legitimate championship caliber fighters. I should say, there are a minimal of four or five fighters who are legitimate champion. Throughout the top 10, there are excellent fighters who can easily win a championship belt of their own.
Last month, we saw one of boxing year most important fight as Taylor eked out a victory over the great Bernard Hopkins. Taylor is one of the Middleweight elites and that won’t change regardless of the result of the Hopkins rematch. This upcoming weekend, Lacy will try to put his stamp on the division as he takes on the always-tough Robin Reid. For Lacy, the journey to Calzaghe goes through Reid.