147: Are we seeing the end of an era?

By Cesar Pancorvo: This great welterweight era didn’t last too long –only two years– and we are probably seeing the last moments of it. Let’s go back to 2005: Zab Judah (the Champion), Cory Spinks, Antonio Margarito; nobody talked about a great period at the 147 pounds’ division, but everything changed in late 2005 and during 2006, mainly because of the immigration from three fighters –Mayweather, Cotto and then Mosley–, from other divisions, and because of the appearance of some names who raided the rankings: Williams, Clottey, Cintron, Collazo, etc..

November 2005. After winning the #1 contender status at 140, and having the newly crowned Champion –Hatton– refuse several times a fight with him, Floyd Mayweather flew to the Welterweight division, which was not weak, but also wasn’t incredibly strong, and he quickly established himself there, after beating Zab Judah.

After that, in a decision that many condemned, he fought and beat Carlos Baldomir (the WBC, Ring Champion, and the Cinderella Man of this decade) instead of facing Margarito, a fighter with a weaker resume, but that was definitely a bigger threat. Welterweight was already creating rivalries and shaping up.

One year after Mayweather arrived to 147, Cotto made his debut there with an exciting performance, the win over future titlist Carlos Quintana; then, he progressively cleaned the division in battles against Urkal, Judah and Mosley, and now will try to culminate his fantastic campaign in a decisive showdown against Antonio Margarito. While Cotto cleaned the great 147 division, Mayweather preferred to get involved in mega fights, which weren’t necessarily at 147.

A third sword, which was key to the success of the welterweight division, was Shane Mosley, who, after beating Vargas twice at 154, came down to 147 and established himself with a win over Luis Collazo, and then fought Cotto. Mosley lost. His time at 147 was short, only one year, but he did enough by enhancing the rankings with his name and celebrated career. His future probably rests at 154: fighting Mayorga would not be a bad idea. A rematch with Cotto doesn’t seem like a possibility.

Antonio Margarito appeared in The Ring’s 147 rankings in 2001 and became the top contender in 2004. A #1 contender that always lived in the shadows. Four years later, he still hasn’t faced a Lineal Champion or been involved in a unification fight: his best wins are Kermit Cintron and Joshua Clottey –curious for a fighter that has been at the top for so long. His sympathizers would say that he has been ducked –maybe. No doubt that Margarito has been, with his Mexican aura and courageous style, an important element in this division, and successful enough to arrive to the end of the race.

After Mayweather, Cotto, Mosley and Margarito, we could make a pretty long inventory of the other names that stormed the division with their talent and guts: Zab Judah, who is still being part of big fights –like his next one against Clottey–, because of his fame, and unequalled mix of speed and power; Williams, who was initially hyped as a “new Hearns” by some disoriented analysts, because of his size and frame, but who recently proved his vulnerabilities; Cintron, who is a strong fighter who got better under the guidance of Emanuel Steward; Collazo, a fast fighter that gave Ricky Hatton a tough fight; Clottey, a tough boxer that gave Margarito one of his worst moments inside the ring, and who later did enough to beat Diego Corrales; Carlos Quintana, who had an adequate game plan and beat Paul Williams, when few believed in him. Even Ricky Hatton, who was a belt holder for a short time and then challenged Mayweather for the title, brought some interest and substance to the 147 division. I would dare to say that the presence of Carlos Baldomir, during the initial face of this welterweight period, in 2006, was fundamental, because if brought a story, a tale: that’s also what great divisions are made of…Anecdotes, colourful stories, dreams, interesting characters who defy reality.

The climax of the welterweight division started in 2007 and will end next July, when Cotto faces Margarito in the grand finale. After that fight, however, Cotto (if he beats Margarito) versus Paul Williams would be required to cement one of the top contenders as the real Champion (Cotto is the man, but Williams in the #2 contender and we have to remember that he actually beat Margarito), but it will be hard to make that happen. That fight will have to wait, because Cotto, in the case of beating Margarito, will probably meet Oscar de la Hoya at the end of the year.

As I said, the era is ending. Cintron was KOed by Margarito out of anyone’s memory, Mosley will probably face Mayorga at 154, there is no news about Collazo, Hatton is staying at Light Welterweight, the loser of Margarito-Cotto will be discarded from the top, and Mayweather has retired. Andre Berto arrived to the Top10 during the last months of this era, a time were Margarito-Cotto, Clottey-Judah and the (possible) rubber match between Quintana and Williams are the beacons that illuminate the division.

At least we had the satisfaction of being witnesses of the following fights:

Mayweather vs. Judah
Mayweather vs. Hatton
Cotto vs. Quintana
Cotto vs. Urkal
Cotto vs. Judah
Cotto vs. Mosley
Cotto vs. Gomez
Mosley vs. Collazo
Hatton vs. Collazo
Margarito vs. Cintron
Margarito vs. Clottey
Margarito vs. Williams
Margarito vs. Cintron II
Williams vs. Quintana
Williams vs. Quintana II

We were very close of having Judah-Mosley and we are now going to watch Clottey-Judah and, of course, Margarito-Cotto.

It is unjustifiable that the most significant fight didn’t happen: Mayweather versus Cotto. But there is still time, and the temptation of making that fight happen will be too much if Cotto beats Margarito and De la Hoya.

We are witnessing the last months, or days, of this welterweight era, which some people even compared to the one of Hearns and Leonard, and, coincidentally, we are seeing the rise of a pretty exciting lightweight division, which one year ago was agonizing and now shines with exceptional fighters that are coming up from 130.

-Deplorable is the word for the performance of Ruslan Chagaev as WBA titlist. A fraud? No, he’s just the victim of a compound of relentless bad luck. Let’s hope that he can make a gallant return, because what he did in 2006 and early 2007 –wins over Virchis, Ruiz and Valuev– is worth a mention and made many people belief in him. The heavyweight division is dead. The WBA should declare the title vacant and order a Ruiz-Valuev fight ipso facto. I don’t like the idea of Ruiz fighting for a belt, but the WBA’s #3 and #4 contenders are Kali Meehan and Taras Bidenko!

Article posted on 02.07.2008

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