Life In The Welterweight Division: Full Of Stories, But Nothing To 'Joke' About

By Vivek Wallace: Life is funny. And the more we endulge in this sport of boxing, the funnier it often seems. Last week leading up to the Margarito/Cotto showdown, we learned that famed Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto only turned to boxing because he was 156 lbs at age 11 and needed to get in shape, which gave him the determination to later become one of the greatest of this era. It was also revealed that famed Mexican Antonio Margarito only turned to boxing because he needed money desperately to support his family who dwelled in the poverty stricken Tijuana, Mexico, and that determination led him to the highest mantle in the sport as well.. On Saturday night we crowned a new champion in the deep welterweight division who we recently learned started in the sport because he was a headstrong athlete known for his futbol skills, but ended up in the gym one day with his brother who continued to tell him about a fighter who totally destroyed everyone in front of him. Never one to back down from a challenge, Clottey - with no boxing skills at the time - volunteered to take a shot at defeating the boxer, and after being punched in the gut and vomiting profusely, immediately vowed that he would never allow himself to be hurt by another boxer again. Here we now stand years later, and the hard chinned, heavy handed Ghanaian native has gone farther in the sport than his brother as well as the so called bully. The more we listen, it often seems that everyone has a story to tell, but perhaps the most compelling one of them all is the collective story unfolding in the welterweight division as a whole. To analyze this a little closer, we take a look at what would be the best case scenario going forward for each of the main players in the game, which would also put in motion a potential unification elimination in the process:

Antonio Margarito (WBA) - Paul Williams (WBO):

Joshua Clottey looked pretty good Saturday night, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that there simply isn't enough hype or build up in an immediate rematch between he and Margarito yet, therefore, the plan for Margarito may ultimately fall back on another rematch which has a bit more appeal. That rematch being one against current WBO Champ Paul Williams. These two men - along with Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto - clearly represent the creme of the crop in the division, but being that Margarito has beaten the divisions biggest name, (Cotto), it's only fitting that he attempt to avenge the lost that was handed down by a man who once defeated him. One can reasonably argue that had Margarito come out with a different approach he could have won the initial fight against Williams, so after making a few adjustments, this is clearly the best fight out there for the two. I think Oscar De La Hoya continues to run in the opposite direction of this 'Tijuana Tornado', leaving Margarito with only one lucrative fight to be made, which is the Williams rematch to start a unification process.

Joshua Clottey (IBF) - Andre Berto (WBC):

The best fight out there for Clottey is indeed the one that he asked for in his post fight interview, which is the young and highly talented Andre Berto. Both of these two fighters have grabbed a portion of the championship title, yet in the eyes of some fans, still need to prove their mettle when it comes to being placed in the company of the top tier welterweights. Joshua Clottey is a solid fighter but Judah was not quite the same test that Berto would be. In Berto, you have a fighter who has the skills, the speed, the youth, and the stamina to take it to Clottey for the full 12 rounds. In Clottey, Berto would face the type of fighter that would bring great aggression for 12 rounds and test his stamina, as well as his ability to handle that kind of pressure from a powerful slugger who has enough defense to potentially slow his offense. I think this fight would be a great measuring bar for both men, considering that it would test them in ways that they previously have not been tested. This match also gives Bob Arum a chance to let a potential Margarito/Clottey rematch gain some steam if in fact it comes down to the two of them.

Miguel Cotto: Despite the loss last week, it's been made very clear that Team Cotto plans to be in the ring again before the year is over. Quiet as it's kept, don't be surprised if the name Miguel Cotto tops the list of those in pursuit by the Goldenboy again. Rumors have began to swirl that Manny Pacquiao has began to price himself out of a showdown with Oscar and the demands that Oscar be contractually obligated to pay $750K for every pound over the 147lb weight limit (in a weigh-in to take place the same day of the fight) certainly doesn't help. Cotto needs a winnable fight against a formidable opponent, and doing it against a man who can help pad his pockets greatly despite coming off of a lost can't be too much of a bad thing. I think it's precisely what the doctor ordered for both men, and I can guarantee that this fight materializes if the Pacquaio/De La Hoya fight doesn't happen. Oscar will not face Antonio Margarito, and Floyd seems happy in retirement, so this is really the only fight that makes sense for both men. Yeah, yeah, I know.....Oscar made the promise to his wife that he wouldn't face a Puerto Rican fighter, but if it helps her at all, at least the Puerto Rican fighter will probably win! (Does a fading Oscar stand a chance against a Miguel Cotto with a chip on his shoulder....Honestly?!?)

As for the rest of the welterweight division, the only other fighter that may eventually work himself back into immediate contention - by way of name respectability and a promoter who knows how to finagle his way into the mainstream - is 'Sugar' Shane Mosley. If Mosley can somehow turn back the hands of time and look grand against an always game Ricardo Mayorga, I see him facing either Clottey or Berto, or the winner of the two if indeed they do face off in a unification bout. At this point, it appears the best thing for Zab Judah to strongly consider is a trip down south to the 140lb weight division. It's hard to say whether he simply is not big enough to stay in with today's current crop of welterweights, or if the 'Brooklyn Bomber' has had one too many 'Harlem Nights', but either way it goes, something has caught up with Judah and at the tender age of 30, it appears clearly that his best days are well behind him. It's hard to see any other welterweights making a huge splash right away. Kermit Cintron and Luis Collazo sit patiently awaiting a chance to enter the ranks, but until either man does something noteworthy to keep their names fresh in the minds of fight fans, that'll be a hard ticket to sell. Both are adequate from a talent standpoint, but as we've now seen in two straight telecast, talent isn't always enough. However it all unfolds, one thing for sure, it's a great thing to see this deep division single-handily keep the interest level among fight fans at an all-time high. Despite the many stories this division has given us to chuckle about, one thing for certain, none of these guys are a joke, and when it's all said and done, there won't be much for most of them to laugh about....Because there can only be one left standing! Stay tuned for more to come.

(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at, 954-857-6858, or show some love at

Article posted on 03.08.2008

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