The Super Middleweight Division - Top Ten

01.06.06 - By Neil Thompson
1.JOE CALZAGHE (WBO / IBF) – Although he doesn’t hold all the various ‘alphabet titles’ Joe can still be considered the undisputed, true World Champion in the 168lb division. With 8 years as champion and 18 title defences under his belt, he is the longest reigning champion in boxing today. Despite there being a few ‘no-names’ on his record as champ, he has still fought and beaten more ‘names’ than any other active super middleweight. On his impressive list of victims are former world champions such as Byron Mitchell, Chris Eubank, Charles Brewer, Jeff Lacy, Robin Reid and Richie Woodhall. He’s also taken out tough contenders like Omar Shieka and Mger Mkrtchian. Keeping himself in shape between fights has probably helped Calzaghe’s longevity and at the age of 33 has yet to show any signs of deterioration. His speed, work rate and boxing ability look as good as ever.. A catch-weight, grudge match with Glen Johnson looks like Joe’s next assignment and a victory could place Calzaghe in the perfect position to make the long awaited jump to the light heavyweight. From there he could challenge either Clinton Woods for the IBF title or a crack at the true champion Antonio Tarver. Alternatively Calzaghe can postpone this move up and go into a unification clash at 168 against Markus Beyer, a fight that Beyer’s people are keen on. Calzaghe has an impressive record of 41-0 with 31 stoppages and it’s hard to see who will beat him before he retires. In my humble opinion, the only fighter from 168 to 175 lb’s to be considered a favourite over Joe Calzaghe is Antonio Tarver. Not because Tarver is such a great fighter, but more because of the clash of styles and the physical advantages Tarver would enjoy. Watching how Calzaghe’s career pans out from here is going to be very interesting. Hopefully HBO and Sports Network will deliver the fights Calzaghe’s talent deserves.

2.MIKKEL KESSLER (WBA) – You cannot help being impressed with this fighter from Denmark. Kessler is a quality operator. Although he has nowhere near the top-level experience of Calzaghe, so far he has looked awesome. In Europe and the UK they tend to bring along their prospects slowly and Kessler has gradually built a solid record of 37-0 with 28 stoppages. Some people would argue that he has a padded record and hasn’t really fought anyone apart from Mundine, Siaca and a faded Eric Lucas. Despite this I have had the pleasure of watching a few of Kessler fights and I cannot help being impressed with the 6’ 1” tall, 27 year old. Time is on Kessler side and I expect big things from him. A fight with Calzaghe would be a mistake from Kessler’s point of view. Calzaghe would be the only super middleweight I would favour over this fighter. Kessler needs more exposure, a fight in the US would do wonders for him and big fights could follow. Hopefully the American’s will get to see him perform soon.

3.MARKUS BEYER (WBC) – The 3 time WBC champion seems to have been around for a long time now. Just when you think you’ve seen the last of him he surprises you. I am of the opinion that Beyer is there for the taking, but then again I have been thinking that for the past 3 or 4 years yet he is still there. This defensive, counter punching Southpaw, first took the WBC crown from Richie Woodhall, then lost it to Glen Catley, regained it from Eric Lucas before loosing it again to Christian Sanavia, he then won the rematch with Sanavia to become a 3 time champion. He has also beaten the tough Danny Green. Although Beyer is a better boxer than given credit for, I think Calzaghe, Kessler, Mundine and Jeff Lacy would beat him without too much trouble. If he gets past his next defence against Librado Andrade, look for Markus to try and secure a unification fight with Calzaghe. At 35 years of age Beyer is close to retirement and a ‘clash of champions’ against Calzaghe would be a good climax to a fine career.

4.ANTHONY MUNDINE – The former WBA champion is not to be taken lightly. This Australian was originally a Rugby League superstar. He raised a few eyebrows when he turned his attention to professional boxing. The out-spoken and controversial contender’s first crack at an alphabet title was against the long reigning, now retired Sven Ottka. When he challenged Ottka Mundine was a relative novice and despite his inexperience and fighting in the Germans back yard, Mundine put in a fine performance until he was stopped. Sven Ottka was always considered a fighter with very little power and a stoppage loss to Ottka gave Mundine the reputation of being chinny. Since then Mundine has proven himself to be a world class fighter. He has suffered from erratic performances but he fought bravely and competitively against the high flying Mikkel Kessler, losing a close decision to the WBA champ. Recently Mundine has proved himself to be the number one super middleweight in Australia by out pointing the dangerous Danny Green. He now looks forward to a rematch with Mikkel Kessler.

5.JEFF LACY – It will be interesting to see how Jeff Lacy responds to his first defeat. Let’s face it, Jeff was completely outclassed by Calzaghe. Jeff had looked awesome up until he faced Calzaghe, beating fighters such as Robin Reid, Omar Shieka, Sid Vanderpool and Scott Pemberton. However it did appear, to some, that Lacy was being matched carefully. Lacy’s power and style made him a popular fighter amongst boxing fans in the US. The US fans were almost certain in their belief that Lacy would walk through Calzaghe. Lacy was being hyped as a future main stream star, a fighter to bring boxing back into the homes of America. Well the rest is history and Lacy finds himself having to rebuild his damaged image. I still think Lacy can be a force in world boxing. He needs to look upon the Calzaghe fight as a ‘learning experience’. Answering his critics needs to be his top priority. He needs to prove he’s not as one dimensional as the Calzaghe fight surgests. In my opinion Jeff Lacy would still knockout Markus Beyer and a fight with Mikkel Kessler would be very entertaining. Lets hope Lacy comes back soon. One thing you can say for sure is that Lacy has the heart of a lion, he took a hell of a beating against Calzaghe and never gave up.

6.LUCIAN BUTE – The Canadian southpaw is 26 years old, 6’2” tall and has an unbeaten record of 17-0 with 15 stoppages. Lucian’s most impressive performance was against the tough Egyptian Kabary Salem, who gave Calzaghe a tough fight and even knocked the World number one to the canvass. That night Salem showed he had an iron jaw, but when he faced Lucian Bute, Salem was stopped within 8 rounds.

7.MGER MKRTCHIAN – Yet another Calzaghe victim. Mger Mkrtchian is a monster of a fighter. Despite being outclassed and stopped by Calzaghe in February 2004, Mkrtchian has responded well. The Armenian power puncher has recently won the European title with a brutal knockout of the previously unbeaten Frenchman Jackson Chanet. With a record of 23-2 and 17 stoppages, and an entertaining style with power in either hand, this fighter should get another crack at a world title soon. Holding the European Title at super middlweight is not to be over looked, as there are many quality 168lb fighters in Europe. His European belt will give him a guaranteed top ten ranking by the WBC and a fight with its champion would be a risk for Beyer. Also, I think Mkrtchian would be a good test for the WBA champion Mikkel Kessler.

8.DANNY GREEN – Time maybe running out for Danny Green. He looked awesome against Markus Beyer before he got himself disqualified. In the rematch he faced Beyer on German soil only to be narrowly outpointed by the WBC Champ. Danny Green is a tough, power punching, aggressive Australian. He also destroyed the world rated Eric Lucas on Lucas’ home territory of Canada. Danny Green will give everyone at 168 a good fight. Danny now has to rebuild his career after loosing to his Australian nemesis Anthony Mundine. I hope Danny keeps fighting, as I always love watching him perform.

9.LIBRADO ANDRADE – the 6’ 2” tall Mexican fighter, with a record of 23-0 with 17 stoppages, is progressing well. He’s beaten Otis Grant and is looking good. He is scheduled to fight for the WBC belt next against Markus Beyer. Should Andrade pull off the upset, he can expect a big money unification clash with Calzaghe or even Kessler.

10. MARIO VEIT – This tall German boxer has twice been a mandatory challenger to Calzaghe’s WBO title and twice Viet has been stopped. The first fight was in the UK and Calzaghe dispatched Viet in the first round. Viet went away and went back to the drawing board. He went on beat Charles Brewer and Kabary Salem, two fighters who have given Calzaghe tough fights. This put Viet in line for another crack at Calzaghe. When the fight went to purse bids it was won by Viet’s German promoter and therefor the fight was staged on German soil. At this time many people believed Calzaghe was on the slide, yet despite the many positives Viet felt before the fight, Calzaghe still took him apart within 6 rounds. Since then Viet has once again started to rebuild his career and is targeting the WBC champ Markus Beyer. Last time out Mario Viet pulled off an upset against a fellow German and previously unbeaten contender Jurgen Brahmer. This has put Viet back into the title picture.

Article posted on 01.06.2006

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