Much of the boxing world will turn its attention to Floyd Mayweather in August as he takes on Conor McGregor in a multi-million dollar exhibition. Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin will then settle their differences in an important middleweight title unification match in September. But don’t let boxing’s summer showcases fool you. The sport’s strongest division is at 147 pounds.
With a long list of high-caliber fighters, fans should expect excellent matchups between the best welterweights for the next several years.
Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs)
“One Time” Thurman has proven his stock time and time again in the ring, pulling off an impressive string of victories over the last two years. After earning a unanimous decision over the always-tough Robert Guerrero, the 28-year-old followed that up with a win over Luis Collazo in July 2015. But his most entertaining fight came against Shawn Porter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in June 2016. Both men let their hands go. Thurman’s methodical countering and defense of Porter’s aggressive style was enough to earn a tight decision.
Back in Brooklyn this past March, Thurman showed his versatility in a split-decision win over then-undefeated Danny García. Instead of thrilling exchanges every round, Thurman kept his distance. He would ultimately take advantage of a hesitant García en route to a win. Out until the end of 2017 due to shoulder surgery, Thurman is currently the top welterweight in the sport. Unless, of course, Floyd Mayweather comes calling again.
Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs)
The accolades for Spence are endless. A 2012 Olympian, the 27-year-old has taken dramatic steps forward in each of his performances. His meteoric rise culminated in a dominant victory over Kell Brook in Sheffield, England in May.
Spence has shown a unique ability to adjust mid-fight, attacking his opponents’ vulnerabilities until they wither under pressure. With Brook’s left eye damaged, Spence masterfully went to work. And in doing so, would leave the Brit with a broken eye socket by the end of the fight. Spence is cool and calculated, with a cerebral approach that has propelled him to the upper echelon of the division. In short, no ceiling is too high for the lefty from Long Island.
Danny García (33-1, 19 KOs)
His talent is unquestioned, but “Swift’s” opponents have not always lived up to expectations. After a career-defining victory over Lucas Matthysse in 2013, García was almost upset by Mauricio Herrera before knocking out a horrendously mismatched Rod Salka. The Philadelphia native then squeaked by Lamont Peterson, knocked out Paulie Malignaggi, outscored Robert Guerrero, and stopped Samuel Vargas before losing to Thurman.
Perhaps a rematch between the two would yield a better performance from García. After all, he did look a bit too cautious to engage. Despite the loss, García, 29, remains one of the elite fighters in the welterweight division.
Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs)
What this 29-year-old welterweight doesn’t have in technique he makes up for with his aggressiveness and heart. That was on display in his loss against Thurman, when he pushed “One Time” farther than any other fighter before him. Porter followed up his admirable performance with an April 2017 TKO over a fading Andre Berto in Brooklyn. Though he isn’t the top 147-pound fighter in the sport, Porter is always game for a good fight. With a style that meshes well with Thurman’s, expect a rematch between the two in 2018.
Kell Brook (36-2, 25 KOs)
It’ll be interesting to see where Brook goes after suffering tremendous damage in his last two fights. After putting together a shining 36-0 record, Brook took a tremendous gamble, moving up two weight divisions to fight Gennady Golovkin. Though he out-boxed GGG for large portions of the fight, Golovkin’s power was too much, damaging Brook’s right eye. Now following a broken left eye socket suffered against Spence, it’s back to the drawing board for the 31-year-old. A British showdown with Amir Khan looms, but contract negotiations have repeatedly stalled.
Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs)
Similar to Brook, it’s tough to tell where the 30-year-old Khan goes from here. He’s faced his share of setbacks, too. Most recently, a KO loss to a much larger Canelo Álvarez. After spending years pursuing a mega-fight with Mayweather, Khan appeared to have a fight with Manny Pacquiao inked for earlier this year. However, that quickly fell apart and again, it appears Khan’s most profitable fight is one with Brook.
Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs)
Pacquiao should be focusing on his next opponent after a fairly decisive win over Jeff Horn in Australia. Instead, the 38-year-old Filipino senator was robbed of another decision, putting his future in jeopardy. Of course, the money remains tantalizing. But why keep fighting if you can’t get the decisions you deserve?
Maybe Bob Arum will arrange a rematch for Horn in Pacquaio’s native Philippines. It’ll sure get attention and bring Pacquiao’s home to a standstill. But, wouldn’t fans have wanted to see a potential passing of the torch against Terence Crawford? It’s a tough finish to a phenomenal career.
Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs)
The only reason Horn makes this list is his stunning victory over Pacquiao. But make no mistake: Horn is simply not on the same level as the best welterweights in the division. Horn was able to pull off a controversial upset against an aging, diminished Pacquiao. Despite this, he was still seconds away from being knocked out in the ninth round. Imagine him taking on Spence or Thurman. Horn, 29, certainly has the guts and chin to hang in against a more skilled fighter. But he received a gift decision and wouldn’t fare so well against the division’s best.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (49-0, 26 KOs)*
If Mayweather ever decides to get back into the ring with actual boxers, he’ll immediately jump to the top of the welterweight list. Yes, even at his age. Instead, the best fighter of this generation will earn a ludicrous amount of money in an exhibition against Conor McGregor in August. Don’t expect much besides a boatload of trash talk and cash. Still, even if his skills are beginning to betray him, Mayweather is one of the top fighters in the game. And he could certainly give guys like Thurman or Spence a tough night at 147 pounds.
Terence Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs)*
With his stock rising, Crawford will look for maximum exposure in August when he attempts to become the first undisputed champ in 12 years against Julius Indongo for four 140-pound belts on ESPN. A big favorite, Crawford’s superior skills and ability to fight orthodox or southpaw should be enough to defeat Indongo. With little left to conquer if he unifies the belts, Crawford would likely move up to welterweight, joining an already stacked division.
However, his status as a Top Rank fighter may limit his pool of opponents, with most of the division’s best aligned with Al Haymon. A fight with Pacquiao remains a possibility, but its potential impact is reduced after the Horn fight.
Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs)*
The 29-year-old California native didn’t fight for over two years due to a contract dispute, but came storming back with two impressive knockouts since 2016. He’s moving up to 140 pounds to take on Adrien Broner in July. A win there would create a number of possibilities for Garcia, whose power has carried him up to this point in his career. With more possibilities at 147, Garcia could move up for more lucrative fights. Although. it’ll be interesting to see how well his power translates to welterweight.
Top Fights to Make
- Thurman-Porter II