Ahhhhhhh, the waiting is over and finally, soon we will quit squabbling over who we think is the best welterweight in the world. All the best welterweights still have questions marks against them that can only be fully answered in competition with one another, but with Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia and Kell Brook vs Errol Spence confirmed we are much closer to finding out who will reign supreme at welterweight.
It’s annoying as a fan to watch these young, talented men in their primes seemingly avoid each other, perceiving that the risks are too high and reward too low in engaging in battle. I can fully understand old school boxing fans feeling cynical about the sport and declaring that “boxin in’t what it wa’ durin’ the good ol’ days where they’d fight for a bag o’ chips jus’ to see whose ‘arder” (yes that is an old northern English accent, not a bunch of typos). The cause of this is because this current generation are influenced by a man who uses his chips to bet on himself in low risk, high reward fights particularly during the end of his career; yep, that man Floyd Mayweather. This current batch of welterweights stalled their career progression and hoped for an opportunity to fight Mr TBE knowing that one fight can transform their finances over night, which is understandable but frustrating. This potential carrot dangling tantalisingly in front of them was too irresistible to give up on. Maintaining this analogy, instead of walking to the kitchen, opening the fridge and getting themselves a different snack they became fixated on the almost hypnotic carrot even if it meant starving themselves. None of them decided to ‘get the snack from the fridge’ and fight each other, knowing that a loss would possibly deem them unworthy challengers to Mayweather. In losing, they feared representing an even greater high risk, low reward opponent to the rest of division particular whilst they still had many peak years ahead of them and therefore stagnating their careers further. The irony of this is the winner of those fights would have probably been too young, fit, hungry, skilled and primed for Mayweather to want to risk his undefeated record against anyway. The impact of the ‘Mayweather Model’ led to fear and paranoia of career derailment in defeat. However, his departure into retirement has liberated them and given us the fights that we wished for.
There is no other competitive sport in which the best competitors can avoid each other but be adamant of their supremacy. Just imagine after the NBA Playoffs the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors win their Conference Finals and then turn around and say to the fans “Hey you know what, we think we’ll skip the final, we’re better than them anyway.” The fans would riot, it would ruin the credibility of the sport and baring in mind that it’s a non-contact sport, they would be accused of lacking pride, competitive spirit and being SOFT. Those accusations should be much more offensive to ducking boxers, as fighting requires pride, spirit and toughness as the cornerstone to any fighters success.
Thankfully the fights are happening and long debated questions will be answered. Is Kell Brook really ‘Special’? Is Errol Spence the ‘Truth’? Will landing ‘One Time’ be enough for Keith Thurman against the very best? Should we be so ‘Swift’ in dismissing Danny Garcia against elite welterweight competition?
This famous division will have the ruler it deserves and along the way we will be treated to some fantastic entertainment from these fighters at the height of their pugilistic prowess. Win, lose or draw, respect from fans will be gained for the challenge attempted and the efforts they leave in the ring. A champion will be crowned, legends will be lauded and heroes honoured. I can’t wait, and luckily I won’t have to for long.