Ranking the Welterweights: June 18, 2009

Shane Mosley ranks as the best welterweight in the world still, but who and when will he fight next? (via latimesblogs.latimes.com)

The last time we ranked the 147-pounders was January, just after Shane Mosley's emphatic rampage over Antonio Margarito. Since that time, top-ranked Mosley has been inactive, Margarito (No. 2) has been shamed and suspended, Miguel Cotto (No. 3) has fought twice, and top fivers Joshua Clottey and Andre Berto have both been in action. There's not a ton of movement, but there is plenty to talk about.

Oh, and some guy named Mayweather is supposedly gonna fight again...

1. Shane Mosley (46-5, 39 KO, WBA Titleholder)

The real question about Mosley is simple now: Who and when will he fight next? Pacquiao is not happening. Mayweather is not happening. Cotto isn't happening, because Cotto's fighting Pacquiao. Clottey is coming off of a loss and doesn't come close to meeting Mosley's "big fight" demands.

The only scenario that strikes me right is Andre Berto, a fellow titleholder, an unbeaten fighter, and a young guy being compared to Mosley at times. Frankly, I think Mosley would demolish Berto, but ya never know 'til ya know, y'know? Don't forget there were promoters in boxing saying Margarito would put Mosley "in a pine box" after Mosley's poor performance against Ricardo Mayorga last year. Hey, maybe Berto fights up and down to competition. Maybe a big fight against a name like Shane Mosley would be just what the doctor ordered for the youngster, who seemed almost bored with the Juan Urango fight in May.

Sugar Shane isn't getting any younger, which means Golden Boy needs to convince him that he has to fight again this year and forget about the huge money fight for the time being. It's just not there. He's gone to 154 in the past, but there are no money makers there, either. He deserves a big payday, a huge fight, but he's not getting it. The stars just didn't align for him. So fight someone. There are guys worth fighting, even if just to make yourself more attractive for the winner of Pacquiao-Cotto or the Mayweather-Marquez winner or whatever.

Of course, even if he fought someone and won big, chances are good that Mayweather (or Marquez, yada yada) just fights Pacquiao or Cotto next year and he's out on his own again. Mosley's never been a big draw. That's life.

2. Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KO, WBO Titleholder)

As much as I like Miguel Cotto and think he did enough to win against Joshua Clottey (if just enough), I wouldn't pick him to beat Shane Mosley again, so I'm ranking Cotto second still despite what we now can speculate about his fight with Antonio Margarito, his lone loss.

The Cotto we saw against Clottey was not the guy that beat Mosley in 2007. Of course they're totally different fighters, Clottey and Mosley, and Cotto had little vision in his left eye once that headbutt cut opened up, but there was a tentativeness about him that was not there before he lost to Margarito. He didn't show any rust against Michael Jennings because he didn't respect Michael Jennings as an equal. I think he respected Clottey a great deal and knew he was in against one of the best fighters he'd ever faced. He was right, of course. But something seemed a little off. Clottey caused some measure of that himself, and Cotto's camp was goofy, and blah blah blah -- we'll see going forward. We'll see against Pacquiao.

3. Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20 KO)

Clottey cemented his name as a truly top welterweight. Though he's been uninspiring against lesser opposition and hardly showed a wow factor against Cotto, it's not about that with Clottey. He's not flashy. (He's also not humble, which is something a lot of people call him.) He's a professional, the best defensive fighter in the division (not counting Floyd), and while he's not a big puncher, he's got enough zip in his right hand to keep anyone honest. He's also about as durable as they come in terms of taking good shots, though his gas tank seems to get low too often and he has a habit of giving away some rounds, which can be argued as the ultimate reason Cotto beat him. Clottey won't get his rematch. He's calling out Paul Williams, which shows you his fire, and he's one of those guys where you believe him. He'll fight whoever wants to fight him, and past journeymen who have nothing to lose, that list is really short. He's too good for his own good.

4. Andre Berto (25-0, 19 KO, WBC Titleholder)

Berto's defeat of Juan Urango was predictable and a chore to watch after about four rounds. The WBC has ordered that Luis Collazo get a rematch, and Berto should take it. Collazo has supporters that say he won that fight (I'm not one of them, and I was crazy impressed with how Berto came out and TOOK the fight with that final round performance) and it's the only time anyone's ever seen Berto pressed by a guy who could compete with him.

Berto has more natural skill than Collazo, and he proved out as being tough. But does he have the savvy? The tricks up his sleeve? No. That's what makes the fight close. Collazo is a thinker in the ring, Berto is an athlete. I want the rematch because past Mosley, Berto isn't getting anything any bigger, and I'll guarantee Lou DiBella would rather put him in with Collazo again than risk that pretty record against Clottey. Hopefully DiBella understands that Berto needs a big fight next against a genuine welterweight contender. No more soft touches, no more one-dimensional junior welterweights. You call him a champion -- let him be one.

5. Luis Collazo (29-4-1, 14 KO)

Same old story with Collazo. While some of it can be blamed on people not wanting to fight the guy (he's stuck in the same boat as Clottey, being better than most with no name), it's kind of frustrating to watch Collazo's career the last few years.

He fought and controversially lost to Ricky Hatton. He followed that by fighting Artur Atadzhanov (10-5). Then he fought Mosley and lost. He followed that with fights against Edvan Dos Santos Barros (9-4-1) and Russell Jordan (14-4). After losing to Berto, Collazo returns this weekend in South Carolina against David Gogichaishvilli (9-16). There's "nobody wants to fight me," and then there's taking the easiest, creampuffiest fights you can find and waiting for a mandatory title shot somewhere.

Division depth ends here. That's right, HBO: If you want to be genuinely honest about today's welterweight division, it's five fighters deep and then comes the riff-raff. Pacquiao and Marquez are not welterweights. Mayweather hasn't fought since 2007. This is your "best division in boxing."

I know I harp on this a lot, but seriously, where does this nonsense come from? There are several divisions deeper, more competitive, and with a brighter future. Super middleweight doesn't get nearly the love that welter does, but there is a top 10 plus of legit contenders at 168. 140 is better than this, really. 135 is definitely better. I just don't get the welterweight fascination. It's not in the pudding.

6. Zab Judah (37-6, 25 KO)

With Mayweather-Marquez off, Judah loses his July 18 fight with Matthew Hatton (37-4-1, 14 KO), which had Judah win written all over it, but with that slight chance that Brother Hatton could pull off the upset. Look, Carlos Baldomir beat Judah. Judah's best win at 147 is the Cory Spinks rematch in 2005. Since then he hasn't beaten anyone. He looked as uninspired as possible beating Ernest Johnson on that horrendous Calzaghe-Jones undercard in November, the last time he fought. He's with Mayweather Promotions now, so who knows when he'll fight? He might just wait until September. Given the reportedly ugly first attempt at selling Mayweather-Marquez, I don't expect the budget for the PPV to go up the second time around.

7. Rafal Jackiewicz (34-8-1, 18 KO)

He hasn't lost since 2005, making a 19-fight winning streak. Very Baldomir-ish. He also hasn't beaten many good fighters in that stretch, but 19 straight is 19 straight, especially when you were 15-8-1 when 19 straight started. He did beat Jackson Bonsu last year, and has taken "0"s in two straight fights, beating Jan Zaveck and Luciano Abis. He's unlikely to leave Poland.

8. Jesus Soto Karass (23-3-3, 16 KO)

Exciting, warrior-type fighter who has been mentioned in passing several times as an opponent for several fighters, including Miguel Cotto, but it never happens. His three losses came all in a row back in 2004-05, and two of them were over the welterweight limit. He stopped David Estrada last year in eight rounds, and while Estrada is merely a gatekeeper, Shane Mosley couldn't take him out and it took Kermit Cintron 10 rounds and Andre Berto 11 to get him out of there. He's every bit as deserving of a title shot as anyone else past the top five.

9. Delvin Rodriguez (24-2-2, 14 KO)

He's done some nice things recently, and escaped with a close win over Shamone Alvarez in March (115-112, 114-113, 114-113) in an IBF eliminator. He's a decent fighter, but nothing terribly special. That's where welterweight is at.

10. Sebastian Lujan (31-5-2, 20 KO)

Lujan is semi-famous for two things: Having his ear ripped off by Antonio Margarito, and beating Jose Luis Castillo last summer on the now-dead Wednesday Night Fights. He returned to the ring in March, taking a majority decision over Charlie Navarro.

You Coulda Been a Contender...

If I didn't generally stick to the rule that if you haven't fought in a year, you're not ranked, and if we could assume he'd come back 100%, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 25 KO) would be No. 1. But we can't assume that, especially now that he's had a rib injury in training. So he's not back in the rankings.

Carlos Quintana (26-2, 20 KO) isn't ranked only because he's said he's not fighting at welterweight anymore. If I were to rank him, he'd be No. 6, maybe No. 5. He's had two fights cancelled this year.

Jackson Bonsu (30-2, 23 KO) returns in July with a fight against unbeaten Turk Selcuk Aydin (18-0, 14 KO). Aydin was last seen on Shobox in April, hammering out a win over Said Ouali. Somehow judge Adalaide Byrd scored that fight for Ouali. While an actual Ouali win would've truly qualified as a robbery, Aydin's trouble to come at welterweight were obvious, not the least of which is his 65" reach, which equals that of Ricky Hatton.

 

Jose Luis Castillo (57-9-1, 49 KO) wants to retire at last report, but he's seemed in desire of retirement for a while now. Hopefully he's got enough money socked away now to make it a reality. I think the heart may still be there, but the head knows the body is toast.

Isaac Hlatshwayo (28-1-1, 10 KO) got a gift draw against Delvin Rodriguez on his home turf according to many observers last year, and hasn't done anything since.

Alfonso Gomez (19-4-2, 9 KO) finally returned to the ring, now under the Top Rank banner, and beat Juan Manuel Buendia in Vegas on May 1. He's a great dude, but his limitations are extreme.

Kell Brook (19-0, 12 KO) is Britain's top welterweight, and mowed down a totally legitimate Kevin McIntyre in two minutes last November. At just 23, he has a lot of time to keep working on his skill, clean it out across the pond, and make the international move.

Ricardo Torres (33-2, 29 KO) wasn't so hot in his welterweight debut, but did wind up winning in dramatic, movie-like fashion -- if the heavily favored ex-titleholder beating a scrub with three final round knockdowns is movie-like for you.

Former flash in the pan champion Carlos Baldomir (44-12-6, 13 KO) keeps on fighting. I think the further removed we get from his 15 minutes, the more awesome and amazing Baldomir's moment of glory really is. He had no business beating Judah, probably should've been even-money with even the super shot Arturo Gatti (whom he demolished), and since then has lost three of four, but he's lost to Mayweather, Vernon Forrest and in a tight one against Bonsu, so it's not the worst run in the world. Most of Baldomir's career shouldn't have happened, but it did.

Motoko Sasaki (31-7-1, 20 KO) is Japan's top welterweight. This does not mean much.

Antwone Smith (16-1-1, 8 KO) has become the new upset special man in boxing, first taking the "0" from Norberto Gonzalez in February, and then returning as an opponent for looking-to-rebound Richard Gutierrez in May and taking him out to the woodshed proper with a dominant victory that was a lot closer to the official 100-88 score than it was the other two cards (97-93 and 96-94). He's probably no future big player, but I think he's lost that opponent tag and can expect to be matched "evenly" from now on.

Carlos Abregu (27-0, 22 KO) doesn't always look so great, if you ask me, but his May war with Irving Garcia was one to remember, and he showed an ability to handle adversity. The 26-year old Argentinian is a long way from title contention still, unless we're talking about the IBF title.

Antonin Decarie (22-0, 6 KO) fought Dorin Spivey on Showtime in January. Don't expect to see much more of him on American TV. He shut out Victor Hugo Castro on June 6 (120-108 across the board). He's got all the fundamentals down fine, but has no punch and doesn't have the speed and technical skill to make up for it. So far his best is Paulie Malignaggi on an iffy night.

Mike Jones (17-0, 15 KO) is my favorite young American welterweight, having beaten some decent fighters already (Dairo Esalas, Germaine Sanders, Pito Cardona). He stopped Luciano Perez in three rounds despite giving up nine pounds at the weigh-in (144.5 to Perez's 153.5). The 26-year old from Philly also has impressive size for the division at 5'11" with a 72" reach. He's one to watch for.

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