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Ranking boxing’s five biggest fights to be made at middleweight

Middleweight isn’t what it used to be, but there are some good fights to be made, if they can be.

Janibek Alimkhanuly
Janibek Alimkhanuly figures into any plans for top fights at 160
Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

Despite the lack of traditional glamour in the current middleweight division, let’s pick through some of the biggest (not necessarily most likely!) fights to be made in the historic 160 lb class.

5. Hamzah Sheeraz vs Austin “Ammo” Williams

Two young bucks that are a couple of wins away from really stating their case in the division.

Matching them now would be a huge risk for both, but guaranteed fireworks between two guys that have obvious capabilities mixed with flaws. Sheeraz fights Liam Williams in a yard-stick test in February and, assuming he wins, will be pushed for the big opportunities afterwards.

4. Erislandy Lara vs Elijah Garcia

I can’t lie – I mainly like this fight for the poetic notion that Garcia, 20, is currently half the age of the Cuban southpaw, Lara, 40. I’m struggling to think of another high-profile example where such a big age disparity has been present inside the ring (I am not willing to go through Wilfried Benitez’s resume to see the ages of his victims after capturing a world title at 17).

Lara’s a name but his middleweight career is short enough to scratch on the back of a cigarette packet — wins over “Cornflake” and “Spike” aren’t things to necessarily hang your hat on.

So, bring in the young blood of Garcia and bill this as a passing of the torch contest. Garcia looks like a real talent and this would present an opportunity to climb a few middleweight rungs.

3. Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith 3

Fuck it.

Eubank is coming towards the end of his career and is clearly prioritising money over anything else; I can’t honestly blame him for that. The Conor Benn catchweight fight seems to have fallen through and there aren’t other “names” in the division for him to make close to that money on UK shores.

If we are to believe Eddie Hearn, he’s had multiple opportunities to fight the semi-retired Gennadiy Golovkin, so sympathy runs thin when we consider why he never mixed it with the great GGG.

So, why not run back a decider in his feud with Liam Smith. Sure, Smith looked awful in the rematch, but at 1-1 there would still be an audience, begrudgingly, for this trilogy in the UK.

2. Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Meiirim Nursultanov

Kazakh middleweights looking to take the baton from Golovkin are like London buses — you wait years for one and then two come along at once. Okay, maybe not, but this all-Kazakh scrap should be high on the list of fights at 160.

Obviously, there are roadblocks. Egis Klimas manages both men and doesn’t want them to lock horns when alternate routes to the top are available. However unlikely, this is certainly worthy of a spot inside the top five.

1. Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Carlos Adames

Adames didn’t have the success many thought he would at 154, but is hopeful that his fortunes are a little brighter at middleweight.

The Dominican has gone 5-0 since losing at junior middleweight to Patrick Teixeira and is calling out the Janibek in what would probably be the No. 1 vs No. 2 in the division.

Janibek isn’t convinced. The Kazakh holds two of the titles at the weight and doesn’t seem too open to taking Adames’ bait for a “secondary” strap, but hey, something has got to give eventually.

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