Flash back almost two years and I’d be saying Keith Thurman is easily the best welterweight in the world. An absolute tear sent the Champion on a 28-fight win streak (NC not included). This rampage went straight through the likes of Guerrero and Collazo, brilliant boxers in their own right, but the coup de grace came in his back to back victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. No introductions needed for the boxing aficionados here, those are impressive names on any resume, but in a stacked division where everyone near the top of the pile is vying for dominance, it’s so much more impressive to get those wins back to back. Especially against a resurgent Porter, who has always been world class, but coming off a disappointing loss to Kell Brook, his road to redemption seemed unstoppable. A destruction of Erick Bone in only 5 rounds led to the complete dominance of an impressive Adrian Broner, who was riding a three-fight win streak at the time, going the distance in the process. Thurman calmly out-boxed him in an amazing fight and managed to get the better of Porter, gliding through the later rounds despite getting hurt and recovering in the eighth. The Garcia fight was equally impressive. This is a man who has destroyed Erik Morales, dominated Zab Judah, and joined the increasingly growing list of things that have knocked out Amir Khan (strong gusts of wind, my grandmother, a discarded snickers wrapper, they’ve all made the cut). A strong trail of bodies behind him and a scary 33 fight win streak led him directly to the path of Thurman. What a clash this was, Thurman’s footwork and stiff jab, avoiding Garcia’s counter shots. Both men had periods of the fight where they were the aggressor, pushing the other to the back foot, and you could argue Garcia got the best of the championship rounds. Overall, Thurman’s tenacity and consistent accuracy was enough to win an incredible fight. Unfortunately, much like a Prime Mike Tyson coming off a three day bender, it all came crashing down fast. Injuries, surgeries and nearly two years out the game, Thurman has only just come back. And he’s back in arguably the most stacked division in boxing today. This isn’t an article about whether Thurman is sill the best welterweight in the world, it’s just five people we’d love to see the champ fight at 147. Let’s go.
- Manny Pacquiao
Wow. Now this fight makes sense for so many reasons. Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest boxers of this generation, and genuinely needs to be in the conversation for one of the greatest of all time. How many 8 weight world champions have there been? That’s right, only one. I think I can speak for all boxing fans when I say his career resurgence has been something to behold, since losing to Money Mayweather, he’s amassed an impressive 4 wins in 5, one of those being a devastating TKO of Lucas Matthysse. The main reason he tops this list was his recent demolition of Adrien Broner. He really did look like the Pacman of hold, breath-taking hand speed, lightning quick work, stepping in, throwing 4, 5 even 6 punch combinations then stepping out before Broner even knew what happened. The older man was definitely the aggressor throughout the fight, and his reaction time and frightening speed was too much, even for a calculated counter puncher like Broner. Can you imagine how Pacquiao’s hands and combinations would fare against Thurman’s aggressively accurate style, his fluid defence and stiff jab? It would be a joy to behold, you’d fail to find a boxer with the overwhelming pressure and speed of Pacquiao’s in today’s game, and knowing Thurman, this could always be a fight of the year contender.
2. Terence Crawford
What more can we say about Crawford except he’s one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. He might even be the best. People always compare No Mas Loma to The Matrix. Well if we want to keep the Keanu Reeves metaphors going, if Loma’s Matrix, Crawford is John Wick. Mayhem, carnage and pretty much literal murder. Crawford has absolute cinder blocks for hands and is quite honestly one of the hardest hitters I’ve ever seen at 147. How Khan’s jaw stays in one time zone is anyone’s guess. This is a such an exciting matchup, Crawford has speed to rival that of Pacquiao and Garcia as well as power that would make Super Middleweights take a long, hard look in the mirror before wondering what the point of their whole career is if someone 20 pounds lighter could literally split them in half with a patented right hook to the body. And it doesn’t stop there. Crawford’s a switch hitter with elite level fighter IQ that can distribute his weight and utilise his footwork to create different angle to exploit holes he creates in his opponent’s defence. There is no way I see Khan lasting the distance with him. Thurman is also a possessor of genius level fight IQ, with amazing footwork and great tactical analysis who isn’t scared to go on the offensive. If anyone is able to break down Crawford’s defence and prevent his creative onslaught, it’s Thurman, who could be one of the only people alive to potentially meet him punch for punch.
3. Errol Spence Jr.
It’s becoming clear now how fully stacked this division is and how many incredible fighters are concentrated around this weight class. What an incredible talent The Truth is, and at 28 years old he still has an amazing career ahead of him. An absolutely devastating 24 fight win streak coupled with 21 of those by way of knockout. At KO percentage alone, he’s the most dangerous man in the division and gets better with every fight. I know it’s cliché, but Spence is like a sponge (or Marvin Haggler’s chin) he absorbs absolutely everything and is learning from the boxers he effortlessly defeats in every victory. The highlight being his world title win, battering the much more experienced Kell Brook, landing hard body shots and crisp combinations all night leading to a him dropping and eventually stopping Brook. This fight showed signs of things to come, and Spence has taken that title and performance and ran with it, decimating everybody in his path. The power in his hands is scary, his speed is up there with anyone in the division and his ring intelligence is way beyond his years. Thurman might be just too much for Spence though, he’s more experienced, can take a punch and he can dish them out just as effectively. I think Spence’s combinations would cause damage, but Thurman’s fight IQ and footwork could potentially find a way to overshadow Spence’s raw talent. It’s a tough one to call, but God would it be a spectacle. Despite all of this, he is taking part in one of the fights I’m looking forward to most this year with Mikey Garcia, once that gets done and dusted, we’ll see how the cards fall towards the second half of the year.
4. Mikey Garcia
I’m sure everyone reading could have seen this coming a mile off. One of my favourite fighters in the world today, the four-weight world champion himself, Mikey Garcia. I can’t put into words how consistently impressed I am by Garcia (brilliant news, considering I’m writing an article). He is the embodiment of what it is to be a boxer, textbook, incredible fundamentals, outstanding footwork, strong guard, fast punches, hard hooks, crisp uppercuts and combinations that rock the head then drop seamlessly downstairs to the body. An old school pugilism purist which we don’t see as often as we should anymore, especially at this level. Despite being a small welterweight, Garcia still has hard power, and as a textbook Mexican boxer, he’s able to stand toe to toe, take shots, move forward and use his pragmatism to feel out his opponent and create better opportunities to strike from unique angles. We are huge Garcia fans at The Combat Hub and his perfect record is just one of the reasons for that. An unbelievable 39 fight win streak with 30 by way of knockout, and across several divisions is just elite level stuff. Despite conquering the lightweight and light welterweight divisions, we’re still yet to see what Garcia can do at 147. Thurman would certainly be the bigger man, and although Garcia’s power is dangerous at lightweight I can’t see Thurman being that phased by single shots, he would have to throw combinations. Mikey would have to establish himself at the division before considering a fight with Thurman. Spence Jr. is an absolutely mouth-watering contest and depending on what happens there will determine how effective he can be at the higher weight classes. Honestly, between featherweight, welterweight and anything in between, I’d love to see Garcia fight any champion. Thurman would be particularly interesting, a true contest of genius vs genius.
I know this may be a curve ball. Well it might be, it might be blatantly obvious. It’s definitely blatantly obvious. I think any list of opponents we’d like to see fight any elite boxer, welterweight or under, would have this man on the list. I mean what more can I say that hasn’t been said? Most people consider him the number 1 pound for pound fighter on the planet. The undisputed King of amateur boxing, Neo himself, No Mas Loma. And oh God would we love to see Thurman enter The Matrix. Lomachenko is known for his ridiculous angles, scary timing, hand speed, accuracy and unbelievable defence. I could, and will, write an entire article about him, so I’ll save on the praise for now. After moving through the divisions and cleaning house, finishing at 147 makes sense. It seems to be the peak of where his body would retain its fitness, speed and power. Straight up, he looks so scary at lightweight, and his absolute destruction of Linares begs the question of whether another step up is possible or necessary. The majority of people seem to want him against Garcia at lightweight which, don’t get me wrong, has me literally salivating, but Mikey himself might find a new home at 147 if the Spence fight goes to plane. That’s why Thurman makes sense. Another example here of genius vs genius. Thurman would be the bigger, stronger man, he’d have to utilise his footwork, be aggressive, pick his punches carefully and try and overwhelm No Mas with devastating punches to the body and a piston like jab. Loma would have to use his angles and defence, tire out Thurman with well-placed strikes, effective straights and his textbook, laser like body shots. It would be a chess match. A high intensity, million mile an hour, joyous, incredible chess match. Would this ever happen? We’ll have to see. If Garcia stays around 147 it would seem Loma has done all he can at lightweight for now and would have to move up. We’d have to see what happens in the coming months. Either way, a man can dream.