With so many different versions of world titles in boxing today there are seven fighters that can consider themselves as the best super middleweight in the world. But as Sal ‘Rocky’ Cenicola would say, “Who will be the cream that rises to the top.”
Degale loses IBF title
The super middleweight division was blown wide open after James Degale’s (23-2, 14KOs) shock defeat to Caleb Truax (29-3-2, 18KOs). Although Degale held only one version of a number of titles many would have considered the Londoner to be the best super middleweight around, especially after Babou Jack (22-1-2, 13KOs) moved up to light heavyweight.
Now the former IBF champion will need to lick his wounds and re-group for 2018 if he is to climb back up the ladder. That being said Truax has already hinted at a rematch although it’s going to cost Degale a good few bob.
The World Boxing Super Series added the super middleweight division to its format so we could identify a clear champion. Unfortunately once the series is complete there will only be one unified champion. And that’s if you consider the IBO strap to be a recognisable capture?
In the semi-finals we have WBA super champion George Groves (27-3, 27KOs) up against IBO champion Chris Eubank Jr (26-1, 20KOs) in Manchester on February 17 2018. This fight has definitely caught the imagination of the British public considering it sold out in 7 minutes.
In the other semi-final Jürgen Brähmer (49-3, 35KOs) is up against Liverpudlian Callum Smith (23-0, 17KOs). There may not be any titles up for grabs in this one but it will be an intriguing match-up. The 39-year-old German will hope he can roll back the years against the dangerous Brit 12-years his junior.
Ramírez route mapped out
The WBO champion Gilberto Ramírez (36-0, 24KOs) will put his title on the line against Habib Ahmed (22-0, 17 KOs) on February 3rd. The African champion will be fighting out of Ghana for the first time in his career when he heads to Texas to fulfil his dream.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum who promotes Ramírez is in no rush to negotiate any unification bouts, not at least until the Mexican has fought Ahmed Habib, Rohan Murdock (20-1, 15 KOs) in Australia with a homecoming return to Mexico after.
The WBC has one recognised champion in David Benavidez (19-0, 17KOs). The American slugger got off the canvas to beat Ronald Gavril (20-2, 14KOs) by split decision back in September to pick up the vacant title.
The Romanian will get another shot at the title in 2018 as a rematch is currently being scheduled in. If Benavidez was to be successful again Al Haymon who is directing his career was hoping to negotiate a unification fight with Degale sometime next year. That has now been blown out of the water thanks to Caleb Truax’s victory.
The Regular & Interim Champions
Tyron Zeuge (21-0-1, 11KOs) is the WBA ‘Regular’ Champion and hasn’t fought since beating Callum’s brother Paul Smith (38-7, 22KOs) back in June 2017. To his credit the German was due to defend his title against Isaac Ekpo (31-3, 24KOs) on December 2nd but unfortunately the fight was postponed due to Zeuge being ill. Team Sauerland who promotes the 25-year-old is hopeful the fight can be rescheduled for March 2018.
The IBF ‘Interim’ Champion Andre Dirrell (26-2, 16KOs) won his last fight by a controversial disqualification against Jose Uzcategui (26-2, 22KOs) on May 20. The fight was ruled as a disqualification after the 26-year-old Venezuelan punched Dirrell once the bell had sounded. After an appeal the ruling was upheld by the Maryland State Athletic Commission.
The IBF governing body did not agree with the commission’s decision and ordered a rematch which should take place in Los Angeles on January 27 2018. One person that will not be present at the rematch or any other future fights will be Dirrell’s uncle and trainer Leon Lawson who punched the 26-year-old Venezuelan in the face after the controversial first bout.
What to expect in 2018
With some many sanctioning bodies, promoters and fighters involved it would be unrealistic to think that come the end of 2018 there will be one undisputed super middleweight champion.
The IBF should be in a position to remove the interim title by the summer with a the winner of the Dirrell-Uzcategui fight in January taking on the current real champion Caleb Truax. This is of course if the American does not wish to accept a rematch with James Degale.
In an ideal world a summer showdown between the winners of each fight should happen. Then the possibility of a unification match-up with Benavidez, if of course he still holds he WBC title could be a realistic option.
The World Boxing Super Series will come to a close by the summer with a unified WBA and IBO champion. Unification fights at the end of 2018 will depend on who wins the Series. But if the WBA think logically then whoever still holds the regular title would be the ideal opponent for the Muhammad Ali trophy winner.
If Gilberto Ramírez can retain his title against Habib Ahmed in February then the Mexican will almost certainly travel to Australia to face Rohan Murdock as being mapped out by Bob Arum. This is by no means a certain victory for the 26-year-old especially taking on Murdock who has flown under the radar of late in his own back yard.
Again if successful then of course he will return to Mexico for his homecoming fight against who ever has the bottle to face him on home soil.
I am playing devils advocate here and a lot can happen in the next 12 months but one thing is for sure the cream will not rise to the top come the end of 2018. But we should have a lot less champions that can call themselves the best super middleweight in the world.
What do you think? Who is your best super middleweight at the moment? We would love to hear your views at BillyCBoxing.com