The Big Question: What is the strongest and most fascinating weight division in boxing?
With a number of huge potential fights on the horizon, boxing is in decent health heading to the end of 2016. However, what is the strongest weight division right now? That's the question we put to Boxing Monthly's online team ... Cue a cruiserweight and super-flyweight love-in ...
I'd have to go with middleweight. It's the one which the fighters are attracted to, mainly because of GGG and, from a fan's perspective, anyone willing to challenge GGG instantly grabs our attention. A super fight with Canelo is starting to look more likely now and with Saunders and Jacobs willing to sacrifice their belts, we may see an undisputed middleweight champ. #AllTheBelts - Paul Zanon
Without wishing to sound like a boxing hipster, I really love cruiserweight right now. It has a really nice blend of bombers and boxers and lots of them are very rugged and durable. Tony Bellew has certainly proven me wrong, thriving at the weight, and adds some local interest to proceedings. Oleksandr Usyk looks like a wonderful boxer puncher. Mairis Briedis is yet to be truly tested but looks like a dangerous fighter. And Marco Huck, Denis Lebedev, Krzysztof Głowacki and Yunier Dorticos (check out his war with Youri Kalenga) are rarely in bad fights. The best thing is, the division isn’t particularly a ‘money’ division, so the best do quite often fight the best. With Bellew holding the WBC crown, hopefully we can see more of these guys on our shores. - James Oddy
Call me a hipster like James (I've sported some kind of beard since 28, and that's a LONG time ago), but cruiserweight is my division too. They fight like small, in-shape heavyweights without the ego and, as James mentioned, take tough fights to make money and generate attention. As an Evertonian, watching Tony Bellew beat Makabu (disappointing as the African was) at the 'Old Lady' back in May for the WBC title had a dreamlike quality.
I was also lucky enough to sit ringside in Moscow the week prior as Denis Lebedev hammered Victor Ramirez to part-unify the division, with two of Ryabinskiy's other cruisers, Kudryashov and Chakhkiev, also winning tune-ups. My diary entry for May 2016 might have read: "Cruiserweight OD".
Although Bellew's first defence against BJ Flores is underwhelming, at least we see mandatory (Grigory Drozd's 'in recess' situation apart) Mairis Briedis showcased in Liverpool on the undercard.
Add the wonderful Usyk to the championship mix, as well as deserving former champs Glowacki and Huck, and it really is a superb mix of characters, with contrasting styles and great fights to be made. - Chris Williamson
The obvious answer is middleweight, but it all revolves around Golovkin: I think super-flyweight just got red-hot.
Not only did we already have Inoue and Cuadras, but they have just been joined in short succession by Roman Gonzalez, Luis Concepcion and Juan Francisco Estrada. Rounding-out the top ten are the likes of Jerwin Ancajas, and Juan Navarrete, plus a slew of former world belt holders and youngsters such as Khalid Yafai and Takuma Inoue. It's a great group and we should have some really good contests, with Gonzalez-Inoue most likely being a lower-weight classic. - Colin Harris
The depth at cruiserweight is insane so I've no issue with anyone who picks that division but my love of the lower weights is taking me straight to super flyweight which is flying high right now. Roman Gonzalez vs Naoya Inoue is the best pure fight that can be made in the sport right now and, unlike numerous bouts from lightweight upwards, there are no TV/ promotional conflicts or egotistical managers/ advisers to prevent it from happening. With exciting belt holders Luis Concepcion and Jerwin Ancajas in the mix, Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and youngsters such as Sho Ishida and Kal Yafai looking for big fights the possibilities of brilliant match ups are endless. - Marcus Bellinger
With cruiserweight rightly getting so much love from the team, I've decided to steer left a bit and pick the 154lb division as weight of choice.
In the aftermath of Golovkin v Brook, Paulie Malignaggi made a great point. Light middle (or super welter) may be a division that's devoid of stars but it's stacked with talent. Currently the Charlo brothers (Jermall, IBF and Jermell, WBC) hold two of the world titles and, while they're not household names, they're very strong, big punching boxers with room to grow. Outside of that you have perhaps the elder statesman in the division in Erislandy Lara (WBA) who may not set the pulses racing but is extremely talented and not one to duck a challenge.
While Canelo (WBO) may not stick around long, his presence in the division will have the others thinking they can get a crack at the sport's cash cow. Add to that Kell Brook's imminent entry to the weight class and it's a division worth being excited about in the coming 12 months. - Callum Rudge
Good shout Callum. Was thinking exactly what you’ve said.
However, just to put other names out there, I’ll say that Carl Frampton’s star power, and all action win over Leo Santa Cruz has brought a new excitement to a loaded featherweight division ready to explode with first class fights.
Although Vasyl Lomachenko has moved to 130, he seems to have been replaced, as Frampton’s win has convinced Scott Quigg and Guillermo Rigondeaux to move up to 126 searching for meaningful fights and money. Will Nonito Donaire be far behind?
Regardless, the current crop of featherweights are already very good, and putting 8-10 of them in a tournament - sadly these ‘Super Six’ style tournaments don’t happen nearly enough - would likely mean at least 2-3 years of top class, competitive boxing.
Lee Selby, Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez, Gary Russell Jr., Jesus Cuellar, Abner Mares, and the list goes on.
I’m sure, as ever, we can count on the promoters to put any selfish interests to the side, see the bigger picture, and work together. - Martin Chesnutt
With respect to cruiserweight and super-fly - which are both pretty enticing right now - I'm going to go out on a limb and plump for heavyweight. The history and prestige of the division make it endlessly fascinating to me and right now it's a division in flux, with a host of young contenders and pretenders jostling for supremacy alongside the old order. The cancellation of the Fury-Klitschko rematch - while disappointing and concerning in terms of Fury's health - also adds to the seemingly endless intrigue surrounding the division. Any combination of match-ups involving Fury, Klitschko, Wilder, Joshua, Haye, Parker and Ortiz would get the pulse racing, and let's hope some of these big fights can be made in the next 12 months or so. - Luke G. Williams
Final count: cruiserweight 2, super flyweight 2, middleweight 1, super welterweight 1, heavyweight 1, featherweight 1