Having enjoyed the Pacquiao v Thurman and Spence Jr v Porter welterweight fights this year it made me realise that the 147lb division is in a very good place at this moment in time. Fans on social media have made it clear that there is no clear ‘King’ of the welterweights in their opinions. Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford were the two front runners, but the 40-year-old Pacquiao once again added his name into the equation with his scintillating win over the 10-year-younger Keith Thurman in July.
Spence v Porter was probably a better fight if that’s possible, but while Spence deserved the win, the fight left us with big questions hanging over the Texan. Can he safely make the weight? How strong was he mentally when Porter continually responded to his best shots with his own? Did we over rate him?
There is no doubt that Spence is an exceptional welterweight but we did see in his title-winning fight against Kell Brook in 2017, that when his opponent attacks him and keeps the pressure on, he cannot dominate, he struggles to win rounds against strong attacking box/fighters. Of course, he turned things around to beat both Brook and Porter, but the blueprint is there now.
Porter deserves huge respect for his effort. His father Kenny’s game plan was excellent. The way he turned Spence and returned fire whenever he was trapped against the ropes was beautiful to watch. His work rate was exceptional at times and you could see that it forced Spence to places he hadn’t been tested in before. I would love to see a rematch. It was such an excellent, entertaining fight and Porter deserves a second opportunity.
How would Spence cope with Pacquiao’s intelligent and very fast attacks? Thurman is no slouch in the speed department but the Filipino Senator mixed up his attack with angles and variety that befuddled Thurman, and remember that he had to get off the floor in the first round.
The odd man out in the division is Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford who is the only one promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank oufit. Crawford has to get in the mix with the Premier Boxing Champions promoted Manny Pacquiao, Errol Spence Jr, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, and Danny Garcia very soon or his career will slide into decline. He is likely to defend against Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) later this year in a fight that the fans will take very little notice of.
There are plenty of people who think Crawford is not only the top welterweight in the world but also the mythical P4P No1. He was WBO light-weight champion and the undisputed, unified super-lightweight title holder before he moved up to 147lbs to take the title from Pacquiao’s conqueror Jeff Horn. However, since winning the title he has faced mediocre opposition in Jose Benavidez and Amir Khan while the PBC fighters have been fighting one another in fabulous events.
So, 2019 will not answer the question ‘Who is the King of the welterweights?’, but PBC have given us some great clues.
2020 could give us some huge welterweight fights again, but until we see Crawford fighting the likes of Spence Jr, and Pacquiao we will never know who the best welterweight in the world is.