The welterweight division has been one of boxing’s best for decades now. In recent years, it’s been led by the likes of Oscar de la Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
With pound-for-pound king Mayweather looking to have finally hung up the gloves for good, the division’s throne is patiently waiting to be sat on by the next 147 lb superstar.
While this is by no means a definitive list, here are 6 welterweights that we feel could establish themselves as top of the class within the next year or two.
1) Errol Spence Jr. – 24-0 (21 KO)
An outstanding amateur, Spence was unfortunate not to medal at the 2012 Olympics before turning pro. Since then, the American has racked up 24 wins and has become many people’s #1 ranked fighter at the weight. The slick southpaw announced himself at elite level with stoppages of Chris Algieri, Kell Brook and Lamont Peterson.
2) Terence Crawford – 33-0 (24 KO)
Crawford may not have as many high-level name opponents as the others on this list, but his destructions of the guys he has fought are as impressive as it comes. A belt-holder at lightweight and light welter, ‘Bud’ established himself at 147 lbs with a 9 round dismantling of Jeff Horn this summer. He’s now been penned in to fight Jose Benavidez in October, but we’d like to see him cross promotional rivalries and mix it at the top end next year.
3) Manny Pacquiao – 60-7-2 (39 KO)
He may be nearing 40 years of age, but Manny Pacquiao is still a force to be reckoned with and proved as much with his superb knockout of Lucas Matthysse a few months ago. The Filipino’s legacy has been secured for a long time, but for as long as he’s still active we’d love to see him tested against the new generation of stars. British fighters Amir Khan and Kell Brook are currently trying to lure him to a mega-fight in the UK and Pacquiao would certainly prove his relevance if he were to beat either.
4) Keith Thurman – 28-0 (22 KO)
Besieged by injury problems over the past year or so, Thurman is in many ways a forgotten man in today’s scene. The unbeaten Florida native has suffered elbow and hand problems recently but aims to be back in the ring sooner rather than later. Thurman’s close wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia cemented himself as a top-tier fighter and hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s right back in with the best.
5) Shawn Porter – 29-2-1 (17 KO)
‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter is a fun, if flawed, fighter to watch. Last weekend’s tear-up with Danny Garcia was another pick-em fight that Porter just about edged but it’s debateable whether he has quite enough to truly reach the top. A competitive defeat to Thurman 2 years ago showed he’s not far from the peak of the division. Porter’s being lined up to face Errol Spence next which could prove to be either’s toughest fight to date.
6) Danny Garcia – 34-2 (20 KO)
Garcia may count himself unfortunate to be at the back end of this list, and argued with Saturday’s decision defeat to Shawn Porter. That and another loss to Thurman being the only blemishes on his pro record, Garcia would perhaps have cause for complaint if he hadn’t also been the beneficiary of some questionable verdicts in the past. We don’t necessarily agree that he’s been hard done by, but Garcia is clearly still a threat to anyone at welterweight.