Moving up in weight and fighting in multiple weight divisions is nothing new in boxing and has been going on since the early days of the sport. People tend to look at fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather and heap a great amount of praise on them for starting at such low weight classes and climbing all the way up to the junior middleweight limit while becoming multiple weight division champions in the process. By no means am I making light of their accomplishments but similar feats have been accomplished many times in the past and somehow fail to get mentioned when this topic is frequently discussed in boxing circles today.
People either don’t know the history or choose to ignore it because they are so wrapped up in the phenomenon of some of today’s stars. Bob Fitzsimmons, a fighter whose career spanned from 1885-1914, won titles at middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. Most people already know about the great Henry Armstrong, who fought in the 1930’s and 40’s. Armstrong held the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight titles simultaneously. He even challenged for the middleweight title in a bout that ended in a disputed draw against Ceferino Garcia. Former welterweight and middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson started his career in 1940 at 134.5 pounds and eventually challenged for the light heavyweight title before his career came to a close. A more modern example is Roberto Duran. He turned pro in 1968 at 119 pounds and ended up moving all the way up to light heavyweight before he ended his career. Duran was a champion at lightweight, welterweight, junior middleweight, and middleweight.
When these men fought there weren’t as many weight classes as there are today, so there’s really no telling how many championships they would have won if they fought today. I suspect the number would be greater than the amount already on record. These men also moved up in weight to find new challenges for themselves because there was either no one left to fight in the divisions that they were fighting in or they couldn’t find any worthy opponents to fight at their respective weight class and they had already cleaned out their divisions.
This brings me to the topic of Floyd Mayweather. He seems to be in a similar situation currently in the welterweight division. Outside of a potential blockbuster money making fight against Manny Pacquiao, who else out there would be an interesting opponent for Floyd at welterweight? It doesn’t seem like there are any at the moment in my opinion. It certainly isn’t Amir Khan.
Although it seems that former three division champion Miguel Cotto has already beaten him to the punch, I feel that an interesting match up would be against current WBC Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez. Miguel Cotto chose this option while already having a lucrative ten million dollar offer on the table to fight Saul Alvarez. Cotto wants to make history and become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win titles in four weight divisions. Win lose or draw, he feels the fight with Alvarez will still be there for him in the future.
I feel Floyd should take the same route. Win or lose against Martinez, he can always go back down to welterweight and fight Pacquiao for that mega payday. For years people have been criticizing Maywether’s choice of opponents, but I doubt anyone would have anything bad to say about him fighting the lineal middleweight champion Martinez. Plus a win over Martinez would most certainly put an exclamation point on Floyd’s legacy.
The die hard Mayweather fan’s will say that Martinez is too big for Floyd, but is he really? Martinez rehydrates up to 168 pounds on fight night. Mayweather’s former opponents Oscar De La Hoya, Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, and Saul Alvarez all rehydrated up to around that same weight and even more. De La Hoya was actually bigger than Martinez when he fought Floyd. Floyd has been giving up as much as twenty pounds to his opponents, so why all of a sudden does it matter now?
If the five foot seven inch Miguel Cotto, with a sixty seven inch reach, isn’t too small for Martinez then why is the five foot eight inch, with a seventy two inch reach and presumably best fighter in the world, Floyd Mayweather? If Cotto is up to the challenge then why not Mayweather?
Mayweather’s last fight against Saul Alvarez broke the record for the highest amount of revenue ever grossed for a boxing event and sold 2.2 million PPV buys. Without Manny Pacquiao or any other viable opponent I suspect that his next fight will fall significantly short of that, so I say bring on Sergio Martinez and a chance to make history.