Jeison Rosario was in a bad place as he was counted out last Saturday night. The body shot from Jermell Charlo that left his body in spasms of pain was a picture of how hurting the hurt business can be.
Sometimes it’s not the hardest shot.
Sometimes it’s the right shot that leaves all dreams asunder.
After a valiant but losing effort, and moments to recover, it was clear Rosario would fight another day. It was also clear there is a single, clear top dog in the deep Jr. middleweight division. The culmination of a tremendous round robin, their unification bout wasn’t the last but instead the latest chapter.
There is more to come.
Charlo has three belts and, barring a move to middleweight, no shortage of serious challengers. Jarrett Hurd, Julian Williams, Erislandy Lara, and the winner of a possible Patrick Texiera-Brain Castano fight to unify the lone major strap left; they’re all possible.
They’re all possibilities worth anticipating.
That’s a healthy place for Jr. middleweight to be.
In 2020, Jr. middleweight is not an exception.
Boxing is damn healthy right now inside the ring.
That’s not to be confused with what’s going on outside the ring, in the reality of reality itself. Crowdless sporting events are just one sign of the times. Nothing will be as healthy as it can be until health is no longer a source of anxiety. Split platforms and varying levels of audience access remain an issue.
Competitive health is something else. Boxing has a wealth of it right now.
Every big fight hasn’t happened to be sure. Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder missed a unique window where both were undefeated with knockout wins over every opponent they’d faced (including the Wilder-Stiverne II rematch). Errol Spence-Terence Crawford is probably drifting from the chance to see them both at a point where all see both as prime.
What hasn’t happened doesn’t render the glass half empty.
Not even close.
Last Saturday didn’t just see Charlo move to the head of the Jr. middleweight class. The card itself featured five entertaining bouts, including a Fight of the Year contender in Jermall Charlo-Sergey Derveyanchenko. Over the day, fans were also treated to a masterclass boxing performance from Mairis Briedis at cruiserweght to claim the lineal throne against Yuniel Dorticos and Josh Taylor clearing the decks for a likely unification showdown with Jose Ramirez at Jr. welterweight.
It was one hell of a Saturday.
Just take a look at the most current TBRB divisional rankings. At heavyweight for instance, including champion Tyson Fury, in the last 3-4 years we’ve witnessed ten fights among currently rated big men with Anthony Joshua-Kubrat Pulev looming in December, Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III looking for a date, and Fury-Joshua pending if both win. Factoring in other men who have moved in and out of the top ten over the same span of time, it’s hard not to like the big picture.
We haven’t got it all yet on the superfight side, but it takes time to find a break point where what wasn’t can genuinely be tallied. As an example, we didn’t know for sure in the 1990s we really weren’t ever going to see Riddick Bowe-Lennox Lewis until after the Bowe-Andrew Golota fights; in contrast, Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield and Tyson-Lewis happened after many assumed the window had closed.
Below heavyweight right now, two World Boxing Super Series at cruiserweight have produced a similar wealth of matches and results, light heavyweights current roster has almost a dozen fights between them, welterweight has a little less than ten with Errol Spence-Danny Garcia coming, and Ramirez and Taylor both have three distinct wins against the current top ten at Jr. welterweight and their compatriots are clashing as well. Vasyl Lomachenko will face his fifth straight top ten lightweight (if only Ryan Camobell remains rated in class) when he dares further unification with the dangerous Teofimo Lopez next month.
Jr. featherweight, bantamweight, Jr. bantamweight, and Jr. flyweight have either remained hopping or sit on the verge of an explosion as well.
That’s something for everyone.
While waiting for the next mammoth event contest, the most boxing fans can hope for is that the best of boxing’s seventeen weight classes are fighting each other. It’s not happening in all seventeen. To be sure, there are spots that could be stronger. Still, it feels like there are less divisions in need of a substantial increase in clashes than there have been in some time.
And there are way more fights to look forward to than absent clashes to lament.
Last Saturday was boxing showing off much of what makes this a moment to embrace and pass the word about.
Appreciate it while it’s happening.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org