The welterweight division was once boxing’s top weight class. During the time of Floyd Mayweather Jr., the 147-pound weight class was the most highlighted division in the sport. It was also the most talent-laden division with many fighters from the lower weight classes moving up for a chance at earning the big payday against Mayweather.
Since Mayweather’s retirement, the welterweight division has lost some of its luster. Still, there’s just too much talent in this weight class with new names and old dogs.
Let’s take a look at the best welterweights in boxing in 2020:
The 30-year old Spence is the reigning IBF and WBC welterweight champion. The Truth won the IBF belt by knocking out Kell Brook in England on May 27, 2017. He has made four consecutive title defenses of the IBF belt while annexing the WBC 147-pound title in 2019 after defeating Shawn Porter by split decision.
Spence suffered a serious car accident in October 2019 but luckily, he suffered no serious injuries. He was reportedly eyeing a June 2020 return but with the coronavirus pandemic halting all of sports, it seems his return will be delayed. According to the latest rumors, Spence is eyeing either Danny Garcia or Manny Pacquiao for his next fight. Realistically, he might have to take a tune-up fight before fighting the elites. But then again, that’s why he’s the best. There may be no need for a tune-up fight.
Terence Crawford is a three-weight division champion and the former undisputed 140-pound king. The 32-year old from Omaha in Nebraska rose to stardom when he knocked out Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2014. This two-time BWAA Fighter of the Year is currently the WBO welterweight champion. Bud won that belt by knocking out Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn in June 2018.
Crawford has defended the WBO 147-pound belt three times and has successfully done so via knockout. 10 out of his last 11 bouts have ended in a knockout including his last seven. But Bud is starting to age and this pandemic break isn’t helping his cause at all. If he can corner Spence to fight him late this year or in 2021, it would be great so he will have a chance to prove he is the best. I think he should be #1 here but his welterweight resume isn’t that impressive although it’s not necessarily his fault.
The Filipino legend fights on. As the only fighter in the sport’s history to win world titles in eight different weight classes, there is nothing more to prove for Manny Pacquiao. Or so we thought. After losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015, we thought that was the last of Pacman inside the ring. However, he came back to win the WBO welterweight title, lost it to Jeff Horn via controversial decision, and won the WBA welterweight title one year later.
Pacquiao is a world champion again and at age 40, he became the oldest welterweight champion in history. Pacman hasn’t only successfully defended that belt two times but he’s done so against younger former champions Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman, defeating both Americans decisively. I put Manny at #3 because, at this age, I don’t think he can match-up with Spence and Crawford although I think he can beat anyone else on this list.
Shawn Porter is a two-time welterweight champion. He won the IBF title by defeating Devon Alexander in 2013 but lost the belt to Kell Brook via majority decision two fights later. Porter won the WBC belt by defeating Danny Garcia in 2018 but lost it to Errol Spence via split decision in September 2019.
Porter is one of the toughest fighters in this division. He isn’t the most skilled but he’s a very hardworking fighter who loves to put the pressure on his opponents by throwing a lot of punches. He can be rugged at times but it’s his relentless effort that makes him special. He’s never been decisively beaten although he’s come up short three times. Porter vs Manny Pacquiao should be a very fun matchup to see.
Danny Garcia rose to fame when he retired Erik Morales on his way to unifying boxing’s 140-pound title. In 2016, he won the WBC welterweight title by defeating Robert Guerrero. Two fights later, he lost the belt to Keith Thurman in a title unification fight. In September 2018, Garcia lost to Shawn Porter while challenging for the WBC welterweight title.
Garcia is a Top 5 welterweight but when a look at his recent resume, he has not beaten an elite fighter who was in his prime. He’s an excellent boxer with a powerful left hook and his losses have been against Thurman and Porter. But unless he gets a big name on his resume, I think he will never reach the same status as Spence or Crawford. He’s been linked to Pacquiao but even if he beats the Filipino, Pac is no longer in his prime.
There was a time when Keith Thurman was the top welterweight on the planet. After winning the WBA welterweight championship in 2013, he made eight successful title defenses, including five as full champion. However, Thurman has been injury-prone and his injuries prevented him from proving his worth against Spence and Crawford. Thurman picked a big money fight against Pacquiao in July 2019 and he lost via unanimous decision.
It wasn’t just that Thurman lost to a 40-year old but he got dropped by Pacquiao and was dominated by the Filipino fighting senator. Thurman’s loss to Pacquiao was the first of his career. Known for his punching power, Thurman is known as “One-Time.” He has 22 knockouts in 27 wins. He’s never been the same since missing 22 straight months due to injury. And while he can beat anyone on this list, he is also capable of losing to anyone here as well.
Ugas was a lightweight when he won the gold medal at the 2005 World Championships and when he won the Bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ugas won his first 11 bouts before suffering a loss to Johnny Garcia. Five fights later, he suffered back to back losses to Emmanuel Robles and Amir Imam. But two of those losses were via split decision.
His first title fight was against Shawn Porter in July 2019. He gave Porter more than Showtime could handle and although he lost the bout, he did so via split decision. Two of his three losses have been by split decision. He doesn’t have the best resume but he’s ended unbeaten records of prospects Bryant Perrella, Omar Figueroa Jr., and Jamal James.
Lipinets is a former 140-pound champion who lost via decision to Mikey Garcia at that division. This 31-year old Russian is a former kickboxer and he earned an IBF junior welterweight title shot against Julius Indongo but the latter was granted a fight against Crawford. Of course, Bud won but instead of fighting Lipinets, he vacated the title. Lipinets won the vacant belt by defeating Akihiro Kondo.
After losing to Mikey Garcia, he moved up in weight and is 3-0 since coming to welterweight. His wins over Erik Bone and Lamont Peterson say much about his ability in this division but he needs to prove himself. He’s been challenging Garcia at their new weight class but I doubt if Mikey wants to risk losing against this power puncher.
Mikey Garcia is a four-division world champion and the former lineal 140-pound champion. The 32-year old younger brother of trainer Robert Garcia won his first 39 fights moving seamlessly from one weight class to another. However, Garcia bit more than what he could chew when he challenged Errol Spence for the IBF welterweight title in 2019. He lost that fight via a wide unanimous decision. In his last fight, Garcia defeated former champion, Jessie Vargas.
I thought that he should’ve returned to 140 pounds after losing to Spence but after defeating Vargas, I think that Garcia will be an elite welterweight even if he slacks the size. He has the skills to match with the best but I’m not sure if he can still carry his power at a fourth division.
As an amateur, Ortiz was a seven-time national champion and a winner at the 2013 Junior Olympics. The 22-year old orthodox fighter from Dallas, Texas has a perfect record of 15-0 with 15 knockouts. He was named as the Ring’s 2019 Prospect of the Year.
No question he is one of the top prospects in the division. He already has solid wins over veterans Mauricio Herrera and Antonio Orozco. He is still young but he has the tools to be great. Ortiz could really be a star in this division and in the sport as a whole. He needs that one fight that will launch him to stardom. Until then, we can’t rank him much higher.