Constructing the Perfect Welterweight Boxer out of Current Stars

Lyle FitzsimmonsFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2013

Constructing the Perfect Welterweight Boxer out of Current Stars

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    There are some fighters who do one thing exceedingly well but lack other important attributes. Think punchers who can’t box, busy guys with no power or fast guys with balky chins.

    Then there are other fighters who do a lot of things solidly, though none on a best-in-the-world level. In other words, guys for whom the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

    So when it comes to creating the perfect fighter—one whose skill set yields A grades across the board—the task becomes one of pulling parts off worthwhile models to produce one that’s truly special.

    For the purposes of this experiment, we’ll pick and choose eight qualities from the best 147-pounders in the business today in order to come up with the ideal welterweight for a generation.

    Click through to see who contributed to our perfect modern-day concoction.

Build: Timothy Bradley

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    His abs look like a relief map of the Rocky Mountains, and his upper body and biceps are surely the envy of personal trainers, but it’s not as if soft-spoken Timothy Bradley is just a supermodel wannabe.

    He proved his in-ring street cred during an unbeaten run at 140 pounds—including wins over Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander—then upped the ante at welterweight with a title-winning (albeit disputed) defeat of Manny Pacquiao.

    Bradley added toughness to the championship mix a few months back when he outgutted Ruslan Provodnikov to retain his WBO belt over 12 rounds in March.

Power: Marcos Maidana

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    It’s been a conquer-or-be-conquered mentality in recent years for Marcos Maidana, a 29-year-old from Argentina who’s recently made the jump from 140 to 147.

    He engaged in a candidate for 2013’s Fight of the Year on June 8 in California, where he was knocked around several times before finally dropping and stopping a gutty Josesito Lopez.

    Maidana has recorded 31 stoppages in 34 wins and has ended his last four victories inside the distance while earning kudos from Showtime boxing executive Stephen Espinoza.

Speed: Devon Alexander

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    The St. Louis-born southpaw was brought along slowly at the start of his career by promoter Don King, but he’s picked up speed—figuratively and literally—while initially climbing the ladder at junior welterweight and now as a full-fledged welterweight.

    Devon Alexander outslicked Junior Witter, Juan Urango and Andriy Kotelnik while defending belts at 140. After a unification loss to Timothy Bradley, he has continued to perform with the same athleticism while downing sluggers Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, Randall Bailey and Englishman Lee Purdy.

Chin: Shane Mosley

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    Sure, he used to have speed and punching power to burn.

    But these days, as the hand speed has dwindled and the legs have grown less fleet, Shane Mosley has depended on the ability to stand in, take shots and keep vertical even against foes who are younger, stronger and busier than he.

    He’s lasted the 12-round distance in each of his six professional losses, including matches against big punchers like Vernon Forrest (twice), Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez, not to mention using his chin to ensure wins over Oscar De La Hoya (twice), Ricardo Mayorga and Antonio Margarito.

Defense: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Go ahead, try to remember.

    Look back over his 44 fights over nearly 17 years as a professional and try to remember more than one or two isolated times when you remember Floyd Mayweather Jr. being hit by a solid punch, let alone a solid combination of punches.

    It simply doesn’t happen.

    Now 36, the still-unbeaten Mayweather has elevated defensive prowess to an all-time level thanks to his mastery of the shoulder roll along with quick reflexes and still-nimble legs.

    It was all on display during again during a May defeat of Robert Guerrero, when “Money” was able to remain in the pocket, avoid damage from Guerrero’s inside work and return fire of his own. 

Legs: Paul Malignaggi

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    Though much of the run-up to his fights tends to center on what exits his mouth, to focus only on that dismisses some of the undeniable effectiveness of the two-division Brooklyn-born champ.

    Paul Malignaggi has scored only seven knockouts in 32 victories but has nonetheless handled opponents on the level of former lightweight champ Juan Diaz—and gone the 12-round route with a then-undefeated Miguel Cotto—by using quick hands and quicker legs to, as the adage goes, fight and run away while living to fight another day.

Workrate: Manny Pacquiao

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    Just imagine what it’d do to the morale.

    You land a combination, perhaps punctuated by a cracking shot or two to the chin, and your opponent shakes his head, smiles and swats his gloves together before unleashing an attack of his own.

    It’s precisely the response many a foe has seen while in the ring with Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino dynamo who established himself as a welterweight presence thanks to a pressure-filled, offense-first in-ring style.

    Pac overwhelmed ex-champs Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey in his initial three efforts at 147 pounds, then added wins over Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez before a two-fight skid that’s yielded a controversial decision and a violent knockout.

    It was fitting, though, that even the KO loss came while he was pressing the action.

Smarts: Juan Manuel Marquez

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    It’s not surprising that the Mexican veteran, at age 39 and with 20 years as a professional under his belt, has compiled the sort of in-ring genius that’s kept him relevant into a third decade.

    He’s been able to play the aggressor against boxers, box superbly against pressure fighters and have the uncanny ability to stay in the pocket amid heavy fire to be in position to land his own shots.

    Juan Manuel Marquez’s four-fight series with Manny Pacquiao illustrates his acumen. He’s been the only fighter in recent years to maintain level ground with the Filipino, and his one-shot sixth-round KO in their most recent fight was a testament to his courage, recuperative powers and overall skill.