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Analysis: The super-welterweight division

Julian Williams
Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions
John Dennen examines the super-welter division, a weight class where things can change very quickly

10. TERRELL GAUSHA (USA)

Record: 21-1-1 (10) Age: 32 Height: 5ft 10ins

Gausha does have something about him. The American has talent. He was part of the 2012 Olympic team. The US side was profoundly unsuccessful in London but Gausha had the hallmarks of being a good pro as he lost a close bout to Vijender Singh. His professional development has been slow. His first world title fight ended with his first loss, to Erislandy Lara in 2017. Most recently he drew with Austin Trout, no great shame there given the veteran Trout has fought just about everyone there is to fight in the super-welterweight division.

STRENGTHS: He has composure and good power.

WEAKNESSES: He has not been entertaining, his 12-rounder with Lara attracted boos.

BEST PERFORMANCE: The draw with Trout could have gone his way.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Lara was his highest level contest but it was a dull bout that had fans leaving the arena.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Buried in a highlight reel is footage of him knocking out Andranik Hakobyan at the Olympic Games.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? He is at a crossroads. He could rally, or slide down a level.

9. PATRICK TEIXEIRA (BRA)

Record: 31-1 (22) Age: 29 Height: 5ft 11 1/2ins

It’s something of surprise Brazilian boxers haven’t made more of a dent on the pro game in recent years. Good fighters like Robson Conceicao, Esquiva and Yamaguchi Falcao have come through the Olympics. But it’s Patrick Teixeira who has progressed to reign as a world champion. Outscoring Carlos Adames secured him an Interim belt from the WBO. Once Jaime Munguia had vacated, that was upgraded to full world championship status. He was due to meet Brian Castano in an intriguing Brazil vs Argentina clash, until the coronavirus pandemic saw that bout called off.

STRENGTHS: Strength and punch power are considered his best attributes.

WEAKNESSES: Prone to getting drawn in to trade too much.

BEST PERFORMANCE: He overhauled the previously unbeaten Carlos Adames last year.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Curtis Stevens knocked him out on the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan undercard in 2016.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: In 13 seconds he knocks Alfredo Chavez cold with a chilling southpaw right hook.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Things can move quickly in this division. Win the right fight and Teixeira could shoot up the rankings.

8. LIAM SMITH (ENG)

Record: 29-2-1 (16) Age: 31 Height: 5ft 9 1/2ins

From Britain’s excellent fighting Smith family, Liam and his three brothers all became British champions. Liam was the first of them to become a world champion when he won the vacant WBO super-welterweight title from John Thompson. He eventually travelled to Texas to box Canelo Alvarez. Now the Mexican is a light-heavyweight knocking out Sergey Kovalev, then he was a monster light-middle. He dropped and stopped Smith. Liam climbed back to world level and in a far more competitive bout Jaime Munguia outscored him in Las Vegas.

STRENGTHS: A quality pressure fighter, “Beefy” brings his own brand of Mexican style boxing.

WEAKNESSES: Explosive one-punch power is where other world class fighters have an edge on him.

BEST PERFORMANCE: His rematch victory over Liam Williams looks better and better given the latter’s exploits up at middleweight.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Drawing with Terry Caruthers is not normally the mark of a world champion in the making.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: The tremendous body shot Canelo downed him with is literally breath-taking.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Certainly capable of working his way back into contention.

liam smith
Stacey Verbeek

7. TONY HARRISON (USA)

Record: 28-3 (21) Age: 29 Height: 6ft 1in

Tony Harrison has recently suffered the tragic loss of his father and trainer, Ali Salaam, who died from complications due to the coronavirus. He’s still running a food giveaway for those in need.

A solid contender, losses to Jarrett Hurd and Willie Nelson seemed like they would limit his progression. But he broke through to win the WBC world title from Jermell Charlo in 2018. A year later Charlo would avenge that defeat in their rematch.

STRENGTHS: Can plant his rangy jabs and straight rights firmly.

WEAKNESSES: He’s been wobbled by Hurd, Nelson and Charlo.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Unanimously outscoring Charlo in Brooklyn to become a world champion.

WORST PERFORMANCE: He was leading on the scorecards, until Willie Nelson dropped him with a right hook.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: His triumph over Charlo is available.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? His weaknesses could be exploited by those above him in these rankings.

6. JERMELL CHARLO (USA)

Record: 33-1 (17) Age: 29 Height: 5ft 11ins

The WBC super-welterweight champion and twin brother of the confusingly named Jermall Charlo. The Texan rose through the ranks with wins over the likes of Gabriel Rosado and Demetrius Hopkins. He collected the WBC world title, left vacant by Floyd Mayweather no less, with a stoppage victory over John Jackson at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Knocking out Erickson Lubin is also another highly creditable win.

STRENGTHS: A vicious finisher. His power has got him out of trouble and reclaimed him the world title from Tony Harrison.

WEAKNESSES: There are holes in his resume, he needs fights with the likes of Jarrett Hurd or Erislandy Lara.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Hammering Lubin is a strong result.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Tony Harrison handed him his first and so far only loss.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Dropping Harrison in their rematch to reclaim his world title.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? He will be a threat to anyone above him on this list. His rise can continue.

Jermell Charlo
Tom Casino/Showtime

5. BRIAN CASTANO (ARG)

Record: 16-0-1 (12) Age: 30 Height: 5ft 7 1/2ins

A little-known Argentine, Castano crashed into the world top 10 by holding Erislandy Lara to a draw in 2019. That was a huge step up in level for him, even after beating Michel Soro and Cedric Vitu in France ahead of it. He does have some amateur accolades behind him. He has an amateur win over Errol Spence in the distant past, though he never managed to qualify for the Olympics Games (Spence did in 2012). In Argentina on his home turf he managed to take a points decision over the excellent Sergey Derevyanchenko in the World Series of Boxing. As a pro now he still has more to prove.

STRENGTHS: Quick hands, active puncher and smartly keeps his guard together.

WEAKNESSES: He is very inexperienced compared to some of the veterans at the top of the super-welter division.

BEST PERFORMANCE: The draw with Erislandy Lara is his standout result so far.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Not Castano’s fault, but Jonathan Batista ruined their bout throwing low blows and getting himself disqualified.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: See how he matched up with Sergey Derevyanchenko in the World Series of Boxing.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Already doing well to have such a lofty ranking, he can remain a contender.

4. ERISLANDY LARA (CUB)

Record: 26-3-3 (15) Age: 37 Height: 5ft 9ins

Many elite Cubans have struggled to replicate their amateur success in the professional ranks. But Lara has had a successful pro career. He won the WBA title in 2014, reigned until 2018, losing his crown to Jarrett Hurd. He’s racked up wins over a then fresher Alfredo Angulo, beaten Austin Trout, Ishe Smith, Delvin Rodriguez, Vanes Martirosyan and Terrel Gausha. Best known for a competitive split decision loss to Canelo Alvarez, he is a boxer who, even at 37, shouldn’t be discounted.

STRENGTHS: Lateral movement and slick boxing skills from range.

WEAKNESSES: His style doesn’t lend itself to securing close decisions, nor has it won him many fans.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Austin Trout was coming off beating Miguel Cotto and a good effort against Canelo, for Lara to drop and outclass him in 2013.

WORST PERFORMANCE: After his loss to Hurd, he could have done without sharing a split draw with Brian Castano

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Revisit his quality contest with Canelo. Did the celebrated Mexican deserve the decision?

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? Time is not on his side, but he is still capable of springing a surprise.

3. JARRETT HURD (USA)

Record: 24-1 (16) Age: 29 Height: 5ft 11 1/2ins

The man from Maryland has an impressive resume. He beat Tony Harrison to win his first world title, the IBF super-welterweight belt. He followed that up by defeating veteran campaigner Austin Trout and then producing an outstanding result when he unified the IBF and WBA titles with a victory over Erislandy Lara.

2019 however was a year for him to forget. He lost to Julian Williams in his only contest of that year in hometown territory for him. He declined to go into an immediate rematch but did get back into winning ways in January with a points win over Francisco Santana.

STRENGTHS: A big, physically imposing super-welterweight.

WEAKNESSES: Can be outworked and outsmarted.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Overcoming skilled Cuban Erislandy Lara.

WORST PERFORMANCE: Jason Welborn gave him a few unexpected problems just when Hurd should have been impressing on the Wilder-Fury undercard.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Hurd won the IBF world title with a shuddering knockout over Tony Harrison.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? His form has been dipping, it’s possible Hurd is outgrowing the division.

Jarrett Hurd
Premier Boxing Champions

2. JULIAN WILLIAMS (USA)

Record: 27-2-1 (16) Age: 30 Height: 5ft 10ins

One of the most interesting boxers in the division, Williams can lose but he can win and win well. He’s beaten Ishe Smith, Nathaniel Gallimore and in a career best showing dethroned Jarrett Hurd to become a unified champion. That was the upset win of 2019 and this year Williams was the victim of an upset himself when Jeison “Banana” Rosario rolled into Philadelphia and took the titles off him.

When he became champion, Williams deserves credit for his declaration that he would only defend against boxers who were willing to undertake 90 days of VADA drug testing before the contest. His comeback is one to watch with interest.

STRENGTHS: Sharp uppercuts and spiteful hooks to the head complement his capacity to learn and improve.

WEAKNESSES: Resilience; he was hurt by Jeison Rosario and knocked out by Jermall Charlo.

BEST PERFORMANCE: In a superb showing of sustained ferocity he dethroned Jarrett Hurd.

WORST PERFORMANCE: He drew an early career bout with Francisco Santana on an undercard in Santa Ynez.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Williams-Hurd was one of the best fights of last year and is available in its entirety.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? His roller-coaster career will continue. He might drop lower in the top 10 but he can bounce back.

1. JEISON ROSARIO (DOM)

Record: 20-1-1 (14) Age: 25 Height: 5ft 11ins

“Banana” by nickname, banana skin by nature. Julian Williams came back to Philadelphia as a unified world champion to defend his belts in his hometown. Rosario however tore up the script of the homecoming, tore apart his defences and tore away the IBF and WBA super-welterweight titles with a fifth round stoppage.

STRENGTHS: His physical strength shocked Julian Williams.

WEAKNESSES: Leaves himself open to straight shots over the top of his gloves.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Undoubtedly ripping the world titles away from Williams on the latter’s home turf.

WORST PERFORMANCE: In 2017 he suffered a stoppage loss to Nathaniel Gallimore in Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall, a minor Las Vegas casino.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: Clubbing his way to a split decision over Jorge Cota shows Rosario’s strengths and his vulnerabilities.

HOW HIGH CAN HE GO? While he is the youngest man on this list, he’s at the top of the tree now. The only way is down.

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