Jr. welterweight division must step it up

There’s a party at 168 pounds with six of the division’s best currently involved in a hotly-contested tournament.

In a true win-win, these six are getting the exposure they deserve, making the money they want while giving the fans the quality matchups they crave. The World Classic Super Six Tournament really should serve as the template for the sport.

Dropping four divisions to the south, we find a junior welterweight division which is arguably even richer in depth than the aforementioned super middleweight class. But, while the 168-pound crew hammered out their differences, the 140-pound division seems to be spinning its wheels and providing more excuses than quality encounters.

So, what’s the deal?

Aside from the obvious weight difference, the only real distinction between the two divisions is that the super middleweights are free from Golden Boy and Top Rank fighters and that fact alone may be the difference between getting something done and just pushing around reams of hype.

Golden Boy has its grip on three of the top 10 junior welterweights in the world and we’re already seeing the customary foot dragging of a promotional giant looking to protect its investment to the detriment of fans.

With Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz in its pocket, Golden Boy opened its checkbook and purchased the one fly in the ointment: Marcos Maidana. The Argentine slugger, who had beaten Ortiz into submission and had become the mandatory for Khan’s WBA title, was offered a one-year, three-fight promotional contract by Oscar De la Hoya’s promotional outfit in what many are saying is more “step aside” deal than real acquisition.

So, instead of Maidana-Khan, which was mandated and a legal necessity, we got Maidana-Victor Cayo. But wait, there’s more …

After crushing Cayo, Maidana was lined up to fight current division top dog, Timothy Bradley. Outstanding matchup and a real consolation prize for those wanting Khan-Maidana, right?

Well, hold your horses … this is big-time boxing. Maidana pulled out of the Bradley fight just as the promotional hype was to begin. Citing a back injury, Maidana decided to not go ahead with the plan … and why not? All he has to do is cool his heels for the next few months and he stands to make a mint of a payday with a still-mandated, more winnable shot at Khan.

Short-term problem solved for Golden Boy. Bye-bye Marcos Maidana for the fans. And, just like that, one of the division’s most exciting fighters has been muzzled and leashed.

Khan is now free to sit on Golden Boy’s pile of cash while fighting division retreads and smaller exports from the lightweight division. Rumor has it that Michael Katsidis is being talked about next.

Now, switch to Ortiz, who was routed by Maidana last year and is still being shoved down the throats of the boxing public.

No fights are being rumored for Ortiz, but you can bet that no real challenges are being batted about at Golden Boy headquarters.

With a division full of home run hitters, Khan and Ortiz, two of the division’s brightest talents, are looking for batting practice with the bat boy.

Here’s hoping that Golden Boy wakes up at some point and realizes the lesson learned from the super middleweight class: You can make more money by giving the fans what they want than by trying to manipulate them into buying your hype.