What better time than the Fourth of July to take a look at the state of the American boxing game and the major US-born fighters on the scene?
And, actually, unlike other years, there’s not a lot of negative to point a finger at. As a matter of fact, at least in terms of high-end, elite-level talent, the United States is in a better spot than it’s been in for a long time. There are a number of pound-for-pound and elite-level talents ruling the roost. And, to make things even better, most of these American top dogs are young, rising stars or fighters smack dab in the middle of their primes.
So, let’s take a look at what’s what and who’s who among American boxing stars.
The welterweight division continues to be an American domain with Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford at the very top (and rumored to be headed for a best vs. best showdown this fall). Right below the big two, there are two high-end young stars just looking for their opportunity to pounce on a fully-unified division. The 25-year-old Jaron “Boots” Ennis and the 24-year-old Vergil Ortiz Jr. are among the most entertaining and dangerous fighters in the game. Former world champ Keith Thurman, meanwhile, remains a viable main stage challenge for any top welter.
One division above welterweight, Jermell Charlo reigns as the fully unified, 4-belt world champ, with the all-action Sebastian Fundora waiting his turn for a try at all four belts.
All throughout boxing, Americans have taken steps to own as many of the belts in their respective divisions as possible.
Devin Haney became the 4-belt unified lightweight champion in June when he beat 3-belt champ George Kambosos in Australia, adding the Aussie’s steps to his own WBC title. Shakur Stevenson, who could make a case for himself as the current best American fighter, became a 2-belt super featherweight champ with back-to-back dominant victories over Jamel Herring and Oscar Valdez. Similarly, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez became a 2-belt super flyweight champ with dominant victories over Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisa. And let’s not forget Stephen Fulton Jr., who also entered the 2-belt champ club at super bantamweight with a victory over Brandon Figueroa (and then defended those belts against former unified champ Daniel Roman).
And speaking of belts…how many does Gervonta “Tank” Davis have? I’m not even going to bother counting belts or division titles. Suffice to say, he has a lot. At any rate, “Tank” remains one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the game and, with his one-punch power, one of the most exciting battlers in all of combat sports.
There are so many other high-end American talents that should be mentioned in a State of the Game article like this. There’s offensive powerhouse David Benavidez; WBC middleweight champ Jermall Charlo; the tricky Demetrius Andrade; former unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez; flashy social media star Ryan Garcia; the quick-fisted Gary Russell Jr.; blue collar battler Jose Ramirez; and former heavyweight champs Andy Ruiz and Deontay Wilder (although the less spoken of the American heavyweight scene at the moment, the better). There are so many others, too. Really, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches at the moment and there’s a ton of young talent right behind this wave of fighters, just waiting to take on the world.
The politics of the boxing business continues to provide tons of roadblocks to the natural flow of things and the sport continued to be bogged down with an absolutely horrid business model. But that stuff’s been around, causing damage, for ages and it’s not likely to go away any time soon. Through it all, though, things have been getting done and American fighters have found a way to shine.
On this Fourth of July, things look bright for the American boxing scene.