Who Can Enliven the Dormant Middleweight Division? How About Errol Spence?

Boxing Scene

The WBC’s long-delayed move to strip troubled Jermall Charlo from his middleweight belt leaves the glamor division’s champions as Charlo replacement Carlos Adames, Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly and 41-year-old Erislandy Lara.

On Friday’s episode of ProBox TV’s “Deep Waters,” analyst Chris Algieri rightfully referred to the 160-pound weight class as “barren – a desert between two great weight classes.”

In a conversation assessing how the former territory of greats Gennady Golovkin, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Bernard Hopkins and Marvin Hagler can resurrect itself, Algieri identified a “wild card” who could lead the charge:

“Errol Spence Jr.,” Algieri, a former 140-pound titleholder, said of his 2016 opponent and the former welterweight champion.

“Errol might jump right over 154. He’s a huge guy – the biggest guy I’ve ever been in the ring with,” Algieri said. “I don’t know how he made 147 for as long as he did.”

The 34-year-old Spence (28-1, 22 KOs) is coming off some formidable career adversity. He was pummeled by Terence Crawford in losing by ninth-round TKO in a July bout for the undisputed welterweight title, and he has split with his only professional trainer, Derrick James – the pair filing opposing lawsuits against each other over James’ compensation.

But as Algieri inspected recent social media footage of Spence arguing with junior welterweight Ryan Garcia and suggesting they fight each other, Spence specifically suggested a middleweight bout – and, as Algieri cracked, “he looks all of 185 pounds.”

“[Spence] spars with light heavyweights and cruiserweights. … There’s [this] opportunity for him to return at 160. I don’t see him returning at 154 unless there’s a legitimate title opportunity for him. Middleweight is always going to be interesting, even if it’s been barren for a couple of years.”

Spence was last seen in a ring on March 30, with newly crowned WBC and WBO junior middleweight titleholder Sebastian Fundora expressing interest in defending his belts against Spence.

But Fundora broke his nose that night while upsetting champion Tim Tszyu, and he is medically suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission until October. Fundora’s promoter has said he likely won’t fight again until December.

Plus, Fundora is obligated by the WBO to fight Crawford next, or he’ll need to relinquish that belt.

That’s a long wait, when Lara will be due for a fall WBA title defense after scoring a second-round knockout victory on the March 30 Fundora-Tszyu card.

As Spence mulls his options, Adames is headed to his first title defense, against veteran Terrell Gausha on June 15 on the Gervonta “Tank” Davis-Frank Martin card in Las Vegas, “Ring Magazine” first reported Friday, while Alimkhanuly has a July 13 date reserved at The Palms in Las Vegas.

Another bout that could prove meaningful to the middleweight division’s future is the Aug. 3 154-pound scrap between Tszyu and unbeaten Vergil Ortiz Jr.

“Vergil Ortiz is very young and growing. … He’ll be as high as 168 pounds, 175,” Algieri said.

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