2015 has been a good year for the Middleweight division, as the rise of 2015 “Fighter of the Year” candidate Gennady Golovkin has given the weight class a ton of attention, going (3-0) in increasingly higher profile fights.
In November, Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez secured the WBC World Middleweight title with his win over Miguel Cotto.
And on December 5th of 2015, WBA World Middleweight Champion Daniel Jacobs entered his showdown with undefeated Peter Quillin a slight betting underdog, but his white wash of Quillin in less than 90 seconds established him as one of the top three talents in the weight class.
Before the end of 2015, two cards in England will present Middleweight fights that will add even more clarity to the WBO World Middleweight title picture.
On December 19th, veteran Andy Lee (34-2-1) faces the undefeated Billy Joe Saunders (22-0) in defense of his WBO Middleweight title at the Manchester Arena.
Lee won the belt back in December of 2014 when he defeated Matt Korobov to take the belt vacated by Peter Quillin.
Lee then fought Quillin in Brooklyn for his first title defense.
Quillin failed to make weight meaning the title was not on the line, but Lee fought Quillin to a respectable draw and retained his hold on the belt.
Saunders is from a traveler family and he represented Britain in the 2008 Olympic games, and the young southpaw has held a slew of regional titles while competing at a high level as a pro.
The books have Lee as slight (-130) favorite, with Saunders returning at (+110).
The December 12th event at the 02 Arena in London features a Middleweight fight that will also impact the WBO title seen as Chris Eubank Jr (20-1) takes on Gary OSullivan (22-1).
In this one, O’Sullivan is a wide (+650) underdog, with Eubank the favorite returning at (-1000).
The lone blemish on both men’s record is a loss to Billy Joe Saunders, and though it is not a perfect indicator, Saunders out-boxed O’Sullivan winning (120-109, 120-109 and 119-110) with the judges, while Eubank thoroughly tested Saunders in a match that saw a split set of judges 115-114 and 115-113 for Saunders while the third judge had it 116-113 for Eubank Jr.
Eubank has held an interim version of the WBA title he won after the loss to Saunders and he raised his stock further by destroying outclassed Tony Jeter in his US television debut on Showtime.
For O’Sullivan a win here would be a huge step up, but should Eubank Jr. win as expected he could be lined up to face the winner of Lee vs Saunders, with the re-match with Saunders with a world belt now in play perhaps the best financial option.
But it would be wrong to ignore Andy Lee in this fray, as he is the most seasoned of the group and is still in his prime at 31 years old.
With a win this Dec 19th and his experienced resume, Lee could be a candidate to face Daniel Jacobs in a truly international showdown at Middleweight.
With Triple G and “Canelo” waiting in the wings, we could be in for good times in the Middleweight division.