Saturday's great match up of Felix "Tito" Trinidad vs. Ronald "Winky" Wright is more than just a fight for contention to continue Trinidad’s legacy in boxing or an addition to Wright’s search for respect. It is easy to pay strict attention to the potential outcomes of this match up; the potential of an outstanding knockout or a judges’ decision causes you to change your mind each time you view your recorded version of the fight. As I place my thoughts on the middleweight division, one king of the division comes to mind and that is Bernard Hopkins. Yes, Bernard is the man to beat in this middleweight division. A young and hungry fighter in Jermain Taylor will try just that come July 18. It is well publicized that Hopkins has plans to end his career fighting the best. The winner of Trinidad vs. Wright will be next on Hopkins plate, if Hopkins can get past Taylor. Hopkins also has his mind set on the winner of Antonio Tarver vs. Glen Johnson on June 16, and a rematch with Roy Jones, if Jones ever decides to enter the ring with concrete intentions on wanting to earn his pound-for-pound crown back. Yes, the Jones part of the equation seems highly unlikely, but, this is boxing and miracles can happen.
Back to the subject at hand. The middleweight division is preparing to resurface as one of the best divisions in the sport. Hopkins’ sheer dominance for over ten years has pushed many quality middleweights towards higher weight classes. A champion is the definition of his division and Hopkins is proof of a boxing champion's dictatorship. If Hopkins’ three more fight plan goes well, which remaining middleweight boxers will be a part of the reconstruction of the middleweight division? When Hopkins leaves, three major belts will be available. This is boxing, and when the leader leaves, everybody that was not a leader, wants to be a leader. We have Tito Trinidad, Winky Wright, Jermain Taylor, Kingsley Ikeke, Sam Soliman, Howard Eastman, Robert Allen, William Joppy and Antwun Echols, all with motives to step up their game when Hopkins decides to wave goodbye.
Even though Joppy, Allen and Echols are seeing less and less of the glory days, the open door for a major title will inspire any man to hit the gym and prove a point. What makes the middleweight division even more interesting is the chance of Jeff Lacy coming down in weight, or Kassim Ouma moving up. People like to point to Hopkins being forty-years- old and to verbally challenge the man, but, not many boxers wish to enter into the ring with him. Hopkins has a strong influence on the middleweight division. The public seems to side with Taylor as being the next in line to continue the middleweight championship reign. Tito is not near an age to consider retirement, nor is Wright. Ikeke is one of the most underrated middleweights in the sport today. Pure power and the hunger to continue his learning with each fight, seems to be a winning game plan for Ikeke. Eastman showed heart with Hopkins, and is a better boxer than we viewed in the Hopkins fight. Also, remember the unknown middleweights that will step out of the gym with self-proclaimed reasons on why they should be next in line for a shot at the middleweight titles.
The Oscar de la Hoya factor is also a situation to which we should pay close attention. I remember the Hopkins vs. De La Hoya pre-fight interviews, where De La Hoya declared his true weight at middleweight and if Trinidad gets past Wright and continues his winning, and if De La Hoya wants a rematch, it will be at middleweight. The importance of this Trinidad vs. Wright fight cannot be treated lightly, because, a new look is on its way. The middleweight division has been in the basement of boxing as far as being a talented division and that has more to do with the Bernard Hopkins reign, a fighter in the running for being the best middleweight ever.
Fans and readers, this is just a blue print and instructions on why we must pay more attention to the middleweight division. I am sure the middleweights are educated to the reconstruction of the middleweight division. Trinidad vs. Wright is more than just a fight, it is a building block.
Shaun Rico LaWhorn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org