Chapter IX – The Middle Divisions In the last chapter, we dealt with the big guys: Lennox Lewis and the Klitschko’s. The cruiserweights and the light heavyweights were covered in detail as well. Now we turn to the middle divisions; middleweights, welterweights and lightweights. There are so many great fighters in these weights in the decade 2000-2001! The middleweight division, a weight class that has had many, many great champions over the years was dominated by the great Bernard Hopkins, who held the title into his forties.
Welterweight Sugar Shane Mosley book-ended that division, holding the title as the decade began and holding it again as the decade ended. In between, a stellar group of welterweights crossed the firmament: Following Mosley, there was the tragic Vernon Forrest, shot to death at age 38. Then the Nicaraguan “bad boy”, Ricardo Mayorga, smoking and drinking and eating junk food and knocking people out.
Then Cory Spinks, the son of Michael Spinks and the nephew of Neon Leon Spinks. He was followed by sharp-boxing southpaw Zab Judah who in turn lost the welterweight title to Carlos Baldomir who then lost it to arguably the best welterweight in history, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Floyd vacated the title to move up a class and once again Sugar Shane Mosley ruled the roost. How good was he? He beat a prime Oscar de la Hoya twice. ‘Nuff said.
The lightweight class has also had its share of all-time greats and the decade was no exception. Floyd Mayweather ruled the division from 2002 to 2004 when he vacated to move to welterweight. His memorable lightweight fights were against future champion Jose Luis Castillo, who gave him about as tough of a fight as anyone he ever encountered and his outclassing the very popular Arturo Gatti. Floyd was truly in a class by himself. The aforementioned Mr. Castillo then became champion and he represented the title well. He was followed by rough and tough Diego Corrales who also died a tragic death, southpaw Cuban Joel Casamayor who lost the crown to Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, famous for his four battles against Manny Pacquiao.