Light Heavyweight: 2010, June 28-July 4

Okay, prepare yourself for my first-ever Light Heavyweight rankings.  Excited yet?  As always, the fighters are listed in order, with the number of weeks they have held their current spot in the rankings (including Ring Magazine ratings from before mine began), the number of weeks they’ve been rated in the top 10 (if applicable), and the number of weeks they’ve been rated in the top 20 listed after their names.
For comparison, here are the current Ring Magazine Ratings:
1) Chad Dawson
2) Glen Johnson
3) Jean Pascal
4) Bernard Hopkins
5) Tavoris Cloud
6) Vyacheslav Uzelkov
7) Adrian Diaconu
8 ) Karo Murat
9) Nathan Cleverly
10) Chris Henry
Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Chad Dawson (34-213-213)
Last Fight: 11/07/2009- UD12 Glen Johnson
Next Fight: 8/14/2010- #2 Jean Pascal
Not much in the way of debate on this one.  Bad Chad has beaten top 4 contenders in his last 4 fights, and soundly beat future cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek in early ’07, among other impressive victories.  If it weren’t for Bernard Hopkins signing a fight with Enrique Ornelas at the last minute, his last fight with Glen Johnson would have crowned him as the Champ.  As it is, his upcoming fight with Jean Pascal may do just that, though Tavoris Cloud may have a thing or two to say about that.
2) Jean Pascal (1-54-54)
Last Fight: 12/11/2009- UD12 Adrian Diaconu
Next Fight: 8/14/2010- #1 Chad Dawson
There is such a large dropoff after Dawson right now, but Pascal has a chance to prove everybody’s rankings wrong.  Since losing to current #4 Super Middleweight Carl Froch in late ’08, Pascal has made his mark on the new division.  His two key wins were both against Adrian Diaconu, but he gets ample credit for both wins since Diaconu, while not an obvious threat the second time, was still a worthy top 10 challenger prior to each fight.  He also threw in borderline fringe contender Silvio Branco in between, by way of stoppage.
3) Bernard Hopkins (1-212-212)
Last Fight: 4/3/2010- UD12 Roy Jones, Jr.
Next Fight: Unknown
Count me among those that think the Executioner is close to shot.  Nevertheless, he’s done nothing to lose his lofty ranking, despite some inactivity and very careful matchmaking.  Unfortunately, I have to give him some credit for beating Roy Jones, since Jones, while a safe mark, was still at least a borderline top 10 fighter even after he was destroyed by Danny Green.  Now that he’s safely out of the top 2, however, I’m not so anxious to get Hopkins retired since the division can now move on without him fighting important fights.
4) Glen Johnson (1-367-367)
Last Fight: 2/5/2010- TKO6 Yusaf Mack
Next Fight: 8/7/2010- #5 Tavoris Cloud
The former World Champion is defying age.  He clearly isn’t quite good enough to beat Chad Dawson, though he gave him at least a decent fight on two occasions.  He may just be a match for anyone else, though- having stopped possibly overrated but undeniably tough #7 contender Yusaf Mack back in February in emphatic fashion.  He has a huge fight coming up in St. Louis on August 7 against #5 Tavoris Cloud.
5) Tavoris Cloud (7-44-44)
Last Fight: 8/28/2009- UD12 Clinton Woods
Next Fight: 8/7/2010- #4 Glen Johnson
Cloud is a quick-handed, accurate, and aggressive boxer-puncher with loads of potential.  Due to bad timing, though, he is actually in a position to ruin a 1-2 matchup for the Light Heavyweight championship if he can beat Glen Johnson, since his resume would certainly surpass Jean Pascal’s in that scenario, just one week before that latter fights consensus #1 Chad Dawson.  If being undisputed matters to him, Dawson had better hope the Road Warrior doesn’t get old against the dangerous young Cloud.
6) Gabriel Campillo (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 5/15/2010- KO1 Luzimar Gonzaga
Next Fight: Unknown
Campillo is understandably underrated all over the place because he was straight-up robbed after dominating Beibut Shumenov for 11 of 12 rounds.  It was the worst decision I’ve ever seen, hands down (and that’s saying a lot).  He did have some rocky times, losing to fellow prospects Vlyacheslav Uzelkov and Karo Murat at Super Middleweight, but since moving up in weight he’s beaten then-#9-ranked Hugo Garay and, in all fairness, beat tough and rugged Shumenov twice.
7) Juergen Braehmer (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 4/24/2010- TKO5 Mariano Plotinsky
Next Fight: 7/17/2010- Alejandro Lakatos (UNR)
Braehmer has one of the more lengthy resumes out there, but he has yet to beat a top-10 fighter.  His best win was a late stoppage of fast-rising young contender Aleksy Kuziemski 11 months ago, and he also has an impressive recent win over fringe contender Mariano Plotinski and a couple other decent wins, as well.  His only career setback was a reasonably close decision loss to Hugo Garay, who was ranked #10 at the time.  He has a solid body of work, but needs to add a signature win to break into the elite level.  His next fight-Alejandro Lakatos- is not going to get it done.
8 ) Chris Henry (1-7-7)
Last Fight: 3/27/2010- TKO1 Hugo Garay
Next Fight: Unknown
Henry’s first two attempts at toppling top-level opponents ended in close decision losses against Adrian Diaconu and Yusaf Mack, but he’s rebounded with a sixth-round stoppage of fringe contender Sean George (at Cruiser) and a 1st-round annihilation of a possibly-faded but still at least very good fringe contender Hugo Garay in March.
9) Nathan Cleverly (7-21-21)
Last Fight: 2/13/2010- TKO5 Antonio Brancalion
Next Fight: 9/18/2010- #15 Karo Murat
This British sensation has so far been feasting on mid-level competition, but has done so emphatically- stopping 4 of the 5 notable opponents he’s faced.  His best win was against fellow undefeated prospect and now #19 contender Danny McIntosh a year ago.  He’s going to try to top that this fall, when he takes on #15 contender Karo Murat in front of a friendly crowd.
10) Roy Jones, Jr. (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 4/3/2010- L(UD12) vs. Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
I must admit that I was shocked when I realized I was including him in the top 10.  He’s surely shot, and if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll retire.  That being said, even ugly losses in three of his last 4 major fights (against Calzaghe, Danny Green, and Bernard Hopkins) can’t completely erase what he’s done.  He’s still got one significant victory in the past year- an utter humiliation of even more washed up- but still legitimately-rankable contender Jeff Lacy.  That’s more than can be said for Adrian Diaconu, as I’ll discuss below, or for the rest of the field.
11) Adrian Diaconu (1-164)
Last Fight: 12/11/2009- L(UD12) vs. Jean Pascal
Next Fight: Unknown
Made it to the Ring rankings on the strength of wins over contender Rico Hoye in 2007 and prospect (now contender) Chris Henry in April of 2008.  I’m not sure what he’s done to remain such a fixture in the rankings since then, however.  He was ranked #8 both times that he dropped decisive decisions to Jean Pascal, and is currently and inexplicably ranked #7 by the Ring, without having won a significant fight in well over 2 years. He may very well still be a top 10 fighter in theory- certainly I’d pick him to beat Jones head-to-head- but these rankings are supposed to be about accomplishment, not theory.
12) Thierry Karl (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/6/2010- UD10 Karim Bennama
Next Fight: Unknown
This French former middleweight seems to have grown into his new division well.  He twice lost (including once by knockout) to non-entity Francois Bastient at 160, but has two pretty good wins since moving up to LHW- first-round destructions of an undefeated fringe contender named Nadjib Mohammadi in September and gatekeeper Djamel Selini in December.
13) Yusaf Mack (1-1)
Last Fight: 2/5/2010- L(TKO6) vs. Glen Johnson
Next Fight: Unknown
Mack was definitely over his head in his stoppage loss to veteran contender Glen Johnson, but proved that he could at the very least hold his own against the second-tier of contenders by squeaking out a close split decision over current #8 Chris Henry back in early ’09.
14) Beibut Shumenov (1-1)
Last Fight: 1/29/2010- SD12 Gabriel Campillo*
Next Fight: 7/23/2010- #18 Vyacheslav Uzelkov
Normally I give at least nominal deference to the official results of fights, but Shumenov’s gift decision over Campillo from January is worthy of nothing but contempt, as the rugged Kazakh, while plenty game, was absolutely slapped around for the vast majority of that fight.  He actually gets more credit in my book for his loss in their legitimately close first meeting.  Even chalking those fights up as losses against superior competition, however, Shumenov can point to three significant wins in his very short career- the best being a dominant decision win over fringe contender Montell Griffin.  He’s got a very interesting fight coming up against Vyacheslav Uzelkov, a young prospect who has previously beaten Campillo.
15) Karo Murat (1-29)
Last Fight: 5/1/2010- UD12 Tommy Karpency
Next Fight: 9/18/2010- #9 Nathan Cleverly
Murat has only beaten a couple gatekeepers at Light Heavy, but he certainly deserves some credit for his success at Super Middleweight, especially his win over current top-10 contender Gabriel Campillo.  That being said, LHW is a whole new ballgame, and Murat has yet to challenge himself to the same extent as has Campillo.  That is about to change, however, when he takes on Nathan Cleverly in September.
16) Hugo Garay (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/27/2010- L(TKO1) vs. Chris Henry
Next Fight: Unknown
Seems to be on the way down after a first round stoppage loss to Chris Henry, but so far he’s only lost to people ranked in the current top 10, and he’s got a win (in late ’08) over another top 10 fighter in Juergen Braehmer, as well as contender Yuri Barashian a few months earlier.
17) Aleksy Kuziemski (1-1)
Last Fight: 5/22/2010- UD10 Igor Mikhalkin
Next Fight: Unknown
What do we know about Kuziemski?  Well, he’s not as good as Juergen Braehmer, who stopped him 11 months ago.  But he’s better than the prospects and gatekeepers he’s been beating.  It will be interesting to see if he fights someone whose skill level falls between those two extremes.
18) Vyacheslav Uzelkov (1-32)
Last Fight: 10/21/2009- TKO5 Tomas Adamek (not that one)
Next Fight: 7/23/2010- #14 Beibut Shumenov
Uzelkov beat prospect (now top 10 contender) Gabriel Campillo almost 3 years ago, and hasn’t done much of anything since.  His measure will be taken very soon when he fights Beibut Shumenov.  In the meantime, he’s egregiously overrated by the Ring given his complete lack of meaningful activity.
19) Danny McIntosh (1-1)
Last Fight: 2/19/2010- KO2 Tony Oakey
Next Fight: Unknown
Nothing too spectacular for him yet.  He beat gatekeeper Tony Oakey this past winter, and has lost by stoppage to Cleverly.  Not much of a resume, but you’ve got to search to find a qualified fighter at #19.
20) Jeff Lacy (1-1)
Last Fight: 8/15/2009- L(RTD10) vs. Roy Jones, Jr.
Next Fight: Unknown
Lacy got absolutely schooled by an over-the-hill Roy Jones last year, so it’s painful to rate him.   On the other hand, he has two decent wins at Light Heavy.  The most recent was against Otis Griffin who, although he wasn’t really that well-regarded at the time, has done enough to this point that he would be rated #20 despite the loss if anyone dropped off.  The other was a little borderline.  He beat contender Peter Manfredo, Jr. in what was only technically a light heavyweight bout.  Both guys weighed in at 169, 1 pound over the Super Middleweight limit, and neither was considered a light heavyweight overall.  For that reason, I hesitate to give him credit for it, but I feel I must for the sake of consistency.

THE WEEK AHEAD: I’m admittedly writing this at the very end of the ratings week because I had some difficulty formatting, but I couldn’t find any significant LHW bouts that were scheduled for this week.

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