Cruiserweight: 2010, July 5-11

A pretty significant and interesting fight from Stuttgart, Germany has produced a shakeup in the top 20.  See below for details.
For Comparison, here are the Current Ring Magazine Cruiserweight Rankings:
Champ: None
1) Steve Cunningham
2) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
3) Marco Huck
4) Troy Ross
5) Zsolt Erdei
6) Danny Green
7) Dennis Lebedev
8 ) Giacobbe Fragomeni
9) Ola Afolabi
10) Matt Godfrey

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Steve Cunningham (113*-316-316)
Last Fight: 6/5/2010- TKO5 Troy Ross
Next Fight: Unknown
Shaky victory over Troy Ross notwithstanding, nobody has accomplished as much in the division as USS Cunningham.  We’ll see how he fares in the rumored Super Six, but for now he’s the man to beat.
2) Marco Huck (2-187-187)
Last Fight: 5/1/2010- RTD9 Brian Minto
Next Fight: 8/21/2010- vs. #17 Matt Godfrey
Huck is fighting significant fights 4 times a year, and he’s set to fight inactive fringe (but Ring-rated) contender Matt Godfrey in late August.  If only we could get his fights on US TV, we might realize how good he really is.
3) Ola Afolabi (2-69-69)
Last Fight: 12/5/2009- L(UD12) vs. Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
His resume is definitely one of the more debatable ones I had to examine.  His hallmark win was against Enzo Maccarinelli who, while he was ranked #6 at the time, hasn’t been heard from a ton since.  That said, even after losing 3 of 4, Maccarinelli seems to still be more or less a player in the division even now.  A very close loss to Marco Huck in Germany actually helps him in my book, too.
4) Krzsztof Wlodarczyk (2-263-263)
Last Fight: 5/15/2010- TKO8 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
Since graduating to the level of contender in 2006, the Pole with the confounding name has fought significant fights against only tough opponents, a total of 4 times.  A close win against Steve Cunningham was followed by a close loss to same, and after a draw to Giacobbe Fragomeni, he was finally able to win a clear-cut fight by stopping the Italian in their rematch.  Anyone who can fight on even terms with Cunningham for 24 rounds is going to be rated top-5, and a pretty good argument could be made for ranking him 3 or even 2.
5) Zsolt Erdei (5-33-33)
Last Fight: 11/21/09- MD12 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
He probably will return to Light Heavyweight soon and fight nobodies again for the rest of his career.  He’s such dead weight in any top 10 list that I hate to rate him, but somehow he fights just enough contenders to remain a top 5 contender, while still leaving us with the unshakeable impression that he’s never fought anyone in his entire life.  Fragomeni is a significant conquest, especially above his natural weight, but I can’t help but think the Italian was already fading by that time.
6) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (2-2-2)
Last Fight: 6/5/2010- UD8 Zack Page
Next Fight: Unknown
His biggest win was in October over underrated contender Enad Licina.  He’s dominated a steady diet of decent but non-threatening fighters since then, and appears to be staying active.  His lone career loss against the always tough Wayne Braithwaite is now more than 2 years in the past, and he appears to be on the rise.  Still only a step above a prospect, but that’s good enough in a fairly thin division.
7) Denis Lebedev (8-22-22)
Last Fight: 2/22/2010- KO4 Ignacio Esparza
Next Fight: 7/17/2010- vs. #18 Alexander Alexeev
Speaking of prospects.  He did beat a down-on-his-luck Maccarinelli about a year ago, and perhaps doesn’t get enough credit for it considering where Enzo was in his career at that time.  That’s the only win that really distinguishes him from the pack, although he appears to be destined for the top 5 in the very near future.
8 ) Danny Green (2-31-31)
Last Fight: 4/14/2010- KO3 Manny Siaca
Next Fight: 7/21/2010- vs. Paul Briggs (UNR)
Green’s ranking was a really tough call.  He’s just now, at 37, beginning to make an international name for himself after toiling in the shadow of light heavyweights like Jones, Hopkins, Tarver, etc.  His only cruiserweight win worth mentioning, in fact, was that shocking TKO win over Jones from December.  So where do you rank a blown-up light heavyweight whose only major victory at cruiserweight was over another blown-up (and washed-up) light heavyweight when both fighters were fighting 20 pounds under the division’s weight limit?  Well, the answer is apparently “8th.”
9) Giacobbe Fragomeni (2-86-86)
Last Fight: 5/15/2010- L(TKO8) vs. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: Unknown
Fragomeni definitely appears to be on the downslope of his career after his stoppage loss to Wlodarczyk, but he does still own a victory inside of 2 years over then-10th ranked Rudolf Kraj, and a draw in his first fight with Wlodarczyk.  It’s hard to say that his performance since entering the division’s elite has been really impressive, but he still has yet to lose to anyone not currently ranked among the top 5 cruisers or heavyweights.
10) B.J. Flores (2-2-2)
Last Fight: 8/15/2009- TKO4 Epifanio Mendoza
Next Fight: Unknown
Flores’ management is a disgrace, and has squandered all of the career momentum his fighter had built following his win over legitimate contender Darnell Wilson in February 2008.  It took them a little over a year to match him with a halfway-credible opponent, and it’s been 15 months since Flores decisioned that glorified journeyman.  It would be a shame for a marketable American fighter to be forgotten and dropped from the rankings in what should be the prime of his career, but that’s exactly what is going to happen if he doesn’t get a fight scheduled before the August 21.  Let’s hope it’s someone good, too.
11) Enad Licina (2-2)
Last Fight: 10/17/2009 L(UD12) vs. Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
Defeated then-fringe contender Rob Norton in late 2007 and stopped another one in Jose Herrera in early ‘09.  His only major fight since then was a reasonably close loss to Yoan Hernandez in October.  He’s got a few solid victories over gatekeeper types, as well.  Hasn’t done enough to solidify himself as a bona fide top 10 contender yet, but has done more than some that currently claim that title elsewhere.
12) Enzo Maccarinelli (2-2)
Last Fight: 4/27/2010- TKO1 Alexander Kotlobay
Next Fight: 9/18/2010 vs. TBA
Maccarinelli is scheduled for a date on September 18 against an undetermined opponent for the EBU Cruiserweight Title.  This will be on the same card as the Sexton-Chisora Heavyweight matchup.
13) Wayne Braithwaite (2-2)
Last Fight: 3/6/2010- TKO1 Adam Harris
Next Fight: Unknown
Back in 2005, Braithwaite was on the losing end of a #1-#2 matchup that crowned Ring champion Jean Marc Mormeck.  He’s only had one notable victory since then- against up-and-coming current #6 contender Yoan Pablo Hernandez- a little over 2 years ago.  That’s a long time, but that’s still a better victory than anyone below can claim, and at least he’s staying active, albeit against less than significant competition.
14) Steve Herelius (1-1)
Last Fight: 7/3/10- TKO12 Firat Arslan
Next Fight: Unknown
Herelius looked well-conditioned and vastly outworked dangerous pressure-fighter and former contender Arslan.  Arslan landed the cleaner punches, but Herelius’s workrate combined with a lack of air-conditioning were too much for Arslan, who had been injured and inactive for 2 years and had to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher after collapsing in his corner, which he barely made it to following a dominant 11th round for Herelius.  The fight was quite closely fought to that point.  Herelius had previously beaten gatekeeper Jean Marc Monrose twice in 2009.
15) Victor Ramirez (1-2)
Last Fight: 8/29/2009- L (UD12) vs. Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
His momentum was derailed recently by a decision loss to Marco Huck, but owns a big win over contender Alexander Alexeev 17 months ago sandwiched between two run-of-the mill wins over gatekeepers.  Needs to get more active, though ,as he hasn’t fought in 10 months and has nothing scheduled.
16) Troy Ross (1-71)
Last Fight: 6/5/2010- L (TKO5) vs. Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: Unknown
Yes, he looked really good in a controversial TKO loss to Cunningham, but even discounting the fact that this was still a loss completely, it’s hard to rank a guy in the top 5 based on four rounds in one fight that he, at the very least, didn’t win.  Meanwhile, he’s got 4 or 5 significant wins, but none of them against anyone who could reasonably be called even a fringe contender, and he did lose to a relative non-entity, albeit over 5 years ago.  I’d say he’s gotta get into the win column against a legitimate top 30 contender before he can get any higher than he is, and that’s why it’s a travesty that he’s rated #4 by The Ring.
17) Pawel Kolodziej (1-2)
Last Fight: 6/12/2010- KO12 Parfait Amougou
Next Fight: Unknown
Undefeated fringe contender with win over fringe contender Rob Calloway 6 months ago.
18) Matt Godfrey (1-78)
Last Fight: 9/12/2009- SD10 Michael Simms
Next Fight: 8/21/2010 vs. #2 Marco Huck
Severely overrated given his lack of activity (his last significant fight was almost 2 years ago- against Emmanuel Nwodo), Godfrey does have a significant opportunity to get his career going again when he takes on world-beater Marco Huck in August.
19) Alexander Alexeev (1-2)
Last Fight: 12/19/2009- KO2 Daniel Ammann
Next Fight: 7/17/2010 vs. #7 Denis Lebedev
A middling contender, Alexeev’s best win came over fringe contender Rob Calloway in ’08.  He lost to Victor Ramirez and beat a pair of lesser, gatekeeper-level opponents , including in his most recent fight in November.  Has a big fight upcoming against #7 Denis Lebedev in mid-July.
20) Julio Cesar Matthews (1-2)
Last Fight: 6/13/2010- UD6 Garrett Wilson
Next Fight: Unknown
A guy in his late 30s that’s still fighting 6-rounders doesn’t sound like a top 20 contender by any means, but one recent 6-rounder was actually against a fairly significant opponent, and the division starts looking very, very thin by this point.
Mateusz Masternak (#20 last week), is forced out by Herelius’ debut).  Victor Ramirez (#14 last week) and everyone rated below him drop one spot each.
SPECIAL NOTE: I made a mistake in my inaugural rankings last week.  I use Boxrec.com’s rankings to sift through their top 50 contenders to find the 20 I find most deserving.  Unfortunately, Boxrec inexplicably had Ovill McKenzie rated at Light Heavyweight despite the fact that McKenzie has fought as a cruiserweight since his last fight under the 175 pound limit in February of 2007.  McKenzie’s victory over fringe contender John Keeton a little over a year ago to win the Prizefighter Cruiserweight tournament would have been enough to earn a #20 ranking last week had I been aware of him.  Unfortunately for him, his rightful position was displaced this week due to Herelius’ victory, and thus McKenzie and Masternak, who unjustly occupied his position last week, are forced out.

THE WEEK AHEAD: #15 Light Heavyweight Hugo Garay is scheduled for a cruiserweight fight against sub-.500 journeyman Sergio Beaz in his native Argentina.  Garay, who has sporadically competed as a small cruiserweight throughout his career, has won comfortable unanimous decisions against Beaz 3 times before- twice in 2004 and once in 2003.  Beaz, who had a winning record going into all of their previous meetings, is just 3-13 since their last one.  This fight will obviously not earn Garay a cruiserweight ranking under any circumstances.

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