Cruiserweight: 2010, July 12-18

Nothing major happened in the ring this week, but there is some very interesting top-10 news.  Light Heavyweight contender Hugo Garay was supposed to fight in his native Argentina against a journeyman at cruiserweight, but that fight apparently fell through on short notice.
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 (114*-317-317)
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.
* Not actually sure how long he’s been rated #1, but it has been at least this number of weeks.
2) Marco Huck (3-188-188)
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 (3-70-70)
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 (3-264-264)
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 (6-34-34)
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 (3-3-3)
Last Fight: 6/5/2010- UD8 Zack Page
Next Fight: Unknown
The IBF has ordered a title eliminator match between Hernandez and #10 B.J. Flores.  What a great matchup that will be- the two best young upcoming contenders in the division. Assuming the fight comes off, the winner will certainly end up in the top five.
7) Denis Lebedev (9-23-23)
Last Fight: 2/22/2010- KO4 Ignacio Esparza
Next Fight: 7/17/2010- vs. #19 Alexander Alexeev
This is the week- Lebedev will have a chance to prove he’s the goods when he faces #19 Alexander Alexeev in Schwerin, Germany on Saturday.
8 ) Danny Green (3-32-32)
Last Fight: 4/14/2010- KO3 Manny Siaca
Next Fight: 7/21/2010- vs. Paul Briggs (UNR)
Green is scheduled to fight Paul Briggs next weekend.  Briggs was still a solid light heavyweight contender when he last fought in February 2007, but his last win against solid competition was six years ago, and to give you an idea of how well-regarded he is as an opponent for Green, this fight was moved from New South Wales to Perth because the former got squeamish about sanctioning what they saw as a gross mismatch.
9) Giacobbe Fragomeni (3-87-87)
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 (3-3-3)
Last Fight: 8/15/2009- TKO4 Epifanio Mendoza
Next Fight: Unknown
Finally appears to have the kind of fight on the horizon that could place him among the elite, as he appears set to fight #6 Yoan Pablo Hernandez in late summer or early fall.
11) Enad Licina (3-3)
Last Fight: 10/17/2009 L(UD12) vs. Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: 8/21/2010- TBA
Has a date reserved on August 21, but we don’t seem to know yet who his dance partner will be.
12) Enzo Maccarinelli (3-3)
Last Fight: 4/27/2010- TKO1 Alexander Kotlobay
Next Fight: 9/18/2010 vs. Alexander Frenkel (UNR)
Maccarinelli now has an opponent for the EBU Cruiserweight Title fight on September 18: fringe contender Alexander Frenkel.  This will be on the same card as the Sexton-Chisora Heavyweight matchup.
13) Wayne Braithwaite (3-3)
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 (2-2)
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 (2-3)
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 (2-72)
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 (2-3)
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 (2-79)
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 (2-3)
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 (2-3)
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.

THE WEEK AHEAD: There’s a fair amount of activity in the division this week.  The big fight in the division this week is from Schwerin, Germany between fringe contender Alexander Alexeev (#19) and rising prospect/contender Denis Lebedev (#7).  Obviously expect some movement in the next rankings.  Before that, on Wednesday, solid undefeated Israeli prospect Ran Nakash steps up somewhat in class against a good journeyman and/or mediocre gatekeeper in Victor Barragan in Philly.  Finally, former lineal light heavyweight champion Julio Cesar Gonzalez, coming off three consecutive losses at 175, is moving up to cruiser to face the decent but inexperienced  Felipe Romero for the Mexican title.

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