Cruiserweight: 2012, Feb 13-19


A pair of top 50 cruisers met in Moscow on Wednesday.  Jamaica’s Richard Hall- a one-time fringe contender- had settled into a role as the kind of challenge you might put your undefeated prospect in with for his first fight against a solid opponent, but he recently cemented his credentials as a bona fide gatekeeper when he slammed the door on former champion O’Neil Bell, effectively vetoing his countryman’s attempt at a comeback.  Russian Grigory Drozd rated somewhere between a prospect and a fringe contender.  At 32, he is maybe on the old side for a prospect, but his only career loss came against the fairly credible Firat Arslan, now over 5 years ago.  So this shaped up to be a pretty intriguing fight.  In the end, it was the Russian winning on cuts after the 9th round, and now that Drozd has won his last 3 fights against top 50 opponents, he as certainly earned a ranking.  His best win is not really nearly as good as Matt Godfrey’s, but Godfrey has not won in a very long time, and has looked very ordinary (to be charitable) in his last couple outings.  Drozd therefore surpasses him in a somewhat close call.  It’s very possible that Drozd has a better resume overall than Arslan, but even with the fight being back in what amounts to irrelevant dinosaur times, the prior head-to-head victory for Arslan tips the scales in his favor when all is said and done. 


Last week’s #15 Steve Herelius exits for inactivity, and that allows the recently-defeated Enad Licina to reclaim his old position.  The recently re-activated Troy Ross edges up to claim the #16 spot.  Arslan advances to #17.  Drozd debuts at #18, while Godfrey and Fields stand pat at #19 and #20, respectively.


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (2-86-86)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD12 #4 Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: Unknown
Erased any doubt as to the better fighter between him and Cunningham.  A fight with Lebedev now would be huge.
2) Denis Lebedev (2-106-106)
Last Fight: 11/4/2011- UD12 James Toney (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
There has been speculation that Lebedev might fight Steve Cunningham next.
3) Antonio Tarver (2-30-30)
Last Fight: 7/20/2011- RTD9 #7 Danny Green
Next Fight: Unknown
The latest word is that there is a 75% chance that Tarver will fight Wlodarczyk on Showtime, April 28.
4) Marco Huck (2-271-271)
Last Fight: 10/22/2011- KO5 Rogelio Rossi (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/25/2011- vs. HW #2 Alexander Povetkin (at HW)
Povetkin vs. Huck is now set a division to the north.
5) Steve Cunningham (2-400-400)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
See Lebedev’s notes, above.
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (11-347-347)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- TKO11 #9 Danny Green
Next Fight: Unknown
See Tarver’s notes, above.
7) Ola Afolabi (11-153-153)
Last Fight: 9/10/2011- UD8 Lukasz Rusiewicz (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Afolabi claims that BJ Flores is ducking him.  He is of course also in line for a shot at the alphabet title currently held by Marco Huck.
8) Guillermo Jones (11-72-72)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Michael Marrone (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After discussions with Lebedev fell apart, it now appears that his mandatory obligation against Kayode is the most probable next fight for Jones.
9) Danny Green (30-115-115)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- L(TKO11) vs. #8 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: Unknown
Green says he would like a rematch with Anthony Mundine- something that’s unlikely at best now that Mundine is fighting about 4 divisions to the south of him.  I do not believe retirement has been ruled out for Green.
10) Giacobbe Fragomeni (30-170-170)
Last Fight: 7/8/2011- UD6 Remigijus Ziausys (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/17/2012- vs. Silvio Branco (UNR)
Fragomeni will fight fellow Italian Silvio Branco for some silly color-coordinated “world title” on St. Patrick’s day.  The combined age of the two combatants: 87.
11) B.J. Flores (18-86)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO6 Hugo Pineda (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Flores has been accused by Afolabi of ducking.
12) Francisco Palacios (18-46)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- UD8 Joell Godfrey (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBC has mandated a rematch with Wlodarczyk, but that seems almost forgotten as Wlodarczyk appears poised for a fight with Antonio Tarver.
13) Alexander Alexeev (2-57)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD12 #15 Enad Licina
Next Fight: Unknown
If his record is any indication, he has probably reached just about the ranking he currently tops out at.
14) Lateef Kayode (2-65)
Last Fight: 9/9/2011- UD10 Felix Cora, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
WBA titlist Guillermo Jones has been ordered to fight Kayode.
15) Enad Licina (1-86)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #17 Alexander Alexeev
Next Fight: Unknown
May be getting a little shopworn.  He’s not a pushover by any means, but you’d have to be crazy to imagine him as a top-10-type guy.
16) Troy Ross (1-2)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD8 Lukasz Rusiewicz (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Inactivity combined with poor competition are killing the career of top-level talent Ross, but at least he’s technically an active cruiserweight again, and thus eligible to remain in the rankings.
17) Firat Arslan (1-31)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO2 Orlando Farias (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Arslan is 41 and not getting any younger.  Unless he’s already decided to call it a day, expect a better opponent in his next fight than Farias.
18) Grigory Drozd (1-1)
Last Fight: 2/8/2012- RTD9 Richard Hall (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Drozd hasn’t been doing badly whatsoever when he steps into the ring.  The only problem?  He has averaged less than 1 fight per year since the start of 2009.
19) Matt Godfrey (2-22)
Last Fight: 6/10/2011- L(UD10) vs. #17 Lateef Kayode
Next Fight: Unknown
It’s a testament to the stagnation in the bottom half of the rankings that Godfrey- who last had a significant win over 3 years ago- continues to hang around the top 20.
20) Eric Fields (2-18)
Last Fight: 1/28/2011- UD8 Derrick Brown (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Fields is the latest in a fairly long line of iffy candidates to enter in the rankings.  He’s a one-loss prospect with a win over marginal gatekeeper Danny Batchelder back in June.  What separates him from the 2 or 3 guys he beat out for this spot is the fact that his loss- in 2008 against current #6 Ola Afolabi- is a lot more forgivable than the losses of his competitors.


THE WEEK AHEAD: After a few consecutive weeks of heavy activity and/or major ratings shakeups, the cruisers take a well-deserved breather this week.

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