Cruiserweight: 2012, Mar 19-25

A pretty major upset went down this week in Pavia, Italy.  #10 Giacobbe Fragomeni was somewhat befuddled by the superior movement and precision of the 45-year-old Silvio Branco.  Fragomeni came forward for most of the fight and threw the harder shots, but even when he got Branco backed to the ropes, it was often Branco who calmly landed straight counters, while Fragomeni missed or cuffed Branco with looping shots.  The judging was solid, and the result was a majority draw. 


Meanwhile, in Poland, local undefeated prospect Pawel Kolodziej defeated Romanian journeyman Giulian Ilie by a fair margin.


The Fragomeni-Branco result naturally throws the rankings into a bit of flux.  Fragomeni really had to be ranked #10 due to his win over 10th-ranked Rudolph Kraj and draw with Krzyzstof Wlodarczyk- both pretty old fights at this point- but I think it’s been a general consensus that, at 42, he was no longer as good as his ranking.  He proved that against the even older Branco.  Branco has a couple losses against good competition at light heavyweight a couple years or so ago, but this was his first significant fight at 200, giving him essentially a clean slate.  A draw against a top ten contender isn’t exactly a bad way to start filling that slate.  Fragomeni slides down to #14 since his draw with Branco reveals him to be at a significantly lower level than he occupied when he fought Kraj and Wlodarczyk.  Branco, with the good mark on his resume, debuts at #15, ahead of Enad Licina, who has been losing lately.  Fragomeni’s fall makes way for B.J. Flores to re-enter the top 10 for the first time in about 18 months, I believe.  Everybody else ranked 11-14 last week moves up a spot, as well.  Meanwhile, Branco’s debut forces everyone ranked 15 or below down a notch, including Eric Fields, who exits the rankings for the time being after 22 consecutive weeks.


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (7-91-91)
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 (7-111-111)
Last Fight: 11/4/2011- UD12 James Toney (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/4/2012- vs. Shawn Cox (UNR)
After reportedly being close to signing a fight with French gatekeeper Rachid El Hadak, Lebedev has instead opted for a bout with Shawn Cox.  This seems like a very low-reward fight for Lebedev, and if Cox happens to be for real after demolishing former contender Wayne Braithwaite, it might carry some risk, too.  I don’t understand the matchmaking from Lebedev’s team.
3) Antonio Tarver (7-35-35)
Last Fight: 7/20/2011- RTD9 #7 Danny Green
Next Fight: 5/26/2012- vs. #14 Lateef Kayode
Tarver criticized Kayode on ShoBox, and Kayode took exception.  So now we have a grudge match.  I don’t think the Nigerian is ready for this, but perhaps Tarver will finally show his age.
4) Marco Huck (7-276-276)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- L*(MD12) vs. HW #2 Alexander Povetkin (at HW)
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
Huck will fight Afolabi May 5 in Erfurt, Germany, fresh off his near victory over Povetkin at heavyweight.
5) Steve Cunningham (7-405-405)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (16-352-352)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- TKO11 #9 Danny Green
Next Fight: Unknown
7) Ola Afolabi (16-158-158)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- RTD5 Valery Brudov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Huck’s notes, above.
8) Guillermo Jones (16-77-77)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Michael Marrone (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Jones has come to Miami for the purpose of training for a fight with either Lateef Kayode or Denis Lebedev.  The only problem is that both of those guys signed other fights almost immediately thereafter. 
9) Danny Green (35-120-120)
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) B.J. Flores (1-1-91)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO6 Hugo Pineda (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Flores has said he might fight the Fragomeni-Branco winner.  Not sure how that will be affected by the fact that there is no winner.
11) Francisco Palacios (1-51)
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 has since chased fights with Roy Jones and Antonio Tarver, neither of which seem to be currently on the table.
12) Alexander Alexeev (1-62)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD12 #15 Enad Licina
Next Fight: 5/11/2012- vs. #18 Firat Arslan
Alexeev will fight Firat Arslan in an interesting crossroads-type fight on May 11 in Germany.
13) Lateef Kayode (1-70)
Last Fight: 9/9/2011- UD10 Felix Cora, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/26/2012- vs. #3 Antonio Tarver
Kayode has snubbed a mandatory shot at Guillermo Jones’ alphabet belt for a shot at an even better fighter, the aging but still very capable Antonio Tarver.
14) Giacobbe Fragomeni (1-175)
Last Fight: 3/17/2012- Draw (MD12) vs. Silvio Branco (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Fragomeni appears to be showing his age after nearly losing to an even older man in Brnaco.
15) Silvio Branco (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/17/2012- Draw (MD12) vs. #10 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
45 year old veteran Silvio Branco got what may have been his final hurrah with a close-fought draw with top 10-ranked Giacobbe Fragomeni.
16) Enad Licina (1-91)
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.
17) Troy Ross (1-7)
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.
18) Firat Arslan (1-36)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO2 Orlando Farias (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/11/2012- vs. #12 Alexander Alexeev
See Alexeev’s notes, above.
19) Grigory Drozd (1-6)
Last Fight: 2/8/2012- RTD9 Richard Hall (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/4/2012- vs. William Joppy (UNR)
Drozd is following up a nice win over Richard Hall with what will probably a slightly less nice win over badly faded former middleweight contender William Joppy in Russia.
20) Matt Godfrey (1-27)
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.


THE WEEK AHEAD: On Friday in England, Enzo Maccarinelli returns to the cruiserweight division after never really leaving (he fought a few fights at a contract weight just over the light heavyweight limit) when he fights for the British Cruiserweight title against fringe prospect Shane McPhilbin.  If he takes care of business, he may return to the rankings just by returning to activity.


The following night, South Africa plays host to a fight between prospect Ilunga Makubu of the Congo and Nigerian journeyman Michael Gbenga.  Finally, gatekeeper Willie Herring of Florida takes on undefeated Colombian prospect Santander Silgado in Brooklyn.

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