Light Heavyweight: 2012, Feb 6-12

It was a tale of two fights on Friday  In the Friday Night Fights main event in Vegas, #16 Edison Miranda got off to a good start in what was shaping up as a close, competitive fight with fringe contender Isaac Chilemba.  On my card, he won the first 3 rounds (though two of those could have gone either way), but then suffered a cut from a clash of heads that seems to have affected him, as he probably didn’t win another round thereafter.  Scores and blood aside, Chilemba looked much crisper than he did in his other signature win in the US against Maxim Vlasov. 

 

#8 Eduard Gutnknecht battled Ukrainian fringe contender Vyacheslav Uzelkov on the Cunningham-Hernandez undercard on Saturday, and…hmm.  Let’s just say I disagree with the bulk of the reportage on the fight.  The consensus in the boxing media seems to be that Gutknecht “outworked” Uzelkov, and deserved a decision.  This only goes to show that the bulk of the boxing media has no damn clue how to score a fight.  Gutknecht’s punches (mostly jabs with fairly weak straight rights mixed in) were not landing often at all.  Uzelkov caught the vast majority on his gloves and displayed excellent head movement to thwart the majority of those remaining.  Meanwhile, Uzelkov was often landing his jab, hooks and right hands to the body, and was doing so cleanly and with much more apparent power.  Not only that, but he was backing Gutknecht up for the vast majority of the fight and also tended to do so with punches rather than just walking forward as do too many pressure fighters.  Gutknecht was the mover in the fight, but it wasn’t as if he was setting traps for Uzelkov or keeping the bigger man off balance such that you could give him a significant edge in ring generalship.  He was really just trying to get away from Uzelkov, who was clearly stronger.  Occasionally it crossed the line into blatant running and/or spoiling.  I had the fight 116-112 Uzelkov, and I don’t think a fair and competent judge could have had it as better than a draw for Gutknecht. 

 

So why the disconnect?  Well, I think Gutknecht’s effort probably looked good for two principal reasons: first, I guess I will grant that he “outworked” Uzelkov.  That’s enough to win over lots of casual viewers and lazy judges.  Second, Uzelkov had a lot of ungraceful and awkward moments.  He turned or semi-turned his back and dipped his head down too low on several occasions.  Occasionally he lost his balance and almost looked as if he had been hurt as a result.  The problem is, none (or at least few) of these moments resulted in any landed punches- much less effective ones.  Uzelkov- due to his lack of grace- had moments in a few rounds where he looked almost overwhelmed by an apparently opportunistic Gutknecht.  If you were watching only the general movement of the two men, you might think these moments were significant enough to swing some fairly clear Uzelkov rounds to Gutknecht because you might mistake Uzelkov for being hurt.  But when you look at what actually happened as it related to Gutknecht’s gloves…well…there was nothing there.  So for the judges, I blame laziness coupled with the requisite home bias in favor of the German boxer.  For the reporters, I blame laziness, ignorance of scoring criteria, and perhaps a failure to watch the fight with a critical enough eye.  I should point out that one judge had it as close as 115-114 for Gutknecht.  This is notable for two reasons: first, he apparently gave a 10-10 round somewhere along the line.  If he had pulled the trigger as judges are admonished to do in my experience, he might have had it a draw- which would have been reasonably fair.  The other reason it’s notable is this: please tell me (and seriously- comment below if you have one) when you’ve ever seen a fighter whose name is being chanted by the crowd in Germany, as Gutknecht’s was, ever get treated WORSE than he deserves by any one of the three judges.  I honestly am not sure it’s ever happened.  Judges in Germany ALWAYS give all the close rounds to the home fighter, and often much more than that.  If the Finnish judge that gave Gutknecht the win by only one point was being unduly harsh on the him, he would be practically all alone in the recent history of German boxing.  I believe he gave Gutknecht every benefit of the doubt, as is customary there, and just the tiny edge necessary to make sure the hometown guy walked away with what looked like a fairly clean win.

 

For ratings purposes, I treat the fight as a draw because, as I said, I think an argument can be made that Gutknecht earned that much, and therefore I defer to the official decision to that extent alone.  Gutknecht, whose hold on the 8th spot was already a tad bit tenuous due to his relative newness to the division, takes a big hit from his shaky performance, slipping all the way to #12.  Beibut Shumenov passes him- a relative no-brainer since Shumenov defeated Uzelkov very soundly a couple years ago.  Yusaf Mack and Dmitri Sukhotski surpass him in what were honestly very close calls.  This week’s big winner Isaac Chilemba, a native of Malawi, is a certified light heavyweight contender now, and he debuts quite strongly at #11, just ahead of Gutknecht.  Uzelkov’s hard-luck effort was strong enough to earn him a spot just behind Gutknecht at #13.  Due to the arrival to the top 15 of 2 new contenders, everybody rated #12-15 last week backtracks two places.  Last week’s #16 Edison Miranda drops 3 spots to #19 because of Chilemba and Uzelkov’s debut, and because his loss to Chilemba allows Danny McIntosh to overtake him.  McIntosh, therefore, is only demoted 1 place to #18.  Last week’s #18 Jesus Gonzales slips the requisite 2 spots to round out the top 20.  Dyah Davis is bounced after a quick 2-week return to the rankings, as is Luis Garcia, whose return to activity saw him hold a ranking for the past 5 weeks.  Gutknecht’s demotion clears the way for Dmitri Sukhotski to return to the top 10 for the first time since Tony Bellew pushed him out in October.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Bernard Hopkins (38-296-296)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- NC vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Next Fight: 4/28/2012- vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Hopkins and Dawson will square off- hopefully to a conclusion this time- on regular HBO in late April.
1) Jean Pascal (38-138-138)
Last Fight: 5/21/2011- L(UD12) vs. #1 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBC has ordered an eliminator vs. Sillakh after originally offering Pascal an outright shot at the winner of the ill-fated Hopkins-Dawson fight.  Pascal has basically confirmed that he is 100% all for that fight and his sole goal is winning his title back.
2) Chad Dawson (60-297-297)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- NC* vs. Champ Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: 4/28/2012- vs. Champ Bernard Hopkins
See Hopkins’ notes, above.
3) Tavoris Cloud (60-128-128)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- TKO8 #8 Yusaf Mack
Next Fight: 2/18/2012- vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo
After Showtime inexplicably nixed Gabriel Campillo as a headlining opponent for Cloud at the end of 2011, HBO has picked up the fight for the February 18 undercard of Williams-Ishida.  As a hardcore boxing fan, I recognize that Cloud-Campillo is a MUCH bigger fight than the main event.
4) Gabriel Campillo (17-85-85)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- Draw (SD12) vs. #14 Karo Murat
Next Fight: 2/18/2012- vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud
See Cloud’s notes, above.
5) Nathan Cleverly (17-105-105)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- W*(MD12) vs. Tony Bellew (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/25/2012- vs. Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Cleverly’s next opponent is American journeyman Tommy Karpency.  A bit of a disappointment.
6) Karo Murat (19-19-40)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- Draw (SD12) vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo
Next Fight: Unknown
I never thought this would happen, but I now rate the long-overrated Murat even higher than does Ring Magazine.
7) Tony Bellew (17-17-17)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- L*(MD12) vs. #4 Nathan Cleverly
Next Fight: 4/14/2012- vs. #18 Danny McIntosh
Bellew will face McIntosh in Liverpool on April 14.
8) Beibut Shumenov (1-81-85)
Last Fight: 7/29/2011- TKO9 Danny Santiago (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Shumenov’s attempts to get a fight with Cleverly have apparently failed.  Shumenov wants to unify the alphabet titles, but he appears to be the odd man out in a lot of those fights.  This might be an ideal time for a rematch with Campillo if he can’t get a unification at this point.
9) Yusaf Mack (1-49-85)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- L(TKO8) vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud
Next Fight: Unknown
Mack looks a little too small to compete with the top guys at this weight, but still has a good enough resume to avoid dropping too far.
10) Dmitri Sukhotski (1-1-67)
Last Fight: 10/8/2011- TKO2 Nadjib Mohammedi (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Sukhotski has a fight with Cleverly on the horizon, but it appears unlikely to be in Cleverly’s next appearance in February.
11) Isaac Chilemba (1-1)
Last Fight: 2/3/2012- UD10 #16 Edison Miranda
Next Fight: Unknown
Chilemba, a former super middleweight, now has the highest ranking of his career at either weight after beating fringe contender Miranda.
12) Eduard Gutknecht (1-40)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD12* vs. Vyacheslav Uzelkov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Gutknecht received a bit of a gift decision at the expense of Uzelkov, and he takes a hit in the ratings as a result.
13) Vyacheslav Uzelkov (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/4/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #8 Eduard Gutknecht
Next Fight: Unknown
Deserved much better than a unanimous decision loss against Gutknecht, and is rewarded for it in my rankings.
14) Adrian Diaconu (1-248)
Last Fight: 5/21/2011- L(UD12) vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Next Fight: Unknown
A quality fighter, Diaconu is nevertheless slipping in the rankings simply because he never wins against anyone above the journeyman level.  He ought to try and find some kind of mid-range fringe contender just to get a decent win, because fighting journeymen or top contenders isn’t working out for him.
15) Ismayl Sillakh (1-56)
Last Fight: 11/4/2011- TKO4 Ali Ismailov (UNR) (at CW)
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBC has slated Sillakh for an eliminator against Pascal, and the two are currently in negotiations.
16) Cornelius White (1-8)
Last Fight: 12/17/2011- UD6 #16 Yordanis Despaigne
Next Fight: Unknown
White, who was blown out in one round by prospect Don George at super middleweight early in 2011, may be a fluke.  But at least for one night, he looked a lot better against former top amateur Yordanis Despaigne than did established fringe contender Edison Miranda.
17) Zsolt Erdei (1-64)
Last Fight: 6/4/2011- KO6 Byron Mitchell (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Erdei’s injured hand has nixed the entire New Year’s Eve card, including his fight with Cloud. 
18) Danny McIntosh (1-85)
Last Fight: 5/7/2011- L(TKO8) vs. Eduard Gutknecht (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/14/2012- vs. #7 Tony Bellew
McIntosh will travel to Liverpool to fight Bellew for the British title.
19) Edison Miranda (1-8)
Last Fight: 2/3/2012- L(UD10) vs. Isaac Chilemba (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Miranda was winning the fight with Chilemba before suffering a cut that appeared to really throw him off.  Hopefully he can bounce back from this setback.
20) Jesus Gonzales (1-31)
Last Fight: 7/8/2011- UD12 Francisco Sierra (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/18/2012- vs. Adonis Stevenson (UNR) (at SMW)
His present and future are probably both at 168, but he beat a good enough light heavyweight to earn this ranking, nevertheless.

 

The Week Ahead: We get a breather after the traumatic ratings shifts of this week.

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