Heavyweight: 2012, Apr 2-8

The week’s heavyweight appetizer was George Arias- a fringe top-50 fighter and legitimate Champion of Brazil- who wasted no time dispatching very green 4-0 undefeated prospect Bruno Moreira de Oliveira in Sao Paolo.

 

On Friday in Cologne, Germany, undefeated Syrian prospect Manuel Charr continued to win, but if the scores were any indication he didn’t really impress.  He beat “name” journeyman Taras Bidenko of the Ukraine by unanimous scores of 116-111. 

 

Finally, the fight between Kevin Johnson of the US and Samoan gatekeeper Alex Leapai came off in Australia, 2 weeks after it was originally scheduled.  You may remember Johnson from his completely undeserved shot at Vitali Klitschko a couple years ago, and from how greatly he embarrassed himself in that fight by essentially never trying to win.  Leapai was close to being a fringe contender, but was really more like a prospect who happens to have 3 losses already, having put together a 16-fight unbeaten streak since a loss to a bad fighter in 2008.  That streak came to an end on Sunday, when Johnson proved just how vast the gap between the Klitschkos and the division’s borderline fringe contenders is.  Leapai got off to a good start, but ultimately Johnson’s jab took over and he began battering the Samoan.  Leapai went down in the 9th, beat the count, but was stopped by the referee when it appeared he could barely stand without the help of the ropes.

 

Despite already having fought for a title against Vitali, this is the first win Johnson has scored over a top 50 opponent, and it is enough for him to narrowly edge out Cedric Boswell for the #20 spot.  It was a close call.  Boswell has wins over Oliver McCall and Roman Greenberg, two guys not that far below Leapai’s perceived level, but the Greenberg win was well over 3 years ago, and the McCall one was now over a year ago.  Couple that with the fact that Leapai is probably the best mark of the 3 mentioned, and Johnson gets the nod.  Boswell had been back in the rankings for just two weeks after being bounced once before.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (145-358-358)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- TKO4 #16 Jean-Marc Mormeck
Next Fight: 7/7/2012- vs. #9 Tony Thompson
Wlad will be defending the title against #9 Tony Thompson in what will likely be another ho-hum matchup for the Champ.  On the bright side, Thompson did put up a relatively spirited challenge the last time the two met in 2008.
1) Vitali Klitschko (182-182-182)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- UD12 #6 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: Unknown
Will David Haye be Vitali’s next opponent?  Nobody seems to know.  But there is some news.  Polls show Vitali as the favorite in the race for Mayor of Kiev at the end of the year.  His manager thinks he’ll fight once or twice before then.  That may be all she wrote for the future hall of famer.
2) Alexander Povetkin (32-232-232)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- W*(MD12) vs. CW #5 Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. Hasim Rahman (UNR)
Povetkin got the benefit of the doubt in a fight he was dangerously close to losing against big underdog Marco Huck.  A rematch is widely desired and eminently deserved, but Povetkin is fighting HASIM RAHMAN next.  Shame on the WBA for ordering such a ridiculous mandatory fight for its ridiculous title, and shame on Povetkin for being their pawn.
3) Tomasz Adamek (3-102-102)
Last Fight: 3/24/2012- UD10 Nagy Aguilera (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/16/2012- vs. Eddie Chambers (UNR)
Big news!  Eddie Chambers- who was removed for inactivity from this very spot in the rankings not long ago- will be fighting Adamek in June on NBC Sports.  The stakes will of course be the #2 spot, which Povetkin now appears to be merely warming for the winner.  That is, if Chambers doesn’t withdraw from a 3rd consecutive bout.
4) Marco Huck (3-6-6)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- L*(MD12) vs. #2 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. CW #8 Ola Afolabi (at CW)
Huck is now officially set for his return to Cruiserweight on May 5 against Afolabi.
5) Tyson Fury (3-37-37)
Last Fight: 11/12/2011- TKO3 Neven Pajkic (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/14/2012- vs. Martin Rogan (UNR)
In lieu of a British title defense against the dangerous David Price, Fury has opted to fight also-ran former British Champion Martin Rogan- who had been reduced to fighting 6-rounders before his current 18-month layoff- instead.
6) Dereck Chisora (3-18-81)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L(UD12) vs. #1 Vitali Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
Chisora is spending a suspicious amount of time in Moscow.  Seems he’s planning to get around his BBBofC suspension by getting a license in Russia.
7) Robert Helenius (3-53-97)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- W*(SD12) vs. #18 Dereck Chisora (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
In addition to his injured hand suffered in the Chisora bout, Helenius says he was fighting with an injured shoulder.  Now comes the news that he will require surgery for that injury, and will be out until at least the fall.  His doctors say there is a chance it will never heal well enough for boxing.
8) Ruslan Chagaev (3-281-281)
Last Fight: 1/28/2011- UD8 Kertson Manswell (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/21/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Chagaev is sticking to his earlier statement that he wants to fight ever 3 months- coming in about a week ahead of schedule when he fights in mid-April in Schwerin, Germany.
9) Tony Thompson (3-97-97)
Last Fight: 5/27/2011- TKO3 Maurice Harris (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/7/2012- vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
See Wladimir Klitschko’s comments, above.
10) Odlanier Solis (3-3-97)
Last Fight: 3/19/2011- L (TKO1) vs. #1 Vitali Klitschko
Next Fight: 5/19/2012- vs. Konstantin Airich (UNR)
Solis will fight Kazakh-born German fringe contender Konstantin Airich in Texas on 5/19.  That’s a pretty tough opponent given the layoff and physical problems from which Solis is trying to rebound.  But if he does well, it’s a great choice.
11) Seth Mitchell (3-17)
Last Fight: 12/10/2011- TKO2 #19 Timur Ibragimov
Next Fight: 4/28/2012- vs. Chazz Witherspoon (UNR)
I talked to Mitchell while sitting 2 seats down from him at the Alexander-Maidana card, and he says he will fight Chazz Witherspoon next as the televised co-feature to Hopkins-Dawson on April 28.  I can’t argue with getting to see Mitchell on a big stage since I believe him to be the next Champ, but I’m a little surprised that HBO would approve a borderline journeyman like Witherspoon.
12) Alexander Dimitrenko (3-64)
Last Fight: 9/24/2011- UD12 Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. #18 Kubrat Pulev
The Pulev fight has been postponed until probably May 5, and has been moved from Kiel to Erfurt.
13) Chris Arreola (3-159)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- KO1 Eric Molina (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Arreola and Wlad both want to fight each other, but the IBF has intervened, mandating Wlad-Thompson.
14) Denis Boytsov (3-146)
Last Fight: 1/28/2011- KO4 Darnell Wilson (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/13/2012- vs. Dominick Guinn (UNR)
Boytsov will be fighting Dominick Guinn- a one time contender who is now roughly a high-level journeyman- in Cologne on April 13.
15) Jean-Marc Mormeck (3-97)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- L(TKO4) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
The word is Mormeck might be dropping back to cruiser for the first time since 2007 to fight Denis Lebedev.
16) Bermane Stiverne (3-41)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- TKO10 #20 Ray Austin
Next Fight: 4/14/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Stiverne- who at last check was Vitali’s mandatory- has finally scheduled a return bout, on April 14 in Miami.  The opponent is not known.  It ought to be somebody good after the long layoff.
17) Samuel Peter (3-97)
Last Fight: 4/2/2011- L(KO9) vs. #16 Robert Helenius
Next Fight: Unknown
The leap year has essentially bought Peter an extra week to make a fight, meaning he won’t be removed until the April 9-15 update, if at all.
18) Kubrat Pulev (3-73)
Last Fight: 1/14/2012- RTD9 Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. #12 Alexander Dimitrenko
See Dimitrenko’s notes, above.
19) Franklin Lawrence (3-45)
Last Fight: 10/28/2011- TKO2 Raymond Ochieng (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/18/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Lawrence is scheduled to fight in Dover, Delaware in mid-May.  No word on the opponent yet.
20) Kevin Johnson (1-1)
Last Fight: 4/1/2012- TKO9 Alex Leapai (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Johnson put the cart before the horse by fighting the division’s #1 contender before he’d beaten anyone in the top 50.  Now he’s done the latter at last, and we’ll see if he starts progressing towards the former again.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: There are no truly significant heavyweight fights this week, but I feel the need to give a courtesy shout-out to former Middleweight Champion James Toney- not a current top 50 heavyweight by any means- who fights journeyman Bobby Gunn in Southhaven, Mississippi on Saturday.

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