Cruiserweight: 2012, Apr 2-8

In Tampa on Friday, gatekeeper Nick Iannuzzi kept the gate with a decision over totally unproven 8-1 fringe prospect Dan Biddle.  


Saturday in Kiel, Germany, Polish undefeated prospect Mateusz Masternak dominated fringe contender Felipe Romero to a 10th round TKO.  Romero, the Mexican champion and a solid gatekeeper-type on an international level, won the first round, but Masternak took over the fight completely from the opening bell of the second round onward.  Sprinkled in were a couple knockdowns.  In round 4, Masternak used clever footwork to get himself in perfect position after a stumble by Romero and then dropped the Mexican with a quick right hand.  In round 6, the Polish prospect caught Romero with a clever counter uppercut that landed with perfect timing and precision, dropping Romero hard for roughly a 9-count.  By the 10th and final round, Masternak was mostly chasing Romero around the ring, although the Mexican managed to fit in a moment or two.  Midway through the 10th, Masternak began pounding Romero on the ropes, prompting the mouthpeice to go flying.  The ref stepped in and stopped it- a little prematurely, I think, although there was no doubt that Masternak was on his way to at least a dominant decision.


Masternak returns to the rankings in much stronger position this time around, checking in at #16, just behind a guy in Silvio Branco who recently drew with a 10th-ranked contender.  This forces everyone rated #16 or below last week down a spot each, including Matt Godfrey, who at long last exits the rankings after 28 consecutive weeks in.
Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (9-93-93)
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 (9-113-113)
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 (9-37-37)
Last Fight: 7/20/2011- RTD9 #7 Danny Green
Next Fight: 5/26/2012- vs. #13 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 (9-278-278)
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 (9-407-407)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (18-354-354)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- TKO11 #9 Danny Green
Next Fight: Unknown
7) Ola Afolabi (18-160-160)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- RTD5 Valery Brudov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Huck’s notes, above.
8) Guillermo Jones (18-79-79)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Michael Marrone (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
With all of his possible mandatories tied up with other fights, Jones has made renewed noises about moving up to face a Klitschko.  In the meantime, he continues to train in Miami for a fight that has yet to materialize. 
9) Danny Green (37-122-122)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- L(TKO11) vs. #8 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: Unknown
Shane Cameron is hoping to fight Green if he beats Monte Barrett in May.  No major news from Green’s end.
10) B.J. Flores (3-3-93)
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 (3-53)
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 (3-64)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD12 #15 Enad Licina
Next Fight: 5/11/2012- vs. #19 Firat Arslan
Alexeev will fight Firat Arslan in an interesting crossroads-type fight on May 11 in Germany.
13) Lateef Kayode (3-72)
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 (3-177)
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 (3-3)
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) Mateusz Masternak (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/31/2012- TKO10 Felipe Romero (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Masternak beat the best opponent of his career in Romero, and did so convincingly.
17) Enad Licina (1-93)
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.
18) Troy Ross (1-9)
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.
19) Firat Arslan (1-38)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO2 Orlando Farias (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/11/2012- vs. #12 Alexander Alexeev
See Alexeev’s notes, above.
20) Grigory Drozd (1-8)
Last Fight: 2/8/2012- RTD9 Richard Hall (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Drozd was scheduled to fight William Joppy on April 4, but that fight appears to have been canceled with little fanfare.  Good riddance.


THE WEEK AHEAD: #2 Denis Lebedev takes on fringe contender Shawn Cox in the suburbs of Moscow on Wednesday.  Cox was a mid-level prospect until quite recently, when he knocked out former top contender Wayne Braithwaite.


Eric Fields, a recently-ranked pr0spect from Oklahoma, is scheduled for a fight in Oklahoma City on Saturday, but so far no opponent has been announced.

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