Light Heavyweight: 2012, Apr 2-8

Out of the three significant fights in the division this week, two of them amounted to upsets.  Well…at least they should have.

 

In Australia, gatekeeper Manny Vlamis was battered to a pulp by otherwise completely unimpressive Samoan journeyman Togasilimai Letoa, who came in with a 11-9 record.  The beating was so bad that Vlamis’ corner stopped the fight in the 3rd round.

 

In Germany (yes, get ready for it), French journeyman Tony Averlant clearly beat #12 Eduard Gutknecht anywhere between 115-113 and 116-112, but British judge Ian-John Lewis and Spanish judge Alfredo Garcia Perez botched it, giving it to Gutknecht by close margins.  A close fight, yes, but a clear-cut win for Averlant, and that’s exactly how I shall treat it.  To give credit where credit is due, Belgium’s Philippe Verbeke had it scored exactly right.

 

Avoiding the trend of underwhelming performances was former Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik whose alcoholism has kept him out of the ring for the last 10 months.  It was only his choice of opponent that was underwhelming, as he stopped the completely overmatched Aaron Jaco in the 2nd round.

 

I can’t give more than 2 seconds’ thought to a ranking for Letoa since he was winless in his last 8 fights coming in.  About half of those were against prospects, and about half were against bad fighters.  Vlamis was simply heavily overrated, or else his loss was a complete fluke.  Averlant has a bit of a stronger argument.  For one thing, beating a #12 contender is a lot different than beating a top-50 guy.  Also, his results have been somewhat more acceptable.  He drew with German prospect Artur Hein about a year ago, in Germany.  I’ve got to assume he probably deserved to win that fight.  Also, he avenged it in the next match.  He lost a shutout decision to Pawel Glazewski over 6 rounds, but Glazewski remains an undefeated prospect at present, the fight was in Poland, and Glasewski came in at 177.5 to Averlant’s 171.5.  The hardest one to swallow is his 2-year-old loss to fellow frenchman Abdelkader Benzinia, a roughly .500 fighter at the time who has lost his next three fights against lesser opposition since then. 

 

So how do we make sense of all of this?  Clearly Gutknecht is not as good as the stoppage of McIntosh would suggest.  Averlant is likely better today than he was 2 years ago, and likely has been the victim of hometown judges and weight disadvantages before.  Clearly you could never have imagined him cracking the top 20 before the Gutknecht fight, but it’s hard to keep him out now.  If he had been a blank slate leading up to that fight, he would be a clear member of the top 10 now.  As it is, it’s pretty clear that to avoid embarrassingly confused results in the future when Gutknecht loses to another mediocre fighter, I must put the emphasis on Gutknecht’s loss moreso than Averlant’s win.  But Gutknecht still beat a #11 contender not long ago, and McIntosh has done nothing to re-distinguish himself since then.  Accordingly, Gutknecht takes a healthy tumble down to #18.  Averlant debuts at #17 just ahead of him.  The only reason Gutknecht didn’t fall further is because Danny McIntosh (now #19) caught him on his way down.  Edison Miranda (who himself lost to a guy that is now not considered a top 20 fighter in Despaigne) rounds out the top 20, as last week’s #20 Luis Garcia is once again forced out by Averlant’s arrival.

 

It seems to me that there are two divergent ways to look at this division.  Either it’s a hot division with lots of dangerous young fighters waiting in the wings, or it’s a division with a handful of dominant fighters (arguably ending at Dawson, Campillo, or Cloud) followed by an endless sea of indistinguishably mediocre fighters.  Gutknecht is not singular in his ability to look ordinary against seemingly lesser opposition.  Campillo struggled to a draw with Murat.  Cleverly was lucky to beat Bellew.  One thing’s for sure: I’m going to thing twice before I write off a light heavyweight journeyman fighting one of my contenders again.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Bernard Hopkins (46-304-304)
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 (46-146-146)
Last Fight: 5/21/2011- L(UD12) vs. #1 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
Pascal plans a tuneup in April or May, followed by a fight with Dawson.
2) Chad Dawson (68-305-305)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- NC* vs. Champ Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: 4/28/2012- vs. Champ Bernard Hopkins
See Hopkins’ notes, above.
3) Gabriel Campillo (7-93-93)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
The IBF unsurprisingly rejected Campillo’s appeal and request for an immediate rematch.  Hopefully Campillo won’t need it since everyone saw him win.
4) Tavoris Cloud (7-136-136)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- UD12* vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #6 Karo Murat
With the IBF’s complicity, he’s ducking a rematch with the man who clearly beat him, and will instead fight Karo Murat next.  Kessler is agitating for a fight with him, as well.
5) Nathan Cleverly (25-113-113)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- UD12 Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/28/2012- vs. Robin Krasniqi (UNR)
After originally quite admirably rejecting Cleverly’s proposed title fight with Krasniqi, the WBO folded and gave Cleverly 120 days after the fight to face Dmitri Sukhotski.
6) Karo Murat (27-27-48)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- Draw (SD12) vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #4 Tavoris Cloud
After a draw with Campillo, he’ll now get a chance to get screwed just as badly against Cloud.
7) Tony Bellew (25-25-25)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- L*(MD12) vs. #4 Nathan Cleverly
Next Fight: 4/13/2012- vs. #19 Danny McIntosh
Bellew’s fight with McIntosh has been moved from Saturday the 14th to Friday the 13th.
8) Beibut Shumenov (9-89-93)
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 (9-57-93)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- L(TKO8) vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud
Next Fight: 4/27/2012- vs. Omar Sheika (UNR)
Mack will apparently be fighting journeyman Omar Sheika on April 27 in Atlantic City.
10) Dmitri Sukhotski (9-9-75)
Last Fight: 10/8/2011- TKO2 Nadjib Mohammedi (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBO originally demanded that Cleverly fight Sukhotski rather than the mediocre Krasniqi, but then backed down and gave Cleverly an extra 4 months to take the fight.
11) Isaac Chilemba (9-9)
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) Vyacheslav Uzelkov (1-9)
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.
13) Adrian Diaconu (1-256)
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.
14) Ismayl Sillakh (1-64)
Last Fight: 11/4/2011- TKO4 Ali Ismailov (UNR) (at CW)
Next Fight: 4/27/2012- vs. Denis Grachev (UNR)
With Pascal ducking him, Sillakh will settle for a fight with undefeated Russian prospect Denis Grachev on Friday Night Fights.
15) Cornelius White (1-16)
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.
16) Zsolt Erdei (1-72)
Last Fight: 6/4/2011- KO6 Byron Mitchell (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Had a fight with Pascal lined up, but Showtime couldn’t come up with the money to make it happen.
17) Tony Averlant (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/31/2012- L*(SD12) vs. #12 Eduard Gutknecht (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
Averlant is probably closer to the journeyman he was on 3/30 than the solid fringe contender he became on 3/31, but a win is a win…even when it’s a loss (in Germany).
18) Eduard Gutknecht (1-48)
Last Fight: 3/31/2012- W*(SD12) vs. Tony Averlant (UNR) (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lost a close but clear fight against Averlant, but got the decision.  That’s two at least questionable verdicts in a row for Gutknecht, both against extremely unranked fighters.
19) Danny McIntosh (1-93)
Last Fight: 5/7/2011- L(TKO8) vs. Eduard Gutknecht (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/13/2012- vs. #7 Tony Bellew
McIntosh will travel to Liverpool to fight Bellew for the British title.
20) Edison Miranda (1-16)
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.

 

The Week Ahead: The crap shoot that is the light heavyweight top 50 takes a week off for the Easter holiday.

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