Heavyweight: 2012, Apr 30- May 6

300-pound unbeaten Russian Alexander Ustinov stopped journeyman Jason Gavern in 7 rounds from the Ukraine on Thursday. 

 

In Saturday’s HBO-televised co-feature, #11 Seth Mitchell battled Chazz Witherspoon, a fighter who is right on the borderline between a gatekeeper, fringe prospect, and journeyman- right around the cutoff line of the top 50 heavyweights somewhere.  Mitchell was badly rocked in the first round.  If Witherspoon had any finishing skills at all, I might be telling a quite different story today.  But as it happened, Mitchell showed just enough ring savvy and Witherspoon showed just enough ineptitude in failing to mix in a body shot to get the former Michigan State football star through the round.  Mitchell came back to win the second round, and then demolished his man in round 3.  Mitchell went toe to toe with Witherspoon on the inside and landed a brutal righthand, left hook combo that dropped his man hard about 30 seconds into the round.  Two minutes later, Mitchell landed two crunching straight right hands in a row right on Witherspoon’s chin as the latter went back to the ropes.  Referee Randy Neumann, seeing Witherspoon go bandy-legged after the first one, stepped in and made an interesting call of a technical knockdown, and then quickly stopped the fight just a couple seconds into his count as he didn’t like what he saw from Witherspoon.

 

So how do we digest this?   Mitchell’s nearly a top 10 fighter already.  Witherspoon would be lucky to be included in the top 50.  So the TKO3 result is about what you might expect.  What you might not have expected is for Mitchell to nearly get knocked out on the way to that result.  Ultimately- as when Tyson Fury was hurt but ultimately stopped Neven Pajkic- the result speaks for itself to some extent.  There’s no way Mitchell is getting either promoted or demoted based on his performance and opponent in this instance.  But what we have learned is that he’s both powerful and vulnerable.  This is a recipe for exciting fights- something the division has been lacking at the championship level.  Whether Mitchell has the skill ultimately to put his name alongside some of the great American heavyweight champions- or the American heavyweight champions in general- remains to be seen, but it’s clear that it’ll be a fun ride to the moment we find out.  No changes to the rankings.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (149-362-362)
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 (186-186-186)
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.  September sounds like the most likely date for Vitali’s next fight.
2) Alexander Povetkin (36-236-236)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- W*(MD12) vs. CW #5 Marco Huck
Next Fight: 7/14/2012- 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 (7-106-106)
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 (7-10-10)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- L*(MD12) vs. #2 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. CW #7 Ola Afolabi (at CW)
Huck is now officially set for his return to Cruiserweight on May 5 against Afolabi.
5) Tyson Fury (7-41-41)
Last Fight: 4/14/2012- TKO5 Martin Rogan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After a fairly impressive left-handed win over Martin Rogan, Fury appears interested in making a fight with Wlad or Alexander Povetkin.
6) Dereck Chisora (7-22-85)
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.  Both Klitschkos, Haye, and Povetkin are all being discussed as future opponents.  Chisora has appealed his suspension and will have a hearing on May 14.
7) Robert Helenius (7-57-101)
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 (7-285-285)
Last Fight: 4/21/2012- TKO3 Billy Zumbrun (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chagaev proved that he can beat a mediocre fighter badly even while fat.
9) Tony Thompson (7-101-101)
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 (7-7-101)
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 (7-21)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- TKO3 Chazz Witherspoon (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
While the Witherspoon win didn’t do a lot to prove his greatness, it sure silenced any doubters as to his ability to make exciting fights.  Any takers on Mitchell-Arreola?
12) Alexander Dimitrenko (7-68)
Last Fight: 9/24/2011- UD12 Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. #17 Kubrat Pulev
The Pulev fight has been postponed until May 5, and has been moved from Kiel to Erfurt.
13) Chris Arreola (7-163)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- KO1 Eric Molina (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The Champ wants to return to the US in November for the first time since ’08.  Arreola and Mitchell are the names being tossed around by the Klitschko camp at the moment.
14) Denis Boytsov (7-150)
Last Fight: 4/13/2012- UD10 Dominick Guinn (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Boytsov continued his slow walk to a title shot with an easy win over journeyman Dominick Guinn.
15) Jean-Marc Mormeck (7-101)
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.  No deal yet, but they have agreed on the prospective date: June 29, in Paris.
16) Bermane Stiverne (7-45)
Last Fight: 4/14/2012- UD8 Willie Herring (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Stiverne had a ho-hum performance against an opponent that should never have been considered adequate after he was off for 10 months.
17) Kubrat Pulev (4-77)
Last Fight: 1/14/2012- RTD9 Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/5/2012- vs. #12 Alexander Dimitrenko
See Dimitrenko’s notes, above.
18) Franklin Lawrence (4-49)
Last Fight: 10/28/2011- TKO2 Raymond Ochieng (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/18/2012- vs. Mike Mollo (UNR)
Lawrence will fight journeyman and former fringe contender Mike Mollo in Dover, Delaware on May 18.
19) Kevin Johnson (4-5)
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.
20) Cedric Boswell (4-4)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- L(KO8) vs. #2 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: Unknown

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: A good European-level tilt takes place in Erfurt, Germany between #12 Alexander Dimitrenko and #17 Kubrat Pulev.  The winner has a really good chance to crack the top 10.  German prospect Edmund Gerber also steps up to fight the best opponent of his career in fringe contender Maurice Harris on the same card.  #4 Marco Huck is also in action on the card, but at cruiserweight.

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