Heavyweight: 2012, May 7-13

There were two important heavyweight fights on just one card in Erfurt, Germany on Saturday. 


In the biggest one, #17 Kubrat Pulev scored a knockout victory over Alexander Dimitrenko.  What really happened, in my estimation, is that Dimitrenko quit.  Dimitrenko was so effective in the first couple rounds at keeping Pulev off of him with a sharp jab and accurate power punching that I was thinking he might be on his way to something like a shutout victory.  Pulev pulled even in rounds 3 and 4 by landing a couple hard shots here and there in the midst of what were otherwise Dimitrenko rounds.  Dimitrenko pulled back ahead in the next two rounds, but whether it was the cuts and bruises on his face, a lack of focus, or fatigue, Pulev began getting in punching range almost at will and cracking the Ukrainian hard to the head for rounds 7-10.  Round 11 started out as more of the same, when suddenly Pulev caught Dimitrenko with a sharp jab to the chin.  Dimitrenko went down as much from balance as anything else, and took the full count on his knees, his eyes clear. 


Dimitrenko has the skills and physical tools to be a real contender, but unfortunately it appears that he doesn’t have anything like the heart of a champion.  Pulev doesn’t appear to be any kind of world beater to my eyes, but his resume is starting to tell a different story.


In the other fight, American fringe contender Maurice Harris took on German undefeated prospect Edmund Gerber.  Unfortunately, Harris appeared to have flown all the way to Germany just to pick up his paycheck.  His strategy was to backpedal and by and large flick out a jab, all the while making himself extremely accessible to Gerber’s overhand right.  How he thought that could possibly net him a win is beyond me.  As for Gerber, he won the decision comfortably (even though the judges were more than fair to Harris), but didn’t particularly impress me.  His style reminds me of Alexander Povetkin.  Not the entertaining version we saw in the life and death struggles with Chagaev and Huck, but rather the comatose version that quite literally put me to sleep during the first half of the Boswell fight.  Plodding forward, one punch at a time, with no particularly notable level of power or handspeed.  I complained about Gerber’s failure to step up in competition over the past year or two.  Now I’m going to have to start complaining that I’m going to have to watch him fight again now that he has stepped up.  But with luck, maybe I won’t have to say the same for Harris.


Now for the rankings shake-up, and it’ s a big one:
Last week’s #17 Pulev rockets to #8 on the strength of his big victory.  Having re-examined the vicinity of that number, it occurred to me that the signature win of #8 Ruslan Chagaev- his win over Nikolai Valuev- is now over 5 years old and thus, out of principal, I am no longer considering it in determining his ranking.  The lone bright spot on his record now is a 4 1/2 year old win over then-contender Matt Skelton.  As a result, Chagaev slides all the way back to #12 after 285 consecutive weeks in the top 10.  This allows Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis to hang on to their #9 and #10 rankings, respectively, along with Seth Mitchell at #11.  You would think that Dimitrenko was in for a major fall, but he drops just one spot to #13.  The reason?  There’s just nobody knocking on the door.  Chris Arreola, who is next in line, hasn’t recorded a worthwhile win in 3 years.  Boytsov is no better.  Along with Dimitrenko, everybody ranked #13-16 last week drops one spot to make room for Pulev’s advance.  Gerber crashes the party at #18 after his win.  Last week’s #s 18 and 19, Franklin Lawrence and Kevin Johnson, drop a spot apeice as well to 19 and 20.  This (thankfully) forces out Cedric Boswell after he had returned for a month.


Also, a quick note on Marco Huck: he was perhaps a bit lucky to eke out a draw with #7 Cruiserweight Ola Afolabi this weekend, but since that fight was at 200, it will not have any effect on his heavyweight ranking.  It’s simply very possible that the lower division is better pound-for-pound than the heavies, at least once you get past the Klitschkos.  Huck has earned his ranking here by deserving to beat the #2 contender, and will keep it until he loses it in this division, fails to fight at heavy for a year, or delivers a performance so bad at cruiser that he’s clearly disqualified himself.  That clearly has not happened here, especially since his last fight with Afolabi was similarly close and yet he was ranked here despite that.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (150-363-363)
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 (187-187-187)
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 (37-237-237)
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 (8-107-107)
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 (8-11-11)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw (MD12) vs. CW #7 Ola Afolabi (at CW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Shaky performance against Afolabi, but there’s no rule saying he has to be the #1 or #2 Cruiser in order to be the #4 heavyweight.  If there was, he wouldn’t be here in the first place.
5) Tyson Fury (8-42-42)
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 (8-23-86)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L(UD12) vs. #1 Vitali Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
So apparently there is a deal in place for Chisora-Haye in London on July 14.  And they’re talking about doing it as an unsanctioned fight to avoid the BBBofC’s jurisdiction.  Wow.  An formal announcement is expected this week.  I half expect this to end up on a barge…
7) Robert Helenius (8-58-102)
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) Kubrat Pulev (1-1-78)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- KO11 #12 Alexander Dimitrenko
Next Fight: Unknown
Pulev showed determination if nothing else in wearing down Dimitrenko to a late knockout.
9) Tony Thompson (8-102-102)
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 (8-8-102)
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 (8-22)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- TKO3 Chazz Witherspoon (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Now that Wlad is actively dropping his name as a possible next opponent, Mitchell is showing he’s likely going to take the Adamek approach: fight low-quality opponents that happen to be really tall so that you can pretend you’re trying to prepare yourself for Wlad, when what you’re really doing is waiting around for your big payday with little risk.  Even the specific opponent being discussed is familiar to that scenario- Michael Grant.
12) Ruslan Chagaev (1-286)
Last Fight: 4/21/2012- TKO3 Billy Zumbrun (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The Valuev win is now over 5 years old, and Chagaev’s ranking has suffered as a result.
13) Alexander Dimitrenko (1-69)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- L(KO11) vs. #17 Kubrat Pulev
Next Fight: Unknown
Despite showing the heart of a quitter and the consistency of a random number generator against Pulev, Dimitrenko hangs on to a solid ranking because the other guys in his tier haven’t been winning meaningful fights lately.
14) Chris Arreola (1-164)
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.
15) Denis Boytsov (1-151)
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.
16) Jean-Marc Mormeck (1-102)
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.
17) Bermane Stiverne (1-46)
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.
18) Edmund Gerber (1-1)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- UD8 Maurice Harris (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Not the most scintillating effort against a passive Harris, but the old man is what passes for a fringe contender in this division at the moment, and thus Gerber has built himself a ranking.
19) Franklin Lawrence (1-50)
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.
20) Kevin Johnson (1-6)
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: Juan Carlos Gomez is listed on the undercard of Alexeev-Arslan in Goeppingen, Germany this Friday against an opponent to be announced.  I’ll believe it when I see it, though, since Gomez fought just 3 weeks before, and since he’s not really known as a busy fighter.

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