Light Heavyweight: 2012, Apr 30- May 6

What do you get when you schedule a Championship fight between two skilled boxers who like to win ugly and/or low action fights?  If you don’t know the answer to that, you obviously weren’t watching HBO this weekend.  Chad Dawson became the World Light Heavyweight Champion Saturday, in one of the least entertaining major fights you’ll ever see.  Some of the blame for that goes to Dawson, but really we’re talking about a sad end to Bernard Hopkins’ latest (and likely last) reign.  With his experience, he had to know that he was well on his way to losing the fight, but he never really tried to push the pace- the only hope he had.  Granted, that’s not Bernard’s game, but the rare truth was that Bernard was not as sharp or effective as Dawson, and he needed to overcome that deficit somehow.  He simply didn’t noticeably try to do that.  It’s like he was okay with a decision loss, as long he wasn’t made to look bad.

 

#7 Tony Bellew proved my faith in him well-placed by absolutely destroying #20 Danny McIntosh in Liverpool the night before.  He picked off McIntosh through leaky defense pummeling him for a 4th round knockdown after doing everything but knocking him down in round 3.  After a head clash opened a nick over Bellew’s eye in the 5th, McIntosh lunged in recklessly and allowed Bellew to tee off on him with a windmill right hand.  McIntosh went down as if he’d been shot, and considering the mounting punishment, referee Terry O’Connor immediately stopped the fight.

 

Now for the upset of the week: up-and-coming #15 Ismayl Sillakh was shockingly stopped late in a fight with much less heralded (and much less skilled) undefeated prospect Denis Grachev on Friday Night Fights.  Sillakh had clearly won each of the 7 completed rounds and scored a knockdown in the 3rd.  But then came the 8th.  Grachev caught and hurt Sillakh, and then chased him to the ropes, where he proceeded to land clean with every left hand he threw.  My only issue with the stoppage is this: referee Rocky Burke evidently determined that Sillakh couldn’t defend himself- reasonably, I think.  But by the time Burke got in to stop the fight, Sillakh had gone down.  He was no longer in danger of further punishment.  To me, you let him try and beat the count and THEN assess his ability to continue.  I think there’s an even chance he could have stayed out of danger after getting the 8 count and held on to win a decision.  Maybe he even wins rounds 9 and 10.  Grachev took his opportunity, and he showed great killer instinct.  Maybe he would have finished the job if given the chance, but I personally don’t think the job was finished yet, even when the fight effectively was.  That being said, I can’t treat this as anything other than the TKO win it was for Grachev.  I just wanted to get my personal reservations on the record.

 

Last and in many ways least, #9 Yusaf Mack won a decision in what appears to have been a once-sided competitive bout Friday in Atlantic City against veteran Omar Sheika.  This does little for him either way, as Sheika is nothing more than a journeyman at this stage.

 

Now for the rather significant fallout.  Obviously Chad Dawson is the new Champion.  Hopkins becomes the #1 contender, solely because he’s beaten Pascal head-to-head.  Honestly, you could make an argument that Pascal deserves it based on his having beaten the current Champ, but the fact that the loss to Hopkins was subsequent to that makes the difference for me. 

 

#7 Bellew stands pat, although it was a very close call as to whether to swap him with Murat.  They both had very even fights with guys rated #4 at the time.  I think Campillo, with whom Murat drew, is a bit better than Cleverly with whom Bellew deserved to.  Then again, Murat lost to Cleverly a while back.  On the other hand, Otis Griffin was ranked #17 when Murat beat him, while McIntosh was only #20.  Ultimately I decided to keep the status quo since there is no clear right answer.  #9 Mack also stays put, with his win not considered significant for ratings purposes. 

 

Grachev has obligated me to significantly overrate him by winning, and the best common sense can do in the face of his new resume builder is to limit him to #14.  This further forces down the inactive Adrian Diaconu to #15.  Sillakh has enough quality results- much like Eduard Gutknecht- to hold on to a ranking despite the awful loss, and he slides to #19.  This forces the aforementioned Gutknecht to #20, and poetically forces out last week’s #20 Danny McIntosh, fresh off his loss to Bellew.  McIntosh was an inaugural member of my rankings 97 weeks ago, and is on the outs for the first time since.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Chad Dawson (1-309-309)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- W (MD12) Champ Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
All hail the new Champ!  But let’s hope he gets in against some opponents that will make him come out of his shell, because his coronation was excruciating to watch.  I want to see him in against either Campillo or the Pascal-Cloud winner.  He also said he wants Andre Ward, and will even fight him at 168.  I’ll believe that when I see it.
1) Bernard Hopkins (1-308-308)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- L(MD12) vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Next Fight: Unknown
I’m not sure what he thinks he can or still wants to prove, but 47-year-old Hopkins has shrugged off retirement talk and there is talk of potential fights with Lucian Bute and Nathan Cleverly.
2) Jean Pascal (1-150-150)
Last Fight: 5/21/2011- L(UD12) vs. #1 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: 8/11/2012- vs. #4 Tavoris Cloud
Showtime has kindly provided the date of August 11 for the Pascal-Cloud tilt.  That’s more than 14-months since Pascal’s last fight…just sayin’.
3) Gabriel Campillo (11-97-97)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
With Cloud apparently sidestepping not only Campillo, but also a mandatory with Karo Murat in favor of an even better match with Pascal, I wonder if Campillo might get the rematch with Murat, instead.
4) Tavoris Cloud (11-140-140)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- UD12* vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo (Robbery)
Next Fight: 8/11/2012- vs. #2 Jean Pascal
It appeared certain that Cloud would fight Murat next, but now he’s fighting Pascal instead.
5) Nathan Cleverly (29-117-117)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- UD12 Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Originally scheduled to fight the underwhelming Robin Krasniqi, a virus scuttled that fight for him.  Not that anyone’s complaining.  Barring a rescheduling, which would be problematic from the WBO’s perspective, Cleverly may be looking toward his mandatory with Sukhotski next, though there’s some talk of a Hopkins fight, as well.
6) Karo Murat (31-31-52)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- Draw (SD12) vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo
Next Fight: Unknown
Not sure where Murat goes from here after his mandatory shot at Cloud was at least delayed for Cloud to seek greener pastures.  My vote: Campillo-Murat II.
7) Tony Bellew (29-29-29)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- TKO5 #20 Danny McIntosh
Next Fight: Unknown
After demolishing McIntosh for the British title, Bellew has renewed his calls for a rematch with Cleverly.  He also named Cloud and Shumenov as guys he’s ready for.
8) Beibut Shumenov (13-93-97)
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 (13-61-97)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- UD12 Omar Sheika (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mack called out Cloud and Dawson after beating Sheika.  Sure, he’s a top 10 fighter, but that still feels like a stretch for him.
10) Dmitri Sukhotski (13-13-79)
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.  Now that Cleverly got sick and cancelled on Krasniqi, surely this fight will have to happen now…
11) Isaac Chilemba (13-13)
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 (5-13)
Last Fight: 3/4/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #8 Eduard Gutknecht
Next Fight: 5/12/2012- vs. Ravshanbek Jabbarov (UNR)
Deserved much better than a unanimous decision loss against Gutknecht, and is rewarded for it in my rankings.
13) Jürgen Brähmer (2-2)
Last Fight: 4/21/2012- UD10 Vikapita Meroro (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Braehmer has showed up for his last two fights, which at least feels like a record for him. 
14) Denis Grachev (1-1)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- TKO8 #15 Ismayl Sillakh
Next Fight: Unknown
Yes, it was a flukey win, and it’s clear from his performance on its face that, at least at this point, he’s not this good.  But honestly the result in black and white could have supported a rating as high as around #10.  Common sense can only demote a guy so far (in conjunction with relative inexperience) when his actual resume calls out for a decent ranking.
15) Adrian Diaconu (1-260)
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.
16) Cornelius White (5-20)
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.
17) Zsolt Erdei (2-76)
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.
18) Tony Averlant (2-5)
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).
19) Ismayl Sillakh (1-68)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- L(TKO8) vs. Denis Grachev (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I didn’t see that coming at all.  I trust Sillakh will bounce back from the upset loss to Grachev.  But wow.
20) Eduard Gutknecht (1-52)
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.

 

The Week Ahead: The light heavyweights take a much-deserved break after 6 of the top 20 were in action last week.

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