Super Middleweight: 2011, Dec 19-25

 

Boxing fans got an early Christmas present this past weekend, as 4 of the heaviest 5 weight divisions now have a true Champion.  It may be a stretch to say that #1 Andre Ward dominated or outclassed #2 Carl Froch in Atlantic City on Saturday, but he sure did prove his superiority.  Judges Craig Metcalfe and John Stewart each had it easily a round or more too close at 115-113.  John Keane had it exactly as I did at 118-110.  Andre Ward is the new Champion.  Lucian Bute would doubtless be a different kind of challenge than anyone Ward has faced thus far, but it’s hard to imagine anyone beating him by much the way he’s going right now.

 

#17 Librado Andrade was scheduled to fight American power-punching prospect Don George in Mexico the same night, but George withdrew just hours before the fight because the ring was much smaller than the contract specifications.

 

Obviously Ward is installed as the new champion.  The main question at this point is where to rank Froch.  It’s a tricky call.  On one hand, Froch’s resume earned him a #2 ranking, and it doesn’t make sense really that he should lose any ground for being defeated by the top guy in the division.  On the other, Bute remains undefeated and largely dominant, and has fought comparably-ranked competition a few years ago to what Froch has been fighting recently.  While I consider the Ward fight to be Froch’s first true loss (I had him narrowly beating Kessler), he probably didn’t earn more than a draw with then-unranked Andre Dirrell, and certainly didn’t have quite as impressive a showing regardless of the scoring against a #4-ranked Kessler as Bute did against the comparably-ranked Andrade the year before.  It’s a very close call, and while I don’t like to project, Bute’s consistency and undefeated record makes him the more natural- ifnot more correct- choice for the #1 contender honors.  Because the Champion position has now come into play, everybody moves up one spot, except Froch who stays put at #2 and Bute who advances two places to #1.  George Groves, bumped out as a formality last week due to Stevenson’s debut, returns to reclaim the #20 spot.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (1-135-135)
Last Fight: 12/17/2011- UD12 #2 Carl Froch
Next Fight: Unknown
The clear kingpin at 168, Ward really only has one natural challenge to meet at this point: #1 contender Lucian Bute.
1) Lucian Bute (1-297-297)
Last Fight: 11/5/2012- UD12 #13 Glen Johnson
Next Fight: Unknown
A ready-made blockbuster looms for Bute and Ward.
2) Carl Froch (1-288-288)
Last Fight: 12/17/2011- L(UD12) vs. #1 Andre Ward
Next Fight: Unknown
The deficit of technical skills that many had long accused him of having finally showed itself against the division’s master technician in Ward.
3) Mikkel Kessler (1-367-367)
Last Fight: 6/4/2011- TKO6 Mehdi Bouadla (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/14/2012- vs. #4 Robert Stieglitz
The big fight between Kessler and Stieglitz finally has a date: April 14.
4) Robert Stieglitz (1-121-121)
Last Fight: 4/9/2011- W(DQ10) vs. Khoren Gevor (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/14/2012- vs. Henry Weber (UNR)
Stieglitz will fight a tune-up against middling prospect Henry Weber before the big one with Kessler.
5) Thomas Oosthuizen (1-29-77)
Last Fight: 11/23/2011- TKO11 Francisco Sierra (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Oosthuizen had no problem with trial horse Francisco Sierra, and we hope to see him in with a world-class opponent soon.
6) Arthur Abraham (1-113-113)
Last Fight: 5/14/2011- L(UD12) vs. #1 Andre Ward
Next Fight: 1/14/2012- vs. Pablo Farias (UNR)
Abraham’s January opponent will be Argentine prospect Pablo “Pokemon” Farias.
7) Dimitri Sartison (1-73-77)
Last Fight: 11/12/2011- W(MD8) vs. Arturs Kulikauskis (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Sartison had trouble keeping up with the movement of truly awful journeyman Arturs Kulikauskis in his comeback fight from knee surgery.  Hopefully it gets better with time, because otherwise the once-promising Sartison is fodder.
8) Peter Quillin (1-34-34)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Craig McEwan (UNR) (at MW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Quillin netted a nice win at Middleweight against Craig McEwan, though it doesn’t affect his ranking here.
9) Adonis Stevenson (1-2-2)
Last Fight: 12/10/2012- TKO9 #12 Aaron Pryor, Jr.
Next Fight: Unknown
Stevenson is an exciting contender to be sure.  His ability to walk through and destroy his opposition is Tyson-like, at least to the naked eye.  His only drawbacks?  He obviously has a vulnerable chin considering his early knockout loss to journeyman Darnell Boone, and he’s getting up there in age (34) for such a fresh face on the scene.
10) Sakio Bika (1-1-246)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- RTD3 Alfredo Contreras (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Avoided removal by the skin of his teeth, but he’s going to start plummeting any month now if he doesn’t beat someone decent.
11) Andy Lee (1-41)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- UD10 #14 Bryan Vera
Next Fight: Unknown
Lee was seeking a fight with J.C. Chavez, Jr. that was declined by the Mexican star, and so Lee has now focused his attention on Sergio Martinez.  In the meantime, he may fight on St. Patrick’s Day against countryman Martin Murray.
12) Anthony Dirrell (1-3)
Last Fight: 12/2/2011- TKO4 Renan St. Juste (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Finally stepped up to the fringe contender level against St. Juste.  Verdict: not too shabby.
13) Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye (1-6)
Last Fight: 11/11/2011- TKO12 Andrea Di Luisa (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Dominated and stopped a bona fide fringe contender in Di Luisa, and earned a nice ranking in the process.
14) Glen Johnson (1-59)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- L(UD12) vs. #3 Lucian Bute
Next Fight: Unknown
The Bute fight was the only one of Johnson’s recent career that wasn’t really close.  Bute is certainly a top fighter, but it could be that the Road Warrior is starting to wind down a bit.
15) Bryan Vera (1-46)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- L(UD10) vs. #15 Andy Lee
Next Fight: Unknown
Totally outclassed by Lee in the rematch of a fight he won last time around.
16) Librado Andrade (1-17)
Last Fight: 8/27/2011- TKO3 Matt O’Brien (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/17/2011- vs. Don George (UNR)
Andrade has not been deterred from fighting top prospects after the Pryor loss, and is now scheduled to fight knockout artist Don George in December.
17) Aaron Pryor, Jr. (1-33)
Last Fight: 12/10/2011- L(TKO9) vs. Adonis Stevenson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Well, it’s clear that he can’t play with at least one of the big boys.  Every division needs fringe contenders, though, and that looks like Pryor’s lane for the time being.
18) Jesus Gonzales (1-24)
Last Fight: 7/8/2011- UD12 Francisco Sierra (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
With a fairly comfortable win over a generally solid and much bigger opponent, Gonzales finds his way easily within the top 20.
19) James DeGale (1-10)
Last Fight: 10/15/2011- W(MD12) vs. Piotr Wilczewski (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/27/2012- vs. Jose Maria Guerrero (UNR)
With Groves’ injury-driven withdrawal from a scheduled doubleheader, DeGale’s return against Spaniard Jose Maria Guerrero has now also been delayed- until January 27.
20) George Groves (1-1)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO2 Paul Smith (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Groves is looking likely to fight a rematch with domestic rival Kenny Anderson before May, 2012.

 

The Week Ahead: Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

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