Heavyweight: 2012, May 21-27

Last week saw a lot of meaningful activity in the division.  First up, on Wednesday, was formerly-ranked undefeated Italian Francesco Pianeta, who won an average 10-round decision against serviceable 47-year-old gatekeeper Oliver McCall.  Pianeta makes a strong case to regain a ranking after cancer-related inactivity led to his ouster, but falls just short.


Saturday saw one fight- #19 Franklin Lawrence’s scheduled tilt with former fringe contender Mike Mollo- canceled.  Mollo’s pre-fight MRI revealed an old vertebrae injury that rendered him unfit to compete.


As for the fights that did come off: undefeated Liverpool giant David Price stormed through former Commonwealth champion Sam Sexton en route to a 4th round KO in the former’s hometown.  This was for the British title vacated by Tyson Fury, and was Sexton’s second unsuccessful attempt at the belt.  Later that evening in Texas, #10 Odlanier Solis ground out a methodical but fairly dominant decision win over borderline fringe contender Konstantin Airich of Germany.  It was Solis’ first fight in 14 months after multiple knee surgeries stemming from his inexplicable collapse against Vitali Klitschko last year.  I don’t understand Airich’s strategy (if he had one).  Solis came in more than 20 pounds heavier than the Klitschko fight, had a suspect knee to worry about, and he’s plodding even at his best.  Complete joke opponent Arturs Kulikauskis nearly beat highly-ranked super middleweight Dimitri Sartison- who was also coming off knee surgery- late last year by moving around and making Sartison uncomfortable.  This would have been the perfect strategy for Airich, who was giving up about 40 pounds and yet had a disadvantage in every conceivable area  except his wheels and conditioning.  Instead, Airich mainly hung out right in front of Solis and allowed the fight to become largely a jabbing contest, and one he was destined to lose considering he had less power, lower accuracy, and a more porous defense.  Solis didn’t exactly dazzle anybody, but he picked up a solid win and moves ahead of Tony Thompson to #9 as a result.  As for Price: this is his best win, but he needs probably at least one more like it to crack the top 20.  He and Pianeta both moved right up to the cusp of making it in, though.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (152-365-365)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- TKO4 #16 Jean-Marc Mormeck
Next Fight: 7/7/2012- vs. #10 Tony Thompson
Wlad will be defending the title against #10 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 (189-189-189)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- UD12 #6 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: Unknown
Now that Haye is fighting Chisora, Vitali may be looking for another opponent.  Perhaps one of his last two opponents ever.
2) Alexander Povetkin (39-239-239)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- W*(MD12) vs. CW #5 Marco Huck
Next Fight: 7/14/2012- vs. Hasim Rahman (UNR)
Povetkin’s ludicrous fight with Rahman will now be the co-feature to Haye-Chisora in London.
3) Tomasz Adamek (10-109-109)
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 (10-13-13)
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 (10-44-44)
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 (10-25-88)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L(UD12) vs. #1 Vitali Klitschko
Next Fight: 7/14/2012- vs. David Haye (UNR)
The British Board is bitterly opposed to this bout- which they refuse to license- but apparently it is going forward anyway.  Get ready for a highly controversial blood-feud between Chisora and recent brawl opponent David Haye, July 14 in London.
7) Robert Helenius (10-60-104)
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 (3-3-80)
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) Odlanier Solis (1-10-104)
Last Fight: 5/19/2012- UD12 Konstantin Airich (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Considering he was extremely out of shape and had a surgically-repaired knee to worry about, Solis didn’t look too terrible in coasting to victory over a disappointing Konstantin Airich.
10) Tony Thompson (1-104-104)
Last Fight: 5/27/2011- TKO3 Maurice Harris (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/7/2012- vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
See Wladimir Klitschko’s comments, above.

11) Seth Mitchell (10-24)
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 (3-288)
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 (3-71)
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 (3-166)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- KO1 Eric Molina (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/23/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Arreola, it appears, will fight on the Matthysse-Soto, Ortiz-Lopez card on June 23.  Most likely his fight will be televised on Showtime Extreme again.
15) Denis Boytsov (3-153)
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 (3-104)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- L(TKO4) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: 7/21/2012- vs. CW #2 Denis Lebedev (at CW)
It’s official.  Mormeck will drop back to cruiserweight for the first time since 2007 to fight #2 contender Denis Lebedev in Paris on July 21.
17) Bermane Stiverne (3-48)
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 (3-3)
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 (3-52)
Last Fight: 10/28/2011- TKO2 Raymond Ochieng (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lawrence’s stay-busy fight was canceled after Mollo was medically disqualified- apparently on fight day.
20) Kevin Johnson (3-8)
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: A few mildly mentionable fights to alert you to this week:
Friday: Former contender Fres Oquendo fights journeyman Joey Abell- best known as a Chris Arreola victim- in Hammond, Indiana.


Saturday:In Brentwood, England, former Olympic gold medalist and somewhat discredited British gatekeeper Audley Harrison returns to action for the first time since a shameful non-effort against David Haye a little over 18 months ago.  He’ll fight Iraqi-born journeyman Ali Adams.


In Managua, Nicaragua, Luis Ortiz- an undefeated Cuban prospect looking to emerge from the shadow of Solis and Mike Perez- will do nothing to achieve that goal in fighting weak local journeyman Walter Palacios in a 6-rounder.

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