Cruiserweight: 2012, Jun 18-24

Australian Anthony McCracken- who deserved to be considered a top-50 cruiserweight despite his robbery loss to David Aloua in the spring- dropped a unanimous decision to solid journeyman Daniel Ammann on Friday.  While news reports speak of a competitive bout in which the scores didn’t reflect the action, there is no video available that I can find, and so I must give Ammann credit and let McCracken take a hit.


In Friday’s second upset, gatekeeper Faisal Arrami dropped a decision to low-to-mid-level journeyman Jeremy Ouanna in both men’s native France. 


But the real good stuff was brewing on Saturday in South Africa’s 8-man cruiserweight tournament, the Super 8.  Unfortunately, it was not without a pair of SNAFUs.  The tournament favorite (and only non-African participant), Ran Nakash of Israel, failed to make weight initially by more than 2 pounds.  He trimmed one of these pounds in a 2 hour grace period, but then refused to try any further.  Faced with forfeiting his purse if the fight continued, Nakash essentially bolted.  This gives Johnny Muller- the weakest entrant to the tournament- and effective bye into the second round. 


Now to the fights that actually happened:
Congolese prospect Zack Mwekassa wasted no time in dispatching South African journeyman Tshepang Mohale, winning by 1st-round TKO.


Previously unproven South African prospect Thabiso Mchunu impressed during the first round, getting favorite Flo Simba in some trouble.  This was the second SNAFU of the tournament, however, as referee Tony Nyangiwe, by all accounts, prematurely stopped the contest with a matter of seconds to go in the opening round.


And finally, heavyweight journeyman and former South African Olympian Danie Venter- who probably translates to roughly gatekeeper-level as a cruiserweight given the comparative thinness of the division- won a solid 8-round decision over journeyman and countryman Daniel Bruwer. 


Even without Nakash’s credentials feeding the system, and even with the Mchunu-Simba controversy, the eventual winner of this tournament figures to earn a top 20 ranking.  No changes to the rankings yet, though.


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (20-104-104)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD12 #4 Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: Unknown
Since there’s been no news on Hernandez’ next opponent for months, I might as well start speculating.  For what it’s worth, the IBF has Polish prospect Pawel Kolodziej ranked as their top contender for his belt.  That’s a crazy ranking, but it could put Kolodziej in line for a shot soon.
2) Denis Lebedev (20-124-124)
Last Fight: 4/4/2012- KO2 Shawn Cox (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lebedev-Mormeck appears to be off.  Reporting on the subject has been virtually non-existent, so I can’t readily say why exactly.  But it appears that Lebedev may be fighting Guillermo Jones, instead.  WBA purse bid scheduled for June 29.
3) Steve Cunningham (3-418-418)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
Cunningham said recently that although he would consider fighting Kayode in the event he beat Tarver (the fight ultimately ended in a draw), he doesn’t believe there are any other big fights available for him at Cruiser.  He is therefore likely to move up to heavyweight.
4) Marco Huck (3-289-289)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
Next Fight: Unknown
A summary of where Huck is at: Afolabi understandably wants a third fight with him- this time in the UK.  Huck wants a rematch with Povetkin.  Meanwhile, Huck is laying the groundwork for hyping a potential fight with Alekseev following the Russian’s poor performance against Arslan, and also for a shot at Vitali.
5) Ola Afolabi (3-171-171)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #4 Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
Afolabi would like a third fight with Huck, this time in the UK, or a fight with Tarver or Kayode in the US.
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (3-365-365)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- TKO11 #9 Danny Green
Next Fight: Unknown
Originally rumored and long-since forgotten, the rematch with Palacios is now back on the table, and reportedly being negotiated for a September date.
7) Antonio Tarver (3-48-48)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. #13 Lateef Kayode
Next Fight: Unknown
Tarver retained his IBO belt with the Kayode draw, but it’s up in the air where he goes from here.  He often says he wants to be heavyweight champion, but he’s clearly not even a full-sized cruiser at this point considering how soft he looked in comparison to Kayode.
8) Lateef Kayode (3-3-83)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. #3 Antonio Tarver
Next Fight: Unknown
The first major fighter to agitate for a fight with Kayode after his draw with Tarver is B.J. Flores.
9) Guillermo Jones (3-90-90)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Michael Marrone (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Reading news and googling Jones’ name, it appears that the Joell Godfrey fight is off, but nobody ever seems to have actually reported that fact.  The fight simply disappeared.  Jones has been ordered to make a mandatory defense against Denis Lebedev, with purse bids scheduled for June 29.
10) Firat Arslan (3-6-49)
Last Fight: 5/11/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #12 Alexander Alekseev (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
The EBU has ordered a rematch between Arslan-who was robbed- and Alekseev, who escaped with a gift draw.
11) Danny Green (3-133)
Last Fight: 11/30/2011- L(TKO11) vs. #8 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: 7/25/2012- vs. Danny Santiago (UNR) (at LHW)
Green is dropping down in weight in hopes of luring the much-smaller Anthony Mundine into a rematch.
12) B.J. Flores (3-104)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO6 Hugo Pineda (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Flores is chasing a fight with Kayode that failed to materialize last year.
13) Francisco Palacios (3-64)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- UD8 Joell Godfrey (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The almost forgotten rumor of a rematch with Wlodarczyk is now back on the front-burner, with a deal being worked on for a September fight between the two.
14) Giacobbe Fragomeni (14-188)
Last Fight: 3/17/2012- Draw (MD12) vs. Silvio Branco (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Fragomeni appears to be showing his age after nearly losing to an even older man in Branco.
15) Silvio Branco (14-14)
Last Fight: 3/17/2012- Draw (MD12) vs. #10 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
45 year old veteran Silvio Branco got what may have been his final hurrah with a close-fought draw with top 10-ranked Giacobbe Fragomeni.
16) Mateusz Masternak (12-12)
Last Fight: 5/19/2012- UD10 Hari Miles (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
17) Alexander Alekseev (6-75)
Last Fight: 5/11/2012- Draw*(MD12) vs. #19 Firat Arslan (robbery- should have been L)
Next Fight: Unknown
Huck has randomly been talking smack, which seems like a contrived attempt at hyping a pretty pointless fight between the two of them.  A rematch with Arslan would seem like a pretty natural move- and the EBU has ordered just that.
18) Enad Licina (6-104)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #17 Alexander Alexeev
Next Fight: Unknown
May be getting a little shopworn.  He’s not a pushover by any means, but you’d have to be crazy to imagine him as a top-10-type guy.
19) Troy Ross (6-20)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- UD8 Lukasz Rusiewicz (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Inactivity combined with poor competition are killing the career of top-level talent Ross, but at least he’s technically an active cruiserweight again, and thus eligible to remain in the rankings.
20) Grigory Drozd (12-19)
Last Fight: 2/8/2012- RTD9 Richard Hall (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/20/2012- vs. Fabio Garrido (UNR)
After expected fights with William Joppy and Cesar Crenz both fell through with little explanation, Drozd will fight mediocre Brazilian journeyman Fabio Garrido on relatively short notice, in Moscow.


THE WEEK AHEAD:  #20 Grigory Drozd takes on Brazilian journeyman Fabio Garrido Wednesday in Moscow.

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