Light Heavyweight: 2012, Jul 16-22

I’m apparently the only one that saw the fight this way, but I believe Glen Johnson was borderline robbed of a victory and definitely robbed of at least a draw in his fight with Polish fringe prospect and steroid cheat Andrzej Fonfara.  I think everyone from the judges to Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas at ringside were unduly influenced by the raucous Chicago crowd that went nuts every time Fonfara threw a blocked punch, and I think TV viewers that have failed to raise a stink about the scoring were influenced by a combination of the crowd and the commentators.  To my eyes, Glen Johnson was made to look like Floyd Mayweather defensively by the inaccurate punching of Fonfara, who seldom landed cleanly despite “outworking” the former Champ.  I’m not afraid to admit that I scored the bout 98-92 Johnson, though I think a draw could have been fair given a large number of close rounds. 

 

I don’t believe I was biased in my scoring, but in the interests of full disclosure I must admit that I had a stronger rooting interest in this fight than usual, since I despise all steroid cheats and since Glen Johnson is one of the true good guys in the sport.  I find it irritating that Antonio Margarito- who may or may not have ever entered the ring with loaded gloves- is a pariah whose lifetime ban from boxing was championed by many fans.  Some of these same fans would list Shane Mosley- who may have used PEDs for years- as a personal hero.  At least you can make sure Margarito’s gloves aren’t loaded in the future.  A steroid user, in my admittedly lay opinion, gains a permanent unfair advantage.  I can’t imagine that the extra muscle you build while on ‘roids is going to instantly (or even gradually) disappear if you stop using them but keep working out hard.  Andrzej Fonfara was back in the ring- in the same state in which he was busted- less than 7 months after getting caught.  It’s disgusting, and it’s corrupt.  So that’s my rant for the week.

 

That being said, it’s at least partially a moot point, as Johnson announced his retirement after the bout.  Had he not, I certainly would have installed him in the top 10 since he returned to the division.  I wish Glen all the best.  He was a true warrior who always gave an honest effort and nearly always gave a fine account of himself- well after most fighters his age were completely done.

 

I may have buried the lead here.  The most objectively significant fight in the division was actually #16 Cornelius White’s win over #10 Dmitri Sukhotski.  This was a much bigger upset than the two fighters’ rankings would suggest.  Sukhotski was in or around any serious top 10 list at light heavyweight.  White, on the other hand, was ranked in the top 20, I expect, by few observers besides myself.  He shockingly won a 6-round decision over fringe contender Yordanis Despaigne late last year, but this was seen (even by me) as a fluke in light of his prior loss to Don George (who is now known to be less than a world-beater), which resembled an execution as much as a fight.  While I can’t claim to have seen the Sukhotski fight, it appears that White won quite easily- the word “battering” has been used to describe it.  It now appears that, if anything, the George fight was the real fluke.  White is clearly for real, and may be well on his way to a title shot in a division with its share of big names.

 

The biggest winner of the week is clearly White, who moves from #16 all the way up to #5, since Cleverly has yet to beat anyone with the credentials of Sukhotski.  Fonfara debuts at #13.  Sukhotski slumps to White’s former #16 slot.  Johnson remains out of the rankings due to his retirement.  Via displacement, everyone ranked #5-9, 13-14, and 17-20 descends one place.  This means Danny McIntosh is back on the outs after sneaking back in for the previous 5 weeks.  Last week’s #15 Mikkel Kessler is forced down two spots to #17.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Chad Dawson (12-320-320)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- W (MD12) Champ Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: 9/8/2012- vs. SMW Champ Andre Ward (at SMW)
Wow- it really is happening!  Dawson will reportedly drop down to 168 to challenge Andre Ward for the World Championship at Super Middle.  For my money, it will also be an opportunity for Ward to capture Dawson’s light heavyweight title.  He’s fighting the 175 champion under the 175 limit.  I’m not sure this scenario has ever played out in the history of boxing…and it’s pretty exciting- even if the fight itself may not  be.
1) Bernard Hopkins (12-319-319)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- L(MD12) vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Next Fight: Unknown
Hopkins’ team has publicly stated that they want to fight Shumenov, but the Kazakh said he had no interest in the fight.
2) Jean Pascal (12-161-161)
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 (22-108-108)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud (Robbery)
Next Fight: 9/21/2012- vs. Sergei Kovalev (UNR)
With Cloud otherwise occupied and Shumenov no doubt wanting nothing to do with him, Campillo will fight Russian prospect Sergei Kovalev in late September on NBC Sports.
4) Tavoris Cloud (22-151-151)
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) Cornelius White (1-1-31)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- UD12 #10 Dmitri Sukhotski
Next Fight: Unknown
White is on a tear.  Is he really top-5 good?  I wouldn’t think so, but he proves me wrong every time I feel I might be overrating him.
6) Nathan Cleverly (1-128-128)
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.  And the most recent rumor has him in the running for a Shumenov fight, and willing to go to Vegas to make it happen.
7) Karo Murat (1-42-63)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- TKO7 Sandro Siproshvili (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
8) Tony Bellew (1-40-40)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- TKO5 #20 Danny McIntosh
Next Fight: Unknown
Bellew has at least rhetorically severed ties with promoter Frank Warren and is reportedly in the running for a July 7 fight on Sky Sports.  Warren is threatening legal action over the split and the potential fight, however.
9) Beibut Shumenov (1-104-108)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- UD12 Enrique Ornelas (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After embarrassing both Enrique Ornelas and himself (merely for taking the fight), Shumenov has already been approached for fights with Hopkins, Cleverly, and Kessler.  That being the case, he won’t have much of an excuse left if he ends up fighting his 4th consecutive journeyman.
10) Yusaf Mack (1-72-108)
Last Fight: 7/7/2012- UD6 Sabou Ballogou (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
11) Isaac Chilemba (24-24)
Last Fight: 2/3/2012- UD10 #16 Edison Miranda
Next Fight: Unknown
Negotiations are currently in progress for Chilemba to fight former (I guess arguably current) lineal Champion Zsolt Erdei in late September on HBO.
12) Vyacheslav Uzelkov (16-24)
Last Fight: 5/12/2012- UD8 Ravshanbek Jabbarov (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/21/2012- vs. Mohamed Belkacem (UNR)
Uzelkov is now scheduled for a fight in mid-July in Odessa, Ukraine.
13) Andrzej Fonfara (1-1)
Last Fight: 7/13/2012- UD10* SMW #14(?) Glen Johnson
Next Fight: Unknown
I don’t think he landed enough clean blows to have cleanly beaten Johnson, but since I could have pictured a draw being a fair result, I am compelled to rate him anyhow.
14) Jürgen Brähmer (1-13)
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. 
15) Denis Grachev (1-12)
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.
16) Dmitri Sukhotski (1-90)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- L(UD12) vs. #16 Cornelius White
Next Fight: Unknown
The White loss must be a bitter disappointment for Sukhotski, who had been in line for a shot at an alphabet strap held by Cleverly for some time, but with Cleverly blatantly ducking him to great effect.
17) Mikkel Kessler (1-9)
Last Fight: 5/19/2012- TKO4 Allan Green (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
A Froch fight in the fall now looks extremely likely, at 168, though Pavlik is acting like an October fight with Kessler is a distinct possibility, too.
18) Tony Averlant (1-16)
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 (1-79)
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 (1-8)
Last Fight: 3/31/2012- W*(SD12) vs. Tony Averlant (UNR) (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown

 

The Week Ahead: A sprinkling of notable fights this week:

 

Thursday: A couple inactive Colombian former contenders do battle in Cartagena.  Alejandro Berrio is in action for the first time since his stoppage of Antwun Echols last February.  Fulgencio Zuniga returns for the first time since his December 2010 decision loss to Tavoris Cloud.

 

Friday: In Altona, Australia, undefeated prospect Blake Caparello stays busy against low-level journeyman Dante Craig.

 

Saturday: #12 Vyacheslav Uzelkov meets Algerian journeyman Mohamed Belkacem in Odessa, Ukraine.
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