Light Heavyweight: 2012, Sep 24-30

Friday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, undefeated Russian prospect Sergei Kovalev walked right through American journeyman Lionel Thompson, in a fight televised on NBC Sports.  Thompson simply was ill-equipped to deal with Kovalev’s voluminous skills, and it showed.  The fight nearly ended on two knockdowns very late in the 2nd round (one of which was very very close to being after the bell), but Thompson managed to weather the storm only for the privilege of being flattened again and stopped just seconds into the third.  Kovalev still hasn’t accomplished anything on a level even remotely sufficient to have truly earned this praise, but he looks to my eye to be a championship-level fighter at this early stage of his career.  Thompson is no Chad Dawson, nor even is he a Tony Averlant really, but the precision power punching and the speed with which he delivers combinations, when combined with his awkward defense, great footwork, and obvious closing skills makes it very difficult for me to picture any top light heavyweight, with the possible exception of Campillo, beating him.  But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  This is the first time I’ve actually seen Kovalev in action, and his opponent was several tiers beneath the level I am projecting him to have attained.  Still, his flashy skills and power- especially in light of the fact that he’s unfortunately killed an opponent in the ring- will likely win him some significant fights on the intimidation factor alone.  Think Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks.

 

The following night in Buenos Aires, Argentine prospect Roberto Feliciano Bolonti knocked out solid journeyman Jose Clavero, also of Argentina, in the 8th round of what was billed as the South American light heavyweight title.  I’m not going to knock it too much, since South America isn’t exactly a hotbed of good 175 pounders, but for my money I’d rather have seen an all-Colombian showdown between Edison Miranda and Eleider Alvarez for that honor.  Certainly Feliciano Bolonti can be viewed as the legitimate Argentine champ at this point, though.  Clavero came in as a respectable journeyman on the international level, having performed well against prospect Pablo Farias before winning that fight in an inconclusive manner by DQ when he flopped like a dying fish after Farias hit him on the break.

 

Neither prospect was in deep enough to earn a ranking, so there are no changes this week.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (3-3-3)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO10 Champ Chad Dawson (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Ward is talking like he might fight Kelly Pavlik next, with a full move to 175 on the table at some point as well.
1) Chad Dawson (3-330-330)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- L(TKO10) vs. SMW Champ Andre Ward (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Most sources will still credit him with being the light heavyweight championship, but he lost a fight at or below the 175 pound limit, and thus his conqueror deserves that honor regardless of the actual weights of the fighters.
2) Bernard Hopkins (3-329-329)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- L(MD12) vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Next Fight: Unknown
3) Jean Pascal (3-171-171)
Last Fight: 5/21/2011- L(UD12) vs. #1 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
Pascal will come back in December following his long inactivity and hand injury (thus retaining his ranking), with venue and TV problems ensuring that the Cloud fight could not be rescheduled until 2013.  No opponent has been announced.
4) Gabriel Campillo (3-118-118)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #3 Tavoris Cloud (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
No word yet on a timetable for Campillo’s recovery from an injury that forced him to withdraw from what in retrospect would have been a really intriguing fight with Sergei Kovalev.
5) Tavoris Cloud (3-161-161)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- UD12* vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #9 Karo Murat
With Pascal’s injury and subsequent scheduling difficulties related to TV dates and the venue, Cloud will now apparently fight Karo Murat sometime in November.  If successful, the idea would be for him to reschedule the Pascal fight for next year.
6) Cornelius White (3-11-41)
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.
7) Nathan Cleverly (3-138-138)
Last Fight: 2/25/2012- UD12 Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Next Fight: 10/27/2012- vs. #13 Vyacheslav Uzelkoff
Cleverly has taken what could be a trap fight against the somewhat underachieving Uzelkoff, in Cardiff.
8) Tony Bellew (11-50-50)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO9 Edison Miranda (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/17/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Bellew is back in mid-November.  No opponent yet.
9) Karo Murat (3-52-73)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- TKO7 Sandro Siproshvili (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #5 Tavoris Cloud
With Pascal’s injury, Murat will get his alphabet title shot a little earlier than expected, with November being the apparent target.
10) Beibut Shumenov (3-114-118)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- UD12 Enrique Ornelas (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Word has it that Shumenov is working on fighting gatekeeper/journeyman hybrid Nicholson Poulard in November, either in Vegas or Kazakhstan.  While it could be argued that Poulard is a bit more live of a body than Shumenov’s last 3 opponents, the step up would be marginal at best, and he’s really not at a different level than those guys.  Let’s hope this fight falls through, because Shumenov hasn’t fought a decent opponent in well over 2 years, and this would be a pathetic way to move forward in his career.
11) Yusaf Mack (3-118)
Last Fight: 7/7/2012- UD6 Sabou Ballogou (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/17/2012- vs. #1 SMW Carl Froch (at SMW)
In a fairly sudden development, Mack will drop back down to 168 to fight Carl Froch.
12) Isaac Chilemba (3-34)
Last Fight: 2/3/2012- UD10 #16 Edison Miranda
Next Fight: 9/29/2012- vs. Rayco Saunders (UNR)
Chilemba’s notoriously fragile opponent Zsolt Erdei had to pull out of their fight.  Chilemba will keep the date, against journeyman Rayco Saunders.  He reportedly won’t be fighting live on HBO anymore, though clips will appear.
13) Vyacheslav Uzelkoff (3-34)
Last Fight: 7/21/2012- W(MD12) vs. Mohamed Belkacem (UNR)
Next Fight: 10/27/2012- vs. #7 Nathan Cleverly
Uzelkoff won’t be able to muddle his way through his next fight the way he did with Belkacem if he intends to have a shot.
14) Andrzej Fonfara (3-11)
Last Fight: 7/13/2012- UD10* SMW #16 Glen Johnson
Next Fight: 11/16/2012- vs. Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Fonfara will fight journeyman Tommy Karpency in Chicago in mid-November.
15) Jürgen Brähmer (3-23)
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. 
16) Denis Grachev (3-22)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- TKO8 #15 Ismayl Sillakh
Next Fight: 11/3/2012- vs. SMW #3 Lucian Bute
Grachev will fight Lucian Bute at a 170 pound catchweight in November.
17) Dmitri Sukhotski (3-100)
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.
18) Mikkel Kessler (3-19)
Last Fight: 5/19/2012- TKO4 Allan Green (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/8/2012- vs. Brian Magee (UNR) (at SMW)
Kessler will fight Irish fringe contender Brian Magee on December 8 in Denmark.  The fight will be at 168 it would seem.
19) Tony Averlant (3-26)
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).
20) Ismayl Sillakh (3-89)
Last Fight: 4/27/2012- L(TKO8) vs. Denis Grachev (UNR)
Next Fight: 10/13/2012- vs. Dmitri Kudryashov (UNR) (at CW)
Sillakh will look to get back in the win column when he fights totally untested Russian undefeated prospect Dmitri Kudryashov in Russia, apparently at cruiserweight.

 

The Week Ahead: Rather inactive gatekeeper Lafarrell Bunting sees his first action of 2012 on Tuesday, when he takes on journeyman and fellow Tennessean Donnell Wiggins in Memphis on Tuesday.  Wiggins was very briefly a significant fighter about 9 years ago when he beat gatekeeper Rodney Moore, before consecutive losses to Jeff Lacy and Rico Hoye made him a journeyman for good.

 

On Saturday, #12 Isaac Chilemba takes on reasonably decent journeyman Rayco Saunders on the (mostly) non-televised HBO undercard.  The word is that HBO will show highlights of the fight during their broadcast.  And in Caracas, Venezuela, Mexican gatekeeper Elco Garcia meets American undefeated prospect Marcus Oliveira.

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