Cruiserweight: 2012, Sep 24-30

Last week’s biggest fight was the rematch between Puerto Rico’s Francisco Palacios (#13) and Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (#7).  In their 2011 meeting, Wlodarczyk got a fairly comfortable decision that completely lacked credibility.  The fight (a total snoozer) was a complete toss up, though I thought Palacios deserved the nod.  This time around, the fight was downright watchable, and it was Wlodarczyk with the edge, and the cards were pretty decent, though I think Christophe Fernandez of France gave Wlodarczyk an even round that he lost.  The difference in the fight- which was contested mostly on even terms throughout- was the Polish fighter’s apparently superior power and hand defense, with the most dramatic example coming in the 10th, when Wlodarczyk caught Palacios with a perfect right hand that had him out on his feet, but only a few seconds remained in the round and Palacios was able to hold on for dear life and survive.


In the weekend’s other notable card, the semifinals of the South African Super 8 Cruiserweight Tournament played out.  Gatekeeper-level fighters Zack Mwekassa and Danie Venter met in one bout, with Venter scoring an upset knockout win in round 4 to advance to November’s final.  The other semifinal was an immediate rematch of one of the first-round fights, between Thabiso Mchunu and Flo Simba.  This became the case after one first round fight fell through when the tournament favorite Ran Nakash of Israel bailed.  His heavy underdog of an opponent, Johnny Muller, who it was originally believed would get a bye to fight the winner of Simba-Mchunu.  But Muller stepped aside in favor of a shot at an African Light Heavyweight title shot on the same card (which he lost), allowing the rematch of what was a 1st round TKO win for Mchunu.  But why rematch a fight that ended like that, you ask?  Bad officiating, of course.  The fight was stopped without justification.  Unfortunately for Simba, the rematch was simply a confirmation of Mchunu’s superiority, as the result was another first round TKO.  Mchunu, who was stopped by Mwekassa a year ago, will now face the new tournament favorite, Danie Venter, in the finals.


Now for the inevitable ratings shakeup.  Mchunu really did nothing but confirm his earlier win over Simba.  Given his loss to an unheralded Mwekassa less than a year before the two wins over Simba, he’s not in the conversation for a ranking at the moment.  Venter, however, does manage to sneak in at #20.  His record is hardly spotless, but he hasn’t fought any meaningful fights below heavyweight since a 4 year hiatus that ended in 2010, and thus he gets a clean slate.  His win over Mwekassa, in a vacuum, is enough to sneak past last week’s #20 Pawel Glazewski, whose banner performance against Roy Jones had the disadvantage of taking place at a catchweight in the low 180s.  He’s roughly on equal footing with #19 Dmitro Kucher, but Kucher’s win over Cesar Crenz is ever-so-slightly more impressive than Venter’s resume. 


Wlodarczyk somewhat surprisingly stays put at #7, since #6 Ola Afolabi’s draw against Marco Huck still sets him narrowly apart in my opinion.  Palacios takes a dive.  Two things happened to him since the last time his ranking was examined.  Obviously he just lost…and that loss undermines his whole resume, since his undeserved loss to Wlodarczyk supported his being ranked in the first place, almost entirely by itself.  His only other significant fight has gone stale recently, as his win over Louis Azille is now over 5 years old.  These two factors together drive the Puerto Rican down to #16.  Fragomeni, Branco, and Masternak each benefit from this, advancing to #13, 14, and 15, respectively. 


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Denis Lebedev (2-138-138)
Last Fight: 4/4/2012- KO2 Shawn Cox (UNR)
Next Fight: 10/27/2012- vs. #9 Guillermo Jones
Lebedev will fight very inactive alphabet titleholder and former welterweight Guillermo Jones in Moscow this October.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (2-118-118)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- W*(UD12) vs. #20 Troy Ross
Next Fight: Unknown
Hernandez officially got the win over Ross, and I’m not quite willing to call it a robbery, but it’s pretty close to one.  I think you’d be pushing the limits of reason to give the fight to Hernandez, and I think that even if you managed to do so in terms of rounds won, you’d have to admit that Ross got the better of the fight overall.  Even Hernandez promoter Sauerland admits that Hernandez didn’t deserve a win, and believes a rematch is warranted.
3) Troy Ross (2-2-34)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #1 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
Ross deserved to beat Hernandez.  That’s all I’ve got to say (except the more detailed statement I made above).
4) Steve Cunningham (2-432-432)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- UD10 Jason Gavern (UNR) (at HW)
Next Fight: Unknown
So far so good for Cunningham at Heavyweight.  He’ll retain his ranking here until the anniversary of his February 4 cruiserweight fight, or until he schedules a heavyweight fight for a date after that.
5) Marco Huck (2-303-303)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
Next Fight: 11/3/2012- vs. #10 Firat Arslan
Huck will fight Arslan next in early November.
6) Ola Afolabi (2-185-185)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #4 Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
7) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (2-379-379)
Last Fight: 9/22/2012- UD12 #13 Francisco Palacios
Next Fight: Unknown
Redemption for El Diablo, as he confirmed his superiority over Palacios after a year of living with a gift decision.
8) Lateef Kayode (2-17-97)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. ‘Roided up #3 Antonio Tarver
Next Fight: Unknown
Kayode is upset that he has been passed over for a shot at Tarver’s stripped alphabet title, as an Aussie-Kiwi rivalry match between Danny Green and Shane Cameron will fill that vacancy for whatever that’s worth.  It’s unclear if rumored negotiations with Grigory Drozd are still pending or not.
9) Guillermo Jones (2-104-104)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Michael Marrone (UNR)
Next Fight: 10/27/2012- vs. #1 Denis Lebedev
Jones will travel to Moscow to put his alphabet title on the line against the much younger Lebedev.
10) Firat Arslan (2-20-63)
Last Fight: 5/11/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #12 Alexander Alekseev (Robbery)
Next Fight: 11/3/2012- vs. #5 Marco Huck
Long-since slated for a November rematch with Alekseev, Arslan was the subject of a surprise announcement that he would instead fight Marco Huck.
11) Danny Green (2-147)
Last Fight: 7/25/2012- TKO5 Danny Santiago (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/21/2012- vs. Shane Cameron (UNR)
Will take on Kiwi fringe contender Shane Cameron in late November.
12) B.J. Flores (2-118)
Last Fight: 1/28/2012- TKO6 Hugo Pineda (UNR)
Next Fight: 10/6/2012- vs. Ahmed Samir (UNR)
Flores will take on undefeated/untested Egyptian prospect Ahmed Samir in Springfield, MO on October 6.
13) Giacobbe Fragomeni (1-202)
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.
14) Silvio Branco (1-28)
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.
15) Mateusz Masternak (1-26)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- TKO8 David Quinonero (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Masternak put on a Masterful performance against a game but apparently limited Quinonero, but that was only the 2nd-best event of his week, as his son was born that same Wednesday.
16) Francisco Palacios (1-78)
Last Fight: 9/22/2012- L(UD12) vs. #7 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: Unknown
Very little of note left on his resume after his should-be win over Wlodarczyk was neutralized by a close but clear loss to same, and with his win over Louis Azille over 5 years old now.
17) Alexander Alekseev (2-89)
Last Fight: 5/11/2012- Draw*(MD12) vs. #19 Firat Arslan (robbery- should have been L)
Next Fight: 9/28/2012-  vs. Agron Dzila (UNR)
We know that Alekseev will fight journeyman Agron Dzila in September.  We also know he won’t be rematching Arslan in November as previously-expected.  It remains to be seen if that fight will eventually happen after Arslan fights Huck or not.
18) Enad Licina (2-118)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #17 Alexander Alexeev
Next Fight: Unknown
19) Dmitro Kucher (2-13)
Last Fight: 8/19/2012- TKO5 Geoffrey Battelo (UNR) (at HW)
Next Fight: 10/27/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Kucher will be fighting in Kiev on October 27 for some alphabet regional color-coded belt, but no announced opponent yet.
20) Danie Venter (1-1)
Last Fight: 9/22/2012- TKO4 Zack Mwekassa (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/10/2012- vs. Thabiso Mchunu (UNR)
Venter has established himself as clearly the best South African cruiserweight, and will fight for what amounts to that country’s undisputed championship in the Super 8 Tournament finals in November.


THE WEEK AHEAD: #17 Alexander Alekseev takes on once-beaten novice Agron Dzila of Macedonia in Germany on Friday.

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