Middleweight: 2011, Dec 5-11

In Mannheim Friday, we saw one of the toughest fights to score that you’ll ever seen between English undefeated prospect Martin Murray and declining #3 Felix Sturm of Germany.  I had it 116-112 Murray, but that’s including a sweep of rounds 2-8, with 2-5 being uniformly complete toss-ups.  The judges had it 116-112 Sturm, 115-113 Murray, and 114-114.  When you see a draw in Germany, you assume the local favorite probably took a beating, but the judges in this fight all did as good a job as you could ask in a very nip and tuck battle with tons of half-blocked punches and tons of work totally wasted on the gloves.  I couldn’t have seriously quarreled with any good-faith score within the wide range of 116-112 Sturm and 118-110 Murray.  No clear winner emerged by any means, and so even with my card favoring Murray, I consider the draw to be a very fair result. 


On a side note, I watched the Sky Sports broadcast of the fight, and some of the commentary was just hilarious.  Commentator Jim Watt often gave Sturm insane amounts of credit for completely blocked flurries.  In the final round, with the fight very clearly in the balance, Sturm put a beatdown on Murray that amounted to the clearest round of the fight.  Watt, who would have had a draw on his card if he’d have picked the obvious winner in that round, scored it 10-10.  He had to know better than that.  And then after the fight, he couldn’t stop going on and on about how he was sick to his stomach, essentially because Murray was robbed.  He wasn’t alone in that sentiment, with studio commentator Johnny Nelson repeating the “sick to my stomach” sentiment in regards to the French judge’s credible 116-112 card.  Credit fellow studio analyst Darren Barker with non-biased judging, too, as he had Sturm “just nicking it.”  Jim Watt’s card was not out of bounds, except that he scored at least two of the clearer rounds of the fight for the wrong guy or as a draw (benefitting both fighters),  but the guy should really never be allowed to comment on who is winning a round or have his scorecard on the screen.  He seems to pick winners of rounds almost at random.


Draws between fighters with vastly differing resumes are always a problem.  Obviously Sturm has fought and beaten some very highly-ranked fighters.  Sturm was the first opponent Murray fought that was even rankable in the top 50.  So the true import of the result could be anything between Murray being a top 3 fighter who just hadn’t had a chance to prove it yet and Sturm not deserving to be in top 50 anymore.  My best guess is that both guys would find their current level with roughly the average fighter ranked between 10-15 right now.  But I don’t rank based on my gut when there is empirical evidence to guide me. 


Sturm slumps below Macklin because Macklin both proved he could fight on at least equal terms with Sturm AND has beaten at least one guy that had accomplished more than Murray had when he fought Sturm, while never drawing or losing to such an opponent as Sturm just did.  But I can’t go so far as to let Sturm fall below Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.  It’s easy to imagine Murray being a legitimately better fighter than any of the guys N’Dam has beaten (with the best being current #16 Avtandil Khurtsidze), and N’Jikam didn’t exactly blow Khurtsidze or fellow fringe contender Giovanni Lorenzo out of the water.  Not only that, but Sturm beat a more prestigious version of Lorenzo within a relevant timeframe, and even the disappointing draw with Macklin stacks up with any individual performance N’Dam can boast.  And that’s without getting to any of Sturm’s several top 10 wins.  However, I also have trouble promoting Murray past N’Dam.  One draw with a top fighter, it seems to me, does not by itself trump 3 wins over top 25 opposition.  It is a close call, though.  Murray therefore debuts at #6.  His arrival forces down everyone rated #6 or below last week (including Anthony Mundine, who exits the top 10 after 21 weeks in), and forces out last week’s #20 Dominik Britsch after a break two week cup of coffee.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (86-86-86)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- KO11 #20 Darren Barker
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBC has ordered its paper champion, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., to fight Sergio.  That’s a fight Sergio wants, since it’s huge money and probably a PPV.
1) Daniel Geale (24-129-129)
Last Fight: 8/31/2011- UD12 Eromosele Albert (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Geale vs. Pirog on New Year’s Eve once looked like a good bet, but that fight appears in jeopardy, as Geale now says he’s waiting on TV network input.
2) Grzegorz Proksa (10-34-34)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- RTD3 #4 Sebastian Sylvester
Next Fight: Unknown
After destroying Sylvester, Proksa may be in for a fight with fringe contender Sebastian Zbik next.
3) Matthew Macklin (1-24-115)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- L*(SD12) vs. #1 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Macklin couldn’t secure a rematch of his borderline robbery loss to Sturm, as the German has opted to fight countryman Martin Murray, instead.
4) Felix Sturm (1-429-429)
Last Fight: 12/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. Martin Murray (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I kinda wish I could really drop Sturm in the rankings because I’m sure some absolute nobody is going to get a #1 or #2 ranking off a badly faded version of him sometime soon.  But as long as he keeps getting halfway credible draws against halfway credible fighters, he will tend to hang around.
5) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (22-58-58)
Last Fight: 4/2/2011- UD12 Giovanni Lorenzo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
A fight rumored to be in the works with Gennady Golovkin has reportedly been scuttled by N’Dam’s unwillingness to fight the Kazakh, but N’Dam says he wants to fight someone in January.
6) Martin Murray (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 12/2/2011- Draw(SD12) vs. #3 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Very close to beating Sturm.  Closer than he could have hoped in Germany, in fact.
7) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (1-27-45)
Last Fight: 11/19/2011- TKO5 Peter Manfredo, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chavez will return to the ring on HBO on either January 28 or February 4, but no opponent has yet been announced.  The WBC has ordered him to defend his belt against Martinez.
8) Dmitry Pirog (1-71-71)
Last Fight: 9/25/2011- RTD10 Gennady Martirosyan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Geale’s notes, above.
9) Sebastian Sylvester (1-330-330)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- L(RTD3) vs. #9 Grzegorz Proksa
Next Fight: Unknown
Sylvester may be getting long in the tooth after being destroyed by Proksa.
10) Marco Antonio Rubio (1-35-45)
Last Fight: 9/3/2011- TKO5 Mohammed Akrong (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/16/2011- vs. Matt Vanda (UNR)
Rubio has substituted unknown journeyman Mohammed Said with a higher quality one in steady veteran Matt Vanda.
11) Anthony Mundine (1-45)
Last Fight: 10/19/2011- UD12 Rigoberto Alvarez (UNR) (at JMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mundine believes he’s been blacklisted in the US for comments he made in 2001 blaming the US for 9/11 and supporting Al Quaeda.  Well boo-hoo, asshole.  Austin Trout is also trying to make a fight with Mundine.
12) Osumanu Adama (1-37)
Last Fight: 10/6/2011- TKO9 Roman Karmazin (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Adama has now quietly put together a really respectable resume after battering Karmazin.
13) Max Bursak (1-45)
Last Fight: 10/22/2011- TKO3 Abdulaziz Matazimov (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/17/2012- vs. Laatekwei Hammond (UNR)
Bursak’s opposition has been getting worse and worse since he burst on the scene with a win over Bryan Vera.  He will now fight very weak Ghanaian journeyman Laatekwei Hammond in Kiev soon.
14) Garth Wood (1-45)
Last Fight: 4/13/2011- L (UD10) vs. #20 Anthony Mundine
Next Fight: Unknown
Wood appeared set to fight journyeman Johannes Mwetupunga on the Geale-Albert undercard, but pulled out of that fight.
15) Nobuhiro Ishida (1-35)
Last Fight: 11/26/2011- TKO1 Edson Espinoza (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
There is some talk of a rematch with Kirkland at the moment.
16) Gennady Golovkin (1-25)
Last Fight: 6/17/2011- KO10 Kassim Ouma (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/9/2011- vs. Lajuan Simon (UNR)
Golovkin is now set to fight gatekeeper Lajuan Simon in December.
17) Avtandil Khurtsidze (1-45)
Last Fight: 10/3/2012- TKO2 Jason LeHoullier (at SMW)
Next Fight: 12/18/2011- vs. Ossie Duran (UNR)
Khurtsidze will fight dangerous gatekeeper Ossie Duran in the Ukraine a week before Christmas.
18) Demetrius Andrade (1-16)
Last Fight: 9/21/2011- RTD3 Saul Duran (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Andrade is likely fighting in January.
19) Darren Barker (1-8)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- L(KO11) vs. Champ Sergio Martinez
Next Fight: Unknown
Barker has been receiving interest from Chavez and Geale after his over-performance against Martinez.
20) Billi Godoy (1-7)
Last Fight: 11/12/2011- TKO1 Luciano Silva (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown


The Week Ahead: Friday in Dusseldorf, Germany, #16 Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan fights Philadelphia gatekeeper Lajuan Simon. 


The following night in Montreal, prospect David Lemieux looks to bounce back from his only career loss to Marco Antonio Rubio when he battles former junior middleweight contender Joachim Alcine, who appears to be on the downside after a first round KO loss to Alfredo Angulo, a 13-month layoff, and a draw at middleweight with journeyman Jose Medina.


Also on Saturday, one-loss Dominican prospect Fernando Guerrero fights low-level Minnesota journeyman Robert Kliewer in Washington, D.C.

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