Middleweight: 2011, Dec 19-25

Japanese gatekeeper Makoto Fuchigami stopped Koji Sato- a fellow Japanese gatekeeper in Tokyo on Monday for the Japanese title for a 9th round TKO victory.  Of course Ishida is the most accomplished Japanese middleweight, but he has been fighting non-Japanese opposition and was at 154 when Fuchigami won the title that he defended last week, and so Fuchigami’s title is more or less legit.


Friday in Vegas, #10 Marco Antonio Rubio came in a pound overweight and stopped veteran journeyman Matt Vanda in 5.


A couple Ghanaians randomly found themselves in the Ukraine this weekend.  On Saturday, Kiev native and #13 contender Max Bursak  needed just under 2 1/2 rounds to stop low-level journeyman Laatekwei Hammond of Ghana, and Hammond’s countryman- the much more accomplished Ossie Duran- also fought in that country against #17 Avtandil Khurtsidze of the Republic of Georgia.  The crowd was heavily in Khurtsidze’s favor as I expected, and that expectation led me to download a Russian broadcast of the fight when I saw the scores- which indicated a razor-thin majority decision- suspecting that Duran may have done better than he was given credit for.  Quite the contrary, though.  Duran, despite showing a snappy jab and great foot speed, ruined any advantage he may have had talent-wise over the comparatively crude brawling pressure fighter that was Khurtsidze by either flat-out running around the ring to kill the clock or languishing on the inside, where the Georgian was much sharper and more effective.  I scored the fight 116-112 for Khurtsidze, with that score including a 10-9 Duran round that should have been 10-9 Khurtsidze, but which the judges probably scored 10-8 Duran.  Duran threw a wild sweeping uppercut which appeared to glance off the tip of Khurtsidze’s elbow, at which point he appeared to clearly slip.  Referee Daniel Van de Wiele called it a knockdown.  However, even giving Duran the benefit of the doubt, Khurtsidze appeared to carry the round otherwise, which on my card limited the damage to 10-9.  Even if you give Duran a 10-8 and every really close round, he still by all rights came up short.  114-113 Khurtsidze is the closest reasonable card I can imagine, and Olena Pobyvailo went beyond that, scoring the fight a draw. 


In the end, Khurtsidze got the win as he should, but it’s a bit troublesome to me that he had to sweat it out as much as he did.  If there’s one thing you can say for the Ukraine, it’s that they don’t generally seem to give hometown decisions.  An actual Ukranian prospect, Stas Kashtanov, was recently completely robbed there in a super middleweight fight with Hungary’s Karoly Balzsay. 


For those that haven’t seen Khurtsidze fight and are wondering what he’s like, imagine Rocky Marciano had come out of retirement about 4 or 5 years after hanging them up, with somewhat diminished skills.  If you shrink him down to a middleweight, you’ve got Khurtsidze.  If you squint a bit, they kind of look alike, too.


The result of all this are some interesting and tough ratings decisions.  Duran isn’t exactly someone you’d expect to be a game-changer for Khurtsidze’s resume, but to me the Georgian has reached the tipping point where his quantity overwhelms the marginally better quality of some of his peers.    He has now beaten 5 gatekeeper-level guys, and lost only in close fashion to current #5 contender Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.  We’d all like to see Khurtsidze step up a bit, but ultimately in the absence of a bad loss, there has to be a number of gatekeepers that add up to a fringe contender.  I’ve decided that the volume of Khurtsidze’s wins overwhelm the Bryan Vera win on the resume of Max Bursak, so he ends up displacing Bursak at #13.  I couldn’t see fit to supplant Adama at #12, since he beat two guys with top-20 level resumes.  In my estimation, Khurtsidze hasn’t beaten anyone very near that level.  Fuchigami’s win moves him from a mid-30s contender to a mid-20s contender in my book.  It’s worth noting, however, that I do believe he’s surpassed Sebastian Zbik, among others.  That might illustrate how deep this division has gotten.  Without losing any fights that he wasn’t objectively supposed to lose, his resume has slumped from a top 20 document to one that’s not really close.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (88-88-88)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- KO11 #20 Darren Barker
Next Fight: 3/17/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Martinez is now scheduled to fight on March 17 at Madison Square Garden.  The likely opponent is Matthew Macklin.
1) Daniel Geale (26-131-131)
Last Fight: 8/31/2011- UD12 Eromosele Albert (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Geale-Pirog appears to be on hold at best.
2) Grzegorz Proksa (12-36-36)
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 (3-26-117)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- L*(SD12) vs. #1 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Macklin may have parlayed his controversial draw with Sturm into a shot at the title against Martinez, though nothing is official yet.
4) Felix Sturm (3-431-431)
Last Fight: 12/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. Martin Murray (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBA has ordered Sturm to fight Golovkin.
5) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (24-60-60)
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 (3-3-3)
Last Fight: 12/2/2011- Draw(SD12) vs. #3 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Murray may be a candidate to fight Andy Lee what looks like it might be the Martinez-Macklin undercard at MSG on St. Patrick’s Day.  He also wants a rematch with Sturm, who has a mandatory obligation with Gennady Golovkin.
7) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (3-29-47)
Last Fight: 11/19/2011- TKO5 Peter Manfredo, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/4/2012- vs. #10 Marco Antonio Rubio
Chavez gets the toughest test of his career on February 4 when he fights fellow Mexican contender Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio.
8) Dmitry Pirog (3-73-73)
Last Fight: 9/25/2011- RTD10 Gennady Martirosyan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
With the Geale fight apparently on hold at best, Pirog has been chasing after Sturm, who reportedly doesn’t want that fight.
9) Sebastian Sylvester (3-332-332)
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 (3-37-47)
Last Fight: 12/16/2011- TKO5 Matt Vanda (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/4/2012- vs. #7 Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
Mexico’s two best middleweights meet in San Antonio in early February as veteran Rubio takes on young gun Chavez.
11) Anthony Mundine (3-47)
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 (3-39)
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) Avtandil Khurtsidze (1-47)
Last Fight: 12/18/2011- W(MD12) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
So far Khurtsidze has beaten all comers among gatekeepers and lost to the lone contender he’s fought.  Maybe a fringe contender should be on the menu next.
14) Max Bursak (1-47)
Last Fight: 12/17/2012- TKO3 Laatekwei Hammond (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bursak’s opposition has been getting worse and worse since he burst on the scene with a win over Bryan Vera.
15) Garth Wood (1-47)
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.
16) Gennady Golovkin (1-27)
Last Fight: 12/9/2011- KO1 Lajuan Simon (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Following his destruction of Simon, the WBA has made Golovkin the mandatory to Felix Sturm’s alphabet belt.
17) Nobuhiro Ishida (1-37)
Last Fight: 11/26/2011- TKO1 Edson Espinoza (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
There is some talk of a rematch with Kirkland at the moment.
18) Demetrius Andrade (3-18)
Last Fight: 9/21/2011- RTD3 Saul Duran (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Andrade is likely fighting in January.
19) Darren Barker (3-10)
Last Fight: 10/1/2011- L(KO11) vs. Champ Sergio Martinez
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Billi Godoy (3-9)
Last Fight: 11/12/2011- TKO1 Luciano Silva (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown


The Week Ahead: Merry Christmas!

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