Cruiserweight: 2012, Nov 5-11

Firat Arslan is the Turkish Gabriel Campillo.  It doesn’t matter how bad he beats up the other guy, he still gets stuck with an L.  And as for Marco Huck, he seems unable to escape controversy.  Each of his last 3 fights, and 4 of his last 7, have ended with either an inconclusive or downright offensive decision.  This is probably the worst of all of them.  Firat Arslan- 42 years young- came out of his corner in each and every round like a man starving for victory.  Let’s not forget that he was robbed in his last fight, as well.  From each opening bell, he was on Huck like a snow plow.  He backed up for maybe a total of 30 seconds of the 2160 that elapsed.  He forced Huck to the ropes and dictated the pace 95% of the time.  He was more accurate with his shots- especially to the head.  Huck, despite his experience, clearly hasn’t learned to tuck his chin, as every shot that hit him had his head bouncing around like a pinball.  Arslan completely dominated the first half of the fight, and held his own in every round from start to finish. 


I must say that  I expected Arslan to be competitive, but at his age I expected him to fade and perhaps get stopped late, much as he did a few years ago against Steve Herelius.  He did lose some of his strength and precision late as compared to the younger Huck, but he was in the fight every second of the way.  I had the fight 117-111, and every round I gave to Huck was pretty much a toss-up, especially when you factor in Arslan’s ring generalship and effective aggressiveness, criteria he dominated in every round.  If you gave Huck every close round somehow, you’d have it 114-114.  If you did the same for Arslan, you’d have it 120-108.  Ready for the official scores?  115-113 Huck (x2) and 117-111 Huck (no typo).


Now to shame the corrupt or incompetent judges.  England’s Mickey Vann.  Vann is a repeat offender, having helped to award another Sauerland star an undeserved win quite recently, when he had an indefensible card in favor of Yoan Pablo Hernandez against Troy Ross.  So he’s lost the benefit of the doubt.  It’s not a case of a guy having a bad night, it’s a case of a chronically incompetent or completely corrupt judge, who cares nothing for what’s right.  If I were the Czar of boxing, I would suspend him from officiating a fight for at least a year or two. 


Also from England, Paul Thomas.  Thomas already showed questionable judgment in refereeing the co-feature, taking a point from Brazil’s Cleiton Conseicao for holding almost before he did any holding.  Conseicao went on to deserve one or two point deductions by tripling his rate of holding, and by the time all was said and done he had lost 3 points.  But Thomas was being ridiculous at the point he took the first point.  Surprise, surprise.  It favored Sauerland-owned prospect Dustin Dirks (who, I might add, didn’t need the help).  Thomas had the same card as Vann.  I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he probably was unintentionally biased, had a bad night, and simply goofed.  The reason is that I’ve seen him turn in reasonable cards in Sauerland fights (Afolabi-Huck II, for example).  A few years ago, he did turn in cards in Chambers-Dimitrenko and Kotelnik-Maidana that I know to be controversial, but having never actually seen those fights in full, I can’t credibly comment on the quality of those scores.  Even with the benefit of the doubt, he should be admonished by whatever passes for a commission in Germany.


Now for the real villain.  Italian  judge (it seems like they’re always the worst) Giustino Di Giovanni’s 117-111 card in favor of Huck was so flamboyantly awful that one of the following MUST be true: a) he got the fighters mixed up somehow, b) he payed zero attention to the fight, possibly falling asleep, or c) he was billing someone affiliated with Huck by the round for his services.  I can’t even reasonably give him credit for simple incompetence.  Any random person (boxing fan or not) could judge fights for a lifetime and, provided they simply wanted to get it right, never turn in a card as bad as this one.  If I were the Czar, I would probably ban this guy for life.  He’s got no scores on his record that are known by me to be controversial or wrong before this one, but the simple fact is that if you’re demonstrably worse at your job than any random person on the street for whatever reason (and he must be to turn in that card), there’s no need to pay you for your services ever again.


Technically I marked enough rounds on my card as toss-ups that I have to acknowledge a halfway reasonable position that the fight could have been scored a draw.  That’s a very biased view in my opinion, but I couldn’t necessarily argue any specific round was scored wrong per se if that was the final score.  As a result, past precedent would indicate that I’d give the decision minimum deference up to the point of it being a draw.  That’s worked alright for me in situations where I thought one guy won a close fight that could at least technically go either way and the judges saw it the other way.  In those cases I treat the fight essentially as a draw, but give a slight edge to the official winner such that the official loser can’t surpass him in the rankings.  In light of this result, however, I recognize that the same treatment isn’t ideal or just in a case such as this, where the absolute best an official winner could have hoped for was a draw anyway.  Therefore, from this point forward, my policy will be that when there is a minimum deference decision in one fighter’s favor and that fighter deserved at best a draw and arguably a loss, I will not be bound to give the official winner any edge from the virtual draw scenario and may give such an edge to the official loser if appropriate.  I will, however, still treat the fight as a draw for rankings purposes with that one caveat.


So how does that apply here?  Arslan’s right to the victory was plain enough that I have no hesitation in promoting him past Huck.  But it’s difficult to determine at what point in the rankings they are to intersect.  Arslan must get past Guillermo Jones.  Jones actually beat Arslan back in 2008, but his existence has practically been a rumor ever since then, while Arslan has had at least a couple good performances.  It’s probably only an issue for one week anyway, since Jones is likely days away from removal for inactivity.  Arslan also supplants Kayode in a close call.  Kayode owns a recent draw with Antonio Tarver who was not only on PEDs, but also was ranked #3 going in.  Arslan’s slightly more conclusive performance against #5 Huck, when coupled with his deserved win over Alekseev this year puts him over the top.  Then you get to Wlodarczyk, and you’re getting into the territory of a guy that has beaten multiple top 10 contenders, and so that’s where the Arslan train screeches to a halt, at #7.  Huck tumbles down to just below Arslan at #8.  This allows Afolabi to displace the man he arguably beat already anyway and move into the #5 spot.  The aforementioned Wlodarczyk advances to #6, while Kayode and Jones are bumped back to 9 and 10, respectively.


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: None
1) Denis Lebedev (8-144-144)
Last Fight: 4/4/2012- KO2 Shawn Cox (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The fight with Guillermo Jones appears to be off indefinitely.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (8-124-124)
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 (8-8-40)
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 (8-438-438)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- UD10 Jason Gavern (UNR) (at HW)
Next Fight: 12/22/2012- vs. HW #3 Tomasz Adamek (at HW)
With Odlanier Solis’ withdrawal, Cunningham has a chance to avenge his 2008 loss to Tomasz Adamek just before Christmas, 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) Ola Afolabi (1-191-191)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #4 Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
One of the alphabets has mandated that the Huck-Arslan winner fight Afolabi next, but that could be complicated by calls for a rematch of the robbery in that fight.
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (1-385-385)
Last Fight: 9/22/2012- UD12 #13 Francisco Palacios
Next Fight: Unknown
There is talk of a fight with former Champ Jean-Marc Mormeck, but Wlodarczyk’s team is dismissing these rumors.
7) Firat Arslan (1-26-69)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #5 Marco Huck (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
Arslan is a modern marvel, fairly conclusively defeating Marco Huck at age 42.  Period.

8) Marco Huck (1-309-309)

Last Fight: 11/3/2012- W*(UD12) vs. #10 Firat Arslan (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
In any discussion where justice reigns, Huck is now 0-2-1 in his last 3 major cruiserweight fights.  At last check, he had been ordered to rematch Afolabi next, but there is also speculation of an Arslan rematch.  I’m assuming the Klitschko buzz will subside, as that’s a big step up from Arslan.

9) Lateef Kayode (1-23-103)

Last Fight: 6/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. ‘Roided up #3 Antonio Tarver
Next Fight: Unknown
With no mention of Kayode’s rumored fight with Drozd being made in a while, the latest news is that Kayode might be trying to move up to fight Seth Mitchell.
10) Guillermo Jones (1-110-110)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 Michael Marrone (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Unless Jones miraculously schedules a fight this week, he’s removed for inactivity this time next week.
11) Danny Green (8-153)
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 (8-124)
Last Fight: 10/6/2012- TKO2 David McNemar (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Flores’ level of opposition lately is consistent with that of a protected undefeated prospect rather than a veteran contender trying to get back on top.  He’s completely treading water at this point in his career.
13) Giacobbe Fragomeni (7-208)
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 (7-34)
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 (7-32)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- TKO8 David Quinonero (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Masternak appears set to fight for the European title technically held by Alekseev next.
16) Francisco Palacios (7-84)
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 (8-95)
Last Fight: 5/11/2012- Draw*(MD12) vs. #19 Firat Arslan (robbery- should have been L)
Next Fight: Unknown
Alekseev’s camp reports an undisclosed illness, which has caused him to lose his hold on his illegitimate European title.
18) Dmitro Kucher (2-19)
Last Fight: 10/27/2012- KO2 Steve Herelius (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Kucher took out one-time contender Steve Herelius in spectacular fashion, making him definitively one to watch.
19) Enad Licina (2-124)
Last Fight: 2/4/2012- L(UD12) vs. #17 Alexander Alexeev
Next Fight: 11/10/2012- vs. Unknown Opponent
Licina, inactive since his loss to Alekseev, appears to have a fight scheduled for November 10 in Koblenz, Germany.  No opponent has been announced.
20) Danie Venter (7-7)
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: A very busy week in the division.  Leading things off on Friday, Tampa gatekeeper Nick Iannuzzi will see action in his hometown against sub-.500 journeyman Grover Young of Memphis.


Saturday: In Hamburg, undefeated Russian Rakhim Chakhkiev battles Pennsylvania journeyman Andres Taylor- who had briefly been scheduled to fight Guillermo Jones instead- on the Klitschko-Wach undercard.  About 5 hours to the South in Koblenz, #19 Enad Licina is scheduled, but no opponent has been announced yet as far as I can tell.  In Donetsk, Ukraine, undefeated locally-based Georgian Iago Kiladze will fight veteran Belgian journeyman Ismail Abdoul.  Proceeding way South to Kempton Park, South Africa, #20 Danie Venter will meet fringe contender Thabiso Mchunu for the Super 8 Cruiserweight Tournament Championship, and effectively also for the undisputed South African title. 

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