Heavyweight: 2012, Nov 12-18

Wladimir Klitschko put on a clinic in defending his championship against granite-chinned but otherwise mostly helpless Polish prospect Mariusz Wach.  Klitschko showed just about every aspect of his game.  He even displayed some stick-and-move boxing- something that seldom makes sense for him since he’s usually the bigger, longer fighter, and can control distance with his jab alone.  In this case, Wach was the taller man and could reach him.  But he was no less dominant than usual.  Despite fighting his weakest opponent in recent years, at least in terms of experience and accomplishment, this to me is one of Wlad’s most impressive performances.  He wasn’t just good.  He was flashy-good.  And he’s mentally tough.  He lost the trainer in Manny Steward that helped bring him from being a damaged fighter with a weak chin and a ton of unrealized potential to one of the most dominant champions in heavyweight history.  And he didn’t miss a beat.  Credit also must be paid to heavyweight fringe contender Johnathon Banks who, despite being just a week away from his own big-time fight, took on the very difficult task of trying to fill Steward’s shoes, and seemed to have given good advice and inspired the absolute confidence of his fighter- who incidentally is 6 years older than him and vastly more accomplished.  It couldn’t have been easy.  But it was well-done.

 

Now for something not so well-done.  #9 Robert Helenius made his return from shoulder surgery in what was supposed to be a tune-up against mid-range journeyman Sherman Williams.  Considering that his level of opposition was considerably worse than in his last fight- a completely bogus win over Dereck Chisora- I would have to say that this performance was significantly worse.  Helenius didn’t lose the fight.  The totally in-the-tank scorecards gave him between a 5 and 8 point advantage over 10 rounds.  Finnish judges judging a Finnish Sauerland fighter on a Sauerland card in Finland.  Enough said there.  I won’t say Helenius deserved to lose, but I also won’t say he deserved to win.  It was all even on my card, and I think either guy had an argument.  That’s embarrassing for a guy with Helenius’ talent and physical advantages.  And it’s not even like Williams really pushed him.  The 5’11” designated opponent did land one big shot that wobbled the so-called Nordic Nightmare, but other than that he threw one shot at at time- often jabbing to the body- but he never really gave Helenius anything to be uncomfortable about for the most part.  Helenius- as is too often the case- simply sleep-walked through the fight.

 

With his abysmal performance- which, again, I saw as a draw- Helenius can’t help but drop in the rankings.  He falls all the way to #12.  It was a reasonably easy call considering Helenius’ inconsistency.  Why?  In Helenius’ previous fight, he was beaten by Chisora, whom I ranked #18 at the time.  In Mitchell’s last and only fight against a top-50 opponent, he beat a #19 fighter in Timur Ibragimov.  In the past, Helenius’ loss was largely forgiven due to his past success- most notably a KO of #6 Sam Peter.  Now that he’s fought to a stalemate with a relative non-entity like Williams, he currently appears objectively to be more like the guy that loses to #18 contenders than the guy that beats a #6, while Mitchell’s lone rankable win has yet to be mitigated.  But Helenius’ descent is halted by Ruslan Chagaev, who hasn’t had a significant win since the first month of 2008- nearly 5 years ago.  I’ve decided against ranking Williams, as his only other notable result in the past 5 years was a loss to untested Manuel Charr.  I’ve got him on my watch list, but I think the closeness of that fight had more to do with Helenius than it did with Williams, who wasn’t exactly lighting things up.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (177-390-390)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- UD12 Mariusz Wach (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Wlad’s already planning to defend again on an unknown March date, with Boytsov and Povetkin apparently the leading candidates at the moment.
1) Vitali Klitschko (214-214-214)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO4 Manuel Charr (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vitali says he’ll decide whether to retire or fight on by December 17.
2) David Haye (18-18-18)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- TKO5 #6 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: Unknown
Haye has indicated that a fight with Vitali may be the only fight that would lure him away from re-retiring.  He may get his wish, as there is now talk of a March 2013 matchup.
3) Tomasz Adamek (18-134-134)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO5 Travis Walker (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/22/2012- vs. CW #4 Steve Cunningham
Originally scheduled to fight Odlanier Solis, Adamek will instead fight a rematch of his classic cruiserweight title fight of 4 years ago when he fights Steve Cunningham in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, after Solis pulled out.
4) Alexander Povetkin (18-264-264)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- TKO2 Hasim Rahman (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
For whatever it’s worth the WBA appears poised to order an early 2013 fight with Wlad.
5) Tyson Fury (2-69-69)
Last Fight: 7/7/2012- TKO5 Vinny Maddalone (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/1/2012- vs. Kevin Johnson (UNR)
Fury will fight Kevin Johnson on December 1.  Johnson finally got a significant win in his career back in April, but then struggled in the one night, three fight format of Prizefighter, losing in the final to Tor Hamer after deserving to lose in the semis to Albert Sosnowski.
6) Eddie Chambers (2-22-22)
Last Fight: 6/16/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Tomasz Adamek
Next Fight: Unknown
Chambers has announced he’ll be moving down to cruiserweight.  He’ll stay rated here for the time being, until he’s been inactive at heavyweight for a year or schedules a cruiserweight fight for after that time.
7) Kubrat Pulev (2-28-105)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- KO11 Alexander Ustinov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Pulev may be in for a fight with the Adamek-Cunningham winner, or may go straight to a shot at Wlad in early 2013.
8) Dereck Chisora (2-50-113)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- L(TKO5) vs. David Haye (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The Haye loss will be a huge setback for the already underrated Chisora.  Many will forget that he did clearly beat Helenius.
9) Odlanier Solis (1-2-129)
Last Fight: 5/19/2012- UD12 Konstantin Airich (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Solis pulled out of his December 22 fight with Adamek, apparently due to severe differences with his Turkish promoter Ahmet Oner, from whom he is apparently trying to separate himself.  Solis’ scheduling has been notoriously unreliable under Oner ever since he injured his knee against Vitali Klitschko.
10) Marco Huck (1-1-38)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- W*(UD12) vs. CW #10 Firat Arslan (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
After getting the benefit of a disgusting robbery against Arslan, there is talk of a rematch.  Before the fight, he had begun agitating for a Klitschko shot, but he would clearly get destroyed in that one.
11) Seth Mitchell (1-49)

Last Fight: 4/28/2012- TKO3 Chazz Witherspoon (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/17/2012- vs. Johnathon Banks (UNR)
Not sure why, but Mitchell’s return has been moved back about 6 weeks to November 17.
12) Robert Helenius (1-129)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- W*(UD10) vs. Sherman Williams (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Barely squeaked by after a comatose performance against journeyman Williams.  The judges had it pretty wide, but make no mistake- it was a 1 or 2 point either way kind of fight.
13) Ruslan Chagaev (18-313)
Last Fight: 9/1/2012- TKO7 Werner Kreiskott (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/1/2012- vs. Mike Perez (UNR)
Chagaev has signed on for a really nice crossroads fight with fast-rising undefeated Cuban Mike Perez.
14) Alexander Dimitrenko (18-96)
Last Fight: 5/5/2012- L(KO11) vs. #17 Kubrat Pulev
Next Fight: Unknown
Despite showing the heart of a quitter and the consistency of a random number generator against Pulev, Dimitrenko hangs on to a solid ranking because the other guys in his tier haven’t been winning meaningful fights lately.
15) Tony Thompson (18-129)
Last Fight: 7/7/2012- L(TKO6) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
In case any of you thought the first fight was a fluke, now you know for sure: Thompson really isn’t as good as Wlad Klitschko.
16) Chris Arreola (18-191)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- KO1 Eric Molina (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/15/2012- vs. #19 Bermane Stiverne
Arreola will officially step back up in competition on December 15, when he fights Stiverne.  This should still be considered tentative, though, since no venue has been named.  It’s also not entirely clear that Arreola- who has stated his disgust with the fight’s promoter Don King in the past- has agreed to the terms.
17) Denis Boytsov (18-178)
Last Fight: 4/13/2012- UD10 Dominick Guinn (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After bowing out of the Tyson Fury fight shortly after agreeing to it, Boytsov appears to be a candidate for a shot at the title against Wlad in March.
18) Jean-Marc Mormeck (18-129)
Last Fight: 3/3/2012- L(TKO4) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: 12/22/2012- vs. CW #6 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (at CW)
After Wlodarczyk originally appeared to shoot down the rumors, that fight now appears to be on.
19) Bermane Stiverne (18-73)
Last Fight: 4/14/2012- UD8 Willie Herring (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/15/2012- vs. #16 Chris Arreola
See Arreola’s notes above.
20) Edmund Gerber (18-28)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- UD8 Darnell Wilson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Had little problem with fat little journeyman Darnell Wilson, except a big scare in the closing seconds of round 1.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: Friday in Magdeburg, Germany, undefeated Italian prospect Francesco Pianeta continues his slow-walk back to contention after recovering from cancer by fighting relative novice Nelson Domingues of Argentina.  In Domingues’ only other outing against a significant fighter, he was knocked out in two by so-so undefeated prospect Andrzej Wawrzyk.

 

Saturday, #11 Seth Mitchell takes on fringe contender Johnathon Banks, whose only loss was at cruiserweight to Tomasz Adamek, but who also suffered a disappointing draw with Jason Gavern.  Regardless of the outcome, Banks is sure to make history as the only guy to ever fight a top-15 heavyweight while being the trainer of the reigning Heavyweight Champion.  If Banks manages to win, he would have earned consideration for what would have to be considered an awkward fight scenario.  I very much doubt Wlad would fight him anymore than he’d fight his brother Vitali, though, and something tells me Vitali might have qualms about that fight, too.

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