Super Middleweight: 2012, Dec 17-23

Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany, #3 Arthur Abraham attempted to make a case to regain the #2 spot taken from him by Mikkel Kessler just last week, by fighting a top 50 opponent that Kessler defeated last year in Frenchman Mehdi Bouadla, with Abraham and Kessler being neck and neck in the rankings.  Abraham certainly did what he could, knocking Bouadla out in 8. 


In a possibly even more important fight in London, #18 George Groves took on former Light Heavyweight Champion Glen Johnson, who was returning from a very brief retirement.  As it turns out, the venerable Road Warrior should have stayed retired, and frankly fought like he might still be.  If the fight was all about coming forward, or if it had been some sort of staring contest, Johnson would have come out on top hands down, but although he frequently walked the younger man down, Johnson just could not or would not let his hands go, even in the apparent best of circumstances.  At 43, it appears that Johnson just can’t pull the trigger anymore when needed.  My guess is we’ll see him hang them up again in the near future, and this time I expect it will stick.  I had the fight 118-109, and that was a bit more generous to Johnson than were any of the official judges.


Bouadla is just barely enough for Abraham to nudge back past Kessler to regain the #2 spot he lost last week. 


Groves’ movement is much more dramatic.  Even though Johnson was unranked due to his retirement, and even though he fought like a mere journeyman, he came into the fight as the equivalent of a top 20 contender, and likely would have been rated as such had he not removed himself after his previous fight.  This amounts to the most significant victory of Groves’ career, and he is launched all the way to #9, just behind Kelly Pavlik. 


Johnson, having become active again (at least for now), nearly returns to the rankings, but narrowly misses out.  I am glad he does, because I’d honestly hate to have to rank him after the showing he made on Saturday.


As he was passed by Groves, I noticed that 3 of last week’s #9 Sakio Bika’s signature wins from late 2007 on the Contender series had recently expired, in that they have passed the 5-year threshold after which I cease to consider them significant in principle.  Therefore, I have re-evaluated Bika’s position, and found that his two remaining significant wins only justify a ranking of #12 at this time.  He had been in the top 10 for a year straight, pretty much to the day.  Everyone rated #12-17 last week is forced down one spot in the re-alignment.


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (53-187-187)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO10 LHW Champ Chad Dawson
Next Fight: 2/23/2012- vs. #8 Kelly Pavlik
An injury to Ward has caused his January 26 fight with Kelly Pavlik to be postponed to February 23.
1) Carl Froch (30-340-340)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- KO3 LHW #11 Yusaf Mack
Next Fight: Unknown
All indications are that Bute still wants a rematch, but Froch has now started making noise about fighting Kessler suspiciously close to the prospective date for the Bute fight.  Meanwhile, Adonis Stevenson is Froch’s mandatory, but appears to be on the outside looking in at the moment.
2) Arthur Abraham (1-165-165)
Last Fight: 12/15/2012- TKO8 Mehdi Bouadla (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Not really much intrigue to the Bouadla fight, but it did give him a narrow edge here over Kessler again.
3) Mikkel Kessler (1-419-419)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- TKO3 Brian Magee (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Kessler and Froch are discussing a fight according to Froch, but it’s unclear what effect the contracted Bute rematch will have on those discussions.
4) Lucian Bute (17-349-349)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- UD12 LHW #16 Denis Grachev (at LHW)
Next Fight: Unknown
At last check, Bute still wanted the Froch rematch, but Froch has inexplicably begun talking publicly about negotiating another fight.
5) Robert Stieglitz (17-173-173)
Last Fight: 8/25/2012- L(UD12) vs. #6 Arthur Abraham
Next Fight: Unknown
Stieglitz was somewhat busted up in the tough Abraham fight, and so I expect him to take a few months off at least.
6) Thomas Oosthuizen (17-81-129)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- UD12 Fulgencio Zuniga (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Oosthuizen missed weight initially but managed to sweat it off to fight Zuniga.
7) Adonis Stevenson (10-54-54)
Last Fight: 10/12/2012- TKO12 Don George (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Stevenson probably has a shot at Carl Froch due to him at some point, as he is the mandatory challenger for Froch’s belt.  But Froch already has a contracted fight with Bute likely in March.
8) Kelly Pavlik (10-24-24)
Last Fight: 7/7/2012- UD10 #12 Will Rosinsky
Next Fight: 2/23/2013- vs. Champ Andre Ward
Ward was injured, so his fight with Pavlik was rescheduled for February 23.
9) George Groves (1-1-23)
Last Fight: 12/15/2012- UD12 Glen Johnson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Groves may have gotten a bit of a lucky break considering how old Johnson looked in their fight, but the old veteran still had the credentials to help support Groves’ rise to the top 10.
10) Karoly Balzsay (21-21-35)
Last Fight: 4/21/2012- TKO12 #8 Dimitri Sartison
Next Fight: Unknown
Balzsay suffered a back injury way back in August, but I don’t know if that remains a factor as to why he hasn’t scheduled a fight since then.
11) Andy Lee (24-93)
Last Fight: 6/16/2012- L(TKO7) vs. MW#? Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (at MW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lee has recently challenged Matthew Macklin to what would likely be a middleweight bout.  No word on whether or not that’s likely to happen.
12) Sakio Bika (1-298)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- TKO10 Dyah Davis (UNR)

Next Fight: Unknown
13) Anthony Dirrell (1-55)
Last Fight: 12/2/2011- TKO4 Renan St. Juste (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After his motorcycle crash, Anthony Dirrell was said to be out until at least November.  November has come and gone, and not a peep.  Hopefully he gets back in the ring before his woefully inactive twin brother.  As for his ranking, I will now commit to not remove him until at least June 2, 2013 due to his very serious injury situation.
14) Will Rosinsky (1-27)
Last Fight: 7/7/2012- L(UD10) vs. Kelly Pavlik (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/19/2012- vs. Otis Griffin (UNR)
Rosinsky will fight former fringe contender Otis Griffin- who recently reversed a losing streak with a win over a weaker journeyman- on December 19 in New York.
15) Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye (1-58)
Last Fight: 5/26/2012- RTD9 Jose Maria Guerrero (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/26/2013- vs. #16 James DeGale
Ndiaye’s fight with DeGale is set for late January instead of December 8 as reported earlier.  DeGale will be fighting a likely lesser opponent on December 8, it appears.
16) Dimitri Sartison (1-129)
Last Fight: 4/21/2012- L(TKO12) vs. Karoly Balzsay (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Sartison has been medically cleared since August following another knee surgery, and was said to be looking to return in December, but he has no fight scheduled yet, and no recent buzz of any kind, either.
17) James DeGale (1-62)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- UD12 Fulgencio Zuniga (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/26/2013- vs. #14 Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye
After a nice win for DeGale over Zuniga, there is no rest for the wicked, as he’ll be fighting the toughest opponent of his career (or at least highest-ranked) in Ndiaye just 6 weeks later.
18) Jesus Gonzales (1-76)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- L(KO1) vs. #9 Adonis Stevenson
Next Fight: 1/19/2012- vs. Albert Onolunose (UNR)
Gonzales’ fight at Desperado’s Nightclub in Calgary has been pushed back for a second time- this time to January 19.  But at least he has an opponent now- Nigerian journeyman Albert Onolunose, who is frankly a level or two better than I was expecting Gonzales to fight in such a small-sounding venue.
19) Maxim Vlasov (6-6)
Last Fight: 11/5/2012- UD10 Khoren Gevor (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/30/2012- vs. Geard Ajetovic (UNR)
Vlasov will fight again on New Year’s Eve Eve against decent Serbian journeyman Geard Ajetovic in Moscow.
20) Edwin Rodriguez (6-21)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- TKO8 Jason Escalera (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
According to Gennady Golovkin’s trainer, Rodriguez turned down a huge offer to fight Golovkin.


The Week Ahead: Nothing to report this week.

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