Year-End Awards: Cruiserweight, 2012

This is the first time I’ve done this, and I hope you like it.  It’s been a lot of effort.  First, a list of awards for the division.  Then, a look at the 20 fighters that did the best work in 2012 specifically, followed by a rundown of the year’s rankings history.  Dig in!

 

Cruiserweight Fighter of the Year: Firat Arslan
Much like my Heavyweight Fighter of the Year- and perhaps appropriately for a division characterized by downright criminal officiating- the Cruiserweight Fighter of the Year has no officially-recognized wins on his ledger for the year.  What he does have is two clear victories that were ignored by awful and/or corrupt judges.

 

Prospect of the Year: Thabiso Mchunu
This category was a total toss-up.  Masternak is more advanced overall, undefeated, and likely the better fighter, but Mchunu, by my estimation, had a slightly better year.  The key to this was his stoppage win over a ranked (#20) contender in Danie Venter.

 

Most Important Knockout of the Year: Thabiso Mchunu TKO5 #20 Danie Venter
This wasn’t a very competitive category this year.  Only one top 20 fighter got knocked out, so Mchunu wins the award by default with his 5th round November stoppage of Danie Venter.

 

Most Sensational Knockout of the Year: #19 Dmitro Kucher KO2 Steve Herelius
Again, not a very competitive category.  But this one is no slouch.  Kucher knocked Herelius through the ropes and out of the ring, meaning Herelius failed to beat a 20-count as opposed to the normal 10.  Even better, it appears from the video that at least 45 or 46 people saw the fight live.  Check out said video by clicking “KO2” in the headline.

 

Match-Up of the Year: #3 Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. #4 Steve Cunningham
No contest here.  The Hernandez-Cunningham rematch was easily the highest-ranked fight of the year, with the average rank obviously being 3.5 (just like the winner at Heavyweight).  The runner-up was #4 Marco Huck vs. #7 Ola Afolabi, with an average rank of 5.5.

 

Fight of the Year: #4 Marco Huck vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
 A very tough category to call.  Most of the big-time matchups in the division yielded solid, competitive action.  Huck-Afolabi, Huck-Arslan, Hernandez-Cunningham, and Hernandez-Ross would all make worthy- if  unspectacular- choices.  I went with Huck-Afolabi because it was all-out, desperate, tired, gut-check action until the closing bell as I remember it.  It was also the closest of the 4 fights, in my opinion. 

 

Upset of the Year: Silvio Branco (Draw) vs. #10 Giacobbe Fragomeni (March 17)
He couldn’t quite complete the upset in terms of winning the fight, but the fact that 46-year-old Silvio Branco was even competitive with fading but still-relevant #10 contender Fragomeni was, in and of itself, the biggest upset in a year and division full of them.  #20 Troy Ross deserving a victory over #1 Hernandez is probably the runner up, but there are really lots of options.

 

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Firat Arslan
Hands down.  Arslan fell from a top 5- perch with a 2008 TKO loss to Guillermo Jones.  He then was badly injured in a motorcycle accident and didn’t know if he’d ever fight again.  Then he passed out in his corner just before the last round of a competitive fight with Steve Herelius in 2010.  He spent 2011 laying the groundwork for a comeback with mid-level competition, and then absolutely burst back on the scene this year.  He clearly beat a top 5 and a top 15 contender, earning fighter of the year, despite the judges robbing him of the spoils of both of those efforts.

 

Robbery of the Year: Marco Huck UD12 Firat Arslan
Soooo many choices.  I think there were more robberies than honest decisions- certainly at the upper echelon of the division.  Ross-Hernandez and Arslan-Alekseev were both worthy choices, but the former could sorta have gone either way if you wanted it to, and the latter was at least not given to the wrong guy- just declared an outrageous draw.  Huck-Arslan was given to the wrong guy with no doubt and no excuse.

 

Now, for anyone that cares, I will rank the division based solely on the fighters’ 2012 accomplishments.  I will use the same criteria that I use to rank them overall (with victories, draws, or should-be victories and draws over top 50 opposition making one eligible), but will completely ignore all fights prior to 2012. 

 

1) Firat Arslan
Significant Results: May 11- Robbery Draw (Solid Win) vs. #12 Alexander Alekseev.  Nov 3- Robbery Loss (Win) vs. #5 Marco Huck
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #16.  Feb 6-12: #18.  Feb 13-Mar 18: #17.  Mar 19-Apr 1: #18.  Apr 2-May 13: #19.  May 14-Jun 3: #9.  Jun 4-24: #10.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #9.  Sep 17-Nov 4: #10.  Nov 5-Dec 31: #7.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Significant Results: Feb 4- UD12 #4 Steve Cunningham.  Sep 15- Near-Robbery UD12 Win (should be loss) vs. #20 Troy Ross.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #3.  Feb 6-Sep 16: #1.  Sep 17-Dec 31: #2.
3) Troy Ross
Significant Results: Sep 15- Near Robbery UD12 Loss (should be win) vs. #1 Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: Unranked (Inactive).  Feb 6-12: #17.  Feb 13-Mar 18: #16.  Mar 19-Apr 1: #17.  Apr 2-May 13: #18.  May 14-Jun 24: #19.  Jun 25-Jul 1: #18.  Jul 2-Sep 16: #20.  Sep 17-Dec 31: #3.
4) Ola Afolabi
Significant Results: Mar 3- RTD5 Gatekeeper Valery Brudov.  May 5- Draw (MD12) vs. #4 Marco Huck.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-May 6: #7.  May 7-Jun 3: #6.  Jun 4-Sep 16: #5.  Sep 17-Nov 4: #6.  Nov 5-Dec 31: #5.
5) Lateef Kayode
Significant Results: Jun 2- Draw (SD12) vs. #3 Antonio Tarver.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #13.  Feb 6-Mar 18: #14.  Mar 19-Jun 3: #13.  Jun 4-24: #8.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #7.  Sep 17-Nov 4: #8.  Nov 5-Dec 31: #9.
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Significant Results: Sep 22- UD12 #13 Francisco Palacios.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-May 6: #6.  May 7-Jun 3: #7.  Jun 4-Sep 16: #6.  Sep 17-Nov 4: #7.  Nov 5-Dec 31: #6.
7) Marco Huck
Significant Results: May 5- Draw (MD12) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi.  Nov 3- Robbery Win (should be a loss) vs. #10 Firat Arslan.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #5.  Feb 6-May 6: #4.  May 7-Jun 3: #5.  Jun 4-Sep 16: #4.  Sep 17-Nov 4: #5.  Nov 5-Dec 31: #8.
8) Silvio Branco
Significant Results: Mar 17- Draw (MD12) vs. #10 Giacobbe Fragomeni.  Dec 15: SD12 Loss (Should be Draw) vs. #12 Giacobbe Fragomeni.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Mar 18: Unranked.  Mar 19-Jun 24: #15.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #14.  Sep 17-23: #15.  Sep 24-Nov 11: #14.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #13.
9) Thabiso Mchunu
Significant Results: Jun 16- TKO1 Gatekeeper Flo Simba.  Nov 10- TKO5 #20 Danie Venter.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Nov 11: Unranked.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #17.
10) Mateusz Masternak
Significant Results: Mar 31- TKO10 Fringe Contender Felipe Romero.  Sep 15- TKO8 Undefeated Prospect David Quinonero.  Dec 15- UD12 Gatekeeper Juho Haapoja.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #20.  Feb 6-Apr 1: Unranked.  Apr 2-Jun 24: #16.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #15.  Sep 17-23: #16.  Sep 24-Nov 11: #15.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #14.
11) Danny Green
Significant Results: Nov 21- UD12 Fringe Contender Shane Cameron.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-May 13: #9.  May 14-Jun 3: #10.  Jun 4-24: #11.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #10.  Sep 17-Nov 11: #11.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #10.
12) Alexander Alekseev
Significant Results: Feb 4- UD12 #15 Enad Licina.  May 11- Robbery Win vs. #19 Firat Arslan.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #17.  Feb 6-Mar 18: #13.  Mar 19-May 13: #12.  May 14-Jun 24: #17.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #16.  Sep 17-Nov 11: #17.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #16.
13) Dmitro Kucher
Significant Results: Jun 27- KO3 Gatekeeper Cesar Crenz.  Oct 27- KO2 Gatekeeper Steve Herelius.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Jul 1: Unranked.  Jul 2-Sep 16: #18.  Sep 17-Oct 28: #19.  Oct 29-Dec 31: #18.
14) Denis Lebedev
Significant Results: Apr 4- KO2 Prospect/Gatekeeper Shawn Cox.  Dec 17- KO4 Undefeated Prospect Santander Silgado.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #1.  Feb 6-Sep 16: #2.  Sep 17-Dec 31: #1.
15) Alejandro Valori
Significant Results: Jul 20- TKO6 Gatekeeper Rogelio Rossi.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
16) Pawel Glazewski
Significant Results: Jun 30- Robbery Loss (Win) vs. Fringe Contender Roy Jones, Jr.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Jul 1: Unranked.  Jul 2-Sep 16: #19.  Sep 17-23: #20.  Sep 24-Dec 31: Unranked.
17) William Fernando Souza Bezerra
Significant Results: Jun 28- TKO6 Gatekeeper Manoel Rodrigues de Souza.  Dec 22- KO4 Prospect Ricardo Augusto Souza.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
18) Krzysztof Glowacki
Significant Results: Aug 18- TKO6 Gatekeeper Felipe Romero.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
19) Grigory Drozd
Significant Results: Feb 8- RTD8 Gatekeeper Richard Hall.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 12: Unranked.  Feb 13-Mar 18: #18.  Mar 19-Apr 1: #19.  Apr 2-Jun 24: #20.  Jun 25-Jul 1: #19.  Jul 2-Nov 11: Unranked.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #20.
20) Danie Venter
Significant Results: Sep 22- TKO4 Gatekeeper Zack Mwekassa.  Nov 10- L(TKO5) vs. Gatekeeper Thabiso Mchunu.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Sep 23: Unranked.  Sep 24-Nov 11: #20.  Nov 12-Dec 31: Unranked.

 

The following fights could be found in the top 20 at various parts of the year, but did nothing at this weight to help their ranking.  Most are no longer around:

 

Antonio Tarver– Jan 1-Feb 5: #2.  Feb 6-Jun 3: #3.  Jun 4-24: #7.  Jun 25-Dec 31: Unranked (PEDs).

 

Steve Cunningham– Jan 1-Feb 5: #4.  Feb 6-May 6: #5.  May 7-Jun 3: #4.  Jun 4-Sep 16: #3.  Sep 17-Dec 31: #4.

 

Guillermo Jones– Jan 1-Jun 3: #8.  Jun 4-24: #9.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #8.  Sep 17-Nov 4: #9.  Nov 5-11: #10.  Nov 12-Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

B.J. Flores– Jan 1-Mar 18: #11.  Mar 19-May 13: #10.  May 14-Jun 3: #11.  Jun 4-24: #12.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #11.  Sep 17-Nov 11: #12.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #11.

 

Francisco Palacios– Jan 1-Mar 18: #12.  Mar 19-May 13: #11.  May 14-Jun 3: #12.  Jun 4-24: #13.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #12.  Sep 17-23: #13.  Sep 24-Nov 11: #16.  Nov 12-Dec 31: #15.

 

Steve Herelius– Jan 1-Feb 5: #14.  Feb 6-12: #15.  Feb 13-Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Enad Licina– Jan 1-Feb 5: #15.  Feb 6-12: #16.  Feb 13-Mar 18: #15.  Mar 19-Apr 1: #16.  Apr 2-May 13: #17.  May 14-Jun 24: #18.  Jun 25-Sep 16: #17.  Sep 17-Oct 28: #18.  Oct 29- Dec 31: #19.

 

Matt Godfrey– Jan 1-Feb 5: #18.  Feb 6-Mar 18: #19.  Mar 19-Apr 1: #20.  Apr 2-Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Eric Fields– Jan 1-Feb 5: #19.  Feb 6-Mar 18: #20.  Mar 19-Dec 31: Unranked.

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