Light Heavyweight: 2013, Jan 21-27

I was worried about #4 Gabriel Campillo’s ability to win a decision against house fighter and undefeated prospect Sergey Kovalev on Saturday in Uncasville, Connecticut.  Turns out I should have been more worried about Campillo’s safety in this case.  Kovalev was positively sensational.  To put it in context, Campillo has easily handled the likes of Beibut Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud, but was absolutely destroyed by Kovalev.  Campillo was battered so badly in round one that Kovalev probably earned a 10-8 round without a knockdown, and he clearly lost round 2, as well.  But the third round took the cake.  Campillo went down 3 times, whereupon the fight was stopped.  Campillo never got untracked, and simply couldn’t keep the Russian prospect off of him.


Meanwhile, gatekeeper Roberto Bolonti knocked gatekeeper and fellow Argentine Franco Sanchez down 3 times and was on his way to dealing out more punishment when Sanchez chose not to answer the bell for the 8th round.


The Campillo-Kovalev result presents and interesting scenario in the rankings.  Despite his obvious talent, Kovalev’s resume against top-50 opposition prior to last weekend consisted of a split decision win over 2 years ago against low-grade gatekeeper Darnell Boone.  Among fighters that met my rankings criteria, I had him rated in the mid-30s.  So you would think Campillo would take a major nosedive by losing to him n such dominant fashion.  But how do you drop the Spaniard even one place further than Kovalev forces him?  That would require flip-flopping him with the guy that he very clearly beat in both men’s previous fight.  So what we get is a log jam.  I’ve long believed that 175 is a stunningly weak division that allows g0od but not great fighters- including a guy pushing 50- to compete on even terms at the top level.  I used to think that Campillo might be the lone exception to that.  Now it looks like Kovalev might be.  But the Dawson-Hopkins-Pascal-Campillo tier still has a clear edge in accomplishment over the tier that begins with Cloud and includes Cleverly.  Even the kind of loss that Campillo just absorbed cannot change that.  It’s possible that Campillo is no longer anything near the fighter he was a year ago, but I think it’s more likely that Kovalev is simply a championship-level fighter in a division that, despite counting 3 recent champions among its contenders, lacks that level of quality otherwise.


I was tempted to promote Kovalev past Jean Pascal due to Pascal’s ridiculous inactivity and also the fact that Kovalev appears to be objectively better.  But to the extent that I should still be ranking Pascal at all, he’s got a firewall of good wins.  His only loss was to a #1 contender in Hopkins- a level at which Kovalev has not yet been tested.  He’s got wins over a #1 contender and a #8 (twice).  So Kovalev debuts at #4, right where Campillo was last week.  Campillo is forced down- rather rudely- to #5.  Everyone ranked #5-20 last week also backtracks one position, including Beibut Shumenov- who exits the top 10 for the first time in 130 weeks- and Eleider Alvarez- who is bounced from the top 20 after just 1.


Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (20-20-20)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO10 Champ Chad Dawson (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Ward’s surgery is complete.  He’s expected to be out until at least Summer.
1) Chad Dawson (20-347-347)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- L(TKO10) vs. SMW Champ Andre Ward (at SMW)
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. #3 Jean Pascal
Likely in large part due to Pascal’s torn shoulder, Dawson will be fighting Pascal in May rather than March.  In the mean time, Dawson has switched trainers from John Scully back to Eddie Mustafa Muhammed.
2) Bernard Hopkins (20-346-346)
Last Fight: 4/28/2012- L(MD12) vs. #2 Chad Dawson
Next Fight: 3/9/2012- vs. #6 Tavoris Cloud
Hopkins appeared likely to fight Nathan Cleverly, but instead opted for Tavoris Cloud.  The fight will take place in Brooklyn.
3) Jean Pascal (20-188-188)
Last Fight: 12/14/2012- UD10 Alexei Kuziemski (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. #1 Chad Dawson
This latest delay is really testing my patience on continuing to rate Pascal, who will not have fought for approximately 2 years at 175 when the Dawson fight goes down.  But he keeps staying rateable by constantly having a fight scheduled- even if the fights seldom come off when intended.
4) Sergey Kovalev (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 1/19/2013- TKO3 #4 Gabriel Campillo
Next Fight: Unknown
We knew Kovalev could punch, but I don’t know how many observers imagined him thoroughly destroying arguably the best fighter in the division like that…
5) Gabriel Campillo (1-135-135)
Last Fight: 1/19/2013- L(TKO3) vs. Sergey Kovalev (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
It remains to be seen whether we’ve seen Campillo rapidly decline, have a bad night, or just run into a world-beater.  But he’s still going to be highly ranked because he recently beat the guy ranked right below him.
6) Tavoris Cloud (1-178-178)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- UD12* vs. #4 Gabriel Campillo (Robbery)
Next Fight: 3/9/2013- vs. #2 Bernard Hopkins
Perhaps Cloud’s reasoning for pulling out of the Murat fight had something to do with his apparently better-than-expected chances of landing a much more lucrative Hopkins battle- a fight that now appears set for March.
7) Cornelius White (1-28-58)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- UD12 #10 Dmitri Sukhotski
Next Fight: Unknown
White is on a tear.  Is he really top-5 good?  I wouldn’t think so, but he proves me wrong every time I feel I might be overrating him.
8) Nathan Cleverly (1-155-155)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- TKO8 Shawn Hawk (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/16/2013- vs. Robin Krasniqi (UNR)
Cleverly will be fighting a long-rumored fight with fringe prospect Robin Krasniqi on March 16 in the UK.
9) Tony Bellew (1-67-67)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- UD12 Roberto Feliciano Bolonti (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/30/2013- vs. #12 Isaac Chilemba
A big time opportunity for two up-and-comers on tap for March 30, as Bellew collides with Isaac Chilemba in Liverpool.
10) Karo Murat (1-69-90)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- TKO7 Sandro Siproshvili (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
No idea what’s next for Murat after Cloud left him at the proverbial altar.
11) Beibut Shumenov (1-135)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- UD12 Enrique Ornelas (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
12) Isaac Chilemba (1-51)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- UD8 Rayco Saunders (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/30/2013- vs. #9 Tony Bellew
Up-and-coming African star Chilemba takes a high-risk, high-reward fight on March 30 in Tony Bellew’s hometown of Liverpool.
13) Vyacheslav Uzelkoff (1-51)
Last Fight: 12/15/2012- TKO1 Giorgi Marosi (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Uzelkoff easily dispatched Marosi, in a fight so last-minute that I didn’t even know about it a week in advance.
14) Andrzej Fonfara (1-28)
Last Fight: 11/16/2012- TKO7 Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/22/2013- vs. Nicholson Poulard (UNR)
Fonfara is scheduled to be in action on March 22 in Chicago.  His opponent is Jean Pascal’s brother, journeyman Nicholson Poulard.
15) Yusaf Mack (1-135)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- L(KO3) vs. #1 SMW Carl Froch (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
It’s no shame to lose to Carl Froch, but Mack’s showing was bad enough that you’ve got to wonder if he’s finished.
16) Jürgen Brähmer (1-40)
Last Fight: 4/21/2012- UD10 Vikapita Meroro (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/2/2013- vs. Eduard Gutknecht (UNR)
Braehmer has reportedly rescheduled his fight with Gutknecht for early February.  We’ll see if he follows through this time- always a big “if” with him.
17) Lucian Bute (1-12)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- UD12 #16 Denis Grachev
Next Fight: Unknown
Bute was trying to fight Kelly Pavlik, but with Pavlik retiring, it now looks like the Romanian may instead fight the winner of Nikola Sjekloca vs Sakio Bika (it will be Bika) for the right to fight Andre Ward next.  This would of course be at 168.
18) Denis Grachev (1-39)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- L(UD12) vs. SMW #4 Lucian Bute
Next Fight: Unknown
Grachev put forth a valiant effort against a heavy favorite in Bute, even after presumably draining almost all the way to 168.  As a result, his ranking remains mostly intact.
19) Dmitri Sukhotski (1-117)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- TKO1 Vladimir Borovsky (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Mikkel Kessler (1-36)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- TKO3 Brian Magee (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Kessler dismantled Brian Magee, but that was at 168.  I don’t know if Kessler plans to compete at light heavy again anytime soon.  He is in very significant discussions to rematch Froch at 168 right now.


The Week Ahead: Brazilian undefeated prospect Jackson Junior stays busy against experienced but mediocre journeyman Dante Craig of Cincinnati in Verona, NY on Saturday.  Craig was briefly a minor player at 168 about 6 or 7 years ago, but a draw and 4 consecutive stoppage losses brought him back down to Earth.

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