Middleweight: 2013, Feb 4-10

Chronologically and roughly in order of importance, as well:

 

Wednesday: In Sydney, Australia, #1 Daniel Geale conclusively avenged his close 2009 split decision loss to Anthony Mundine.  He won 119-109 on my card, though the judges tended to give the close rounds to Mundine and had it 116-112 and 117-111(x2).  It was a rare comfortable win for Geale, who is a hard-working volume puncher that does everything competently but doesn’t have any specific flashy skills.  He tends to win very close decisions, but has won enough favor with the judges to remain the top contender in the division for more than 19 months.  Geale fought much as he always does and how he did in the first fight.  Mundine tried to sharpshoot and box from the outside the way he did in 2009, but his speed, reflexes, and general athleticism had noticeably declined.  Instead of controlling the fight with the jab the way he often did the first time around, he was only able to create standoff situations with it.

 

Friday: Big time controversy in Dusseldorf.  #2 Felix Sturm appeared to have done enough to beat #12 Sam Soliman.  I had it 115-112.  The Argentine broadcast I saw had it much wider at 118-109.   Though I feel very strongly that Sturm won the fight, I was somewhat surprised to learn that I marked enough toss-up rounds to allow for the possibility of a narrow Soliman victory at 114-113.  That’s just how judges Mickey Vann and Steve Weisfeld had it.  I’m not calling for their heads because, while I think their cards were biased, I can’t necessarily call them dead wrong in any given round.  Benoit Roussel is a different story.  He scored it 116-111 for Soliman.  Inexcusable.  That’s about 4 rounds worth of benefit of the doubt, plus about 2 more of total incompetence or corruption. 

 

As for the fight’s action, itself, Sturm basically controlled the first half of the fight with sharper and heavier punches, while Soliman tried to dart in and outbox him from angles, but too often left himself off balance.  Sturm even managed to score a flash knockdown in the 2nd.  Soliman did outperform his counterpart in the second half generally speaking as he appeared to be in a bit better condition than the German, but I believe that Sturm’s counter-punching remained sharp enough to poach a round or two even at that late stage.  To lose a decision like that in Germany, on a show promoted by him, against a lesser-known opponent, is frankly perplexing.  It’s like the judges of the world finally had a conference after Sturm got the benefit of the doubt against Macklin and Murray and decided to punish him going forward.  He definitely got no favors against Geale, and even less so against Soliman.

 

Saturday: #15 Max Bursak wasted little time in dispatching top-level French journeyman Julien Marie Sainte to win the EBU title, stopping Sainte in 3.  Matt Korobov had been scheduled to fight Dionisio Miranda in McAllen, Texas, but the fight didn’t come off for some reason.

 

Armageddon in the rankings.  Unfortunately, I have no choice under my existing precedent but to do something I don’t believe in: promote Soliman over Sturm.  The reason I must is that, while I scored it for Sturm, I had enough close rounds marked on my card to make a narrow Soliman victory appear to be something less than completely unreasonable.  So I give minimum deference to the decision by treating it like a draw with a slight edge to Soliman.  Soliman thus re-enters the top 10 in better shape this time around, landing at #6.  Sturm falls much further than he deserves to be, parking at #7.  This rendezvous allows everyone ranked #3-6 last week to advance one spot, while everyone ranked #7-10 and below descends one, including Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, who exits the top 10 after 118 consecutive weeks in.  Last week’s #14 Osumanu Adama leapfrogs Marco Antonio Rubio to claim Soliman’s former #12 spot, as Rubio’s win over Jose Luis Zertuche will be 5 years old this week, which weakens his hand slightly in a tight race.  Rubio therefore stands pat at #13, while Mundine slips from #11 to #14, largely due to that fact that both of his best two wins at this weight- over Geale and Garth Wood- are now over fighters that have also beat him at some point.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (147-147-147)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- UD12 #4 Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
Next Fight: 4/27/2013- vs. #10 Martin Murray
Martinez will look to come back strong from knee surgery when he takes on Martin Murray in Argentina on April 27.
1) Daniel Geale (85-190-190)
Last Fight: 1/30/2013- UD12 #11 Anthony Mundine
Next Fight: Unknown
Geale likely has a mandatory against countryman Sam Soliman coming up.  That is, unless the IBF orders a rematch of Sturm-Soliman.
2) Gennady Golovkin (1-23-86)

Last Fight: 1/19/2013- TKO7 JMW #? Gabriel Rosado
Next Fight: 3/30/2013- vs. #20 Nobuhiro Ishida
Golovkin will headline the Super 4 Light Heavyweight Tourney card in Monaco, fighting Nobuhiro Ishida, who is starting to lose all traces of the luster he gained by beating James Kirkland.
3) Matthew Macklin (1-85-176)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- TKO1 Joachim Alcine (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Andy Lee recently called Macklin out.
4) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (1-88-106)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- L (UD12) vs. Champ Sergio Martinez
Next Fight: Unknown
Chavez is expecting to return in May, and then- provided both men win their spring fights- rematch Martinez in September.  It looks like his next fight will be without trainer Freddie Roach, as he appears set to dump Roach for either Nacho Beristain or Robert Garcia.
5) Peter Quillin (1-16-37)
Last Fight: 10/20/2012- UD12 #6 Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam
Next Fight: 4/27/2013- vs. Fernando Guerrero (UNR)
Quillin’s fight with Guerrero has been postponed from February 9 to April 27 due to an injury to the card’s headliner, Danny Garcia.
6) Sam Soliman (1-1-51)
Last Fight: 2/1/2013- UD12* #2 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Soliman fairly clearly lost to Sturm, but in a reverse from what was happening a year or so ago, Sturm was borderline robbed in Germany.  Soliman should have a mandatory shot at Geale next, if all goes to script.
7) Felix Sturm (1-490-490)
Last Fight: 2/1/2013- L* (UD12) vs. #12 Sam Soliman
Next Fight: Unknown
After getting borderline robbed against Soliman, Sturm has already received overtures for a possible June fight with Golovkin.
8) Dmitry Pirog (1-132-132)
Last Fight: 5/1/2012- UD12 #20 Nobuhiro Ishida
Next Fight: Unknown
Pirog announced his very specific intention to fight in the US on HBO on March 2, but it’s getting kinda close to that date for there to be no official announcements or further discussion.
9) Grzegorz Proksa (1-95-95)
Last Fight: 9/1/2012- L(TKO5) vs. #13 Gennady Golovkin
Next Fight: 2/9/2013- vs. Lee Noble (UNR)
Proksa will look to begin the process of bouncing back from his taxing loss to Golovkin by fighting very poor English journeyman Lee Noble in Belfast on 2/9.
10) Martin Murray (1-62-62)
Last Fight: 11/24/2012- TKO6 Jorge Navarro (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/27/2013- vs. Champ Sergio Martinez
Murray will look to prove that he belongs at or above the level he achieved by drawing with Sturm when he fights the Champ in Argentina on April 27.
11) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (1-119)
Last Fight: 10/20/2012- L (UD12) vs. #20 Peter Quillin

Next Fight: Unknown
As it turns out, N’Dam had a rematch clause in his contract with Quillin, but he also has expressed interest in Golovkin, Geale, Martinez, and Chavez.  Quillin has scheduled a fight with Fernando Guerrero, as well.
12) Osumanu Adama (1-98)
Last Fight: 3/7/2012- L(UD12) vs. #1 Daniel Geale
Next Fight: Unknown
Adama’s scheduled return against Derrick Findley was abruptly canceled at the last moment.  I don’t know why, nor when he might be back again.
13) Marco Antonio Rubio (16-106)

Last Fight: 12/22/2012- KO11 Michel Rosales (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rubio appears to be in line for the Quillin-Guerrero winner.
14) Anthony Mundine (1-106)
Last Fight: 1/30/2013- L (UD12) vs. #1 Daniel Geale
Next Fight: Unknown
A delusional Mundine is crying robbery after being thoroughly defeated by Geale.
15) Max Bursak (7-106)
Last Fight: 2/2/2013- TKO3 Julien Marie Sainte (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bursak is now the EBU champion after destroying journeyman Sainte.
16) Demetrius Andrade (7-77)
Last Fight: 1/25/2013- UD10 Freddy Hernandez (UNR) (at JMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
On his recent ShoBox appearance, a big deal was made of Andrade’s speculated move up to 160 in the future.  But as his ranking would suggest, he’s already had at least one foot firmly planted in this division for quite some time.
17) Darren Barker (7-69)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- TKO4 Kerry Hope (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Barker wants Macklin and Murray, although Murray is obviously otherwise occupied for some months to come.
18) Bryan Vera (2-16)
Last Fight: 1/25/2013- TKO10 Sergei Dzinziruk (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vera remains a very real gatekeeper.  Not in the sense I usually use it- which is generally as a gatekeeper to the fringe contender level- but as a gatekeeper to the top 10 region.  Dzinziruk obviously was not up to that challenge.
19) Curtis Stevens (2-3)
Last Fight: 1/19/2013- KO1 Elvin Ayala (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Years later and 8 pounds lighter, Curtis Stevens is back in the mix.
20) Nobuhiro Ishida (2-49)
Last Fight: 5/1/2012- L(UD12) vs. #8 Dmitry Pirog
Next Fight: 3/30/2013- vs. #2 Gennady Golovkin
Ishida is probably about to spend his last remaining bit of currency from the Kirkland win.  He would need an even more shocking upset to survive- much less beat- the rampaging Gennady Golovkin.

 

The Week Ahead: Two fights to mention on Friday, and 3 on Saturday.

 

Friday: One-loss Australian prospect Jarrod Fletcher battles veteran Thai journeyman Kiatchai Singwancha in Australia.  Singwancha is a former featherweight whose nickname is apparently “Ice Jellybaby.”  I can’t make this stuff up.  Later on in Montreal, Haitian gatekeeper Joachim Alcine looks to rebound from a quick knockout loss to Matthew Macklin by taking on low-level Dominican journeyman David Toribio. 

 

Saturday: In Esbjerg, Denmark, undefeated Dane Patrick Nielsen gets one of the toughest tests of his young career against UK-based Gambian Patrick Mendy.  And on a single card in Belfast, Super Middleweight #10 Andy Lee fights journeyman Anthony Fitzgerald of Dublin, while #9 Grzegorz Proksa looks for a tune-up against very poor Yorkshire journeyman Lee Noble.
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