Junior Middleweight: 2011, Dec 5-11

This was a big week in the division.  No less than 5 ranked fighters were in action, in just 3 fights.  Two of these were at Madison Square Garden.


In the main event, #5 Miguel Cotto more or less dominated #20 Antonio Margarito, forcing a stoppage at the beginning of the 10th round because of damage to Margarito’s already questionable eye.  Cotto thusly avenged his punishing 2008 TKO loss to Margarito, in a fight in which Cotto and many fans now believe Margarito was loading his gloves.  Many are already pointing to the differing outcome as some sort of evidence that Margarito was guilty of that.  I don’t agree.  To my eyes, the only clear and key difference between the two outings was that Cotto appeared to employ a superior gameplan the second time around, and that Margarito appeared to have slowed too much to deliver his punches- whether softer or not- with any consistency.  He barely hit Cotto clean all night, so it’s hard to say that his punches were clearly less effective when they landed.


On the undercard, #14 Delvin Rodriguez had another fine performance against #9 Pawel Wolak.  Their last fight ended in a draw back in July, and remains a fight of the year candidate.  In the second installment, Rodriguez clearly got the better of the action overall, and the judges and commentators seemed to unanimously believe that Rodriguez convincingly won the fight in rounds, as well.  I am a bit bewildered by the last part of that, though.  If you asked me who I’d rather be at the end of the fight regardless of points, it’s an easy call in favor of Rodriguez, but to me, Wolak’s aggression and consistent volume carried at least rounds 1,2,5, 6, and probably 9.  The only reason Rodriguez even had an argument for a win in my book is that he earned a 10-8 round by beating the hell out of Wolak in the 10th.  In my book, he won it by a point at most, or lost it by either 1 or 3.  I know that’s a controversial position given how obviously dominant Rodriguez was according to HBO, but I wouldn’t be performing the function I’m here to perform if I just parroted other people’s opinions. 


A few hours earlier in Wigan, England, in what was much more a skirmish or chess match than a full-blown war, one-loss prospect Brian Rose- a big underdog- pulled off a huge upset over #8 and British Champion Prince Arron.  Rose, who was 3 inches shorter than Arron, effectively countered the often lazy punches of the slower-handed Arron, gaining a clear edge in all but a couple rounds (though seldom, if ever, winning a round big).  The judges didn’t give him his due.  Rose won the fight at least 118-110, but the best judge of the three had it 117-113, that being John Keane.  Victor Loughlin had it 116-113, while Phil Edwards embarrassed himself by making it a split decision at 115-114 Arron.  That means he got at least 4 Rose rounds wrong, and scored another even.  It wasn’t a close fight.


Now for the rather significant rankings implications.  Cotto switches spots with Lara, advancing to #4.  It was a close fight, as the two men are hard to pick between based on their wins at this weight.  The decisive difference is Lara’s draw with Molina, which establishes for him a limitation that Cotto has yet to demonstrate (struggles against Mayorga notwithstanding).  Margarito barely manages to hang onto his #20 spot, with nobody knocking on the door too strongly.


Given how low of a level Rose had been proven at, and the fact that he lost to a very mediocre journeyman last year without any major prior success, Arron’s loss to him is pretty devastating.  Last week’s #8 contender exits the rankings entirely.  Rose, meanwhile, debuts at #15.  Normally a guy that beats a #8 contender will do a lot better than that, but again his TKO loss to Max Maxwell in May 2010 hurts him.  As I learned during the broadcast, the Maxwell fight was his first after an opponent nearly died from fighting him, and he was so distressed by it that he had to seek counseling to continue his career after that loss.  That makes the loss understandable, but it doesn’t erase it.  It’s certainly difficult to promote him past a guy like Paul Williams who has beaten a #2 contender.


Rodriguez merely reiterated the proposition that he belongs at or above the level of Wolak.  That was demonstrably not true before the two fought the first time given his loss (though he deserved at least a draw) to Ashley Theophane, and so until Rodriguez beats another top fighter or at least beats Wolak more clearly, he’s just about as far as he can rise.  He does pick up two places due to Wolak and Arron’s demotions, however, settling at #12.  Wolak slips to #13 despite his dominant win over #5 Yuri Foreman not all that long ago.


#10-13 (Rhodes, Trout, Powell, and Rosado) all move up two spots as well.  Finally, last week’s #15 Paul Williams moves up to #14 due to Arron’s nosedive.
Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: None
1) Saul Alvarez (25-40-55)
Last Fight: 11/26/2011- TKO5 Kermit Cintron (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Canelo wants to fight Mayweather in May, or may fight Kirkland next.
2) Cornelius Bundrage (25-70-70)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- UD12 #11 Sechew Powell
Next Fight: Unknown
The latest news is that K9 may fight Latimore on New Year’s Eve.  He’s also interested in Kirkland.
3) James Kirkland (5-5-5)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- TKO6 #4 Alfredo Angulo
Next Fight: Unknown
In the immediate aftermath of his huge upset win over Angulo, Bundrage, Lara, Canelo, and Ishida have both expressed interest in fighting him, but Kirkland appears to want Carlos Molina.
4) Miguel Cotto (1-79-79)

Last Fight: 12/3/2011- RTD10 #20 Antonio Margarito
Next Fight: Unknown
Redemption for Cotto.

5) Erislandy Lara (1-22-44)

Last Fight: 7/9/2011- L*(MD12) vs. #6 Paul Williams
Next Fight: Unknown
With most of the big names at 154 apparently not all that excited about fighting him, Lara recently challenged Dmitry Pirog at middleweight.  He’s also interested in Austin Trout, Sergio Martinez, and James Kirkland.
6) Carlos Molina (22-22-37)
Last Fight: 7/9/2011- UD10 #7 Kermit Cintron
Next Fight: Unknown
Kirkland wants him.
7) Alfredo Angulo (5-115-115)
Last Fight: 11/5/2011- L (TKO6) vs. James Kirkland (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Angulo had no shortage of guts, but appeared a bit physically overmatched against a beastly incarnation of Kirkland.
8) Ryan Rhodes (1-111-111)
Last Fight: 11/26/2011- W (PTS8) vs. Sergei Khomitski (UNR) (at MW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rhodes wants a shot at Bundrage.
9) Austin Trout (1-1-44)
Last Fight: 11/11/2011- TKO6 Frank LoPorto (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Trout outclassed and stopped iron-chinned journeyman LoPorto.
10) Sechew Powell (1-1-90)
Last Fight: 6/25/2011- L(UD12) vs. #3 Cornelius Bundrage
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. Cory Spinks (UNR)
After Latimore turned down an eliminator for a Bundrage shot, Powell will instead be taking on Cory Spinks for that honor, it would appear.  The fight was originally rumored for Mares-Agbeko, but looks likely for the Erdei-Cloud New Year’s Eve card, instead.
11) Gabriel Rosado (1-44)
Last Fight: 9/9/2011- UD10 Keenan Collins (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rosado had little trouble with the low-level challenge of Collins.
12) Delvin Rodriguez (1-21)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- UD10* #9 Pawel Wolak
Next Fight: Unknown
Rodriguez, to my eyes, merely proved that he’s as good or slightly better than Wolak, but in doing so dragged Wolak down.  Still, Rodriguez should have a big fight coming to him now.
13) Pawel Wolak (1-39)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- L*(UD10) vs. #14 Delvin Rodriguez
Next Fight: Unknown
Wolak briefly looked like a championship contender, but now suddenly appears on his way out.
14) Paul Williams (1-44)
Last Fight: 7/9/2011- W*(MD12) vs. #17 Erislandy Lara (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
Williams’ promoter wants to see him fight an orthodox fighter next, but it’s increasingly likely that won’t be until 2012.
15) Brian Rose (1-1)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- W (SD12) vs. #8 Prince Arron
Next Fight: Unknown
Don’t let the SD fool you.  Rose easily beat Arron.  But his prior loss to Max Maxwell keeps him from obtaining too lofty a ranking.
16) Vanes Martirosyan (4-27)
Last Fight: 10/29/2011- UD10 Richard Gutierrez (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Martirosyan could have made a major career move by fighting Angulo, but instead opted to tread water against Gutierrez.
17) Yuri Foreman (4-114)
Last Fight: 3/12/2011- L (RTD6) vs. Pawel Wolak (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Foreman’s career currently hangs in the balance, and he reportedly is not sure whether or not to continue fighting.
18) Lukas Konecny (4-17)
Last Fight: 5/27/2011- UD12 Hussein Bayram (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/?/2012- vs. Zaurbek Baysangurov (UNR)
Konecny has agreed to fight Baysangurov in February.  The fight will either be in Moscow, Grozny, or Kiev.
19) Deandre Latimore (4-16)
Last Fight: 4/16/2011- UD8 Dennis Sharpe (UNR) (at MW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Latimore may be fighting Bundrage on New Year’s Eve on a Showtime broadcast.
20) Antonio Margarito (4-4)
Last Fight: 12/3/2011- L (RTD10) vs. #5 Miguel Cotto
Next Fight: Unknown
Margarito wants a trilogy fight with Cotto in Mexico City.  Fat chance.


The Week Ahead: Nothing to report this week.

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