Light Heavyweight: 2013, Mar 18-24

Friday in Hollywood, Florida, undefeated Cuban Yunieski Gonzalez made good on his first step up to top 50 competition, knocking out Rowland Bryant- best known as the man who effectively ended the career of Librado Andrade back in April- in the 8th round.

 

In a shocking upset, France-based Congolese gatekeeper Doudou Ngumbu dominated #14 Vyacheslav Uzelkoff in Uzelkoff’s back yard of Kiev.  Ngumbu worked beautifully, using movement and sharp combinations to pepper the comparatively slow-footed Ukranian.  Uzelkoff tried to walk in without jabbing and land clubbing shots on the inside- a bad strategy to be sure against a more agile and active opponent.  Ngumbu’s win is even more impressive when you consider that it was Sofiane Sebihi that was scheduled to fight Uzelkoff just a week ago.

 

Normally Ngumbu’s win would propel him into the top 20, and in fact it would have if his had been the only significant win of the weekend.  What holds him back is the fact that he has anything but a clean record of success overall.  The most important fight to that analysis was his stoppage loss 9 months ago to gatekeeper Nadjib Mohammedi, who himself has never been ranked here.  He also has 3 other losses that hurt him, though at least two of them were apparently arguable, and all came before his prior significant win over Alexei Kuziemski.  Despite all this, Ngumbu would fit in at #20 compared to last week’s rankings.  Unfortunately for him, Yunieski Gonzalez’s win was nearly as big as his own, while he has none of the baggage in terms of red ink that Ngumbu brings with him. 

 

Uzelkoff falls from the rankings, allowing everyone ranked #15 and below to advance.  Gonzalez debuts at #20, while Ngumbu is probably next in line should somebody drop out.  One more note- I hinted in recent weeks at the possibility that I would remove Jean Pascal from the rankings for inactivity if he did indeed bail on Chad Dawson in favor of Lucian Bute.  Pascal hasn’t fought at 175 in nearly 2 years, and so he is obviously living on borrowed time.  But since before he hit the one year mark in May 2012, he’s continuously had a fight scheduled.  He has postponed, canceled, or come in heavy for some of those scheduled dates, but he always has the next option finalized before failing to make good on the last.  For this reason, he’s been able to float with his ranking intact.  After signing and then postponing a fight with Dawson, he has now canceled on him.  I would have LOVED to have removed him for that, but he waited until he had a fight with Lucian Bute well in hand.  I considered removing him anyway just for playing too many games, but upon reflection I realized I would be doing so entirely out of spite.  We know he’s planning to fight, even if it’s not the matchup that non-Canadian fans were hoping for, and so the removal would be temporary and would not reflect the true state of the division.  It would also make a somewhat unintuitive alteration to a system that has served me and my rankings pretty well to this point.  So Pascal remains.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (28-28-28)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO10 Champ Chad Dawson (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
After taking some seemingly unsolicited smack talk from Mayweather, Ward said he’d drain down to 160 to fight him.  Probably just talk, since neither man has ever fought that high/low.
1) Chad Dawson (28-355-355)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- L(TKO10) vs. SMW Champ Andre Ward (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
After Pascal pulled out of their excellent rematch, Dawson is searching for a new opponent.  Word is he might fight Adonis Stevenson on June 8.
2) Bernard Hopkins (28-354-354)
Last Fight: 3/9/2012- UD12 #6 Tavoris Cloud
Next Fight: Unknown
It sounds like Hopkins-Cleverly is likely in the cards for later this year.
3) Jean Pascal (28-196-196)
Last Fight: 12/14/2012- UD10 Alexei Kuziemski (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. #16 Lucian Bute
Pascal bailed on Dawson for a less internationally compelling fight with Lucian Bute on the same date.
4) Sergey Kovalev (9-9-9)
Last Fight: 1/19/2013- TKO3 #4 Gabriel Campillo
Next Fight: Unknown
Kovalev is hoping to return in Moscow in April.
5) Gabriel Campillo (9-143-143)
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 (9-186-186)
Last Fight: 3/9/2013- L (UD12) vs. #2 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
The division is as weak in terms of talent as it’s ever been, and Cloud can’t beat a 48 year old contender in it.  I don’t think he’s ever going to be a champion.
7) Cornelius White (9-36-66)
Last Fight: 3/9/2013- UD8 Otis Griffin (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
White snuck in an under-the-radar 8-rounder against Otis Griffin.  It was a pound over the limit, but will buy him some more time to stay active at 175, at least.
8) Nathan Cleverly (9-163-163)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- TKO8 Shawn Hawk (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/20/2013- vs. Robin Krasniqi (UNR)
Cleverly’s long-lingering and mostly pointless fight against gatekeeper Robin Krasniqi has been moved to April 20.
9) Tony Bellew (9-75-75)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- UD12 Roberto Feliciano Bolonti (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/30/2013- vs. #13 Isaac Chilemba
Bellew has a mandatory shot at the European title against Braehmer waiting for him if he gets by Chilemba, but that may never happen since Bellew would also become the challenger-in-waiting for Chad Dawson, and might even get that opportunity on May 25 if Pascal does pull out.
10) Jürgen Brähmer (7-7-48)
Last Fight: 2/2/2013- UD12 Eduard Gutknecht (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/27/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Braehmer defends his European title in Hamburg on April 27.  No opponent yet.
11) Karo Murat (7-98)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- TKO7 Sandro Siproshvili (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Murat last made 175 on October 1, 2011.  He’s fought once slightly over the limit since then, giving him until April 1 to schedule a fight here.  This is partly Cloud’s fault for essentially standing him up, but that’s way too little activity to draw sympathy from me.  Murat remains the mandatory challenger for Hopkins, but the old man may have a more lucrative fight to consider with Cleverly.
12) Beibut Shumenov (7-143)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- UD12 Enrique Ornelas (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
13) Isaac Chilemba (7-59)
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.
14) Andrzej Fonfara (1-36)
Last Fight: 11/16/2012- TKO7 Tommy Karpency (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Fonfara aggravated a previous injury to his right hand and had to withdraw from his ESPN2 fight with Nicholson Poulard.  He will hope that it heals on its own in a month, but if not he will need surgery that would keep him out for an additional 3-6 months.
15) Yusaf Mack (1-143)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- L(KO3) vs. #1 SMW Carl Froch (at SMW)
Next Fight: 4/12/2013- vs. Cedric Agnew (UNR)
After I rather thought he should retire after his showing against Carl Froch, Mack is instead back in the ring on April 12 against undefeated prospect Cedric Agnew.
16) Lucian Bute (1-20)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- UD12 #16 Denis Grachev
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. #3 Jean Pascal
Bute will look to prove what I have long believed- that the 168 pound division is much better man-for-man than 175, by fighting his larger peer in Montreal on May 25.
17) Denis Grachev (1-47)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- L(UD12) vs. SMW #4 Lucian Bute
Next Fight: 3/30/2013- vs. Zsolt Erdei (UNR)
Grachev will fight inactive former champ Zsolt Erdei in Monaco on March 30, with the winner to fight there against the winner of Edwin Rodriguez vs. Ezequiel Maderna in July.
18) Dmitri Sukhotski (1-125)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- TKO1 Vladimir Borovsky (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Sukhotski was originally rumored for the Monaco tourney, but he is not one of the 4 scheduled.
19) Eleider Alvarez (1-8)
Last Fight: 12/14/2012- KO8 Danny McIntosh (UNR) (at CW)
Next Fight: 3/22/2013- vs. Nicholson Poulard (UNR)
Alvarez will fight in Montreal on March 22, and will take over the spot opposite Nicholson Poulard that was vacated by an injured Andrzej Fonfara on the FNF broadcast.
20) Yunieski Gonzalez (1-1)
Last Fight: 3/15/2013- KO8 Rowland Bryant (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Gonzalez took a huge step up in competition and made good, knocking out strong fringe contender Bryant. 

 

The Week Ahead: Friday in Montreal, #19 Eleider Alvarez of Colombia takes on Jean Pascal’s brother, solid journeyman Nicholson Poulard.

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