Heavyweight: 2013, Mar 25-31

With five fights featuring top 50 heavyweights, I’ll build from the crap fights to the more momentous ones in my reporting this week.

 

In Poland, mediocre undefeated prospect Andrzej Wawrzyk took care of late replacement journeyman Robert Hawkins on Saturday, winning 5 or 6 of the 6 rounds depending on which judge you ask.

 

Friday on the Solis-Larsen undercard in Berlin, nearly forgotten former top contender Ruslan Chagaev continued to beat up on outgunned opponents, knocking out West Virginia journeyman Mike Sheppard in a half-round despite being about 20 pounds over his prime fighting weight.

 

On the Abraham-Stieglitz undercard in Magdeburg, one-loss prospect Edmund Gerber won a narrow decision over Nigerian journeyman Gbenga Oloukun.  Lou DiBella, broadcasting the televised portion of the card for Epix, made a passing reference to Gerber winning an undeserved decision, and Oloukun all but went berserk after the decision was read, but there was really no reason for the controversy.  Oloukun basically gave away the first four rounds, doing almost nothing and allowing Gerber’s solid workmanlike shots to carry each by a wide margin.  Oloukun did essentially dominate and hurt Gerber for each of the last 3 rounds, but not to the point where a 10-8 was any kind of consideration.  The only round that wasn’t easy to score was round 5.  I gave it to Gerber by a narrow margin.  Two of the three judges apparently scored it even, while the other agreed with me and gave it to Gerber.  I wouldn’t argue with you if you scored it a draw, but the idea that it was a robbery or that Oloukun could have had any reasonable expectation for a win when he was nowhere close for exactly half the fight are both ridiculous.  Accounting for the fact that even rounds aren’t taboo in Europe, I’d say the judges (Rainer Schwarz, Norbert Duernberger, and Ingo Barrabas) all did an admirable job.  That being said, it was definitely an embarrassing performance for Gerber, since he was getting battered so badly by the end of the fight that you’d have to think he would have been stopped in a 10-rounder.

 

Backtracking to Friday, #11 Odlanier Solis put forth a solid if unspectacular effort against much taller Norwegian undefeated prospect Leif Larsen.  I say prospect with some reservation, since he is nearly 38 years old, having made his pro debut in 2003 but having been generally inactive and not having fought at all in 2008 or 2009.  I watched a British broadcast of the fight, and the commentary was unbelievably biased against Solis.  The whole intro was about how terrible he is, and then the commentators scored rounds against him that he basically dominated.  The judges, too, were mostly asleep at the wheel, evidently liking Larsen’s pawing jab- a punch that wasn’t even TRYING to land- more than Solis’ considerably more sparing but infinitely more effective shots, including some consistently hard body work.  In my estimation, Solis clearly lost the 11th after he, the ref, and the ring announcer all clearly believed the fight was scheduled for 10 and he went pretty much all-out in the 10th.  He may have also lost the 8th, though that one was a toss-up.  He won all the other rounds by a wide margin.  Yet judge Benny Decroos had it only 115-114.  Thomas Hakenberg had it 116-112, and Arno Pokrandt had it 117-111.  The Eurosport commentators were shocked at how wide two of the cards were.  All of the above were incompetently scoring the fight.  There’s no other way to say it.  This is a nice little win for Solis, no matter what anyone says.  To me, he appears to be all the way back from knee surgery.  He probably needs to get in a bit better shape, with 245 probably being a good goal for his weight considering his career to this point.  But in fairness he came in just 10 pounds heavier for this fight, and nearly five pounds lighter than his weight for his career-best performance against Ray Austin.

 

And finally in Abraham-Stieglitz’s main support bout on Saturday, I saw another fight that provoked a bit of scoring outrage for me.  Robert Helenius was coming off an abysmal performance that rightfully could have gone either way against mediocre journeyman Sherman Williams.  This was after a long layoff following a fight he definitely lost to Dereck Chisora.  His opponent this time around was Michael Sprott, who typically functions as a designated opponent for the high-level fighters, but who rose to gatekeeper status recently by defeating the aforementioned Gerber.  Helenius did nearly as bad as he did against Williams (even after adjusting for Sprott being better than Williams).  In the opening round, he came out looking plenty lively, snapping and moving laterally off a jab, and getting some combinations in.  He carried that success forward into the second round, as well.  But in the 3rd, Sprott began to assert himself, and on my card won that and the three rounds that followed- three of the four pretty clearly.  Helenius managed to hurt a slightly fading Sprott in the 7th and carried that momentum for a few rounds, winning 7-9 (2 of them clearly) on  my card.  Sprott showed more effort in the final round, and easily carried that one.  That led to a draw on my scorecard.  The judges, likely influenced by the fact that it was a Sauerland card and a Sauerland fighter, had it 98-93 x2 (Norbert Duernberger and Rainer Schwarz) and 97-93 (Joerg Milke).  None of those are defensible, in my view.  Referee Ingo Barrabas also showed bias, breaking the action to warn the fighters for nothing, and at excessive length, just as Sprott was coming on strong and looking for a big round. 

 

In general, neither guy was impressive.  Sprott was too often inactive to clearly win the fight, and for his part, Helenius was usually backing up behind a defensive jab that seldom landed, and almost never with anything on it.  He claimed  post-fight that his right hand hurt when it landed.  If he has chronic problems that keep him from having an effective right hand, then it’s hard to imagine him beating much better than a journeyman in the future.

 

Helenius maintains his #13 ranking, if only because he already fell a fair amount due to his similar performance against a much lesser opponent than Sprott, and because #14 Alexander Dimitrenko has an inferior overall resume and hasn’t exactly been lighting it up recently, either.  Solis slips past Jonathan Banks and into the top 10 based on his superior overall resume as compared to Banks’ one good win.  No other changes.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (196-409-409)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- UD12 Mariusz Wach (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/4/2013- vs. Francesco Pianeta (UNR)
Wlad will be fighting Italian fringe contending prospect Francesco Pianeta in Mannheim, Germany.  It’s hard to knock Pianeta as a fighter because he remains undefeated and was knocked off track by a bout with cancer a couple years ago, but it’s hard to get excited about any fight that, if the underdog won, would be considered the greatest upset in the history of the Heavyweight Championship.
1) Vitali Klitschko (233-233-233)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO4 Manuel Charr (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vitali hasn’t decided whether to retire or not, but he has very clearly stated he has no interest in David Haye after Haye turned down a fight in September.
2) David Haye (37-37-37)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- TKO5 #6 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: 7/6/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Haye will be fighting in July, and he’s likely going to have to break his promise not to fight anybody but Vitali in order to do so.  No opponent yet, though.
3) Steve Cunningham (14-14-14)
Last Fight: 12/22/2012- L (SD12) vs. #3 Tomasz Adamek (Robbery)
Next Fight: 4/20/2013- vs. #6 Tyson Fury
Adamek’s erratic behavior has yielded justice.  Cunningham beat Adamek, but was robbed.  Now he’ll fight Tyson Fury, with the winner to fight Kubrat Pulev for a mandatory shot at Wlad.  The fight will be at MSG and will be televised live in the afternoon by NBC.
4) Alexander Povetkin (37-283-283)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- TKO2 Hasim Rahman (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After failing to convince the WBA to deny Wlad a voluntary before fighting him, Povetkin and his team are now raising cain about the 75-25 split the WBA has set for the purse bid.  No word on whether he’ll stay busy in the meantime, as it would be hard to imagine the fight happening before August at the earliest.  The WBA has mandated that the fight take place by the end of that month, but we’ll see on that.
5) Tomasz Adamek (14-153-153)
Last Fight: 12/22/2012- W (SD12)* vs. CW #4 Steve Cunningham (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
After claiming he turned down the Pulev fight for a more lucrative opportunity for a domestic Polish fight, Adamek is now saying he’ll fight next in the US.  If this were a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” we know which bird Adamek would be.  Now he’s separated from his promoter, Main Events.  One strange development after another.
6) Tyson Fury (14-88-88)
Last Fight: 12/1/2012- UD12 Kevin Johnson (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/20/2013- vs. #3 Steve Cunningham
See Cunningham’s notes, above.
7) Eddie Chambers (14-41-41)
Last Fight: 6/16/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Tomasz Adamek
Next Fight: Unknown
Chambers is getting some buzz as a possible next opponent for Haye, and he’s done nothing to discourage this.
8) Kubrat Pulev (14-47-124)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- KO11 Alexander Ustinov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
With Adamek running scared, Pulev will reportedly defend his EBU title soon.  Next, he will likely fight the winner of Cunningham-Fury, with the winner becoming Wlad’s IBF mandatory.
9) Dereck Chisora (14-69-132)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- L(TKO5) vs. David Haye (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/20/2013- vs. Ondrej Pala (UNR)
Chisora will be fighting the best available Czech heavyweight out there in Ondrej Pala, though that’s not saying much.  Still, Pala is at least arguably a top 50 guy, despite getting stopped by the soft-punching Konstantin Airich.
10) Odlanier Solis (1-1-148)
Last Fight: 3/22/2013- UD12 Leif Larsen (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Solis’ promoter wants to get him back in the ring within 3 months after the Larsen fight.
11) Johnathon Banks (1-19)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- TKO2 #11 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: Unknown
Banks broke his thumb in sparring, scuttling the Mitchell rematch.
12) Tony Thompson (4-148)

Last Fight: 2/23/2013- TKO2 David Price (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Thompson has been approached about fighting a comebacking David Tua in the summer.  My sense is that he can do a lot better.
13) Robert Helenius (4-148)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- W*(UD10) vs. Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
If he can’t get his injury situation together and start fighting with a bit more urgency, Helenius is heading for journeyman status and a premature retirement.
14) Alexander Dimitrenko (4-115)
Last Fight: 3/9/2013- UD8 Ivica Perkovic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Dimitrenko’s future is in doubt after he struggled mightily to survive a heavy knockdown and outpoint typically inept journeyman Ivica Perkovic.
15) Chris Arreola (4-210)
Last Fight: 2/18/2012- KO1 Eric Molina (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/27/2013- vs. #19 Bermane Stiverne (UNR)
The Stiverne fight is once again on the schedule, this time for April 27.
16) Denis Boytsov (4-197)
Last Fight: 2/15/2013- UD8 Samir Kurtagic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Boytsov appears to have won the battle of wills with Universum over whether he gets to fight or not.  Now the trick will be getting him in against worthwhile opposition.
17) Vyacheslav Glazkov (4-14)
Last Fight: 2/23/2013- Draw* (SD10) vs. Malik Scott (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Glazkov got the benefit of the doubt in every close round from two of the judges against Scott.  It was just about as close to a robbery as you can get without me calling it that. 
18) Malik Scott (4-5)
Last Fight: 2/23/2013- Draw* (SD10) vs. #19 Vyacheslav Glazkov
Next Fight: Unknown
Scott was the victim of a bad decision against Glazkov it’s fair to say, but I stop short of calling it a blatant robbery.  I do believe he won 8 of the 10 rounds, but he only won 4 of them with clarity.  By easing off the gas in the latter half of the fight, he gave the judges the opportunity to hand it to the house fighter, which 2 of them were all too happy to do.
19) Bermane Stiverne (4-4)
Last Fight: 4/14/2012- vs. Willie Herring (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/27/2013- vs. #15 Chris Arreola
See Arreola’s notes, above.
20) Franklin Lawrence (4-4)
Last Fight: 1/25/2013- Mark Brown (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/14/2013- vs. Bryant Jennings (UNR)
Lawrence finally has a worthwhile fight on his schedule for the first time in a while in hot prospect Bryant Jennings.  It’ll be in Jennings’ backyard in Bethlehem, PA, though.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: No heavyweight fights of note after a busy time last week.  Happy Easter!
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