Heavyweight: 2013, Apr 29- May 5

There were no fewer than 5 fights involving top 50 heavyweights this week.  Here is a rundown, in order of expected importance.


#15 Chris Arreola returned to the ring to fight his best opponent, by far, in the 3 years since his close loss to Tomasz Adamek when his long-delayed fight with #19 Bermane Stiverne finally came off on Saturday in Ontario, California.  The favored Arreola won the first round and avoided being hit by anything of note, but Stiverne got into the fight in the second before taking it over in the third.  Just as the bell was about to ring to end that round , Stiverne caught Arreola with a huge right hand that all at once dropped him, hurt him, and broke his nose.  Arreola had little answer thereafter, as Stiverne was more active (the one aspect that Arreola very clearly seemed to have in his favor going into the fight), moved well behind the jab, had demonstrably more one-shot power, and appeared in significantly better condition.  Arreola mounted what was in many ways a last stand in the 9th to easily carry the round, but faded ever the more quickly thereafter, as Stiverne beat him from pillar to post in the 12th to put a cap on the fight.  Stiverne won by scores of 117-110 (x2) and 118-109 (my score, as well), to take the biggest win of his career so far.  And he looked good in doing it.


In a stereotypical crossroads fight earlier on Saturday, we got a stereotypical result on the Khan-Diaz undercard in Sheffield, England.  2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist Deontay Wilder, who had 27 (mostly empty) knockouts in 27 fights, finally got one worth having, battering recently resurgent fringe contender Audley Harrison to the canvas (perhaps even after he was already on it) before referee Terry O’Connor correctly stopped it after Harrison rose on wobbly legs.  The end came just 70  seconds into the contest.


Gatekeeper and former Vitali Klitschko opponent Kevin Johnson, who has been slipping lately, may have made himself somewhat relevant again by stopping one-loss Kiwi prospect Solomon Haumono in the 10th round in Melbourne, Australia.  Johnson, according to the report I read from East Side Boxing, largely dominated the fight before catching Haumono with a perfect right hand in the 10th that dropped him and prompted referee Tony Marretta to stop the fight without a count.


On the Martinez-Murray undercard in Buenos Aires, Russian undefeated prospect Magomed Abdusalamov put an old-fashioned whoopin’ on local journeyman Sebastian Ceballos, knocking the bigger man down 3 times in the 61 second-long fight.


On the undercard of Arreola-Stiverne, another significant upset as 2-loss prospect Eric Molina- best known for badly hurting Chris Arreola in early 2012 right before Arreola came back to knock him out in the first round- scored a unanimous decision over Tony Grano.  Grano has been viewed a rugged journeyman throughout most of his career, but came in as a top 50 gatekeeper type after a victory over DaVarryl Williamson in his last fight.  Molina was knocked out less than 2 minutes into his pro career, but went on an 18-fight winning streak thereafter against mostly weak opposition before stepping up far too steeply against Arreola.  As for the fight itself (which I have been unable to find video of), my source (Philboxing.com) leaves the impression the fight was largely boring, with Molina controlling range and keeping Grano at bay, dropping him once in the 5th but failing to follow up.  He appeared to be cruising to an easy victory but nondescript victory when, in the final round, he was dropped and badly hurt by a tired but determined Grano, and had to run and hold on for dear life to survive to the bell and secure the victory.  Scores were 116-110 (x2) and 114-112.


The two biggest winners of the night both made plenty of hay from their victories.  Stiverne advances to #12, his rise halted only by the fact that Johnathon Banks has beaten a #11 contender in Seth Mitchell, coupled with the fact that Stiverne drew, within a relevant time frame, with a very lowly regarded journeyman, while Banks only similarly struggled at heavyweight with a much better journeyman in Jason Gavern.  Wilder debuts at #14, halted by Tony Thompson, who has recently knocked out the man, in David Price, who knocked Wilder’s crowning opponent out in almost the exact same amount of time, and has also beaten a couple other top 50 guys, while losing only to the Champion in the past several years.  Arreola tumbles way out of the rankings.  Tony Thompson falls from #12 to #13.  Last week’s #13 and #14 Robert Helenius and Alexander Dimitrenko each fall two spots.  This is coincidentally also the week that last week’s #16 Denis Boytsov’s 2nd best win (out of a total of 2 significant ones) became more than 5 years old and thus no longer eligible for consideration.  With just his nearly 4 year old win over Taras Bidenko left to look at, Boytsov tumbles to #19.  No other changes.  Sorry if those weren’t enough.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (201-414-414)
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 (238-238-238)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO4 Manuel Charr (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After speculation went wild over a Daily Beast article that seemed to be hinting at an impending retirement announcement, Vitali seems to have every intention of continuing his career.  He says he may eventually fight David Haye, but implies he would at least fight his mandatory challenger (the Stiverne-Arreola winner) first.
2) Tyson Fury (2-93-93)
Last Fight: 4/20/2013- KO7 #3 Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: Unknown
Fury is now suddenly the most proven heavyweight not named Klitschko, and will likely get a chance to add to his resume against Kubrat Pulev next, as an eliminator for Wlad in the IBF.
3) David Haye (2-42-42)
Last Fight: 7/14/2012- TKO5 #6 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: 6/29/2013- vs. Manuel Charr (UNR)
Haye had some good fighters willing to fight him- including Eddie Chambers and possibly Kubrat Pulev.  The disappointment I feel at learning that he will instead fight borderline fringe contender Manuel Charr can not be overstated.
4) Alexander Povetkin (42-288-288)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- TKO2 Hasim Rahman (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/17/2013- vs. Andrzej Wawrzyk (UNR)
Povetkin is set to fight mediocre-looking undefeated Polish prospect Andrzej Wawrzyk in Moscow, on the Lebedev-Jones undercard.
5) Steve Cunningham (2-19-19)
Last Fight: 4/20/2013- L (KO7) vs. #6 Tyson Fury
Next Fight: Unknown
Only time will tell where Cunningham goes form here.  His hopes for a title shot are dashed at least for awhile.  Perhaps a trilogy with Adamek would make sense at this point.
6Tomasz Adamek (2-158-158)
Last Fight: 12/22/2012- W (SD12)* vs. CW #4 Steve Cunningham (Robbery)
Next Fight: Unknown
Word is that Adamek will likely be fighting still relatively unproven Newark prospect Joe Hanks on June 14 in that town that they both currently call home.
7) Eddie Chambers (19-46-46)
Last Fight: 6/16/2012- L(UD12) vs. #3 Tomasz Adamek
Next Fight: Unknown
Chambers seems willing to fight anyone at heavyweight or cruiserweight, but you can’t have a fight with just one guy willing.
8) Kubrat Pulev (19-52-129)
Last Fight: 9/29/2012- KO11 Alexander Ustinov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After negotiatings to fight David Haye failed, it now seems likely Pulev has got Tyson Fury next, for a likely shot at Wladimir Klitschko in early 2014.
9) Dereck Chisora (19-74-137)
Last Fight: 4/20/2013- TKO9 Hector Avila (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chisora put on a world-class snoozer against Avila, but still managed to bag a late stoppage.
10) Odlanier Solis (6-6-153)
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 (6-24)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- TKO2 #11 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: 6/22/2013- vs. Seth Mitchell (UNR)
The Mitchell rematch- postponed due to a broken thumb by Banks- has been reset for the Malignaggi-Broner undercard on June 22.
12) Bermane Stiverne (1-9)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD12 #15 Chris Arreola
Next Fight: Unknown
Stiverne is hoping that Vitali doesn’t retire so that he can try and do the honors himself.  At this point he’d be a pretty credible opponent, too.
13) Tony Thompson (1-153)
Last Fight: 2/23/2013- TKO2 David Price (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/6/2013- vs. David Price (UNR)
After originally saying he’d only fight David Price in a rematch if Price came to the US, Thompson has instead agreed to fight in Price’s Liverpool backyard again.
14) Deontay Wilder (1-1)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- TKO1 Audley Harrison (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Wilder wants a crack at Fury next, but the Brit is likely to go for Pulev instead, since the winner gets Wlad.
15) Robert Helenius (1-153)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- W*(UD10) vs. Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Helenius’ team confirms another hand injury.  They say it will take 6 weeks to heal, despite rumors that it is more serious.
16) Alexander Dimitrenko (1-120)
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.
17) Vyacheslav Glazkov (9-19)
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 (9-10)
Last Fight: 2/23/2013- Draw* (SD10) vs. #19 Vyacheslav Glazkov
Next Fight: Unknown
Scott is in Moscow at last check, sparring with Povetkin and Lebedev.
19) Denis Boytsov (1-202)
Last Fight: 2/15/2013- UD8 Samir Kurtagic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Boytsov’s 2nd best win- over Robert Hawkins- is now over 5 years old, and he has slipped a few spots as a result.  He’s getting closer to obscurity with each passing month.
20) Franklin Lawrence (9-9)
Last Fight: 1/25/2013- Mark Brown (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lawrence reportedly pulled out of a planned (and very good) crossroads fight with prospect Bryant Jennings.


THE WEEK AHEAD: The Heavyweight Championship is on the line Saturday in Mannheim, as long-reigning Champ Wladimir Klitschko takes on a relatively non-threatening opponent in undefeated prospect Francesco Pianeta.   Pianeta is unofficially my #22 contender, a cancer survivor, and a former Klitschko sparring partner.  To put in perspective just how light of a challenge this appears to be, here’s a comparison: Buster Douglas’ defeat of Mike Tyson is often viewed as one of the most shocking upsets in sports history.  That fight was Champ vs. #7 Contender.  This is Champ vs. #22.  A Pianeta win would be without question the greatest upset (in terms of rankings differential, at least) in the history of the Heavyweight Championship.


On the undercard, undefeated but rather inactive Cuban prospect Mike Perez finally gets back in the ring against journeyman Travis Walker.  Perez was the dominant winner of the first Prizefighter International Heavyweight tournament in 2011.  Walker was arguably the co-favorite for the most recent installment, but laid an egg in the first round of the tourney against Derric Rossy.

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