Super Middleweight: 2013, May 6-12

The easy night I saw coming in #10 Anthony Dirrell’s comeback fight in Las Vegas turned out to be anything but.  First of all, Dirrell came in at 172.5 to Mouton’s 167.  I am not sure if Mouton came in light for a contracted light heavyweight fight, or whether Dirrell came in heavy.  Despite (or perhaps in part due to) the extra weight, Dirrell looked sluggish and lazy, mostly backing up and spending about half the fight on the ropes, looking to land counters while Mouton unloaded shots.   Dirrell had occasional success with this strategy, but Mouton’s consistent body work, constant aggression, and better command of the ring’s real estate carried the day by my lights.  I gave Dirrell only one round- the second- and didn’t think he had much of an argument for any more than 3.  The judges all disagreed with me.  Herb Santos (who badly botched Rosado-Love the following night) and Al Lefkowitz had it 77-75 (5 rounds to 3) for Dirrell, while Adelaide Byrd had it even a round wider.  To me, this is indicative of a disturbing trend in judging, wherein judges score talent and slickness at the expense of real criteria like clean effective punching and effective aggressiveness, while completely misunderstanding the concept of ring generalship.  I feel like many judges- both official and otherwise- view ring generalship as a stylistic counterpoint to aggressiveness.  These judges, I believe, equate dancing, moving, and sometimes running with ring generalship.  Here’s the problem with that.  If backing up artistically equaled ring generalship, then it would be to the advantage of fighters (particular if they were lighter punchers than their opponents) to simply avoid engagement for the entire fight.  Practically run until they back into their opponents somewhere on the ropes.  A backward step, to me, is only ring generalship if it actually sets up your own offense by keeping the other guy off balance or walking him into a shot.  If he’s the one moving his hands while you move your legs, he’s the general.  He’s the boss, as Teddy Atlas would say.  You can’t control the ring- or your opponent- by backing off from him consistently.  You certainly can’t do so by laying on the ropes, either. 

 

Having needed a robbery to beat an opponent that has lost to unproven and/or average prospects in his last two fights (and a guy that took the fight on less than a week’s notice to boot), despite a 5.5 pound weight advantage, Dirrell can no longer remain in the rankings at this point.  Having tested my opinion of the decision out on a message board, I am fully aware that it is not widely shared, and also acknowledge that the copy of the fight I was able to obtain is something less than HD.  I will re-watch it with a bit better quality if and when FSN or Fuel TV re-airs it, and will adjust Dirrell’s standing accordingly should I change my opinion at that point.  For those of you who have seen the fight and disagree with me vehemently, then please stay with me.  The fact that he came in so heavy for his first fight in nearly a year and a half is, by itself, arguably enough reason to remove him.  He says he plans to be back to 168 and fight again in about 2 months.  I had committed to keeping him in the rankings until June 2 due to his injury situation, and if he either hadn’t announced a fight at 168 by then, or if he came in at all heavy for that fight, he would have been removed for sure less than a month from now.  So what I’m saying is that if you feel strongly that he deserved to win the fight, just think of him as having been removed for being inactive at 168 and/or moving up in weight.

 

On the Showtime-televised undercard for the Mayweather PPV the following night in the same city, undefeated Swedish prospect Badou Jack- who beat Mouton in both men’s previous fight- turned in a fairly impressive performance against so-so Nigerian journeyman Michael Gbenga.  Jack mixed in some telling head shots with his damaging body attack.  Jack won by TKO when, after dropping Gbenga with a vicious body shot in the third round, his opponent refused to continue while trying to convince referee Russell Mora that the punch was low.  Considering how justifiably hard on him I was when he offensively refused to handle Abner Mares’ onslaught of low blows against Joseph Agbeko, I must give Mora credit in this instance.  In real time, it appeared to me that the punch was indeed low, but on the replay, it was clear that Mora correctly ruled it a legal punch.  Given his history of controversy in this area and the tough position Gbenga placed him in by refusing to continue and thus making the outcome of the fight contingent upon Mora’s correctness, Mora deserves a lot of credit in this instance by making the correct call and standing by it.

 

Dirrell’s ouster is pretty disappointing to me, despite it being my own decision.  This division has atrophied to the point that Will Rosinsky now qualifies as a top 10 contender (not that I’m down on Will- he just hasn’t really fully arrived yet), and a completely finished Glen Johnson has now backed into the top 20 yet again.  Naturally, everyone else rated #11-20 last week move up a spot as well.   While Mouton has lost respectably to respectable opposition in his last couple significant fights before Dirrell, those opponents were not proven enough to completely excuse.  As a result, he still falls a little shy of the fringe contender level at this point.  You could make the case that Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye deserves the #10 spot more than Rosinsky now that his lone loss to Lolenga Mock is more than 5 years old, but Rosinsky’s win over Aaron Pryor is at least comparable to Ndiaye’s only other significant fight- the win over Andrea Di Luisa.  It’s also a bit more recent, and I consider his close loss to Edwin Rodriguez to be slightly more of a win than a loss, having scored it for him, and so that helps him a tad, as well.  The only real red ink on his resume is Kelly Pavlik, and that was at a level that neither man has otherwise been tested at, and is thus excusable for the purposes of this comparison.

 

One more quick note.  I noticed while writing this update that #12 Dimitri Sartison’s last fight in January was contested well into the light heavyweight division.  Since his last fight anywhere near the 168 pound division was April 21, 2012, he would have been removed on April 22 if I’d have known or noticed that at the time.  Nevertheless, I’m going to leave him in because he had a fight announced just 3 days later (possibly earlier, but that is the first news report I can find on it), and because frankly the guy who would replace him in the top 20 at this point is David Lopez, who got a gift to even get a draw in his only super middleweight fight against a weight-drained Don George less than halfway to the 168 pound limit, is so unworthy that it’s something of a bad joke.  But if Sartison comes in the slightest bit heavy or if his May 15 fight falls through for any reason, I will do what I would have done a few weeks ago had I been on top of things and remove him.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (73-207-207)
Last Fight: 9/8/2012- TKO10 LHW Champ Chad Dawson
Next Fight: Unknown
Ward is said to be planning a return for August.  He has expressed interest in fighting the Froch-Kessler or Bute-Pascal winner at some point.
1) Carl Froch (50-360-360)
Last Fight: 11/17/2012- KO3 LHW #11 Yusaf Mack
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. #3 Mikkel Kessler
The deal is done.  Froch will get a rematch with Kessler on May 25 in London.
2) Robert Stieglitz (7-193-193)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- TKO3 #2 Arthur Abraham
Next Fight: Unknown
After being blitzed by an uncharacteristically aggressive Stieglitz, Abraham has demanded a trilogy bout, which Stieglitz seems disposed to grant.  Sauerland also seems to be on board.
3) Mikkel Kessler (21-439-439)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- TKO3 Brian Magee (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. #1 Carl Froch
See Froch’s notes, above.
4) Lucian Bute (37-369-369)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- UD12 LHW #16 Denis Grachev (at LHW)
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. LHW #3 Jean Pascal (at LHW)
Bute will be fighting Jean Pascal at light heavyweight in a huge Canadian event in May.  His super middleweight fight with Carl Froch was just a day shy of one year earlier, and thus Bute will probably be removed for inactivity at this weight the week after that fight unless he signs something immediately.
5) Arthur Abraham (7-185-185)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- L (TKO3) vs. #5 Robert Stieglitz
Next Fight: Unknown
See Stieglitz’s notes above.
6) Thomas Oosthuizen (37-101-149)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- UD12 Fulgencio Zuniga (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/29/2013- vs. Brandon Gonzales (UNR)
Oosthuizen will be fighting highly overrated and nominally “undefeated ” prospect Brandon Gonzales on the Golovkin-Macklin undercard.
7) Adonis Stevenson (30-74-74)
Last Fight: 3/22/2013- TKO6 Darnell Boone (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: 6/8/2013- vs. LHW #1 Chad Dawson (at LHW)
After tending to unfinished business with the lowly Boone, Stevenson will now set sites on #1 light heavyweight Chad Dawson, who most outlets still consider the Champ.
8) George Groves (16-21-43)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- TKO2 Baker Barakat (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: 5/25/2013- vs. Noe Gonzalez (UNR)
Groves will fight Uruguayan gatekeeper Noe Gonzalez on the Froch-Kessler undercard.
9) Sakio Bika (10-12-318)
Last Fight: 2/16/2013- UD12 Nikola Sjekloca (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/8/2013- vs. Marco Antonio Periban (UNR)
Bika will fight undefeated Mexican Marco Antonio Periban in California on June 8 for the WBC belt that that organization just heisted from Andre Ward.
10) Will Rosinsky (1-1-47)
Last Fight: 12/19/2012- UD10 Otis Griffin (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rosinsky was all but set to fight Brandon Gonzales on Friday Night Fights, but Gonzales withdrew with a bad hamstring.  Sounds like Gonzales is moving on to a higher-reward opportunity with Oosthuizen.
11) Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye (1-78)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- W (PTS6) vs. Jevgenijs Andrejevs (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Ndiaye did nothing other than stay busy against low-level Latvian Andrejevs.  But in fairness, he needed to do that.
12) Dimitri Sartison (1-149)
Last Fight: 1/27/2013- UD6 Artem Solomko (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: 5/15/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Sartison returns to action against an unknown opponent in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 15.
13) James DeGale (1-82)
Last Fight: 12/8/2012- UD12 Fulgencio Zuniga (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/17/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
DeGale will be fighting in Quebec on May 17.  No opponent yet.  He was supposed to fight Alexander Brand before that fight was postponed.  It doesn’t sound like Brand will be his opponent this time, though.
14) Maxim Vlasov (1-26)
Last Fight: 12/30/2012- RTD7 Geard Ajetovic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
15) Edwin Rodriguez (1-16)
Last Fight: 3/30/2013- W* (UD10) vs. #15 Ezequiel Maderna
Next Fight: 7/13/2013- vs. #16 LHW Denis Grachev (at LHW)
After getting the benefit of yet another questionable but not totally out-of-bounds decision against Maderna, Rodriguez remains in the mix, but kinda on the periphery of the division’s contenders.  He gets a chance at a million bucks against Grachev, who also arguably deserved to lose his first round fight.
16) Ezequiel Maderna (1-19)
Last Fight: 3/30/2013- L* (UD10) vs. #17 Edwin Rodriguez
Next Fight: Unknown
Maderna, despite arguably deserving a win against Rodriguez, did himself few favors in dropping the decision, especially considering how ugly the fight was.  I don’t imagine he’ll be getting too many international suitors anytime soon since he seems difficult to look good against.
17) Dyah Davis (1-11)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- L (TKO10) vs. #9 Sakio Bika
Next Fight: Unknown
Davis said on Saturday morning via Twitter that “a particular some(one)” called him on May 3 for a fight, and that based on “that performance” he’d better not call again.  That seems like a veiled reference to Anthony Dirrell to me.  He says he’s looking at a return date of July 19, which also fits reasonably well with Dirrell’s post-fight statement that he intends to fight at 168 in roughly two months.  If I’m reading the situation accurately, that would give both guys a good opportunity to prove they are for real after each has suffered significant setbacks in and/or out of the ring since their last significant success.
18) Don George (1-7)
Last Fight: 3/22/2013- Draw* (SD10) vs. David Lopez (should be win)
Next Fight: 6/21/2013- vs. Caleb Truax (UNR)
Another reasonably decent challenge for George, as he travvels to Caleb Truax’s hometown of Minneapolis for their fight.
19) Hadillah Mohoumadi (1-10)
Last Fight: 1/19/2013- UD10 Cedric Bellais (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/17/2013- vs. Giovanni De Carolis (UNR)
Mohoumadi gets a halfway decent outing on May 17 against borderline top 50 Italian Giovanni De Carolis, for the European Union title.
20) Glen Johnson (1-1)
Last Fight: 4/19/2013- TKO2 Junior Ramos (UNR) (at CW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Johnson should be retired, but instead finds himself clinging to a ranking in a very shallow division.

 

The Week Ahead: Nothing doing at 168 this week.
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