Cruiserweight: 2013: May 20-26

A huge fight yielded a huge upset in Moscow on Friday.  #1 Denis Lebedev fought his toughest opponent since being robbed against Marco Huck, meeting inactive 41 year-old former titlist Guillermo Jones.  Jones- despite having once been a welterweight- appeared to be the significantly bigger man in the ring.  Nevertheless, Lebedev was scoring with the cleaner and apparently heavier punches in most of the rounds.  He mixed in a wide assortment of hooks, uppercuts, and left hands, but Jones showed a great chin and seemed unaffected by what looked like very hard shots from a noted puncher.


But while Lebedev appeared to be piling up the rounds, Jones was creating a pile of swelling around Lebedev’s right eye.  It was the most grotesque swelling I’ve seen in recent years.  Picture Pawel Wolak against Delvin Rodriguez, and then double it.  By roughly the 4th round or so, there was absolutely no way the Russian could see anything from that side.  Still, he was game, and did more than his share of scoring.  But he was slowly being broken down physically and perhaps mentally.  Down 5 points on my card (but 2 points closer on 2 of the 3 official cards), Jones really began to take over in the 10th, with a flagging Lebedev even resorting to a tackle in an attempt to rest.  The 11th round featured a very tired Jones and an exhausted Lebedev practically stumbling around the ring and tossing potshots out whenever possible.  With about a minute left, Lebedev half walked and half stumbled to the ropes when Jones landed what appeared to be a pretty ordinary jab to the forehead.  About half a second later, Lebedev took a knee and then fell as Jones threw another punch or two late.  The end was a bit odd to me.  Referee Stanley Christodoulou appeared to reach the count of 8 at the time Lebedev stood up, and then waved the fight off without checking to see if Lebedev was willing or able to continue.  The fight has been recorded as a knockout, though, indicating that Christodoulou had reached 10.  If he did so, the last two counts were given within about a quarter of a second, and both after Lebedev was up.  I’m not saying Lebedev should have been allowed to continue- in  fact he turned away from the ref and started walking away after standing- but the procedure struck me as very questionable.


Speaking of questionable procedure: we’ve got to talk a bit about Lebedev’s eye and the way it was handled.  First, I need to criticize his corner.  Much like Aaron Snowell and company in Tyson-Douglas in 1990, they lacked an endswell, meaning that they would be automatically fighting a losing battle against any active swelling- slowing its progress at best.  They were slightly more prepared than Tyson’s team in that they at least had ice in a bag, where Snowell had only a latex glove filled with cold water.


The ringside doctor was called upon only once as far as I can tell- a matter of seconds before the stoppage.  He took only a quick look and let Lebedev continue.  I decline to pass judgment on him for a couple reasons.  First, he went to school for a lot of years in order to know more than I do about the severity of the injury.  Second, I think it’s very possible that the Russian authorities have tougher standards for stopping a fight, similar to the old-school blood and guts battles you might see in the 1950s.  So while I personally think there’s a really good chance that Lebedev has all kinds of smashed bones around his eye and might never see well out of it again, I really am not qualified to know that.  And if Russia has chosen to allow guys more latitude in putting their own health and safety at risk in the ring than I’m used to, I guess that’s between him, the commission, and his corner.


As to the referee Stanley Christodoulou, in addition to the issues I noted earlier, I would have to say that he was clearly derelict.  Lebedev’s eye was buried under about 2-3 inches of swollen flesh, as was his temple.  It looked like he was wearing giant flesh-colored goggles on that side.  The idea that Christodoulou would not even stop the action to consult a doctor until this had been the case for about 7 rounds is unfathomable to me.  Now it’s possible that the doctor had monitored Lebedev in his corner between rounds, but still…


There was also a relatively uninspiring installment of the Prizefighter series, as a collection of domestic cruiserweights clashed for a series of 3-rounders in London.  Tony Conquest- one of the favorites- withdrew late, and as a result the field was even weaker than I expected.  I thought that by the second round, there would at least be one top 50 fighter in the field, but with Conquest’s withdrawal and some of the other quality fighters losing close decisions and/or having a weak tournament draw, even the winner- underdog Wadi Camacho- is not ranked in the top 50 by Boxrec at the moment.


Guillermo Jones, though he still certainly qualifies as a heavily inactive fighter overall, looks like the best fighter in the division and has proven more than anyone else at the moment.  Yoan Pablo Hernandez is the only other realistic candidate for the #1 spot, and Hernandez frankly deserved to lose to a 20th-ranked Troy Ross in his last fight, and has never beaten a #1 fighter (or cleanly beaten even a #2) as Jones just did.  Therefore, Jones returns to the rankings at no less than the #1 spot.  Lebedev falls to #4.  He has a larger volume of significant wins than does Ola Afolabi, and deserved the win in his fight against a higher-ranked version of Huck, while Afolabi owns a close loss and a fairly-decided draw against him.  Granted, Afolabi has never lost to anyone with as low a ranking as Jones had even before he was removed for inactivity, but Jones’ inactivity was the only reason he was ranked that low, as he had not lost within a relevant period of time, and had beaten a top 5 fighter in Firat Arslan.  Everyone ranked #4-20 last week backtracks one place.  This includes B.J. Flores, who exits the top 10, and Pawel Glazewski, who exits the rankings, each after 14 consecutive weeks.


Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: None
1) Guillermo Jones (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 5/17/2013- TKO11 #1 Denis Lebedev
Next Fight: Unknown
Jones resurrected his career in a big way by beating the best active fighter in the division, in a come-from-behind and headline-grabbing fashion, to boot.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (36-152-152)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- W*(UD12) vs. #20 Troy Ross
Next Fight: Unknown
Hernandez pulled out of his scheduled 2/2 fight with Eric Fields with a fractured hand.
3) Troy Ross (36-36-68)
Last Fight: 9/15/2012- L*(UD12) vs. #1 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Next Fight: Unknown
Quote from Ross’s Twitter: “If the right opportunity arises I will fight again.”  That sounds more like a semi-retired fighter than the guy that just outfought the division’s #1 contender.  Here’s hoping he starts hunting for good fights like a starving mountain man any second now.
4) Denis Lebedev (1-172-172)
Last Fight: 5/17/2013- L (TKO11) vs. Guillermo Jones (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lebedev no doubt faces a long layoff after his face and will were both broken in a grueling war with Guillermo Jones.

5) Ola Afolabi (1-219-219)

Last Fight: 5/5/2012- Draw* (MD12) vs. #4 Marco Huck
Next Fight: 6/8/2013- vs. #8 Marco Huck
Sauerland is now promoting the Huck-Afolabi trilogy match after Don King botched it, and has limited the damage to about a month’s delay, with the fight now set for June 8 in Berlin.
6) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (1-413-413)
Last Fight: 9/22/2012- UD12 #13 Francisco Palacios
Next Fight: 6/21/2013- vs. Rakhim Chakhkiev (UNR)
Apparently an agreement has been reached for Wlodarczyk to fight undefeated and fringe-contending Russian Olympian Rakhim Chakhkiev in Moscow, June 21.  Wlodarczyk will reportedly have a rematch clause in the event he loses.
7) Firat Arslan (1-54-97)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD10 Varol Vekiloglu (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Arslan easily handled his first opponent under the Sauerland banner, but disappointed a bit in that he failed to stop him.
8) Marco Huck (1-337-337)
Last Fight: 11/3/2012- W*(UD12) vs. #10 Firat Arslan (Robbery)
Next Fight: 6/8/2013- vs. #5 Ola Afolabi
See Afolabi’s notes, above.
9) Lateef Kayode (1-51-131)
Last Fight: 6/2/2012- Draw (SD12) vs. ‘Roided up #3 Antonio Tarver
Next Fight: Unknown
There are indications that Kayode may be fighting Eddie Chambers next, though it’s unclear whether it is being discussed for cruiser or heavy.
10) Danny Green (1-28-181)
Last Fight: 11/21/2012- UD12 Shane Cameron (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Green has been helping an Australian UFC fighter prepare for an upcoming fight, but still no word on whether he plans to fight again.
11) B.J. Flores (1-152)
Last Fight: 10/6/2012- TKO2 David McNemar (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/8/2013- vs. Nuri Seferi (UNR)
Don King’s embarrassing failure to make the Huck-Afolabi card happen has claimed Flores-Palacios as collateral damage.  Flores instead will be fighting a month later against Albanian gatekeeper Nuri Seferi, in Albania.  Or at least he might be.  The fight has never showed up on Boxrec, and Flores didn’t respond when I asked him about it on Twitter.
12) Giacobbe Fragomeni (1-236)
Last Fight: 12/15/2012- W*(SD12) vs. #13 Silvio Branco
Next Fight: Unknown
There is some speculation that Masternak might try to lure Fragomeni out of his mandatory shot at Wlodarczyk with a higher monetary offer that might put Masternak in the same position with a victory.
13) Silvio Branco (1-62)
Last Fight: 12/15/2012- L*(SD12) vs. #12 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
Branco can still hang with whippersnappers like 43 year-old countryman Fragomeni, but you’ve gotta think his active days are numbered at 46.
14) Alexander Alekseev (1-123)
Last Fight: 2/22/2013- UD12* Garrett Wilson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Alekseev barely squeaked by after building an early lead against Wilson, but it’s still an improvement from his previous fight.
15) Mateusz Masternak (1-60)
Last Fight: 4/13/2013- TKO9 Sean Corbin (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Masternak’s scheduled meeting with Jeremy Ouanna gave way to an even less impressive match-up against Sean Corbin, a mediocre Guyana journeyman best known for beating a totally shot Wayne Braithwaite after being inactive for 2 years.
16) Francisco Palacios (1-112)
Last Fight: 9/22/2012- L(UD12) vs. #7 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: Unknown
Palacios has been trying to convince Antonio Tarver to fight him.
17) Thabiso Mchunu (1-28)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- TKO5 #20 Danie Venter
Next Fight: Unknown
Mchunu recently called out Eddie Chambers on Twitter.
18) Dmytro Kucher (1-47)
Last Fight: 3/21/2013- UD12 Julio Cesar Dos Santos (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/13/2013- vs. Ilunga Makabu (UNR)
A clash of good-looking prospects is on tap for July 13, as Kucher will meet Junior Makabu in Monaco.
19) Enad Licina (1-152)
Last Fight: 11/10/2012- TKO2 Koeksal Orduhan
Next Fight: 6/15/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Licina announced a June 15 fight on Twitter, but no opponent yet.
20) Grigory Drozd (1-28)
Last Fight: 12/17/2012- UD12 Jean-Marc Monrose (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/8/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Drozd will apparently be fighting in an unpronounceable Russian town in early June, but no opponent has been named yet.  That’s assuming his recovery from hand surgery goes according to plan.  But an ominous sign has popped up, as it no longer appears on boxrec.


THE WEEK AHEAD: Two fights to mention on Saturday.  In Buenos Aires, Argentine fringe contender Alejandro Valori rematches essentially undefeated prospect and countryman Marcos Ahumada.  In their first fight in March, Valori was awkwardly and incorrectly declared the TKO winner when Ahumada was deemed unable to continue after being cut by a head clash in the 4th round.  By any reasonable measure, it should have been a no contest since 4 rounds had not been completed.  Even in the few jurisdictions that require a decision after the start of the 4th round, it would have been Ahumada coming up with the win, since he knocked Valori down twice in the first round.  The first fight was contested less than two pounds over the light heavyweight limit, and so this fight could, so far as I know, end up being contested at 175, 200, or anywhere in between.


The same night in Brazil, undefeated knockout artist William Fernando Souza Bezerra stays busy in Pocas de Caldas against fellow Sao Paolo native and mid-range journeyman Jose Robson Dos Santos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: