Heavyweight: 2013, Nov 18-24

I don’t want to be writing all night, so I’ll jump right into the Thursday Prizefighter results from London:


Round 1: Journeyman Jason Gavern of the US dropped and outpointed the UK’s Larry Olubamiwo.  His chin and conditioning appeared questionable by the time it was all over, but he got a retty clear 29-27 win over the rather dirty Brit.


Faded and chubby legend James Toney looked pretty decent for a 45 year-old.  He didn’t work too hard, but had solid defense as always, and threw in surprising quickness and handspeed.  It was more than enough to take care of rather novice journeyman Matt Legg.  Toney lit Legg up with a combination in round 3, and referee Victor Loughlin stopped it.  Objectively, it was a quick stoppage, but Legg was obviously out of his league, pretty badly hurt, and had zero chance of winning.  I think Loughlin was being intentionally merciful.


English gatekeeper Michael Sprott had his hands full early against the powerful and sharp American Damian Wills.  But after seemingly outclassing Sprott in the first round, Wills seemed to lose all desire to win, and let Sprott vastly outwork him in the last two to take the win.  I didn’t make note of what judge had what score while watching it, and boxrec doesn’t specify, but one of the judges could only make a call in one round of what was a pretty easy fight to score, having it 30-29.  Nevertheless, a well-earned UD for Sprott.


In the 4th quarterfinal, undersized American Brian Minto showed a world-class motor, grinding Britain’s Tom Little- much taller, but a little ungainly- to dust for 3 clear rounds.  The British judges, obviously biased, had it only 29-28 (Victor Loughlin and Steve Gray) for Minto and 29-28 Little (Richie Davies).  Davies should have been relieved of his duties for the night right then and there, because he obviously wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be judging.


Round 2: Gavern pulled off a bit of an upset.  All three of his rounds with Toney were close, but Toney showed surprisingly sloppy technique and a noticeable lack of fire by comparison to Gavern.  Gavern, for his part, appeared to have the heavier hands, worked harder, and was a bit more accurate.  He also used his natural size well at times.  Marcus McDonnell had it even, having failed to pull the trigger in one of the rounds.  Davies and Gray both had it 29-28 for Gavern, who advanced.


In the second semi, Sprott dominated and frustrated Minto behind a wonderful jab for the first round, but nearly got stopped after Minto caught up in the 2nd.  Sprott then won a hard-fought third with veteran tactics, alternating holding with hitting, frustrating Minto just enough to grab the win.  All the judges agreed at 29-28 for Sprott.


Final: A bit anticlimactic.  Sprott probably edged the first, again establishing the jab.  In the second, Gavern punished Sprott and nearly stopped him, as the Brit appeared totally gassed.  But he seemed to have tweaked his elbow in the process, and was totally unable to fight back in the third, allowing Sprott to cruise to a foregone conclusion of a victory.  Even more foregone than it should have been, as it turned out.  Two of the, again, biased judges had it a shutout, which is completely incredible.


Now, on to Saturday:


In Hamilton, New Zealand, Belorussian giant Alexander Ustinov easily handled David Tua.  I don’t know how much my opinion was swayed by Bob Sheridan’s frequently glowing commentary, but I really did feel like Tua looked more lively than usual, even while getting handled by Ustinov’s Klitschko-like 1-2 efficiency.  That being said, Ustinov isn’t exactly Klitschko, is he?  And on the other hand, Tua never ever threw in combination, and never appeared to hurt Ustinov, either.


In Ludwigsburg, Germany, #12 Erkan Teper scored a highlight-reel knockout over Irish gatekeeper Martin Rogan.  The fight lasted roughly 90 seconds.  Teper backed Rogan to the ropes, knocked him out with a left, and then landed two further KO-quality follow-ups before Rogan could fall, and the ref got in there right as Rogan slumped to the canvas.  Rogan was hospitalized afterward, and received surgery to repair a shattered jaw.  According to Rogan himself, he’s going to have multiple steel plates inserted to put the jaw together like a jigsaw.


Finally, in Verona, New York, #18 Vyacheslav Glazkov outpointed cruiserweight gatekeeper Garrett Wilson- a late replacement for Tomasz Adamek, who suffered an injury during fight week.  Wilson was aggressive but wild, and though he did catch Glazkov with several winging punches during the 10 rounds, he seemed to lack legitimate heavyweight power when he did.  In the end, Glazkov’s size and more concise punching carried the day.  I scored it 97-93 for the Russian.  One of the judges agreed, and the other two had it a round and two rounds wider.


Garrett Wilson wasn’t quite credible enough at heavyweight to help Glazkov out in the rankings.  Ditto for Tua-Ustinov, as Tua hasn’t won anything of real consequence since beating Shane Cameron over 4 years ago.  An additional ditto in the case of Prizefighter.  Sprott was the only member of the field that was at a top 50 level at any point during the proceedings, despite the often impressive work of Gavern.


The remaining result is Teper-Rogan.  Rogan, due to his prior Prizefighter win over Sosnowski, was probably at least technically in the top 50 going in.  Even so, the difference in established levels between the two prior to the fight means that it neither improves Teper’s ranking nor hurts Rogan’s. 


The one change that does affect the rankings is that #2 David Haye withdrew from the Fury fight, citing a serious injury.  Injury or no, Haye was living on borrowed time after waiting nearly a year to schedule the fight before now pulling out twice.  Even aside from that, the injury- according to Haye- is serious enough that he might never fight again, and so his removal is justified on multiple grounds.  Everyone ranked #3 and below last week moves up a spot, and Denis Boytsov returns to the rankings just in time for his fight with Leapai this weekend, while Tony Thompson reclaims a spot in the top 10 for the first time in a while.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (230-443-443)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- UD12 #3 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: Unknown
Tyson Fury called Wlad out immediately after Haye withdrew from their fight, but there are rumors that the Champ might fight Ustinov or the Boytsov-Leapai winner in March.
1Tyson Fury (11-122-122)
Last Fight: 4/20/2013- KO7 #3 Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: Unknown
Fury is…well…furious, after Haye withdrew a second consecutive time.  He’s now calling out Wlad, and rightly so.
2) Alexander Povetkin (1-317-317)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
Povetkin is calling for a rematch.  Wishful thinking, all the way.
3) Steve Cunningham (1-48-48)
Last Fight: 4/20/2013- L (KO7) vs. #6 Tyson Fury
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Cunningham will appear on a December 14 card in Atlantic City.
4) Tomasz Adamek (1-187-187)
Last Fight: 8/3/2013- UD10 Dominick Guinn (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Adamek withdrew from the Glazkov fight due to illness, on just two days notice.
5) Kubrat Pulev (1-81-158)
Last Fight: 8/24/2013- UD12 #11 Tony Thompson
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Pulev will be fighting on December 14 while waiting for a shot at Wlad.  No opponent yet.
6) Dereck Chisora (1-103-166)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- TKO5 Edmund Gerber (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/30/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent
Chisora is now scrambling for a new opponent after Matteo Modugno withdrew from their November 30 bout.
7) Odlanier Solis (1-35-182)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- TKO7 Yakup Saglam (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Solis was briefly set to fight Kevin Johnson on November 26, but quickly withdrew.
8) Bermane Stiverne (1-22-38)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD12 #15 Chris Arreola
Next Fight: Unknown
Stiverne’s immediate future- which appeared bright since he is in line to fight for what figures to be a vacant title now that Vitali Klitschko is more or less out of the picture- is now in doubt, as he joins a long list of fighters to sue his promoter, Don King.
9) Chris Arreola (1-11-11)
Last Fight: 9/7/2013- TKO1 #12 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: Unknown
Arreola may be a candidate for Wilder, or could fight for a vacant title in a rematch with Stiverne, should Vitali retire.  Fury has also named him as someone he’d like to replace David Haye with for February 8.
10) Tony Thompson (1-1-182)
Last Fight: 8/24/2013- L (UD12) vs. #8 Kubrat Pulev
Next Fight: Unknown
Thompson is now actively seeking a fight with Povetkin, Fury, Adamek, or Wilder.
11) Erkan Teper (1-12)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- KO1 Martin Rogan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Teper might have scored the heavyweight knockout of the year, and probably retired Martin Rogan in the process.
12) Mike Perez (1-3)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- UD10 Magomed Abdusalamov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Perez will have to do what many great fighters have had to do in the past- get over the psychological difficulty of having beaten a man to within an inch of his life, just by doing his job.
13) Deontay Wilder (1-30)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- TKO4 Nicolai Firtha (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Wilder says he’ll be looking for a title shot in 2014, and has been called out by Tony Thompson recently.  Malik Scott also appears to be an option, and Wilder is also among the three fighters that Fury wants to replace Haye with for February 8.
14) Robert Helenius (1-182)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- W*(UD10) vs. Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
If there was a fatal rift between Helenius and Sauerland, it appears to have been quietly repaired, as Helenius’ team now claims there is no plan to buy out his contract.  Helenius is reportedly back in fighting condition after a wrist injury in his last fight, and intends to return in early 2014.
15) Alexander Dimitrenko (1-149)
Last Fight: 3/9/2013- UD8 Ivica Perkovic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Dimitrenko is rumored at least to be fighting Sam Sexton in the first round of the WBC World Cup, but that tournament appears to be in limbo for the time being, at least.
16) Seth Mitchell (1-24)
Last Fight: 9/7/2013- L (TKO1) vs. Chris Arreola (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mitchell’s chin is so fragile that he might want to consider calling it a career.  Golden Boy’s CEO says he’s advised Mitchell to do just that, though he reports that Mitchell seems to have no such intention.
17) Vyacheslav Glazkov (1-48)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD10 Garrett Wilson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Glazkov will go from a non-TV tune-up directly to a NBC-televised afternoon showdown with Adamek.
18) Malik Scott (1-39)
Last Fight: 7/20/2013- L (KO6*) vs. #8 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: Unknown
Scott is getting serious buzz for a fight with Wilder.
19) Johnathon Banks (1-53)
Last Fight: 6/22/2013- L (UD12) vs. #20 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: Unknown
Banks apparently dinged his hands up pretty good in the Mitchell fight- an alternate explanation for those who, like me, thought his inexplicable failure to follow up on his early success was a bit suspicious.  He’s been doing physical therapy, and is about ready to get back in the ring.  He’d like a rematch with Mitchell, but unfortunately a trilogy probably isn’t of much benefit to the fragile young contender at this point.  He’s penciled-in for the second round of the WBC World Cup, against the winner of Sam Sexton and Alexander Dimitrenko, but as noted above, that whole tournament is delayed and in doubt.
20) Denis Boytsov (1-1)
Last Fight: 6/15/2013- KO3 Oleksandr Nesterenko (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/23/2013- vs. Alex Leapai (UNR)
Boytsov probably has a shot at the Championship waiting for him if he can get by Leapai.


THE WEEK AHEAD: Saturday, on the Bamberg, Germany undercard for Hernandez-Alekseev, undefeated fringe contender Denis Boytsov takes on Samoan gatekeeper Alex Leapai.  Leapai is barely a member of the top 50, but is still the best opponent Boytsov has fought since 2009.


On the Pacquiao-Rios undercard (Sunday in Macau, though it’s going to be Saturday when those of us stateside watch it live on PPV), undefeated prospect Andy Ruiz meets gatekeeper Tor Hamer- his toughest test to date.

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