Middleweight: 2013, Dec 9-15

I’ll take the week’s action in order of importance this week.


Saturday in Stuttgart, #3 Darren Barker saw his body betray him, as a lingering hip injury flared up and saw him unable to keep his feet after originally getting caught for a knockdown in the 2nd round.  His opponent, #4 Felix Sturm, showed no visible signs of pity, dropping the wobbly Englishman again a few seconds later, before the corner mercifully threw in the towel and ended it.  


Later that night in Atlantic City, former junior middleweight contender James Kirkland returned after about 21 months off, and put a frightful- if initially competitive- beating on unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Glen Tapia, stopping the game Tapia in 6, after Steve Smoger let it go maybe just a little too long.  The fight was contested at a contract weight of 156, which makes it relevant here.


On that undercard, #6 Matthew Macklin didn’t look all that spectacular against undefeated prospect Lamar Russ, but still did plenty to win the fight.  I had Macklin winning comfortably at 98-92, but there were a lot of close rounds.  The judges had it 96-94, 98-92, and 97-93, all for Macklin, and all reasonable.


On the non-televised portion of the card, undefeated Russian prospect Matt Korobov stopped Derek Edwards in the 9th of a scheduled 10, at a contract weight a few pounds over the limit.  No big deal there, as Edwards was a low-level journeyman.


Japanese undefeated prospect and Olympic Champion Ryota Murata was in action this weekend in Tokyo against Dave Peterson of Minnesota, but you’ll have to read my very detailed report on the Super Middleweight update to find out what happened, as Murata (who is ranked there) came in a half-pound over the limit.


Barker is very likely to retire, given his chronic catastrophic injuries, but for now we can only take the fight on its own merits.  It doesn’t prove that Sturm is dominant over a #3 contender, though you do have to give him full credit for the first knockdown.  But even if he had absolutely destroyed a healthy Barker, I’m not sure it would have made much difference in his actual ranking.  As for Barker, I am unable to assume that he’ll never fight again, or that he will be compromised if he does.  He’ll maintain his ranking until he proves unworthy of it, or until he retires.  Therefore, Sturm moves up to #3, while Barker swaps with him to #4.  For those that wonder how much pause I was given by the fact that #5 Geale beat Sturm, I can tell you that it wasn’t much.  Geale’s win over Sturm was one of the closest all-around fights I’ve ever seen, and the verdict was debatable.


As for Kirkland, he is held back a bit by his loss to Ishida from a couple years ago- especially as compared to undefeated prospects like Meryasev and Chudinov who have succeeeded at a slightly lower level than Tapia, but who have never suffered the appearance of limitation that comes from a loss at essentially the same level as Tapia that Ishida represented.  If there was any doubt as to where to place him in relation to a guy like Chudinov, it was dispelled by the fact that Tapia isn’t a true middleweight and that the fight was only at middleweight because there was not a title on the line.  Accordingly, Kirkland makes his debut in the middleweight rankings at #19, which once again forces out Akio Shibata after a 9-week stint.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (191-191-191)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD12* #9 Martin Murray (Robbery- draw at best)
Next Fight: 6/7/2014- vs. # 8 JMW Miguel Cotto
According to fighthype.com, citing anonymous sources close to Cotto, there is now no doubt that Cotto-Martinez will happen on June 7 in New York. 
1) Martin Murray (33-106-106)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- L* (UD12) vs. Champ Sergio Martinez (Robbery- D at worst)
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. Sergey Khomitsky (UNR)
Murray’s fight with Khomitsky for the Froch-Groves undercard was cancelled on 3 days’ notice on account of a virus, but has been rescheduled for December 14.
2) Gennady Golovkin (24-67-130)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- RTD8 #15 Curtis Stevens
Next Fight: 2/1/2014- vs. Osumanu Adama (UNR)
Golovkin returns February 1 in Monte Carlo.  Originally it looked like Murray was the opponent, but he will instead fight former borderline top 10 contender Osumanu Adama, who was removed from a #13 berth in September for failing to make 160 for 18 months.
3) Felix Sturm (1-534-534)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- TKO2 #3 Darren Barker
Next Fight: Unknown
Sturm got a little help from Barker’s trick hip, but it’s gotta count for something, and he did score the first knockdown on his own.
4) Darren Barker (1-17-113)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- L (TKO2) vs. #4 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Barker’s body failed him against Sturm, and it’s led to heavy speculation that we may have seen the last of him.  His team has only fueled this speculation further.
5) Daniel Geale (17-234-234)
Last Fight: 8/17/2013- L (SD12) vs. #15 Darren Barker
Next Fight: Unknown
In the wake of Sturm’s victory over the man that beat him, Geale has renewed calls for what would be a very interesting rematch with the German.
6) Matthew Macklin (17-129-220)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD10 Lamar Russ (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/7/2013- vs. Lamar Russ (UNR)
After a legitimate but very unspectacular win over only moderately proven prospect Lamar Russ, Macklin has joined the chorus of quality middleweights looking for a rematch with Sturm.
7) Peter Quillin (33-60-81)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- TKO10 Gabriel Rosado (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Golden Boy is looking to match Quillin with Danny Jacobs in Brooklyn on February 1.  A recent interview indicates he might prefer to fight some of the top contenders, instead.  Unfortunately most of them fight on HBO in this division, while Quillin’s promoter is tied to Showtime.
8) Sergio Mora (8-24-24)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- KO5 Milton Nunez (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mora had hoped to fight Golovkin on February 1, but says he was never offered the fight.
9) Marco Antonio Rubio (8-10-150)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- KO2 Dionisio Miranda (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rubio looks poised to take on Sergio if Maravilla’s intended fight with Cotto falls through, though that possibility has begun to look increasingly unlikely.
10) Anthony Mundine (8-8-150)
Last Fight: 11/27/2013- TKO7 #4 WW Shane Mosley (at JMW)
Next Fight: 1/29/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
In a quick turnaround, Mundine announced that he will headline a January 29 show in Brisbane.  Most likely this will be nothing more than a quick payday, as I’m sure he won’t want to prepare for two big fights that close together.
11) Max Bursak (8-150)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- UD12 Nick Blackwell (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. Gari Abajian (UNR)
Bursak will fight a low-level Georgian journeyman this weekend in a short-notice stay-busy contest.
12) Caleb Truax (8-12)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- TKO4 Ceresso Fort (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/3/2014- vs. Derek Ennis (UNR)
Truax’s January 3 fight will likely be the first notable fight of the New Year.  He’ll face Derek Ennis.
13) Bryan Vera (8-60)
Last Fight: 9/28/2013- L* (UD10) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: 3/1/2014- vs. Julio Cesar Chavez (UNR)
Vera-Chavez II now looks likely for March 1 in either Vegas or Texas, after a proposed February date was abandoned over concerns related to Olympic conflicts.
14) Grzegorz Proksa (8-139)
Last Fight: 6/28/2013- L (UD10) vs. Sergio Mora (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Proksa had another hand operation in August, but thinks he’ll be ready to go for a proposed February fight in Poland with undefeated prospect Maciej Suleckim.
15) Curtis Stevens (8-19)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- L (RTD8) vs. #2 Gennady Golovkin
Next Fight: 1/24/2014- vs. Patrick Majewski (UNR)
Stevens will make a surprisingly quick return from a grueling battle with Golovkin.  His January 24 opponent will be one-loss Polish fringe prospect Patrick Majewski.
16) Andrey Meryasev (5-5)
Last Fight: 11/4/2013- UD10 Sergio Sanders (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I’ve still yet to see Meryasev in action, but his win over Sanders at this point in his career proves that he’s a real prospect.
17) Danny Jacobs (2-16)
Last Fight: 8/19/2013- TKO3 Giovanni Lorenzo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Golden Boy is apparently looking to match Jacobs and Quillin on February 1 in Brooklyn.
18) Dmitry Chudinov (2-16)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- W (PTS8) vs. Max Maxwell (UNR) (at SMW/LHW)
Next Fight: 12/21/2013- vs. Juan Camilo Novoa (UNR)
Chudinov makes his return in Moscow on December 21, taking on mid-level Colombian journeyman Juan Camilo Novoa.
19) James Kirkland (1-1)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- TKO6 Glen Tapia (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Only time will tell whether Kirkland does any serious campaigning at middleweight in the near future, but even though both men are typically junior middleweights, Tapia was a credible enough opponent at 160 (or 156, as it were) to earn Kirkland a ranking here.
20) Jorge Heiland (1-2)
Last Fight: 11/29/2013- TKO*12 #17 Billi Godoy
Next Fight: Unknown
After two closely-contested battles, there’s already talk of a trilogy with Godoy.


The Week Ahead: 
Sam Soliman vs. Les Sherrington; Flemington, Australia; Off TV
Soliman returns from a PED suspension against fellow Australian Les Sherrington, who has been able to rebuild himself to gatekeeper level after breaking his leg in a fight with the awful Kashif Mumtaz.  Soliman might reclaim a ranking with a win, simply by virtue of ending his forced inactivity.


Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam vs. Anthony Fitzgerald; Barcelona, Spain; Off TV
This is another matchup that has the potential to get an inactive contender back into the rankings.  N’Dam is a shoe-in for a spot, assuming he wins and makes 160.


Max Bursak vs. Gari Abajian; Brovari, Ukraine; Off TV
Just a stay-busy fight for Bursak.  Abajian is a l0w-level Georgian journeyman.


Martin Murray vs. Sergey Khomitsky; London, England; Sky (UK)
This fight is expected to take place a few pounds over 160, and will likely be treated in more detail at 168.


Jermain Taylor vs. J.C. Candelo; San Antonio, Texas; Off TV
Another fight that is basically a middleweight fight, but which is expected to take place at super middle technically.  I haven’t decided which division I will discuss it in next week.

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