Welterweight: 2013, Dec 9-15

Undefeated Australian Jeff Horn on Friday won what has to be viewed objectively as a bit of an upset in Northbridge, Western Australia against Tunisian-born fellow Aussie Naoufel Ben Rabeh.  Ben Rabeh was a top 50 gatekeeper with a string of 13 straight wins- including a knockout of gatekeeper Isaac Hlatshwayo in 2011- dating back to 2008.  Horn was an untested 5-0 prospect.  It was just a 6-rounder, and frankly I would have to say the effort was workmanlike rather than in any way spectacular.  He basically outworked the older man, and ground out a close but relatively clear points victory.  Despite his record of having stopped essentially all of his previous opponents, I would put him more in the mold of a Daniel Geale sort of high-motor volume puncher than a true power puncher.  Granted that’s based on one single amateur video taken from what looked like the furthest corner of the ceiling in a small-looking venue, but that’s all I’ve got to go on.  He now joins Jake Carr among Australian prospects who successfully took big steps up early in their careers this year.


In the Battle of Brooklyn at the Barclay’s Center, fringe contender Paulie Malignaggi surprised me by absolutely dominating top-10 light welter contender Zab Judah over 12 rounds.  The judges had it too close, especially Michael Pernick at 116-111.  I gave Judah two rounds, and that might be on the generous side.  He got a knockdown in round two that was hotly contested by Malignaggi, so you have to give him that one (10-9 by my reckoning).  The only other one he even might have squeaked out, and which I gave him, was round seven.  This result (and the one that follows) set up a troubling set of paradoxes in my rankings that I’ll discuss below.


On the undercard, technically undefeated prospect Shawn Porter (he should have at least one loss to Alfonso Gomez) sprung a major upset on #5 Devon Alexander.  I scored this one 118-110, as well.  Porter was first.  He committed to the body.  He was awkward defensively, and perhaps that led to the fact that Alexander tended to wait too long.  Alexander seldom punched until Porter was already in his kitchen, and Alexander’s longer arms were not effective at that range.  I could see one round that I gave to Porter going to Alexander, and so the closest reasonable score I can endorse would be 117-111 for Porter.  But much as he did against Kotelnik, Matthysse, and to a lesser extent against Maidana, Alexander got a bit more than just the benefit of the doubt from the judges.  Waleska Roldan had it one round outside the realm of reality at 116-112, and she was joined by John Stewart.  Julie Lederman was even further off the reservation at 115-113.  Obviously this one won’t go down as a robbery because the right guy still won, but that doesn’t mean we should just forget about the botch-job that it was.


Last week’s #4 Shane Mosley announced his retirement on Saturday, prompting his removal from the rankings.


So now to the rather confused rankings situation.  Porter debuts at #5.  Alexander falls to #9.  Malignaggi debuts at #14.  Maidana moves up two to #4.   Meanwhile, Van Heerden, Abregu, Zaveck, Provodnikov, Cano, and Dan each fall one spot.  Kevin Bizier is forced out after debuting last week.


So why is the above so problematic, as alluded to above?  Start with Maidana.  He passes a guy who beat him in 2012 due to Alexander’s fall.  That’s not usually a result I seek.  In addition, he remains ahead of the guy who beat the guy that beat him.  Also not the most logically sound of possible outcomes.  On the other hand, Maidana is resurgent, having beaten a #4 contender by TKO in his last fight.  As for Porter, there is reason enough to argue that he either had an exceptionally good night, or that Alexander had an exceptionally bad one.  After all, it wasn’t long ago that he was struggling to scratch out a debatable draw with Julio Diaz, and before that he clearly lost to Alfonso Gomez.  The head-to-head comparison versus Alexander doesn’t carry quite as much sway as the weight of the overall resume, and thus Maidana wins out in a close call.  His fight this weekend could go a long way to confirm or alter that state of affairs, however.


Next, Malignaggi.  I don’t care what the judges say.  He lost in dominant fashion to Cano.  But now he’s ranked well ahead of the young Mexican.  Ultimately it comes down to this: you have to credit a guy for winning a pretty big fight.  Making the decision a little easier is the fact that Cano did lose a fight in the interim (against Shane Mosley), and also the fact that he came in three quarters of a pound overweight for the fight.


The other x-factor is Adrien Broner.  It doesn’t really make sense that he should be unranked after pretty clearly beating the guy that’s now the #14 contender.  That being said, Malignaggi wasn’t at this height when he fought Broner, and I don’t make it a practice of re-ranking a guy based on what his opponent later does.  Is Broner a top 20 welterweight?  Yes.  Can I rank him there without opening up an even bigger quagmire of subjectivity and inconsistency?  I think not.  He’ll have his opportunity to earn that ranking beyond all doubt this Saturday, for what it’s worth.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (189-221-221)
Last Fight: 9/14/2013- W* (MD12) vs. #2 JMW Saul Alvarez (at JMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Floyd will likely be back on both May 3 and September 13, with Amir Khan being rumored as the May 3 opponent.
1) Timothy Bradley (9-9-79)
Last Fight: 10/12/2013- W (SD12) vs. #1 Juan Manuel Marquez
Next Fight: Unknown
Bradley-Pacquiao II is very likely for April 12.
2) Juan Manuel Marquez (9-109-109)
Last Fight: 10/12/2013- L (SD12) vs. #17 Timothy Bradley
Next Fight: Unknown
After retirement was mentioned a couple different times, Marquez now says he intends to fight twice in 2014.
3) Manny Pacquiao (9-262-262)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- UD12 #5? JWW Brandon Rios
Next Fight: Unknown
See Bradley’s notes, above.
4) Marcos Maidana (1-27-27)
Last Fight: 6/8/2013- TKO6 #4 Josesito Lopez
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. LW Champ Adrien Broner
The Maidana-Broner fight on December 14 will now headline a regular Showtime Championship boxing broadcast, instead of a PPV, as the undercard has suffered significant collapses.
5) Shawn Porter (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD12 #5 Devon Alexander
Next Fight: Unknown
All indications are that Porter will fight his mandatory, Kell Brook, next.
6) Jesus Soto Karass (1-20-46)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- TKO12 #7 Andre Berto
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. #13 Keith Thurman
Soto Karass’s fight with Thurman has been moved from the December 7 Malignaggi-Judah undercard in Brooklyn to the following week’s pay-per-view tilt between Broner and Maidana.
7) Robert Guerrero (1-55-72)
Last Fight: 5/4/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Next Fight: Unknown
Guerrero turned down Keith Thurman for a proposed November fight, according to both fighters’ promoter.  Dan Rafael reports that Guerrero might be waiting around to fight the winner of Maidana-Broner.  He’s also been rumored to be in the mix to fight Khan, though his team has denied it.
8) Kell Brook (1-137-137)
Last Fight:10/26/2013- TKO4 Vyacheslav Senchenko (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Porter’s notes, above.
9) Devon Alexander (1-94-94)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- L (UD12) vs. Shawn Porter (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
10) Randall Bailey (3-3-3)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- W (DQ8) vs. Humberto Toledo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
11) Josesito Lopez (3-77)
Last Fight: 6/8/2013- L (TKO6) vs. #11 Marcos Maidana
Next Fight: 12/13/2013- vs. Mike Arnaoutis (UNR)
Just days after the fight was announced, Lopez’s December 13 opponent for on an FS1-televised card from Indio, California, Aaron Martinez, withdrew with injury.  He’ll now be fighting veteran Mike Arnaoutis, instead.
12) Andre Berto (3-55)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- L (TKO12) vs. #11 Jesus Soto Karass
Next Fight: Unknown
Berto’s shoulder surgery will keep him out until sometime in 2014.
13) Keith Thurman (3-40)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- KO10 Diego Chaves (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/14/2013- vs. #6 Jesus Soto Karass
See Soto Karass’s notes, above.
14) Paulie Malignaggi (1-1)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD12 #8? JWW Zab Judah
Next Fight: Unknown
Malignaggi expects a big money fight in the wake of his handy victory over Judah.  He is interested in the Maidana-Broner winner.
15) Chris van Heerden (1-78)
Last Fight: 3/2/2013- UD12 Matthew Hatton (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Amidst conflicting reports variously suggesting he would fight in February in the US or in South Africa, the truth has emerged.  He’s starting a 3-year contract with a US promoter, and supposedly has a fight planned for early in the new year.
16) Luis Carlos Abregu (1-33)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD10 Antonin Decarie (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Abregu’s plans for an October fight have been scrapped, as he recently had 2013-ending hand surgery.  The WBC is looking to match him with Antonin Decarie when he returns.
17) Jan Zaveck (1-209)
Last Fight: 10/19/2013- UD8 Sebastien Allais (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
As expected, Zaveck had little trouble with French journeyman Allais.
18) Ruslan Provodnikov (1-39)
Last Fight: 10/19/2013- RTD10 #3 JWW Mike Alvarado (at JWW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Provodnikov proved against Alvarado that the Bradley fight was no fluke.  He’s a big-time fighter now.  Mostly it’s all rumor at this point, but there has been speculation of his fighting Rios or Marquez.  He said he would refuse a fight with Pacquiao, a friend with whom he shares a trainer.
19) Pablo Cesar Cano (1-13)
Last Fight: 9/14/2013- W (SD10*) vs. Ashley Theophane (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Cano said after the 143-pound catchweight win against Theophane that he intends to seek title contention at 140 now.  I must say I’m surprised by the move, considering he failed to make weight for one of his biggest fights at 147 against Malignaggi.

20) Jo Jo Dan (1-2)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- W* (SD12) vs. Kevin Bizier (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Dan wants a title shot.  My belief is that he owes Bizier a rematch.


The Week Ahead:
#11 Josesito Lopez vs. Mike Arnaoutis; Indio, California; Fox Sports 1 (US)
Lopez will mainly looking to keep busy and keep his name out there against shopworn veteran Mike Arnaoutis.  Arnaoutis was once a pretty legitimate gatekeeper, but at 34 he hasn’t kept the gate too effectively of late.


Alvaro Robles vs. Miguel Lopez; Mexicali, Mexico; Off TV
Two-loss local prospect Robles will just look to get some easy work in, having been out of the ring since getting the biggest win of his career back in March.  Lopez is sub-par and sub-.500.


Leonard Bundu vs. Lee Purdy; London, England; Sky (UK)
Just a couple weeks ago, Bundu was in the top 20 and looking to improve his ranking.  Now he’s barely in sight of the top 20 after a flurry of welterweight action recently.  He’ll look to change all that when he takes on Lee Purdy, a serviceable English gatekeeper who gave Devon Alexander a reasonably good scrap earlier this year.


#4 Marcos Maidana vs. LW Champ Adrien Broner; San Antonio, Texas; Showtime (US)
If hype is the measure, Broner has got to be the favorite.  Not that he’s all hype.  He does have a lightweight Championship in his pocket, having dominated Antonio DeMarco back in March.  But welterweight is a better division than lightweight, to say nothing for the peril of stepping up in weight.  And Maidana is among its best and hardest-hitting contenders.  Broner looked downright ordinary against Malignaggi, and I daresay Maidana would eat Brooklyn’s finest for lunch.  If Broner can pull off a win this big, he will have earned the hype, to a large extent, at his new weight.  But he’ll need to come prepared for battle to a much greater extent than he did in his last outing.


#6 Jesus Soto Karass vs. #13 Keith Thurman; San Antonio, Texas; Showtime (US)
Soto Karass will put his recent string of success to the test against hard-hitting undefeated prospect Keith Thurman.  Thurman, despite his strength and concussive power, was struggling with a big physical Argentine in Diego Chaves last time out, but showed that he’s more than capable of switching styles and boxing a little when plan A doesn’t work.  That might be the difference maker against Soto Karass, who more or less knows just one way to fight.

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