Middleweight: 2013, Dec 16-22

Wednesday in Flemington, Australia, Sam Soliman returned from a PED suspension to dominate and stop gatekeeper Les Sherrington in the 9th, dropping his man twice along the way.  I can’t find a video.  The result is an important one, as I’ll discuss below.

 

Inactive contender Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam also returned from a more voluntary brand of inactivity on Saturday, fighting for the first time since his exciting and close October 2012 loss to Peter Quillin.  The fight was in Barcelona against mid-level Irish journeyman Anthony Fitzgerald.  N’Dam won a 10-round decision, and Fitzgerald was kind enough to confirm for me on facebook that the fight was indeed contested at the 160 pound limit.  This means that N’Dam is eligible for a re-ranking now that he’s active again.  

 

#1 Martin Murray had an awful outing that night in London.  The fight- against Belorussian journeyman Sergey Khomitsky- had been postponed from a couple weeks ago due to a virus that laid Murray low.  It could be that he was not entirely over its effects, because he was flat and very ordinary-looking.  The fight was at a contract weight of 163 or 164, but it can’t go unnoticed here.  Referee Robert Williams was also charged with the task of sole judge.  This is customary in Britain for non-title fights, and stands as one of the worst ideas that nation has had since it decided to bow to another person based solely on who her parents were and pay millions of pounds in tax money to that individual.  I do not fault Williams for his 77-75 card in favor of Murray because in the first place it was fairly reasonable despite the fact that I disagree with it, and in the second place because he could not possibly provide the concentration required to accurately judge a close round while simultaneously doing his job of enforcing the rules and ensuring fighter safety.  I think Murray lost the fight 77-75, and even giving minimal deference to the ref’s decision, the effect of this- the equivalent of a draw- is potentially devastating to Murray’s ranking.  But at the same time, he himself got even more clearly robbed against the Champion of the World in his previous fight, and thus it’s hard to drop him too far down the ranks.

 

In less momentous action, #11 Max Bursak shut out low-level journeyman Gari Abajian over 8.

 

I decided that with regard to Murray, he’s got to drop below Golovkin, and also below Sturm, who just beat a guy that Martinez beat.  He remains ahead of Barker in part because I’m maybe more merciful with regard to the Khomitsky fight than I should be, and in part because Murray performed better against Martinez (that’s really just my excuse that I’m using not to drop him to the #15 range or something).  I do think it’s important to strike a reasonable balance here, since his poor performance against Khomitsky is probably much more of a fluke than are his fine performances against Sturm and Sergio.  So Murray slides to #3.

 

N’Dam, whose only drawbacks are inactivity and his loss to an only semi-proven contender in Quillin, re-emerges at #8, just behind Quillin himself.

 

A quick analysis on Soliman: his overall resume is still solid.  But it was quite a stretch to have him winning the Sturm fight in the first place, and when you factor in his PED use for that fight, I don’t think it makes any sense at all to give him any positive credit for that particular outing.  So on the merits of his remaining resume (with the instant Sherrington win figuring prominently therein), he returns to the ranks just a couple spots lower than he left them, landing just behind N’Dam at #9.  Everyone ranked #8 and below last week dives two places, including Rubio and Mundine, who are forced from the top 10 after 10 and 8 weeks, respectively.  James Kirkland and Jorge Heiland are both forced from the rankings after one and two week stints, respectively.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (192-192-192)
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) Gennady Golovkin (1-68-131)
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.
2) Felix Sturm (1-535-535)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- TKO2 #3 Darren Barker
Next Fight: Unknown
Soliman is the #1 contender for Sturm’s alphabet title, and Macklin and Geale are both trying to get rematches with him, as well.
3) Martin Murray (1-107-107)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- W* (PTS8) vs. Sergey Khomitsky (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Murray barely avoided an abject disaster with his abysmal performance against Khomitsky, and though he probably deserved to lose the fight, his narrow decision win allows him to stay in line for what looks like a shot at a second-rate alphabet belt in February, though the opponent hasn’t been announced.
4) Darren Barker (2-18-114)
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 (18-235-235)
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.  On the other hand, he’s got a loose verbal agreement to fight Golovkin, likely toward the end of 2014.
6) Matthew Macklin (18-130-221)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD10 Lamar Russ (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
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.  He’s also pushing for a fight with Andy Lee.
7) Peter Quillin (34-61-82)
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) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD10 Anthony Fitzgerald (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
No word on a potential big fight for N’Dam, but at least he’s active again.
9) Sam Soliman (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 12/11/2013- TKO9 Les Sherrington (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Soliman has been re-installed as the #1 contender to Sturm’s alphabet strap, and will likely get another shot soon.
10) Sergio Mora (1-25-25)
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.
11) Marco Antonio Rubio (1-151)
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.
12) Anthony Mundine (1-151)
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.
13) Max Bursak (1-151)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD8 Gari Abajian (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
14) Caleb Truax (1-13)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- TKO4 Ceresso Fort (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/3/2014- vs. Ossie Duran (UNR)
Truax’s January 3 fight will likely be the first notable fight of the New Year.  His opponent was to be Derek Ennis, but he’s been replaced by the marginally better Ossie Duran.
15) Bryan Vera (1-61)
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.
16) Grzegorz Proksa (1-140)
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.
17) Curtis Stevens (1-20)
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.
18) Andrey Meryasev (1-6)
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.
19) Danny Jacobs (1-17)
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.
20) Dmitry Chudinov (1-17)
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.

 

The Week Ahead: 
Saturday
#20 Dmitry Chudinov vs. Juan Camilo Novoa; Moscow, Russia; Sport 2 (Hungary)
Chudinov gets a reasonable stay-busy outing against mid-range Colombian journeyman Juan Camilo Novoa on the Roy Jones undercard in Moscow.

 

Jose Uzcategui vs. Francisco Villanueva; Tijuana, Mexico; Azteca (Mexico)
Undefeated young Venezuelan Uzcategui takes on Mexican journeyman Francisco Villanueva in a 6-rounder.  Villanueva is much much better and more accomplished than his abysmal 14-28 record would indicate, and comes off a solid win over prospect Guillermo Arroyo.  You could easily argue that Villanueva is one of the best couple opponents Uzcategui has met so far, though it should be noted that Villanueva- who fought as a junior featherweight as recently as 2008- is probably undersized even as low as junior welter at this point, and painfully so at 160.
 

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