Cruiserweight: 2013, Dec 23-29

What began as a close and intriguing fight in Hamburg on Friday ended as an inconclusive joke, when referee Holger Wiemann, in a fit of bias, decided to let a personal slight to him determine the outcome of the fight.  Steve Herelius had been on a disastrous losing streak already of late, though he still carries with him the credentials of a gatekeeper.  He was matched with another gatekeeper in Albania’s Nuri Seferi.  The fight was evenly matched through six.  Herelius was vastly outworking Seferi, but threw truly effective shots in no greater volume than Seferi, who sat idle at the end of Herelius’ 1-2 combos for a large portion of the fight, but generally threw hard shots when he worked.  By the end of the 6th, however, Herelius had, for some reason, apparently lost his composure- taking his eyes off his opponent to gesture to his corner frequently.  Here’s where it got bad.  Somewhere in the middle of the 7th round, the two fighters briefly came together in a borderline clinch.  Doing his best Luis Pabon impersonation, Wiemann dove recklessly between the two fighters.  Maybe he yelled stop, and maybe he didn’t.  In any case, he jumped in unnecessarily into a potentially brief clinch that the fighters should have been allowed to work themselves out of.  When both fighters continued punching (as well they should, unless Wiemann erred by yelling stop), Wiemann pulled Herelius away, while being hit in the back by hard punches from Seferi.  Herelius continued trying to step to Seferi as Wiemann tried to push him away, and the referee ridiculously disqualified the Frenchman on the spot.  The reasons for the stoppage being ridiculous are many.  First, he did no more- indeed, arguably less- than his opponent did wrong in the situation, and yet was the only one sanctioned.  That’s bias.  Also, he was in the heat of the moment in an active exchange with the other fighter.  Wiemann doesn’t belong there, and even if he makes the mistake of being there, he needs to understand that the fighters can’t pull back punches they are already throwing.  If you want to take a point because you (wrongly, I think) believe that one guy in particular is not respecting your authority, that’s one thing.  But to disqualify a fighter in that situation without so much as a stern warning first?  That’s putting yourself in the position of being the most important actor in the fight.  That’s never a good thing for a ref.


As is my practice when a clearly bad call by a referee decides a fight (call it the Schorle rule), I will treat the fight the same as if it had been stopped by an accidental foul by a fighter.  Unfortunately that’s of precious little help to Herelius.  As I mentioned, I had the fight even after 6, but unfortunately for him, Seferi had clearly won the completed portion of the 7th, and thus gets the benefit of a close decision.  Since it did appear he was coming on the fight as Herelius unraveled a bit, that might not be a bad result, ultimately.


The following night in Moscow, Roy Jones gave us a nice little glimpse at just where he is at this twilight stage of his career.  We found out against B-Hop, I think, that he was completely finished at the Championship level.  Against Pawel Glazewski in 2012, we found out that he probably was no longer a real fringe contender.  But it was last weekend against lower-mid-level French journeyman Zine Benmakhlouf that Jones showed that he’s most likely done as a serious fighter at any worthwhile level.  By worthwhile level, I mean as a top 50 guy.  He may very well still be a top 50 guy by the skin of his teeth, but I don’t see him beating too many of his peers, if so.  It’s not that Benmakhlouf beat him.  I had Jones winning by a single point.  But he certainly never separated himself from the younger man.  Jones knew that his conditioning was not what it once was, and while he kept his hands moving and thereby appeared to be holding his own at such times, he was backed to the ropes by the apparently stronger Frenchman for a large percentage of the second half of the fight.  I could see, with the right perspective, the fight being scored anything between a rather wide 119-108 for Jones, or even as much as 115-112 for Zine.  The entire second half of the fight was close, and although Jones very likely out-landed his opponent in virtually every round, much of it was mere feather-dusting, and his ring generalship could hardly have been worse by being stuck in a corner for the majority of any given round.


Judging-wise, there was a predictably one-sided view ringside.  Leszek Jankowiak and Pawel Kardyni of Poland both gave borderline-reasonable but undeniably slanted scores of 118-109 and 119-108, respectively.  Kardyni is usually more fair than that in my experience, but he did turn in a ludicrous card in Hernandez-Cunningham I a couple years ago.  Jankowiak was one of the architects of the Helenius-Chisora debacle, and also turned in unreasonable cards in Rodriguez-Maderna and Kolodziej-Crenz, so you might almost count 118-109 as a decent night for him.  The prize for worst judge on the night goes to Guillermo Perez of Panama, who gave Jones every round.  I have seen some fights he’s worked, but upon a quick review of his record, few if any of those have gone the distance.  The only score that I have frame of reference on for him is Malignaggi-Senchenko, in which he turned in a reasonable but somewhat pro-Senchenko card before the stoppage, having Malignaggi up by just a round.


Here’s how weak this division is outside the top few.  You can be Nuri Seferi in this division- a 37 year-old career-long journeyman- beat a guy under dubious circumstances that’s clearly washed up and hasn’t so much as won since 2010, and that gets you ranked #15.  Hell, even now, I’d say Herelius is probably just barely out of the top 25.  
Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: None
1) Denis Lebedev (22-203-203)
Last Fight: 5/17/2013- L (TKO11) vs. Guillermo Jones (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Citing delays from the Guillermo Jones/Don King side, Lebedev has petitioned to the WBA for the ability to seek a unification fight with Wlodarczyk, instead.  In the mean time, purse bids have been set for January 6 on the Jones fight.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (67-183-183)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO10 #12 Alexander Alekseev
Next Fight: Unknown
Hernandez still seems a little vulnerable, needing his power to bail him out a little against Alekseev.
3) Marco Huck (15-368-368)
Last Fight: 6/8/2013- W (MD12) vs. #5 Ola Afolabi
Next Fight: 1/25/2014- vs. #5 Firat Arslan
Huck-Arslan II has a new date of January 25 after Huck suffered a hand injury.
4) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (15-444-444)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- TKO6 #9 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
Wlodarczyk had a relatively easy time in his third fight with Fragomeni, and is interested in Huck, Hernandez, Afolabi, Drozd, and Chakhkiev for his next fight.
5) Firat Arslan (15-85-128)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD10 Varol Vekiloglu (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/25/2014- vs. #3 Marco Huck
See Huck’s notes, above.

6) Thabiso Mchunu (15-21-59)
Last Fight: 8/3/2013- UD10 Eddie Chambers (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/24/2013- vs. #20 Garrett Wilson
Mchunu will be back on an NBC Sports card on January 24 against Garrett Wilson.
7) Grigory Drozd (5-12-59)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- TKO11 #13 Mateusz Masternak
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. Jeremy Ouanna (UNR)
Drozd will defend his European title in March against solid French journeyman Jeremy Ouanna, though Wlodarczyk’s team seems to think they might get Drozd in their next fight.
8) Ola Afolabi (5-250-250)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- W* (MD12) vs. Lukasz Janik (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Afolabi needed a gift to squeak by Janik, and is on Wlodarczyk’s short list for the Pole’s next fight.
9) Giacobbe Fragomeni (5-15-267)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- L (TKO6) vs. #4 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Next Fight: Unknown
I really hope that Fragomeni will call it a career.  
10) Silvio Branco (5-5-93)
Last Fight: 7/6/2013- W (TD10) vs. Juho Haapoja (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Branco has been tabbed by the WBC to fight Chakhkiev for some silly color coded title belt, with January 3 the deadline to avoid purse bids.
11) Ilunga Makabu (5-24)
Last Fight: 8/31/2013- TKO5 Eric Fields (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/1/2014- vs. vs. Unknown Opponent
Apparently Kolodziej encountered promotional difficulties, and is now out of a planned February 1 fight with Makabu.  There are unconfirmed reports that Nathan Cleverly might step in to take his place.
12) Santander Silgado (3-8)
Last Fight: 11/1/2013- TKO2 #20 Steve Herelius
Next Fight: Unknown
Silgado may have caught a finished fighter at the right time in stopping Herelius, but in a fairly shallow division, that’s enough for now.
13) Mateusz Masternak (3-91)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- L (TKO11) vs. #16 Grigory Drozd
Next Fight: Unknown
Masternak is still a legitimate prospect despite his first loss, but can no longer lay claim to the status of “top prospect” after losing to Drozd.
14) Lukasz Janik (3-8)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- L* (MD12) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
Next Fight: Unknown
Janik would like a well-deserved rematch with Afolabi.
15) Nuri Seferi (1-1)
Last Fight: 12/20/2013- W (DQ7*) vs. Steve Herelius (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
16) Enad Licina (1-183)
Last Fight: 9/27/2013- TKO3 Levan Jomardashvili (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Licina needs a significant win before January, as his only relevant win in the last 5 years will become older than 5 years at that point, prompting his removal.
17) Danie Venter (1-15)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- KO1 Shawn Cox (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I must admit I wrote Venter off when he lost a bit of an upset to Mchunu last year, but Mchunu has proven to be something of a world beater since, and Venter’s overall resume is quietly starting to look pretty solid.
18) Dmytro Kucher (1-78)
Last Fight: 7/13/2013- L (MD12) vs. Ilunga Makabu (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Kucher would like a rematch with Makabu, and has his sights set on Wlodarczyk down the road, as well.  He expects to be back against someone in November or December.
19) Krzysztof Glowacki (1-22)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO9 Varol Vekiloglu (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Glowacki has been tearing through the middle tier of the division like a wrecking ball.
20) Rakhim Chakhkiev (1-5)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- KO10 Giulian Ilie (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chakhkiev will apparently get a chance at some silly color-coded alphabet belt against Silvio Branco, with a deadline to avoid purse bids of January 3.


THE WEEK AHEAD: Merry Christmas!

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: