Year-End Awards: Cruiserweight, 2013

Welcome to my 2nd Annual Cruiserweight Year End Awards and Wrap-Up.  First, a list of awards for the division.  Then, a look at the 20 fighters that did the best work in 2012 specifically, followed by a rundown of the year’s rankings history.  Dig in!

 

Cruiserweight Fighter of the Year: Thabiso Mchunu
Last year’s Prospect of the Year made good on his potential, dominating highly credible heavyweight Eddie Chambers in what was supposed to be just the beginning of a productive cruiserweight run for Fast Eddie.  It was Mchunu’s only significant win of the year, though, and it’s really a toss-up between him and Marco Huck, who beat #5 Ola Afolabi- the highest ranked actual cruiserwight to fall.  If nothing else, I give it to the South African beast just based on the comprehensive nature of his victory.  

 

Prospect of the Year: Lukasz Janik
This award goes to the fighter with fewer than 3 wins that has never been in the top 10 and had the best year in 2013.  Janik gets it on the strength of a performance that, frankly, should have made him ineligible by getting him well within the top 10.  I’m referring to his “loss” to 7th-ranked Ola Afolabi from November.  Janik pretty clearly won the fight, but it wasn’t a blatant enough robbery to treat him as the unequivocal winner, which means he’s currently sitting in the teens.  His only other prior loss was against Mateusz Masternak.

 

Most Important Knockout of the Year: #4 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk TKO6 #9 Giacobbe Fragomeni
This is a simple recognition of the guy who stopped the highest-ranked contender to be stopped during the year.  This one might have been a foregone conclusion, since the 44 year-old Fragomeni had begun to show his age in recent fights, and since Wlodarczyk stopped him in their second meeting in 2010, when Fragomeni was closer to his prime.  Nevertheless, Fragomeni is the highest-ranked guy to suffer a stoppage on the year, and Wlodarczyk is the guy that made it happen.  Yoan Pablo Hernandez’s TKO of #12 Alexander Alekseev is the runner-up.

 

Most Sensational Knockout of the Year: #16 Ilunga Makabu KO5 Eric Fields
Makabu’s picture-perfect left-hand was such a devastating shot that he was already posing for the cameras before Fields hit the canvas.  Click “KO5” to see a brief video of the shot on Youtube.  The only other KO anywhere near the aesthetic value of this one was Dmitry Kudryashov’s shot on Zack Mwekassa, but in the latter case, Mwekassa was able to recover from the shot well enough to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the ref’s stoppage.  Fields was completely done.

 

Match-Up of the Year: #5 Ola Afolabi vs. #8 Marco Huck
Lots of options here, and no clear winner.  Afolabi-Huck featured an average ranking of 6.5.  Ditto on #4 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk vs. #9 Giacobbe Fragomeni.  Falling just short of that is #2 Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. #12 Alexander Alekseev.  You could also make a strong case for #1 Denis Lebedev vs. Guillermo Jones, who had been #10 when he was removed for inactivity.  I think the inactivity would have to lower his standing a bit- just enough to lose out to the winner here.  With Afolabi-Huck and Wlodarczyk-Fragomeni being essentially a tie, I will go with the more closely-matched fight, and the one that was more competitive.

 

Fight of the Year: #6 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk TKO8 Rakhim Chakhkiev
 Jones-Lebedev would be a tough candidate to beat given the extremely competitive nature, the gruesome swelling, and the dramatic stoppage, but that fight is unfortunately tainted by Jones’ PED use and the ensuing no contest verdict.  But even if not for that drawback, that contest would get very stiff competition from Wlodarczyk-Chakhkiev.  Chakhkiev was brutally dominating the Polish contender early, and looked on the verge of stopping him, having scored a knockdown in the third and most likely sweeping the opening 5 rounds.  That was before the 6th, when “el Diablo” began a streak of 4 knockdown in three rounds that ultimately led to referee Lindsey Page waving the fight off in the 8th.  I must say that I didn’t care for that decision, hich was made without a count.  Chakhkiev had shown a very weak chin against the knockdown at that point, but he didn’t seem so hurt that he conclusively needed to be saved in that fashion.  Nevetheless, it was an all-action affair full of guys hitting the floor, perseverance, competitive action, and a great comeback.

 

Upset of the Year: #7 Ola Afolabi W* (MD12) vs. Lukasz Janik
This is a bit of a problematic pick, I realize.  Technically, the heavy favorite won, but it was only due to a heavy dose of assistance from the judges.  While you could make a case for a legitimate Afolabi win, you’d have to bend over backwards to do so, I think.  While the fight was rather close, the only reasonable conclusion is that Janik deserved at least a draw, and a draw in itself would constitute a major upset.  Janik was a one-loss prospect, but was really only proven at a mid-range journeyman sort of level, while Afolabi had fought on essentially even terms with Marco Huck for 3 fights.  If you don’t like this pick from me, then feel free to go with the runner up, Ilunga Makabu’s fairly convincing decision win over then-17th-ranked Dmytro Kucher.  Both guys entered as undefeated prospects, but Kucher had been tested on a far higher level, and had looked like a destroyer to that point.  I have trouble giving that fight the nod over Janik-Afolabi, though, since Makabu had not ruled him out of the likelihood of competitiveness by his prior results- we just didn’t know what he was capable of yet.  Janik’s prior loss to Masternak seemed to be a good reason to believe he was outclassed by Afolabi.

 

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Marco Huck
If you just looked at the official record, you’d be puzzled as to just what Huck had to come back from.  But for those that actually watched his last two fights of 2012, you’d know that he took a serious hit to his credibility last year by maybe getting a small benefit of the doubt to earn a draw with Afolabi and especially by needing a blatant robbery to leave with a victory against the ancient Firat Arslan.  He fought only once in 2013- a very low number for the busy contender- but managed to put any Afolabi-related angst to rest with a competitive but clear win over his old nemesis in their trilogy bout.  He’ll get a chance in January to come all the way back with a rematch against Arslan.

 

Robbery of the Year: #7 Ola Afolabi W* (MD12) vs. Lukasz Janik
The judges mostly behaved themselves in the cruiserweight division this year, after an especially scandalous 2012.  The only clearly wrong decision of the year in serious action was in November, when #7 Afolabi squeaked by with a majority decision over one-loss Polish prospect Lukasz Janik at Madison Square Garden.  It really was a close fight.  I had it 115-113 for Janik.  Fair scores could range from about 115-113 Afolabi to 117-111 Janik.  It’s hard to gripe too much at Jerry Roth’s draw card, or even to any great extent at Joseph Pasquale’s 115-113 pro-Afolabi card, but Waleska Roldan’s 117-111 for the Brit was absolutely shameful, having given Afolabi all the debatable rounds and at least 2 clear Janik frames.  Technically-speaking, I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call this a robbery, but it was definitely the worst decision of the year.  The only other one I really disagreed with at all was Alekseev vs. Garrett Wilson, won by Alekseev, which I had a draw.  That one wasn’t a big deal.

 

Now, for anyone that cares, I will rank the division based solely on the fighters’ 2013 accomplishments.  I will use the same criteria that I use to rank them overall (with victories, draws, or should-be victories and draws over top 50 opposition making one eligible), but will completely ignore all fights prior to 2012. 

 

1) Thabiso Mchunu
Significant Results: Aug 3- UD12 Heavyweight Contender Eddie Chambers.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 10: #17.  Feb 11- May 19: #16.  May 20- Jun 2: #17. Jun 3- Jul 14: #16. Jul 15-28: #17. Jul 29- Aug 4: #16. Aug 5- Sep 15: #7. Sep 16- Dec 31: #6.
2) Marco Huck
Significant Results: Jun 8- W (MD12) vs. #5 Ola Afolabi.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 10: #8. Feb 11- May 19: #7. May 20- Jun 9: #8. Jun 10- Jul 28: #5. Jul 29- Sep 15: #4. Sep 16- Dec 31: #3.
3) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
Significant Results: Jun 21- TKO8 Undefeated Prospect Rakhim Chakhkiev. Dec 6- TKO6 #9 Giacobbe Fragomeni.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 10: #6. Feb 11- May 19: #5. May 20- Jul 28: #6. Jul 29- Sep 15: #5. Sep 16- Dec 31: #4.
4) Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Significant Results: Nov 23- TKO10 #12 Alexander Alekseev.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: #2.
5) Grigory Drozd
Significant Results: Oct 5- TKO11 #13 Mateusz Masternak.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 10: #20. Feb 11- May 19: #19. May 20- Jun 2: #20. Jun 3- Jul 28: #19. Jul 29- Sep 15: #18. Sep 16-22: #17. Sep 23- Oct 6: #16. Oct 7- Nov 3: #9. Nov 4-24: #8. Nov 25- Dec 31: #7..
6) Lukasz Janik
Significant Results: Nov 2- L (should be W) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Nov 3: Unranked. Nov 4-24: #16. Nov 25- Dec 8: #15. Dec 9-31: #14.
7) Ilunga Makabu
Significant Results: Jul 13- W (MD12) vs. #17 Dmytro Kucher. Aug 31- TKO5 Prospect Eric Fields.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Jul 14: Unranked. Jul 15-28: #16. Jul 29- Aug 4: #15. Aug 5- Sep 1: #16. Sep 2-15: #15. Sep 16- Oct 6: #14. Oct 7- Nov 24: #13. Nov 25- Dec 31: #11.
8) Santander Silgado
Significant Results: Nov 1- TKO2 #20 Steve Herelius.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Nov 3: Unranked. Nov 4-24: #14. Nov 25- Dec 8: #13. Dec 9-31: #12.
9) Alexander Alekseev
Significant Results: Feb 22- UD12 W (should be Draw) vs. Fringe Contender Garrett Wilson. Nov 23- L (TKO10) vs. #2 Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 10: #16. Feb 11-24: #15. Feb 25- May 19: #13. May 20- Jun 2: #14. Jun 3- Jul 28: #13. Jul 29- Aug 4: #12. Aug 5- Sep 15: #13. Sep 16- Dec 8: #12. Dec 9-31: Unranked (Retired).
10) Garrett Wilson
Significant Results: Feb 22- UD12 L (should be Draw) vs. #15 Alexander Alekseev. Nov 16- L (UD10) vs. Vyacheslav Glazkov (at HW).
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 8: Unranked.  Dec 9-22: #20. Dec 23-31: Unranked.
11) Nuri Seferi
Significant Results: Dec 20- W (DQ7) vs. Fringe Contender Steve Herelius.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 22: Unranked. Dec 23-31: #15.
12) Marcos Ahumada
Significant Results: May 25- KO4 Gatekeeper Alejandro Valori (at 179).
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
13) Silvio Branco
Significant Results: Jul 6- W (TD10) vs. Gatekeeper Juho Haapoja.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 10: #13. Feb 11- May 19: #12. May 20- Jun 2: #13. Jun 3- Jul 28: #12. Jul 29- Aug 4: #11. Aug 5- Sep 15: #12. Sep 16- Nov 24: #11. Nov 25- Dec 31: #10.
14) Danie Venter
Significant Results: Sep 21- KO1 Gatekeeper Shawn Cox.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Sep 15: Unranked. Sep 16-22: #20. Sep 23- Oct 6: #17. Oct 7- Nov 3: #16. Nov 4-24: #18. Nov 25- Dec 8: #17. Dec 9-22: #16. Dec 23-31: #17.
15) Eleider Alvarez
Significant Results: Sep 28- UD10 Gatekeeper Edison Miranda (at 180).
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
16) Tony Conquest
Significant Results: Oct 5- UD10 Prospect Wadi Camacho.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
17) Ola Afolabi
Significant Results: Jun 8- L (MD12) vs. #8 Marco Huck.  Nov 2- W* (MD12- should have been L) vs. Prospect Lukasz Janik.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 10: #5. Feb 11- May 19: #4. May 20- Jun 9: #5. Jun 10- Jul 28: #8. Jul 29- Aug 4: #7. Aug 5- Sep 15: #8. Sep 16- Nov 3: #7. Nov 4-24: #9. Nov 25- Dec 31: #8.

 

The following fights could be found in the top 20 at various parts of the year, but did nothing at this weight to help their ranking.  Or in the case of Guillermo Jones, self-sabotaged.  Most are no longer around:

 

Denis Lebedev– Jan 1- May 19: #1. May 20- Jul 28: #4. Jul 29- Dec 31: #1.

 

Troy Ross– Jan 1- Sep 15: #3. Sep 16- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Steve Cunningham– Jan 1- Feb 10: #4. Feb 11- Dec 31: Unranked (Moved Up).

 

Firat Arslan– Jan 1- Feb 10: #7. Feb 11- May 19: #6. May 20- Jul 28: #7. Jul 29- Sep 15: #6. Sep 16- Dec 31: #5.

 

Lateef Kayode– Jan 1- Feb 10: #9. Feb 11- May 19: #8. May 20- Jun 2: #9. Jun 3- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Danny Green– Jan 1- Feb 10: #10. Feb 11- May 19: #9. May 20- Jun 2: #10. Jun 3- Jul 28: #9. Jul 29- Aug 4: #8. Aug 5- Sep 15: #9. Sep 16- Nov 3: #8. Nov 4-24: #7. Nov 25- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

B.J. Flores– Jan 1- Feb 10: #11. Feb 11- May 19: #10. May 20- Jun 2: #11. Jun 3- Jul 28: #10. Jul 29- Aug 4: #9. Aug 5- Sep 15: #10. Sep 16- Oct 6: #9. Oct 7- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Giacobbe Fragomeni– Jan 1- Feb 10: #12. Feb 11- May 19: #11. May 20- Jun 2: #12. Jun 3- Jul 28: #11. Jul 29- Aug 4: #10. Aug 5- Sep 15: #11. Sep 16- Nov 24: #10. Nov 25- Dec 31: #9.

 

Mateusz Masternak– Jan 1- Feb 10: #14. Feb 1-24: #13. Feb 25- May 19: #14. May 20- Jun 2: #15. Jun 3- Jul 28: #14. Jul 29- Aug 4: #13. Aug 5- Sep 15: #14. Sep 16- Oct 6: #13. Oct 7- Nov 3: #14. Nov 4-24: #15. Nov 25- Dec 8: #14. Dec 9-31: #13.

 

Francisco Palacios– Jan 1- Feb 10: #15. Feb 11- 24: #14. Feb 25- May 19: #15. May 20- Jun 2: #16. Jun 3- Jul 28: #15. Jul 29- Aug 4: #14. Aug 5- Sep 1: #15. Sep 2-15: #16. Sep 16-22: #15. Sep 23- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Dmytro Kucher– Jan 1- Feb 10: #18. Feb 11- May 19: #17. May 20- Jun 2: #18. Jun 3- Jul 14: #17. Jul 15-28: #20. Jul 29- Sep 15: #19. Sep 16- Oct 6: #18. Oct 7- Nov 3: #17. Nov 4-24: #19. Nov 25- Dec 8: #18. Dec 9-22: #17. Dec 23-31: #18.

 

Enad Licina– Jan 1- Feb 10: #19. Feb 11- May 19: #18. May 20- Jun 2: #19. Jun 3- Jul 28: #18. Jul 29- Sep 15: #17. Sep 16-22: #16. Sep 23- Nov 3: #15. Nov 4-24: #17. Nov 25- Dec 8: #16. Dec 9- 22: #15. Dec 23-31: #16.

 

Pawel Glazewski– Jan 1- Feb 10: Unranked.  Feb 11- May 19: #20. May 20- Jun 2: Unranked. Jun 3-30: #20. Jul 1- Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Guillermo Jones– Jan 1- May 19: Unranked. May 20- Jul 28: #1. Jul 29- Dec 31: Unranked (PEDs).

 

Krzysztof Glowacki– Jan 1- Jun 30: Unranked. Jul 1-14: #20. Jul 15-28: Unranked. Jul 29- Sep 15: #20. Sep 16- Oct 6: #19. Oct 7- Nov 3: #18. Nov 4-24: #20. Nov 25- Dec 8: #19. Dec 9-22: #18. Dec 23-31: #19.

 

Rakhim Chakhkiev– Jan 1- Sep 22: Unranked.  Sep 23- Oct 6: #20. Oct 7- Nov 3: #19. Nov 4-24: Unranked. Nov 25- Dec 8: #20. Dec 9-22: #19. Dec 23-31: #20.

 

Steve Herelius– Jan 1- Oct 6: Unranked. Oct 7- Nov 3: #20. Nov 4- Dec 31: Unranked.
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