Heavyweight: 2014, Jan 20-26

2014 is off to a bad start, as the first truly significant heavyweight fight of the year ended in a blatant robbery.

 

#11 Mike Perez was in action for the first time since the tragic November battle with Magomed Abdusalamov that ended with Abdusalamov fighting for his life in a hospital bed.   Whether the psychological impact of that fight impacted Perez’s performance, I don’t know.  What I do know is that Perez had a terrible gameplan.  One of his strengths is great footwork, which he uses to set up angles.  He abandoned that advantage by failing to keep his distance in order to box at all.  He basically stood in the trenches with the bigger and cruder Takam, and whether due to tentativeness or due to Takam’s effective body work, he was rarely throwing with bad intentions.  Takam, on the flip side, got inside and outslugged Perez.  He was in charge from round 6 on, by a wide margin.

 

Scoring-wise, the first round was a toss-up that I gave to Perez.  Perez easily won the 2nd.  Takam took the third pretty clearly, though it was pretty close.  The 4th was another tossup, but I gave it to Takam.  The 5th was another fairly close round, but pretty clearly for Perez.  Takam clearly took rounds 6-10, with only the 7th and 8th being even remotely close.  I had it 97-93 for Takam, and could see it being either a round closer or a round wider.  

 

Judge Nicolas Esnault had it reasonable at 96-94 Takam.  Jean Gauthier and Sylvain LeBlanc both botched it, though, scoring it an unacceptable draw at 95-95.  Takam clearly won, and the fight will be treated as a Takam win here.

 

Takam debuts at #7.  He fits in rather well there, as both he and new #8 Stiverne are held back ever-so-slightly by a hiccup against a not-so-great fighter early in their careers.  Aside from that, Stiverne has beaten two guys ranked in the 15-20 range in Arreola and Austin, while Takam brings a gatekeeper-level win over Grant and a #11 in Perez.  That makes for a close call, but I tend to err on the side of the higher-level win in such situations.  Stiverne, Arreola, Thompson, and Teper are each forced down one space, with Teper exiting the top 10 after 8 weeks.  Perez takes a major dive out of the top 20- probably even out of the top 25 for the time being- as Takam, while a reasonably legitimate prospect, was only ranked in the low-40s at the time of the fight in my book, and had a loss to a prospect who never rose above the journeyman level.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (239-452-452)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- UD12 #3 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. #13 Alex Leapai
Klitschko-Leapai appears to be finalized for April 26 in Germany.  He said recently that he wants to capture his brother’s old alphabet title, which would unify all the major titles for the first time since Lewis in 1999.  He would have to wait for someone else to pick it up first, as the silly alphabets don’t let current titlists fight for vacant titles.
1) Alexander Povetkin (9-326-326)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
Povetkin is calling for a rematch.  He would probably need to become the WBA mandatory by winning an eliminator (possibly against Luis Ortiz) in order to get that shot.  His promotional ties expired on December 31, and he says he’ll announce his next move in early 2014.
2) Steve Cunningham (9-57-57)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD8 Manuel Quezada (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Cunningham had little trouble dominating a fading former gatekeeper in Quezada.
3) Tomasz Adamek (9-196-196)
Last Fight: 8/3/2013- UD10 Dominick Guinn (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. #18 Vyacheslav Glazkov
The rescheduled fight with Glazkov is now official for March 15.
4) Kubrat Pulev (9-90-167)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO5 Joey Abell (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/5/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Pulev is back on the Braehmer card on April 5 in Rostock, Germany, but no opponent just yet.
5) Dereck Chisora (9-112-175)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO3 Ondrej Pala (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/15/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent (UNR)
Chisora returns on February 15, but he’s looking for a new opponent after undefeated Ukrainian Andriy Rudenko withdrew.
6) Odlanier Solis (9-44-191)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- TKO7 Yakup Saglam (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/22/2014- vs. #10 Tony Thompson
Solis was first set to fight Kevin Johnson.  But he backed out because the IBF wanted him to fight Takam.  But now word from Tony Thompson is that Solis will fight Thompson, instead, on March 22.
7) Carlos Takam (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- Robbery Draw (W) vs. #11 Mike Perez
Next Fight: Unknown
Takam clearly beat #11 Perez, and is ranked accordingly.
8) Bermane Stiverne (1-31-47)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD12 #15 Chris Arreola
Next Fight: Unknown
Despite speculation in the UK of a possible match-up between Fury and Chisora for the WBC title, that organization has officially ordered Stiverne-Arreola, with purse bids due on January 17.  Stiverne’s legal situation with Don King seems to be the only possible stumbling block at this point.
9) Chris Arreola (1-20-20)
Last Fight: 9/7/2013- TKO1 #12 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: Unknown
See Stiverne’s notes, above.
10) Tony Thompson (1-10-191)
Last Fight: 8/24/2013- L (UD12) vs. #8 Kubrat Pulev
Next Fight: 3/22/2014- vs. #6 Odlanier Solis
Thompson says he’s fighting Odlanier Solis on March 22.
11) Erkan Teper (1-21)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- KO1 Martin Rogan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Teper might have scored the heavyweight knockout of the year, and probably retired Martin Rogan in the process.
12) Deontay Wilder (9-39)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- TKO4 Nicolai Firtha (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Wilder had hoped to supersede either Stiverne or Arreola for a shot at the WBC belt, but with that fight now officially ordered, he can only hope that Stiverne can’t work the fight out due to legal problems, or that he can fight the winner.
13) Alex Leapai (9-9)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- UD10 #20 Denis Boytsov
Next Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
It looks like Leapai-Klitschko is done for April 26 in Germany.
14) Robert Helenius (10-191)
Last Fight: 3/23/2013- W*(UD10) vs. Michael Sprott (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
We finally have a bit of clarification on the Helenius-Sauerland situation.  Helenius says that when he signed a promotional contract with Sauerland in 2007, he had no representation and couldn’t even read it in German.  He is currently trying to get a Finnish court to allow him to fight in Finland, as he says Sauerland is blocking him from fighting now despite the fact that his health will now allow it.
15) Andy Ruiz (9-9)
Last Fight: 11/24/2013- RTD3 Tor Hamer (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Ruiz has called out Tyson Fury, whose team says he’s out until at least March.
16) Seth Mitchell (10-33)
Last Fight: 9/7/2013- L (TKO1) vs. Chris Arreola (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mitchell’s chin is so fragile that he might want to consider calling it a career.  Golden Boy’s CEO says he’s advised Mitchell to do just that, though he reports that Mitchell seems to have no such intention.
17) Alexander Dimitrenko (9-158)
Last Fight: 3/9/2013- UD8 Ivica Perkovic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Dimitrenko is rumored at least to be fighting Sam Sexton in the first round of the WBC World Cup, but that tournament appears to be in limbo for the time being, at least.
18) Vyacheslav Glazkov (9-57)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD10 Garrett Wilson (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. #3 Tomasz Adamek
Glazkov-Adamek is back on, for March 15, after the first attempt was cancelled due to an Adamek illness.
19) Malik Scott (9-48)
Last Fight: 7/20/2013- L (KO6*) vs. #8 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: Unknown
Scott is getting serious buzz for a fight with Wilder.
20) Johnathon Banks (9-62)
Last Fight: 6/22/2013- L (UD12) vs. #20 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: Unknown
Banks is penciled-in for the second round of the WBC World Cup, against the winner of Sam Sexton and Alexander Dimitrenko, but as noted above, that whole tournament is delayed and in doubt.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: 
Friday
Gerald Washington vs. Arron Lyons; Indio, California; Fox Sports 1 (US)
Washington is a pretty solid prospect, having turned in a much better showing against Sherman Williams than did Robert Helenius.  He honestly doesn’t look that spectacular to the eye, as I see it, but he’s got the credentials for a guy so early in his career.  Lyons is a sub-.500 journeyman from Gulfport, Mississippi, and should pose little or no threat to Washington.

 

Saturday
David Price vs. Konstantin Airich; Stuttgart, Germany; ARD (Germany)Price will look to start 2014 on the right foot after a VERY rough 2013 campaign.  Airich has sprung an upset or two in his time, but is a smallish heavyweight who probably lacks the height and power to exploit Price’s weak chin.
 

 

Bryant Jennings vs. Artur Szpilka; New York, New York; HBO (US)
Both of these guys are undefeated prospects, who have shown promise and been given a large degree of exposure on the US and international scene.  The winner will most likely claim a top 20 spot, and will accumulate a lot of buzz for a Klitschko shot at some point.  Jennings has shown himself to be a boxer-puncher of some skill at the gatekeeper level, while Szpilka is more of a brawler.  The hotter the fight, the more it favors Szpilka, as I see it.
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