Light Heavyweight: 2014, Jan 20-26

Jean Pascal got his mojo back on Saturday in Montreal.  The long-time contender- inactive at 175 and in significant fights in general- looked dynamic and entertaining in mostly dominating #16 Lucian Bute over 12 rounds.  For the first 11, Pascal virtually dominated.  I gave him every round, though there were as many as 4 toss-ups in the mix.  Round 12 was a different story, as Bute’s desperate attempt at a knockout seemed to be paying dividends, as Pascal appeared significantly hurt for a large portion of the frame.  In the post-fight interview, Pascal said he was basically taking punches intentionally in order to sell a possible rematch.  I think I believe him, at least to the extent that may have been laying on the ropes initially for that purpose.  I do think that Bute managed to capitalize on that and actually hurt him at some point, though I think HBO- perhaps also with selling the re-match in mind- oversold the drama to some extent.  He was hurt, but he wasn’t out on his feet or really in danger of getting stopped at any point, nor was it even arguably a 10-8 round.

 

On the undercard, #18 Eleider Alvarez got a fairly spirited challenge from late replacement opponent Andy Gardiner, who in fairness came in undefeated.  So spirited a challenge, in fact, that on my card, Alvarez needed every one of the last three rounds I gave him in order to get the nod.  The Quebec judges were predictably slanted in favor of the house fighter- even though Gardiner was actually the native Canadian of the two- with Marie-Josee Guerin turning in a ludicrous 99-91, a score that would prompt me to investigate her qualifications if I were the commission.  Jean LaPointe turned in a mostly reasonable 96-93, though I think he clearly erred in giving Alvarez a 10-8 round, it would appear, in round 8.  Alvarez hurt Gardiner at the close of the round, but it was a competitive frame prior to that, and the period of dominance was only 10 seconds, give or take.  Sylvain LeBlance had it 97-93, which is hard to argue with too much, considering it was only one toss-up round away from my own.  I would call this something of a dodged bullet for the Colombian prospect.

 

Pascal, who was only unranked due to inactivity- having been ranked #3 when he was removed last year- resumes that position with the decent win and his return.  Do I really think he’s better than Kovalev right now, you might ask?  Not really.  But he’s got a win over a #1 ranked contender in Dawson, and even though Hopkins’ age made those two fights rather significant upsets, Hopkins was ranked #3 for the draw and #1 for Pascal’s loss to him.  Kovalev’s best win so far is the destruction of #4 Campillo.  So while I acknowledge that the relative age of Pascal’s relevant resume introduces plenty of room for disagreement, I would say that Pascal has established himself at a slightly higher level, and that despite his adversity, he has not yet done anything to lower that level to anything less than #3.  That being said, he’s got two top-10 wins over Adrian Diaconu that will be expiring this year, and so I could see his ranking slipping over the course of the year unless he keeps busy among good competition.

 

Bute probably should have been viewed as better than his #16 ranking going in, since his super middleweight ranking sat at #4 when he was removed last year for moving up, and since he’s done nothing to significantly hurt his standing since.  Nevertheless, his record at 175 specifically has suffered.  There’s not much shame in losing to Pascal for a mid-teens contender, but the amount of time it took to make the fight happen and the resulting inactivity has helped diminish him.  His lone win at the weight, a fairly close decision over Denis Grachev in late 2012, is now over a year old, while Hadillah Mohoumadi has a more recent and more impressive victory over a guy not ranked far below.  In addition, Eleider Alvarez, irrespective of his low-level win this weekend, has the kind of quantity (3 significant wins) that allows him to pass Bute as well.  Mohoumadi therefore stays put at #17, and Alvarez at #18, while Bute slides two places in addition to the one which Pascal’s return would demand- to #19.  Last week’s #s 4-15 backtrack a spot, with Isaac Chilemba bouncd from the top 10 after 42 consecutive weeks.  Sukhotsky falls from #19 to #20, while Enzo Maccarinelli is forced from the rankings after 22 consecutive weeks in.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (72-72-72)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD12 #15 Edwin Rodriguez (as SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Ward says his manager is working on his next fight despite his lawsuit against promoter Dan Goossen.  He had indicated interest in Golovkin, but the Kazakh’s own trainer recently said his fighter is not ready for that fight.
1) Adonis Stevenson (33-33-33)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO6 #6 Tony Bellew
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #6 Andrzej Fonfara
Fightnews.com reports that Stevenson’s next fight will be on an undetermined date against #6 Andrzej Fonfara.
2) Bernard Hopkins (72-398-398)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- UD12 Karo Murat (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. Beibut Shumenov (UNR)
Golden Boy has reportedly closed the deal on Hopkins-Shumenov, with March or April expected.
3) Jean Pascal (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- UD12 #16 Lucian Bute
Next Fight: Unknown
Pascal appears to be fully back from his 2 years in the desert, figuratively speaking, having dominated an apparently shopworn Bute.
4) Sergey Kovalev (1-53-53)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO2 Ismayl Sillakh (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Kovalev is actively pursuing a fight with a seemingly reluctant Stevenson, and says he’s open to fighting Ward at 175, too.  More recently, there is talk of a March 15 bout, with Pascal being one possibility.
5) Chad Dawson (1-399-399)
Last Fight: 6/8/2013- L(TKO1) vs. SMW #6 Adonis Stevenson
Next Fight: Unknown
Dawson is now a promotional free agent, and is looking to sign with a top promoter to start rebuilding after a rough year.  He says he is interested in a Stevenson rematch.  Prospects for another occasionally-discussed rematch- with Jean Pascal- increased recently with word that Pascal’s trainer offered Dawson a contract.
6) Andrzej Fonfara (1-23-80)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- KO2 Samuel Miller (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #1 Adonis Stevenson
Fonfara will reportedly be fighting Stevenson next, but no date yet.
7) Tony Bellew (1-119-119)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- L (TKO6) vs. #1 Adonis Stevenson
Next Fight: 3/15/2013- vs. Unknown Opponent (at CW)
Bellew plans a move to cruiserweight, and his first fight there is scheduled for March 15 in Liverpool.
8) Gabriel Campillo (1-187-187)
Last Fight: 8/16/2013- L (KO9) vs. #14 Andrzej Fonfara
Next Fight: Unknown
Campillo might be on his way to deserved obscurity after being robbed of deserved prominence for so much of his career.  He still has plenty of boxing skill, but his will might be fading just a bit.  For anyone who is wondering he says he plans to make another push for a title, rather than retiring.
9) Tavoris Cloud (1-230-230)
Last Fight: 9/28/2013- L (TKO7) vs. #1 Adonis Stevenson
Next Fight: Unknown
Cloud should probably get himself back in the win column at some point.
10) Nathan Cleverly (1-207-207)
Last Fight: 8/17/2013- L (TKO4) vs. #3 Sergey Kovalev
Next Fight: Unknown
Cleverly’s cruiserweight debut is once again delayed by what’s being called a minor injury.  His promoter says he intends to schedule him another fight very soon.
11) Isaac Chilemba (1-103)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD8 Michael Gbenga (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
12) Jürgen Brähmer (1-92)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD12 Marcus Oliveira (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/5/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Braehmer returns April 5 in Rostock, Germany.
13) Cornelius White (1-110)
Last Fight: 6/14/2013- L (TKO3) vs. #5 Sergey Kovalev
Next Fight: 1/24/2014- vs. Thomas Williams, Jr. (UNR)
White will once again play underdog, but to much less-proven fighter in Thomas Williams.
14) Karo Murat (1-13)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- L (UD12) vs. #2 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
15) Cedric Agnew (1-41)
Last Fight: 4/12/2013- UD12 #14 Yusaf Mack
Next Fight: Unknown
Agnew was ordered to defend his regional title against fringe contender Anatoliy Dudchenko, but now it looks like he might instead fight Sukhotsky for a position as IBF mandatory.
16) Edwin Rodriguez (1-28)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Andre Ward
Next Fight: Unknown
Rodriguez’s trainer Ronnie Shields opines that a fight against a top-15 level light heavyweight would be a good jumping-off point for his anticipated permanent move up.  Before that happens, he’ll need to recover from minor elbow surgery he had in December.
17) Hadillah Mohoumadi (13-30)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mohoumadi snuck in a low-level win on November 30, apparently at 168.
18) Eleider Alvarez (13-52)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- UD10 Andy Gardiner (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Alvarez may have been suffering from a letdown after Oosthuizen withdrew from what could have been the Colombian’s biggest fight ever, and almost let it effect him to the point of losing to an unheralded undefeated prospect in Gardiner.
19) Lucian Bute (1-64)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- L (UD12) vs. Jean Pascal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bute looks rather shopworn after the brutal beating at the hands of Froch, the close pitched battle with Grachev, and the humiliation at the hands of Pascal.
20) Dmitry Sukhotsky (1-9)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO5 Eduard Gutknecht (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Sukhotsky was penciled in to fight Fonfara for a mandatory shot at an alphabet belt, but it now looks like Cedric Agnew will be in the other corner, instead.

 

The Week Ahead
Friday
Roberto Feliciano Bolonti vs. Jose Clavero; Pinamar, Argentina; TyC Sports (ARG)Roberto Feliciano Bolonti is a 35 year-old gatekeeper from the Buenos Aires area.  He lost a 4-rounder early in his career, but his only loss since that one in 2006 was a decision to Tony Bellew in 2012.  He has generally prospered against mid-level journeyman and below, aside from that.  His best win to date- at least arguably- was an 8th round KO of none other than Clavero from 2012.  As for Clavero, he’s a mid-level journeyman.  Usually gives a good account of himself, but if Feliciano Bolonti is the top 30 fighter Boxrec imagines him to be, a repeat of the first meeting is likely.
 
 
#13 Cornelius White vs. Thomas Williams, Jr.; Shelton, Washington; ESPN2 (US)
Despite being more accomplished, White is clearly being cast as the underdog in this one, as Williams has superior promotional backing and is considered a high-level prospect.  White could use this upset- in the tradition of his shocking wins over Yordanis Despaigne and Dmitry Sukhotsky- to confirm himself as the relevant fighter few ever noticed he was in the first place.
 
Saturday
Sean Monaghan vs. Matt Vanda; New York, New York; Off TV
Even in the eyes of HBO, which has an interest in career and has put one of his fights on a major PPV card recently, Monaghan is seen as a fun-to-watch crude bar brawler-type, but one that has managed to build a top-50 resume by applying that style to its full potential.  Vanda is a veteran clubfighter that has generally been seen as a high-level journeyman for most of his career, but has been slipping lately.
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