Middleweight: 2014, Jan 20-26

No action in the ring this past week, but #4 Darren Barker retired on Wednesday due to ongoing hip problems, and is therefore removed.  Everyone ranked #5 and below last week moves up one.  This includes Marco Antonio Rubio, who regains a spot in the top 10 for the first time since mid-December.  Filling the void at #20 is Nobuhiro Ishida.  I know this isn’t entirely consistent with prior decisions, as Kirkland and Heiland both have been in line ahead of him.  That being said, it occurs to me that in choosing the last remaining spot in the rankings, it’s hard indeed to rank Kirkland ahead of Ishida, considering that Ishida destroyed Kirkland in their 2011 head-to-head, and hasn’t really lost to anyone at or below the status of Tapia- Kirkland’s lone success in this division.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (197-197-197)
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 (6-73-136)
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 (6-540-540)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- TKO2 #3 Darren Barker
Next Fight: Unknown
Soliman is the #1 contender for Sturm’s alphabet title, and Murray, Macklin, and Geale are both trying to get rematches with him, as well.
3) Martin Murray (6-112-112)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- W* (PTS8) vs. Sergey Khomitsky (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Initial reports had Murray’s withdrawal from his scheduled fight with Jarrod Fletcher as a result of an offer to fight Felix Sturm, but Murray says he doesn’t know if those negotiations are even underway or not, and says nagging injuries to both hands are to blame.
4) Daniel Geale (1-240-240)
Last Fight: 8/17/2013- L (SD12) vs. #15 Darren Barker
Next Fight: 2/19/2014- vs. Garth Wood (UNR)
Geale will face gatekeeper Garth Wood- his former sparring partner- on February 19 in Sydney.
5) Matthew Macklin (1-135-226)
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.
6) Peter Quillin (1-66-87)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- TKO10 Gabriel Rosado (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Golovkin’s team has called out Quillin, but that fight is likely impossible for the time being due to the HBO-Showtime allegiances of the two.
7) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (1-6-6)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD10 Anthony Fitzgerald (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/15/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
After Andy Lee turned down a proposed fight for March 1, N’Dam will be back on February 15 in Ireland against an opponent yet to be named.
8) Sam Soliman (1-6-6)
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.
9) Sergio Mora (1-30-30)
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.
10) Marco Antonio Rubio (1-1-156)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- KO2 Dionisio Miranda (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/5/2014- vs. Domenico Spada (UNR)
Rubio-Spada is now set for April 5 in Mexico.  It’s for an interim title, if such trifles mean anything to you.
11) Anthony Mundine (1-156)
Last Fight: 11/27/2013- TKO7 #4 WW Shane Mosley (at JMW)
Next Fight: 1/29/2014- vs. Billy Lyell (UNR) (at JMW?)
With Carson Jones pulling out due to illness, Mundine has made a fairly lateral move to Billy Lyell, a former fringe contender himself.
12) Max Bursak (1-156)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD8 Gari Abajian (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/1/2013- vs. Jarrod Fletcher (UNR)
Bursak has replaced Martin Murray against Aussie prospect Jarrod Fletcher on February 1.  He’ll be in the rare position of a favored fighter in a fairly high-profile fight becoming a short-notice opponent.
13) Bryan Vera (1-66)
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) (at SMW)
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.
14) Grzegorz Proksa (1-145)
Last Fight: 6/28/2013- L (UD10) vs. Sergio Mora (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Plans for a February fight have apparently been scrapped, and Proksa would like to fight in April or May.  Setting reports of hand problems to rest, he says there’s currently nothing wrong with him.
15) Caleb Truax (1-18)
Last Fight: 1/3/2014- Draw (UD10) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Truax’s status as a promising prospect has been derailed somewhat by the very tough Ossie Duran.
16) Curtis Stevens (1-25)
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 two-loss Polish fringe prospect Patrick Majewski.
17) Andrey Meryasev (1-11)
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.
18) Danny Jacobs (1-22)
Last Fight: 8/19/2013- TKO3 Giovanni Lorenzo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
19) Dmitry Chudinov (1-22)
Last Fight: 12/21/2013- TKO6 Juan Camilo Novoa (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
A fight with Ricardo Mayorga had been discussed, but Mayorga is no longer interested.
20) Nobuhiro Ishida (1-1)
Last Fight: 8/4/2013- KO2 Elly Pangaribuan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
This sounds crazy, but the rather light-hitting middleweight is currently doing heavy weight training and has applied for clearance from the Japanese commission to compete as a heavyweight.  That’s a 4-division, 40 to, let’s say, 100 pound jump in weight.  If he’s approved, he will likely fight for the rather lightly-regarded Japanese Heavyweight title against Kyotaro Fujimoto.  As for his ranking here, that means he’ll most likely just hang around the rankings until he becomes ineligible on or about August 4.

 

The Week Ahead: 
Friday
Curtis Stevens vs. Patrick Majewski; Atlantic City, New Jersey; NBC Sports (US)
Stevens makes a quick return from his taxing loss to Golovkin, taking on two-loss fringe prospect Patrick Majewski, who appeared to be going places before being stunningly upset by Jose Miguel Torres in 2011.  He threw in a fairly dominant loss to solid prospect Patrick Nielsen in his last fight, as well.  It shouldn’t be a terribly tough night for Stevens, who- Derrick Findley aside- tends to detonate guys on Majewski’s level.

 

Saturday
Marcos Nader vs. Emanuele Blandamura; Stuttgart, Germany; ARD (Germany)
Blandamura is an undefeated but untested 35 year-old Italian prospect.  Nader is a Spanish-born Austrian who is also technically undefeated, having been tested twice at the gatekeeper level.  Both times, he fought Roberto Santos of Spain, and both times I had Santos winning 115-113.  Nader, however, received a minor gift in those fights, escaping with a draw and a win.  This could be a very interesting fight, though I honestly can’t say I know what level Blandamura is at with any clarity.
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