Cruiserweight: 2014, Jan 27- Feb 2

It was a pretty worthwhile week in the division, with 3 of the top 6 fighters in action across two fights.  

 

Leading off on Friday in Atlantic City, ridiculously promising #6 contender Thabiso Mchunu got maybe a tougher-than-expected night against Olanrewaju Durodola, a less advanced one-loss prospect and former Nigerian Olympian who has achieved to roughly gatekeeper level.  Durodola was the more active of the two fighters, but this advantage was largely nullified by his painfully slow hands.  Mchunu still showed off his impressive countering skills, but was nowhere near as sharp as he was against Eddie Chambers.  He also looked significantly less muscular, but I suppose it’s possible that it can be attributed to the visible contrast between the physiques of the slightly soft Chambers and the Adonis-like Durodola standing opposite him.  Half of the fight was composed of toss-up rounds, and so while I had it fairly wide for Mchunu at 97-92, it actually could conceivably have gone either way.  That being said, the judges all had it within one round of my own score, with Hilton Whitaker agreeing with my score.  It wasn’t exactly an impressive follow-up to the Chambers win, but Mchunu got the job done.

 

The following night in Stuttgart, Marco Huck got his revenge on a second straight opponent that either arguably or clearly beat him in a previous fight.  #5 Firat Arslan had been heinously robbed against Huck in a November 2012 fight in which Huck only arguably won any rounds at all, though he may have done as well as a draw if you’re being really generous.  Huck delayed the rematch long enough for Arslan to get old.  At 43, he couldn’t nearly sustain the pressure that he applied for almost the entirety of the first fight.  He did have success early this time around, giving himself at least an argument to win each of the first 3 rounds, of which I awarded him two.  But this time, Arslan began to slowly fade in the 4th, and by the 6th he had been broken down, going down twice en route to a necessary stoppage by referee Mark Nelson.

 

While the Durodola win might theoretically be enough to get a fighter ranked in the top 20 by itself in a shallow division, it’s little more than a stay busy fight for an established contender like Mchunu.  Even so, with Arslan’s loss essentially cancelling out what I always treated as his best win against Huck, Mchunu’s ledger compares favorably to the 43 year-old German, and thus the two switch places with Mchunu at 5 and Arslan at 6.  As for Huck, he has just one undeserved win yet to avenge- the 2010 robbery win against Lebedev.  Even though Lebedev’s opposition has been far inferior to Huck’s since then, he’s managed to at least hold serve against everyone except Guillermo Jones, in a fight which is not being factored in because of Jones’ PED test.  Lebedev’s performance is for all intents and purposes the best win on either man’s resume, and obviously the head-to-head factor is an issue, as well.  I must say it is a close call, but I feel the need to continue ranking Lebedev at #1 and Huck at #2.  A rematch would crown a legit champion.

 

In another minor shakeup, Victor Ramirez falls from the rankings, since his best win- over Alekseev- is now over 5 years old.  This actually became the case last week and I missed it.  As a result, I will treat it as if I had caught it then in terms of counting ranked weeks, but I won’t actually edit the prior post.  Last week and this week’s new #19 is Glowacki, and Rakhim Chakhkiev fills the void at #20.

 

Finally, in a similar move that actually belongs in this week’s update, #16 Enad Licina is removed over the fact that his last worthwhile win was now over 5 years ago.  This allows Venter, Kucher, Glowacki, and Chakhkiev to advance one place each, and makes room for Garrett Wilson to once again dubiously return at #20.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: None
1) Denis Lebedev (27-208-208)
Last Fight: 5/17/2013- L (TKO11) vs. Guillermo Jones (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. Guillermo Jones (UNR)
Lebedev-Jones II will soon be announced for an April date.
2) Marco Huck (1-373-373)
Last Fight:1/25/2014- TKO6 #5 Firat Arslan
Next Fight: Unknown
For Huck, it’s been all about redemption of late, with two results that were, at best, inconclusive being put to rest with clear wins against Afolabi and now Arslan.  I suppose I’m dreaming when I hope that a Lebedev rematch might not be far behind.  The top two contenders for Huck’s alphabet belt, Arslan aside, are Krzysztof Glowacki and, ridiculously, Vikapita Meroro.
3) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (1-188-188)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO10 #12 Alexander Alekseev
Next Fight: 3/8/2014- vs. Pawel Kolodziej (UNR)
Hernandez’s March 8 opponent is Pawel Kolodziej, an undefeated Polish prospect who would probably have been ranked here frequently if he ever bothered to make 200.
4) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (20-449-449)
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.  More recently, he’s being openly pursued by Mchunu.
5) Thabiso Mchunu (1-26-64)
Last Fight: 1/24/2014- UD10 Olanrewaju Durodola (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Wlodarczyk’s notes, above.
6) Firat Arslan (1-90-133)
Last Fight: 1/25/2014- L (TKO6) vs. #3 Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
Having visibly regressed since his excellent first effort against Huck, it might be time for the 43 year-old Arslan to consider retirement.
7) Grigory Drozd (10-17-64)
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 (10-255-255)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- W* (MD12) vs. Lukasz Janik (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
An alphabet eliminator has been ordered between Afolabi and unbeaten but unproven Italian prospect Mirko Larghetti.
9) Giacobbe Fragomeni (10-20-272)
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 (10-10-98)
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 (10-29)
Last Fight: 8/31/2013- TKO5 Eric Fields (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/1/2014- vs. Ruben Angel Mino (UNR)
Nathan Cleverly withdrew with what his promoter calls a minor injury, leaving Makabu with a mere stay-busy outing on February 1.
12) Santander Silgado (8-13)
Last Fight: 11/1/2013- TKO2 #20 Steve Herelius
Next Fight: Unknown
Silgado is being slammed by his own manager after he declined an arranged fight with Thabiso Mchunu.
13) Mateusz Masternak (8-96)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- L (TKO11) vs. #16 Grigory Drozd
Next Fight: 2/1/2014- vs. Sandro Siproshvili (UNR)
Polish news reports have Masternak returning on February 1 against Georgian journeyman Siproshvili.
14) Lukasz Janik (8-13)
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 (6-6)
Last Fight: 12/20/2013- W (DQ7*) vs. Steve Herelius (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/11/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Seferi will be among the headliners- against an unknown opponent- on April 11 on a show billed, a bit oddly, as “Evil Fight Night” in Hamburg.
16) Danie Venter (1-20)
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.
17) Dmytro Kucher (1-83)
Last Fight: 7/13/2013- L (MD12) vs. Ilunga Makabu (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Krzysztof Glowacki (1-27)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO9 Varol Vekiloglu (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Glowacki is seriously interested in fighting Francisco Palacios. 
19) Rakhim Chakhkiev (1-2)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- KO10 Giulian Ilie (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Garrett Wilson (1-1)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- L (UD10) vs. #18 HW Vyacheslav Glazkov (at HW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Wilson was originally scheduled to fight Mchunu instead of Durodola.  His tenuous foothold in the rankings may be short-lived, as his last fight at or below 200 was on February 22, which means he could be removed for that reason in less than a month.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: 
Friday
Victor Ramirez vs. Danny Santiago; Mar del Plata, Argentina; TyC Sports (Argentina)
In the week’s mismatch #1, Ramirez continues to stay very busy against 40 year-old journeyman Santiago, who is about 7 years past his very mediocre peak.  

 

Saturday
#11 Ilunga Makabu vs. Ruben Angel Mino; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Main Event (Australia)
This was supposed to be a pretty momentous fight, back when it was set to be contested between Makabu and light heavyweight contender Nathan Cleverly.  Unfortunately, Cleverly withdrew, and it became this week’s mismatch #2.  In fairness, Mino is undefeated and all his fights have ended in stoppages.  On the other hand, he’s 39 years old, and the best opponent he’s beaten is currently 10-8 and a very low-level journeyman.

 

#13 Mateusz Masternak vs. Sandro Siproshvili; Fredrikshavn, Denmark; 3+ (Denmark)
In mismatch #3, Georgian Siproshvili plays sacrificial lamb to #13 Masternak’s comeback push.  He’s been a low-to-mid level journeyman over his entire career, essentially, while Masternak is certainly safe at even 2 or 3 levels above his opponent.
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