Super Middleweight: 2014, Feb 24- Mar 2

#16 Ryota Murata again fought just a pound or two over the middleweight limit, and looked very good against competent but overmatched veteran journeyman Carlos Nascimento of Brazil, whom he stopped in four.  Murata showed big power, good timing, nice finishing skills, and even substantially improved defense as opposed to his last fight.  Not bad for a guy in his 3rd fight.  Even so, his best win by far was his pro debut, which got him ranked where he is.


No changes.


Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (115-249-249)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD12 #13 Edwin Rodriguez
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) Carl Froch (92-402-402)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO9 #8 George Groves
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #8 George Groves
There is talk of a record gate when Froch meets Groves in a highly anticipated rematch in a London soccer stadium at the end of May.
2) Robert Stieglitz (49-235-235)
Last Fight: 10/19/2013- UD12 Isaac Ekpo (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/1/2014- vs. #4 Arthur Abraham
The Abraham-Stieglitz trilogy bout, originally announced for February 1, is now official for March 1, in Stieglitz’s home base of Magdeburg.
3) Mikkel Kessler (63-481-481)
Last Fight: 5/25/2013- L (UD12) vs. #1 Carl Froch
Next Fight: Unknown
Kessler is reportedly discussing a return with Sauerland, but there is no obvious opponent available for him at present.
4) Arthur Abraham (41-227-227)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- UD12 Giovanni De Carolis (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/1/2014- vs. #2 Robert Stieglitz
See Stieglitz’s notes, above.
5) Brandon Gonzales (35-35-35)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD10 Jonathan Nelson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Gonzales was said to have reached a deal to fight Vlasov, but Vlasov has scheduled another fight, and it’s been hard to find any mention of the match since it was reportedly made.
6) Thomas Oosthuizen (22-143-191)
Last Fight: 11/9/2013- W* (MD12) vs. #13 Ezequiel Maderna
Next Fight: Unknown
Oosthuizen was yanked from his intended January 18 fight with Eleider Alvarez and released by his promoter after a bicycle accident and reportedly being hopelessly out of shape about 2 weeks before the fight.
7) Ezequiel Maderna (16-16-61)
Last Fight: 11/9/2013- L* (MD12) vs. #6 Thomas Oosthuizen
Next Fight: Unknown
I doubt he’ll get much love from the alphabets for his effort, but I think you could make a better case for him winning than losing against Oosthuizen, though I had it a draw personally.
8) George Groves (16-63-85)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- L (TKO9) vs. #1 Carl Froch
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #1 Carl Froch
See Froch’s notes, above.
9) James DeGale (15-38-124)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD12 Dyah Davis (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/1/2014- vs. Gevorg Khatchikian (UNR)
DeGale has been ordered to face Badou Jack for a shot at Bika’s alphabet belt.  Before that, he’ll fight undefeated Dutchman Gevorg Khatchikian on March 1 in Bristol.
10) Christopher Rebrasse (15-15-38)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- UD6 George Kandelaki (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/22/2014- vs. Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye (UNR)
Rebrasse will get a March 22 rematch against Ndiaye that is hardly needed, as Rebrasse dominated the first fight on his way to being robbed.
11) Sakio Bika (15-360)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- Draw (SD12) vs. Anthony Dirrell (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Dirrell wants a rematch, and that’s obviously a worthy endeavor given the legitimate draw the first time around.  In the meantime, machinations are underway for an eliminator between Jack and DeGale, with the winner to become his mandatory.  On Bika’s end, he’d like a unification with Froch.
12) Maxim Vlasov (16-68)
Last Fight: 12/5/2013- KO4 Maxell Taylor (UNR) (at LHW)
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. Henry Buchanan (UNR)
An IBF eliminator with Brandon Gonzales appears to be on hold, as Vlasov will now fight lower-mid-level journeyman Henry Buchanan on March 15.
13) Edwin Rodriguez (16-58)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Andre Ward
Next Fight: Unknown
According to his trainer Ronnie Shields, they might be looking to fight a top-15 level light heavyweight, and have absolutely no intention to ever try to make 168 again.  He’ll be on the shelf for a little while due to bone chip-removal surgery on his elbow in December.
 14) Andy Lee (22-41)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013-TKO2 Ferenc Hafner (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lee is reportedly being considered for a shot at Gennady Golovkin on April 26.
15) Gilberto Ramirez (4-4)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- TKO1 #19 Don Mouton
Next Fight: Unknown
Much like many of his peers in the 168 pound rankings, Ramirez might really be a middleweight, but nevertheless has a solid resume in this division.
16) Ryota Murata (4-27)
Last Fight: 2/22/2014- TKO4 Carlos Nascimento (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
17) Anthony Dirrell (4-12)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- Draw (SD12) vs. #11 Sakio Bika
Next Fight: Unknown
His hard-fought draw with Sakio Bika gained Dirrell a measure of redemption for what pretty clearly should have been a loss against Don Mouton, and has him back in the hot prospect category.  He’s called for a rematch (good idea) and a fight with Golovkin (bad idea).
18) Hadillah Mohoumadi (4-52)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
19) Caleb Truax (4-36)
Last Fight: 1/3/2014- Draw (MD12) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Truax may have been a little lucky to escape with a draw against Duran.  I agree with the decision, but it could only have tilted the other way if it tilted at all.
 20) Badou Jack (4-32)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- TKO6 Rogelio Medina (UNR)
Next Fight: 2/28/2014- vs. Derek Edwards (UNR)
Jack will be on ShoBox at the end of the month against journeyman Derek Edwards, in what amounts to a tune-up for his eliminator against DeGale.


The Week Ahead: 
J’Leon Love vs. Vladine Biosse; Verona, New York; Showtime (US)
Love is one of Floyd Mayweather’s top promotional prospects.  He’s got a long jab and some slick defensive skills, but in my opinion, he’s vastly overrated.  He deserved losses to both Derrick Findley and Gabriel Rosado, and I had him behind to Lajuan Simon when he scored the stoppage.  He also has been busted for banned diuretics- that in the Rosado fight.  Biosse is a busted prospect, having been stopped in upset fashion by Marcus Upshaw and an unknown version of Denis Grachev.  Even worse, he’s coming off a draw in his last fight against journeyman Richard Gingras.  This is a good scenario for Love- a fairly recognizable name that has little or no chance.


#20 Badou Jack vs. Derek Edwards; Verona, New York; Showtime (US)
Jack is another Mayweather prospect, and so far the more impressive of the two I’ve mentioned.  He will be in against veteran journeyman Derek Edwards, who you might describe as mid-level and no great threat.  Edwards was an undefeated prospect at one point, but has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5.


Luis Arias vs. Dashon Johnson; Verona, New York; Off TV
This fight won’t make the TV card, but is not the least of the match-ups in terms of competition.  Johnson is deservedly the big underdog, but he made a name for himself- at least for me- with a shocking upset of Canadian prospect Adam Trupish in 2013.  He followed that up later in the year by outpointing once-impressive middleweight Craig McEwan.  He’s got more than his share of losses at that level, too, though.  If nothing else, it’s a good measuring stick for Arias, who has been steadily stepping up his competition.


#2 Robert Stieglitz vs. #4 Arthur Abraham; Magdeburg, Germany; SAT1 (Germany)
There’s not a lot left to say about this match-up, as this is the third meeting for the two fighters.  Abraham won a close but clear decision in the first iteration, and was shockingly dominated and stopped early in the second.  Stieglitz comes in as the favorite, and the winner will most likely be the number 2 contender next week.


#9 James DeGale vs. Gevorg Khatchikian; Bristol, England; Channel 5 (UK)
Khatchikian is an unbeaten Armenian who has made his home in the Netherlands since age 13.  He’s the best super middleweight in Holland, though that’s not saying much.  He’s quite untested, and is the huge underdog against top-10 DeGale.  The Englishman might even be better than that.  He probably deserved the decision against George Groves when the pair fought, and has been struggling with a groin injury possibly ever since.  He finally had surgery to correct the issue, and so the suggestion, at least, is that we’ll see a fully functional DeGale for the first time in a while. 


#15 MW Bryan Vera vs. Julio Cesar Chavez; San Antonio, Texas; HBO (US)
Another intriguing re-match.  Vera almost certainly deserved a win in the first fight, but was borderline robbed.  Chavez came in extremely heavy for that fight, and looked sluggish.  If he can motivate himself, this might be a good one.  Vera is no slouch, despite being the naturally much smaller man, and always comes to fight.

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