Light Heavyweight: 2014, Mar 3-9

Both of the significant fights in the division last week were on a single card at the Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa.

 

Namibian gatekeeper Wilbeforce Shihepo dominated mid-level journeyman Johnny Muller in Muller’s backyard, but the backyard judges couldn’t be bothered to notice.  I had it 117-110 for Shihepo, and I don’t see how on Earth anyone could have it more than one round closer.  That being said, I’ll give Daniel Van de Wiele’s pretty incredible 114-113 card a bit of a pass because he at least got the right winner.  South Africa’s Joseph Chaane and Ghana’s Eddie Pappoe are a different story.  I don’t know if they were paid off or if they just wanted Muller to win so badly that they couldn’t help but make it happen, but I can’t see how it wasn’t one of the two.  Both agreed on an egregious 116-113 Muller.  That score is remarkable not only for the fact that it reflects at least 5 botched rounds, but also for that both judges agreed that there were exactly two even rounds in the fight- theoretically both dominant Shihepo rounds- to arrive at that score.  At 116-113, these guys are almost giving Muller a round for every clean punch he landed.  I might be exaggerating slightly, since Muller did come on a little bit in the last 3 rounds, but the guy really could barely land anything for the majority of the fight.  He was as technically sound as a drunk Sakio Bika, and almost always overshot the target and ended up wrapping his arm behind Shihepo’s head after missing long.  

 

In a much less controversial result, undefeated South African Ryno Liebenberg came out on top in an entertaining one-round slugfest with Ugandan gatekeeper Joey Vegas.  Vegas hurt Liebenberg early in the round before getting tagged and dropped himself.  He then rose and suffered a barrage in the corner, though he took a lot of the shots off his shoulder.  Still, a relentless Liebenberg was able to catch him once again, and though Vegas appeared reasonably steady at the count of eight, he had stumbled enough in standing that referee Daniel Van de Wiele felt he was unable to continue.  I think that was debatable based on what I could see on TV, but I’m not going to complain too much.

 

If Muller had legitimately won, his victory would have been a significant event in the division.  As it is, it’s just a gatekeeper beating a journeyman and getting robbed.  No effect on the rankings whatsoever.  Liebenberg’s nice win gets him in the conversation.  He’s not a top 20 contender yet, but he is probably top 30, and on the rise.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (78-78-78)
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 (39-39-39)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO6 #6 Tony Bellew
Next Fight: 5/24/2014- vs. #6 Andrzej Fonfara
According to Ringtv.com, Stevenson-Fonfara will most likely land on May 24.  After that, it looks like the Kovalev fight will happen in late 2014.
2) Bernard Hopkins (78-404-404)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- UD12 Karo Murat (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/19/2014- vs. Beibut Shumenov (UNR)
Hopkins will fight Shumenov in mid-April at the D.C. Armory in Washington.
3) Jean Pascal (7-7-7)
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 (7-59-59)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO2 Ismayl Sillakh (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/29/2014- vs. #15 Cedric Agnew
Kovalev is likely to fight Stevenson in late 2014, and has a March 29 fight coming up in Atlantic City with Cedric Agnew.
5) Chad Dawson (7-405-405)
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 (7-29-86)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- KO2 Samuel Miller (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/24/2014- vs. #1 Adonis Stevenson
May 24 looks likely for Fonfara-Stevenson.
7) Tony Bellew (7-125-125)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- L (TKO6) vs. #1 Adonis Stevenson
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. Valery Brudov (UNR) (at CW)
Bellew plans a move to cruiserweight, and his first fight there is scheduled for March 15 in Liverpool, against Valery Brudov.
8) Gabriel Campillo (7-193-193)
Last Fight: 8/16/2013- L (KO9) vs. #14 Andrzej Fonfara
Next Fight: 5/9/2014- vs. Ibrahim Lopez (UNR)
Campillo will reportedly fight unproven one-loss Spanish prospect Ibrahim Lopez on May 9 in Madrid.
9) Tavoris Cloud (7-236-236)
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 (7-213-213)
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 (7-109)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD8 Michael Gbenga (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. Denis Grachev (UNR)
Chilemba is in the US, training for a March 15 bout with fringe contender Grachev.
12) Jürgen Brähmer (7-98)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD12 Marcus Oliveira (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/5/2014- vs. Enzo Maccarinelli (UNR)
Braehmer returns April 5 in Rostock, Germany against moderately resurgent Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli.
13) Karo Murat (6-19)
Last Fight: 10/26/2013- L (UD12) vs. #2 Bernard Hopkins
Next Fight: Unknown
Murat is a free agent after his contract with Sauerland recently expired.
14) Thomas Williams, Jr. (6-6)
Last Fight: 1/24/2014- TKO1 #13 Cornelius White
Next Fight: Unknown
Williams has been well-matched against vulnerable guys with good resumes.
15) Cedric Agnew (7-47)
Last Fight: 4/12/2013- UD12 #14 Yusaf Mack
Next Fight: 3/29/2014- vs. #4 Sergey Kovalev
Agnew was ordered to defend his regional title against fringe contender Anatoliy Dudchenko, and also appeared to have the option of fighting Sukhotsky for a position as IBF mandatory.  Instead, he’ll now roll the dice big against Kovalev.
16) Edwin Rodriguez (7-34)
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 (19-36)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Cornelius White (6-116)
Last Fight: 1/24/2014- L (TKO1) vs. Thomas Williams, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Never blessed with big-time promotional or managerial ties, White has risked becoming a permanent opponent with his last two losses.
19) Eleider Alvarez (6-58)
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.
20) Lucian Bute (6-70)
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.

 

The Week Ahead:
Saturday
Zsolt Erdei vs. Shalva Jomardashvili; Kecskemet, Hungary; Sport 1 (Hungary)
Erdei is simply getting some work in (his first work in nearly a year) against a low-level Georgian journeyman.
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