Super Middleweight: 2014, Mar 3-9

It was a stacked week at 168, with something like 8 notable performers in action.  I’ll take it chronologically by card.

 

Friday’s ShoBox broadcast from Verona, New York featured three undefeated prospects on one card.

 

#20 Badou Jack was shockingly upset in a first-round TKO to mid-level journeyman Derek Edwards.  Edwards landed a perfect right hand counter on the button, Jack was caught probably rather cold, and never recovered.  About 20 seconds and two knockdowns later, it was all over, as was Jack’s imminent title shot.

 

J’Leon Love looked unambiguously good for the first time in his much-heralded televised career in the main event of the card, winning every round (most decisively) against busted prospect Vladine Biosse.  It should have been a 100-89 decision for Love, but Benji Estevez took it upon himself to improve Love’s knockout record by randomly stopping the fight in the 10th.  I wouldn’t have necessarily argued much with a stoppage in the 3rd round when Biosse was getting pounded viciously, but the 10th round stoppage was completely unnecessary, as the fight was almost over and Biosse was not even hurt.  Nevertheless, a decent showcase-type win for Love.

 

In another intriguing fight on the unfortunately non-televised undercard, undefeated prospect Luis Arias eeked out a majority decision win over veteran spoiler Dashon Johnson, who is much better than his 15-14 record.  Tom Schreck and Don Ackerman had it 77-75, while Wynn Kintz saw it even at 76-76.  I’m not really a fan of any of those judges’ work, so as far as I’m concerned it’s anyone’s guess as to who actually won the fight.  Sadly, there’s not so much as a Youtube video available for the fight.  I’ll have to take it at face value.

 

Saturday began with the rubber match between #2 Robert Stieglitz and #4 Arthur Abraham, with Abraham looking to rebound from a shockingly dominant 3rd round TKO loss after winning a close decision in their first bout.  Given the most recent result, Stieglitz had to be viewed as a solid favorite this time around, but this fight turned out a lot more like the former, only slightly more in Abraham’s favor.  The Armenian native was very sharp for most of the bout, and while he didn’t necessarily display the same level of power that made him a universally-feared middleweight circa five years ago, he did punctuate the fight with a 12th round knockdown of a flagging Stieglitz.  I had the fight 115-110, with reasonable scores in my opinion ranging from 118-107 Abraham to 114-111 Abraham.  Florida judge Michael Pernick apparently mailed in his scorecard from another fight stateside, because he had it 113-112 for Stieglitz, which is shockingly awful.  Clark Sammartino had it a reasonable 114-111, while Paul Thomas (whose name I don’t even recognize) nailed it at 115-110.  One additional note: referee Geno Rodriguez took an absolutely ridiculous point from Abraham in round 8 for hitting behind the head.  Stieglitz initiated a clinch.  While Abraham tried to punch his way out, Stieglitz turned his head.  It wasn’t even a foul, and certainly not a deductible one.  Especially in light of Stieglitz’ excessive holding, which he at least lost a point for a round later.  With better refereeing, I would have had it 116-110.

 

#9 James DeGale fought injury-free for the first time, by his account, in 18 months.  Overall, he looked pretty good against unbeaten/untested Armenian-born Dutchman Gevorg Khatchikian.  He didn’t have his characteristic spells of hanging out taking shots on the ropes this time around, and scored an 11th-round stoppage.  On the negative side, he did get noticeably hurt and chased around the ring in the 7th round.  On the brighter side, it was the only round I gave Khatchikian and one of only two in which he was even close.  DeGale’s body attack was consistently punishing, and he was the aggressor for virtually the entire fight (7th round aside).  Khatchikian had been looking progressively more ragged ever since his 7th round success, and took a knee on two body shots in quick succession in the 11th.  On the second one, referee Mark Green reached the count of 8 with just 6 seconds remaining in the round.  Khatchikian was standing fully upright without wavering at that point, and I saw nothing in his face that indicated he couldn’t have continued.  Would it ultimately have changed the outcome of the fight?  Probably not.  I mean DeGale would certainly have won in any case, but I’m not certain he would have won by stoppage.  Anyway, it’s a small matter, but I feel it’s a good idea to call out small mistakes as a deterrent to bigger ones later.

 

#15 Middleweight Bryan Vera looked to prove that his robbery loss against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. was no fluke later that night in San Antonio, when he gave the Mexican star a rematch on HBO.  Chavez showed up without weight problems this time, and had apparently actually trained hard.  Chavez was sharper and harder-hitting than Vera throughout, and took a 117-110 win on my card.  Max DeLuca and Ruben Carrion agreed with me, while David Sutherland (apparently having frequent flashbacks to the first fight) turned in an incredible 114-113 for a unanimous decision.  I gave Vera 3 rounds, but two of them were toss-ups.  The other- the 12th- I think should have gone to Chavez via a knockdown for Chavez that was called a slip by Rafael “No one is more professional than I” Ramos, who may have been looking to balance out a ridiculous point deduction on Vera from round 8. 

 

Naturally, we have a fair amount of movement in the rankings.  Abraham grabs the #2 spot with his big win.  Stieglitz falls back to #3, forcing the inactive Kessler to #4.  Chavez makes his debut at 168 with a #9 berth, while Vera returns to the rankings at #10 based on his past wins over Mora and Demers, as well as his highly debatable light heavyweight loss to Chavez.  This forces James DeGale down two spots to #11 and Rebrasse to #12.  They had been in the top 10 for 38 and 15 consecutive weeks, respectively.  Bika falls to #13, Vlasov to #14, Rodriguez to #15, Andy Lee to #16, Gilberto Ramirez to #17, Murata to #18, Anthony Dirrell to #19, and Hadillah Mohoumadi to #20.  Truax slips from the rankings after 36 weeks in, as does Jack- by a long shot- after 32.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (116-250-250)
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 (93-403-403)
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) Arthur Abraham (1-228-228)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- W (SD12) vs. #2 Robert Stieglitz
Next Fight: Unknown
Abraham is back near the top again after defeating Stieglitz convincingly in  the rubber match.
3) Robert Stieglitz (1-236-236)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- L (SD12) vs. #4 Arthur Abraham
Next Fight: Unknown
It’s back to the drawing board for Stieglitz, though his resume still compares favorably to the field.
4) Mikkel Kessler (1-482-482)
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.
5) Brandon Gonzales (36-36-36)
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 (23-144-192)
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 (17-17-62)
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 (17-64-86)
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) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- UD10 #15 MW Bryan Vera
Next Fight: Unknown
Chavez may have earned some fans back in the Vera rematch, after the loss of said fans was made apparent by the poor gate at the Alamodome that night.
10) Bryan Vera (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- L (UD10) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Even in defeat, Vera has regained a ranking at 168 and is- at least temporarily- ranked in 2 division.
11) James DeGale (1-125)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- TKO11 Gevorg Khatchikian (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
DeGale may now get an immediate shot at Sakio Bika after his tune-up win and eliminator rival Badou Jack’s collapse.
12) Christopher Rebrasse (1-39)
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.
13) Sakio Bika (1-361)
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, but with Jack falling out of the eliminator picture, Bika may be ordered to face DeGale next.
14) Maxim Vlasov (1-69)
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.
15) Edwin Rodriguez (1-59)
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.
 16) Andy Lee (1-42)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013-TKO2 Ferenc Hafner (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lee was close to a deal to fight Golovkin on April 26, but the Kazakh will no longer be fighting on that date due to his father’s death.
17) Gilberto Ramirez (1-5)
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.
18) Ryota Murata (1-28)
Last Fight: 2/22/2014- TKO4 Carlos Nascimento (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bob Arum plans to have Murata in action at Singapore this year according to Dan Rafael, but I don’t have any further details.
19) Anthony Dirrell (1-13)
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).
20) Hadillah Mohoumadi (1-53)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown

 

The Week Ahead: After a week of action and upheaval, no follow-up this week.
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