Light Heavyweight: 2014, Mar 10-16

Saturday in Kecskemet, Hungary, Hungarian former Champion Zsolt Erdei won a dominant unanimous decision over low-level journeyman Shalva Jomardashvili of Georgia, won a completely manufactured alphabet Euro title in the process, and then promptly retired.  I wish I could say he was a real credit to the sport.  The truth is that he beat a Champion in the late Julio Cesar Gonzalez to become light heavyweight champion of the world in 2004, and then went on a run of defenses so pathetic in their overall quality that most boxing fans sort of forgot that he was champion and started recognizing the far superior Roy Jones, whom Erdei wouldn’t have fought in a million years.  It might be an exaggeration to say that he hurt the status of boxing championships as much as an alphabet organization, but he sure did his best to try.  He protected his “0” more carefully than Floyd Mayweather ever dreamed, and finally lost that mark in just his penultimate fight- ironically in very controversial fashion- to Denis Grachev.  He goes out winning a so-called title against a total non-entity, but the sad truth is that that non-entity who had no right challenging for a vacant European belt was not all that much worse than some of the guys that Erdei actually defended his lineal belt against, when you consider such luminaries as Paul Murdoch, Danny Santiago, George Blades, Tito Mendoza, DeAndrey Abron, Yuriy Barashian and, arguably, Samson Onyango (who in particular is probably worse than Jomardashvili).

 

No changes, since Erdei already ceased to afflict the rankings a while ago.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (79-79-79)
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 (40-40-40)
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 (79-405-405)
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 (8-8-8)
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 (8-60-60)
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 (8-406-406)
Last Fight: 6/8/2013- L(TKO1) vs. SMW #6 Adonis Stevenson
Next Fight: Unknown
Dawson has signed a deal with manager Al Haymon, which certainly brightens his career prospects.  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 (8-30-87)
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 (8-126-126)
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 (8-194-194)
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 (8-237-237)
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 (8-214-214)
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 (8-110)
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 (8-99)
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 (7-20)
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. (7-7)
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 (8-48)
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 (8-35)
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 (20-37)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Cornelius White (7-117)
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 (7-59)
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 (7-71)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- L (UD12) vs. Jean Pascal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bute might be back on the May 24 undercard of Stevenson-Fonfara.

 

The Week Ahead:
Friday
Rowland Bryant vs. William Santiago; Hamilton Township, New Jersey; Off TV
Bryant, despite losing to solid prospects like Thomas Oosthuizen and Yunieski Gonzalez, is still a top 50 fighter in my eyes due to his destruction of then-ranked contender Librado Andrade in 2012.  It’s a bit disappointing, then, to find him fighting a sub-.500 fighter like Santiago.  Easy work.

 

Saturday
Bob Ajisafe vs. Dean Francis; Reading, England; Channel 5 (UK)
Both Francis and Ajisafe are English gatekeeper-types, and this fight has the potential to propel the winner to a really prominent position in the division.  This is actually the first quarterfinal of the UK’s MaxiNutrition Knockout Tournament.  The winner of this fight ought to be at least the co-favorite with the winner of next week’s meeting between Danny McIntosh and Travis Dickinson.

 

#11 Isaac Chilemba vs. Denis Grachev; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; NBC Sports (US)
Chilemba is looking for another breakthrough after losing a rematch to Bellew.  Grachev is even more in need of good news.  He was once at around the same level as Chilemba now finds himself, but he has been struggling of late.  He acquitted himself very well against Bute, but lost.  He beat Erdei, but perhaps it was undeserved.  And he was totally blown out of the water against Edwin Rodriguez.  Still, I think this fight could go either way.  Chilemba is long and tall, and if Grachev steps lively enough, he’s got a good chance to get inside and land some bombs on the Malawian contender, especially if Chilemba is not on top of his game.  Chilemba likes to mix it up more than a trainer might advise for someone of his physique.

 

Speaking of Tony Bellew: he’s got a fight too, but it’s unambiguously a cruiserweight fight, so I’ll only discuss it there.
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