Light Heavyweight: 2014, Mar 17-23

The week’s light heavyweight headliner was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where #11 Isaac Chilemba of Malawi fought an almost perfect fight against rugged fringe contender Denis Grachev of Russia.  Grachev was game as always, and gave a good effort, but the tall and long-armed Chilemba controlled range expertly, and had very few let-downs that would have given Grachev any kind of chance.  I had it 99-91, having just barely found round 6 for Chilemba, and I only saw one other debatable round.  Judges Lederman (100-90) Morgan (99-91) and McNair (99-91) all did competent work.

 

In another good match-up- this one from Reading, England- 40 year-old gatekeeper Dean Francis and 2-loss prospect Bob Ajisafe fought it out for the vacant British title and a spot in the semi-finals of the Maxi Nutrition Knockout tournament.  Francis showed much of the form that had won him that title, as well as the British 168-pound title, in the past.  He frequently frustrated the long-armed Ajisafe’s attempts to control range and the pace by bulling his way in and landing everything from jabs to right hands.  On the other hand, when Francis would have a lull in his offense, Ajisafe would often capitalize by landing a potshot to hurt Francis from the outside.  If we were scoring based only one times that one guy hurt the other, it would be about 4-1 for Ajisafe.  

 

I ultimately had it 115-113 for Ajisafe, though I thought the two closest rounds of the fight (the only two I could really imagine going any other way) were ones I had given to the taller man, meaning I could imagine a draw or 115-113 Francis as reasonable scores.  The sick-brained judges couldn’t quite manage that.  John Keane had it closest to reality at 116-114.  I should say that I have no real idea how British judges are trained to decide even rounds.  In the US, an even round usually means that a judge lost concentration, since truly even rounds are supposed to happen only once in a blue moon.  I get the sense that when I call a round a toss-up and award it narrowly to one fighter, my British counterpart might tend to score it even more often than not.  Even by that standard, though, Keane was off.  If I gave even rounds for all the toss-ups, it would actually have benefited Francis to the tune of a draw.  To score two even rounds and still have it for Ajisafe, Keane must have scored at least one clear Francis round the wrong way.  Marcus McDonnell’s score was reported by the ring announcer as 116-114, but Boxrec has it reported as the same as Keane.  Either that’s a typo, or there was a tabulation/announcing error.  Jeff Hinds, though, really outdid himself, scoring it an unconscionable 118-112 for Ajisafe, meaning that he totally botched a minimum of 3 rounds that were clearly won by Francis.

 

In a non-televised bout from New Jersey on Friday, gatekeeper Rowland Bryant (best known for stopping Librado Andrade and basically ending the contender’s career) won an easy TKO victory in 4 rounds over low-level sub-.500 journeyman William Santiago.

 

Francis was only barely a top 50 fighter going in, and Ajisafe’s only other performance against a top 50 fighter in the last 5 years was a respectable loss to an up-and-coming Tony Bellew in 2010.  For those reasons, Ajisafe is only in the high-30s in terms of ranking at this point.  Chilemba still can’t quite get by Cleverly and into the top 10 either, so there are no changes this week.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (80-80-80)
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 (41-41-41)
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 (80-406-406)
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 (9-9-9)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- UD12 #16 Lucian Bute
Next Fight: Unknown
Bob Arum has floated the possibility of a July fight with Julio Cesar Chavez.
4) Sergey Kovalev (9-61-61)
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 (9-407-407)
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 (9-31-88)
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 (9-127-127)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- KO12 Valery Brudov (UNR) (at CW)
Next Fight: 3/15/2014- vs. Valery Brudov (UNR) (at CW)
Bellew is campaigning at cruiserweight now, but he’ll keep his ranking here until he schedules a fight there for after November 30, or until after November 30 itself.
8) Gabriel Campillo (9-195-195)
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 (9-238-238)
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 (9-215-215)
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 (9-111)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- UD10 Denis Grachev (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chilemba looked very very sharp in dominating a game Denis Grachev.
12) Jürgen Brähmer (9-100)
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 (8-21)
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. (8-8)
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 (9-49)
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 (9-36)
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 (21-38)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Cornelius White (8-118)
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 (8-60)
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 (8-72)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- L (UD12) vs. Jean Pascal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bute wants his contractually-guaranteed rematch with Pascal.

 

The Week Ahead: No meaningful action this week.
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