Light Heavyweight: 2014, Mar 31- Apr 6

In the week’s headline act on Saturday, #4 Sergey Kovalev got a spirited challenge from #15 Cedric Agnew.  The unbeaten Agnew definitely came to win, and probably won the first round, and cut the imposing Russian with a head clash in round 4.  In the end, though, the lanky Agnew was just not physically strong enough to compete with consistency, and he was dropped in both the 2nd and the 6th before a body shot in the 7th ended it.  Kovalev stayed composed through adversity, and that’s a feather to put in his cap, if nothing else.  The knockout win over a top 15 contender doesn’t hurt, either.

 

On the non-televised undercard, American gatkeeper Lionell Thompson, who came in at 178.25, got some love from the judges in a quirky 8-rounder against undefeated Florida-based Bosnian Radivoje Kalajdzic, but still fell just short of the win.  I had it an easy win for “Hot Rad,” scoring it 78-73, while thinking it entirely possible that the Bosnian might have carried every round on the cards.  Instead, the judges apparently watched a whole different fight.  Kaison Cheeks had it 78-72, which is mathematically puzzling to me, but otherwise pretty well in line with what I saw.  Shafeeq Rashada had it 77-75, which I guess would have to include an even round to go with the point deduction assessed on Thompson in round 7, and would also include a high level of insanity, since he had that score in favor of Thompson.  Unless I’m out of my mind, Rashada gave all the toss-up rounds to Thompson, gave an additional close but clear round for Rad to Thompson, gave one completely clear-cut Kalajdzic round to Thompson, and then called a completely clear Kalajdzic round even, as well.  Awful card on all levels.  John McKaie, as I saw it, gave all the rounds that were even kinda close to Thompson, but still managed to see it for the right guy at 76-75.  It’s a weird situation.  Allen Huggins took a point from Thompson late in the fight for losing his mouthpiece.  I didn’t see it come out (my video wasn’t exactly high def), but unless it was a blatant spit-out situation, the deduction was ludicrous.  He had lost it as a result of a punch earlier in the fight, but that was the only other incident, and at least in the first case was certainly not intentional or even really negligent.  So with apologies in advance if Huggins saw a clear stall tactic that I missed, this was a terrible call.  But in the end, I’m glad it happened, because John McKaie needed this mistake to avoid robbing the Bosnian fighter that clearly won the fight.  Obviously there was no helping Rashada.  

 

Now I don’t want to give you the impression that I thought Kalajdzic fought a great fight.  He really didn’t.  He was the more talented and physically gifted fighter by a mile, though.  He appeared to be 5-6 inches taller and naturally 10 or more pounds heavier than Thompson, and his hands- which he tended to swing like an ax rather than throw- appeared fairly heavy.  Aside from technique, his gameplan was all wrong.  Every time Kalajdzic decided to come forward even just a little bit, Thompson would go into full retreat mode.  Not backing up and setting traps, mind you, but rather backing up constantly and maybe occasionally throwing a jab or two to try and keep him off.  Thompson was not able to do any effective work at all during these spells.  But for some reason, Kalajdzic spent nearly half the fight dancing around like a fool and backing off.  Look, I’m no expert on tactics really, but I’m pretty sure if you’ve got your much shorter opponent backing up constantly, you’ve got very little to worry about unless you just plain get reckless.  Kalajdzic had a chance to win every round so clearly that even Rashada might have noticed.

 

Friday in Potsdam, Germany, gatekeeper-level Albanian Robin Krasniqi looked impressive against undefeated but unproven Ghanaian prospect Emmmanuel Danso.  Danso, the much shorter man, constantly came forward, but wasn’t quick enough or clever enough to cut off the ring on Krasniqi.  The first few rounds were close, but by the third or the fourth, it was clear that Krasniqi was practically leading Danso around on a string as he circled around him.  His work wasn’t always effective, but it was more than enough, considering there were some rounds that I don’t think Danso even landed a punch.  In the 7th, having possibly won all the rounds on the cards to that point, Krasniqi walked Danso into a wound-up, sudden, and perfectly-landed uppercut that sent Danso crashing to the canvas like a felled tree.  Seeing this dramatic body language, referee Holger Wiemann immediately decided to stop the fight.  The problem is this: Danso somehow got up at the count of two, and appeared relatively steady.  The fight definitely could and should have continued, and I think by the time he actually got around to waving it off after walking with Danso to a neutral corner without having started the count, Wiemann probably had begun to realize it, but had to save face.  The lack of a clean knockout on that devastating of a punch probably tells you that Krasniqi lacks real one-punch power.  His record of only 16 stoppages in 41 wins further supports that.

 

Undefeated Atlanta prospect Michael Seals got a 5th round TKO over low-level journeyman Willis Lockett on the non-televised portion of the ESPN card in New Town, North Dakota.  I have nothing to add to that, since I wasn’t able to see it.

 

Kalajdzic’s win is naturally a boon to his career, but he’s still very much a prospect and a work in progress, and currently can’t crack the top 30.  Kovalev stays put.  Since Pascal has only lost to Hopkins at light heavyweight and has beaten a #1 contender, the only way Kovalev could get past him would be to beat him or someone ranked higher.  Agnew also stands pat, as there’s no shame in a mid-rounds KO to a guy like Kovalev, and since Edwin Rodriguez has struggled at a much lower level.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks   in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Andre Ward (82-82-82)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD12 #15 Edwin Rodriguez (as SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Kovalev’s promoter has zeroed in on the inactive Ward as an “inevitable” future opponent.
1) Adonis Stevenson (43-43-43)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO6 #6 Tony Bellew
Next Fight: 5/24/2014- vs. #6 Andrzej Fonfara
In something of a coup, Stevenson-Fonfara will be carried by Showtime.   This not only further diminishes HBO’s stable of top fighters, but also puts in serious doubt the plausibility of what appeared to be an upcoming megafight with Kovalev.
2) Bernard Hopkins (82-408-408)
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 (11-11-11)
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 (11-63-63)
Last Fight: 3/29/2014- KO7 #15 Cedric Agnew
Next Fight: Unknown
Kovalev had some choice words for Stevenson after the Haitian defected to Showtime and, apparently, scuttled their much hyped matchup for later this year.  No news yet on what Kovalev’s next move will be after the development.
5) Chad Dawson (11-409-409)
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 (11-33-90)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- KO2 Samuel Miller (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/24/2014- vs. #1 Adonis Stevenson
See Stevenson’s notes, above.
7) Tony Bellew (11-129-129)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- KO12 Valery Brudov (UNR) (at CW)
Next Fight: Unknown
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.  BJ Flores wants to fight him, but it sounds like he’ll fight Cleverly before the year is out.
8) Gabriel Campillo (11-197-197)
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 (11-240-240)
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 (11-217-217)
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.  He’s changed promoters, and it looks like a cruiserweight rematch with Bellew is very much in the works.
11) Isaac Chilemba (11-113)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- UD10 Denis Grachev (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chilemba looked very very sharp in dominating a game Denis Grachev, and might soon be in line for a shot at Adonis Stevenson.
12) Jürgen Brähmer (11-102)
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 (10-23)
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. (10-10)
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 (11-51)
Last Fight: 3/29/2014- L (KO7) vs. #4 Sergey Kovalev
Next Fight: Unknown
After taking a risk against Kovalev and coming up short, I can only assume that his prospects for a regional title bout against Dudchenko and a IBF eliminator against Sukhotsky might both be out the window at least for the moment.
16) Edwin Rodriguez (11-38)
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 (23-40)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Cornelius White (10-120)
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 (10-62)
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 (10-74)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- L (UD12) vs. Jean Pascal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bute wants his contractually-guaranteed rematch with Pascal.  He recently parted ways with his long-time trainer.

 

The Week Ahead
Saturday
#12 Juergen Braehmer vs. Enzo Maccarinelli; Rostock, Germany; BoxNation (UK)
Braehmer always seems one fight away from establishing himself as a clear top 10 force in the division.  I’m not sure Maccarinelli is at quite high enough a level to alter that perception much, but obviously a win would bolster the German’s resume a fair amount.  As for Enzo the Welshman, a win would really be a bit of a rebirth for him.  He took his career off life support with his last win over Ovill McKenzie, and is now on the fringes of the top 20.  This would get him in the top 10, somewhere he hasn’t been since his glory days at cruiserweight.
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2 Responses to “Light Heavyweight: 2014, Mar 31- Apr 6”

  1. Great summary, small note – Radivoje Kalajdzic is an ethnic Serb, from bosnia. Not bosnian.

    • Thanks for the clarification. I’ll make sure and make that distinction next time I write about him. My next step will be to work on my pronunciation of his actual name in case I ever dare to try saying it out loud. Thanks for reading!

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