Heavyweight: 2014, Apr 7-13

‘Twas a busy week among the big men this week.  Thursday featured two notable contests on FS1 from Indio, California.  In the main event, undefeated Cuban prospect Luis Ortiz got an impressive win over 42 year-old veteran journeyman Monte Barrett.  Barrett couldn’t really get his punches off, and certainly wasn’t able to earn the respect of  Ortiz, who wasn’t a paragon of activity himself, but was generally able to walk right through Barrett.  Barrett took a knee after walking right into a hard left from the Cuban southpaw, and the fight was instantly stopped by Raul Caiz, Sr.  Why he did so is beyond me.  It was the first knockdown of the fight.  Though he’d lost every round clearly, it’s not like Barrett had taken a brutal sustained beating at any point.  Barrett took a knee of his own volition, and so it’s not like a 10-count would have endangered Barrett’s health any further.  Bottom line: there’s a really good chance that Barrett could have and would have continued, but the referee didn’t seem to care about that.  On the other hand, the chances that Barrett seriously posed a threat to win the fight from that point were low indeed, so it’s perhaps a little on the moot side.

 

In what turned out to be a farce on the undercard, undefeated prospect Gerald Washington “KO”d less advanced one-loss fringe prospect Skipp Scott.  Here’s how it went down.  The first round was close and sloppy.  I gave it narrowly to Washington.  In the second, Washington landed a hard shot to Scott’s head that caused Scott to fall to a knee in the ensuing clinch.  While his opponent was still on a knee, Washington took a step back and landed a hard right hook to the body that sent Scott reeling back to the ropes and onto his back.  Scott rose to his feet by the count of 8, but when referee Lou Moret asked if he was okay, he fell back down in apparent agony, whereupon the fight was waved off.  But there should never have been a count in the first place.  Scott was legitimately knocked down from a punch, but less than a second later, he was hit by an equally hard illegal punch that at least arguably caused him to be unable to continue.  I’m not necessarily blaming Washington.  Scott is a 6’8” behemoth, and when he’s on his knee, it might be hard to tell since he’s probably still close to 6 feet tall.  But at the very least, Moret needed to call time and give Scott up to 5 minutes to recover from the illegal blow.  If he couldn’t do so, it should have been a no contest.  You just can’t knock a guy out when he’s already down.  Lou Moret may have been a good ref in his time, but he’s slow-footed and never in good position, and his judgment at this stage in his career is frequently way off.  He should retire from at least this aspect of the sport.  On the bright side, Scott was proven at only a fairly low level, and so whether I treat it as a knockout or a no contest, the affect on the rankings is nil.

 

The following night in an NBC Sports main event from Philadelphia, we saw a heck of a tilt between #4 Steve Cunningham and hard-hitting but aged undefeated prospect/fringe contender Amir Mansour.  Cunningham had trouble with the bigger Mansour’s power and physicality early, as he clearly lost the first two rounds before maybe taking the next two narrowly.  But it was the 5th in which things really unraveled, as Cunningham tasted the canvas twice and was nearly stopped.  Mansour kept the momentum going enough to win a competitive 6th, as well, and by that point was up 58-54 at a minimum on any competent card.  Cunningham narrowly edged the 7th on my card to pull within 3 before Mansour won a competitive 8th, but did so fairly clearly.  77-73 Mansour.  Cunningham closed strong, easily winning the 9th to pull within 3 points, and dropping Mansour with a well-timed shot in the 10th.  That earned him a narrow loss on my card at 94-93.  The official scores were 97-90 (Alan Rubenstein) and 95-92 (John Poturaj and David Braslow), all for Cunningham.  That’s a joke.  My card was already as generous as it reasonably could be in Cunningham’s favor, as the three closest rounds of the fight (3, 4, and 7) were already rounds I gave to him.  97-90 is a borderline reasonable score, but only if it’s in favor of Mansour.  BJ Flores in broadcasting the fight stated as a matter of fact that Cunningham had come back to clearly win the fight.  That’s obviously a biased view, as he is a friend of Cunningham and- perhaps along with the judges and even Mansour himself in his post-fight comments- was influenced by the heart-wrenching medical problems of Cunningham’s young daughter.

 

Main Events always seems to get favorable cards for its favored house fighter, whether it be Adamek, Glazkov, Karl Dargan, Curtis Stevens, or now Cunningham, for a change.  They’ve all won fights on NBC Sports air that they did not deserve to win, while none of the b-side opponents on their cards have, to the best of my memory, ever received such treatment.  I love Steve Cunningham, and have called out a robbery or two that he’s suffered in the past, but in this case he clearly got the benefit of one, and no matter how much he deserves good things due to his being a good guy in a bad situation in his personal life, I can’t just pretend the other guy didn’t deserve to win.  Amir Mansour is 41 years old, and is not going to get too many more bites at the apple.  He deserved to win this fight, and he deserved to be the guy that moved on to bigger and better things.  Thanks to some bad judging (which hurts me to say, since John Poturaj is normally great), he may never get a shot at anything meaningful.  It doesn’t help when the media fix is in, as well.  I’m just one voice and will never make a big difference, but that won’t stop me from calling it like I see it.

 

In a tune-up fight on the Braehmer-Maccarinelli undercard in Rostock, Germany on Saturday, #5 Kubrat Pulev got a walk in the park against chubby Croatian travelling opponent Ivica Perkovic.  Perkovic has never beaten anyone with a winning record, and has only a few wins against guys with as many as 3 pro wins.  He’s best known for dropping a faded Alexander Dimitrenko in what has so far been Dimitrenko’s last fight.  In this contest, which he took on just a few days’ notice, he was little more than a human heavy bag.  Pulev was able to walk him back to the ropes at will, and then proceeded to pick him apart until Perkovic decided it wasn’t worth it anymore and quit on his stool after round 3.  I’m not sure he landed so much as a glancing blow the entire fight.

 

Due to his should-be win over a top-5 contender, Mansour crashes my top ten (if nobody else’s) at #4.  Cunningham’s should-be loss drops him to #7.  Everyone ranked #7 and below last week backtracks a spot to make room for Mansour, which forces Carlos Takam out of the top 10 after a 2-week stint, and Eddie Chambers from the top 20 after just a single week.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (250-463-463)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- UD12 #3 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. #15 Alex Leapai
Klitschko-Leapai appears to be finalized for April 26 in Germany.  He said recently that he wants to capture his brother’s old alphabet title, which would unify all the major titles for the first time since Lewis in 1999.  He would have to wait for someone else to pick it up first, as the silly alphabets don’t let current titlists fight for vacant titles.
1) Tyson Fury (8-8-8)
Last Fight: 2/15/2014- TKO4 Joey Abell (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. #6 Dereck Chisora
Fury-Chisora has been made.  July 26, in Manchester.  The winner will become one of Wlad’s mandatories.
2) Vyacheslav Glazkov (4-4-68)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- UD12 #4 Tomasz Adamek
Next Fight: Unknown
3) Alexander Povetkin (4-337-337)
Last Fight: 10/5/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: 6/1/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
The WBA has ordered Povetkin vs. Cuban prospect Luis Ortiz for their “regular” belt.  Naturally, Wlad is the “Super Champion.”  Povetkin had already held the “regular” belt since beating Chagaev, but apparently it became vacant when the Superchief…er…Super Champion…beat him.  Does that make Wlad the Super-Duper Champion?  If so, what fight are they going to stage for the “regular” Super Championship?  I should stop making fun, before I give them any more ideas.
4) Amir Mansour (1-1-1)
Last Fight: 4/4/2014- Robbery L (UD10) vs. #4 Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: Unknown
Cunningham had the more sympathetic story and a legitimately great comeback attempt, but Mansour had the better collection of rounds legitimately won.  Mansour was robbed even though the fight was close, and deserves Cunningham’s former position in the rankings for his effort.
5) Kubrat Pulev (8-101-178)
Last Fight: 4/5/2014- RTD3 Ivica Perkovic (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Pulev dominated Perkovic, a low-level journeyman who took the fight on roughly a day or two’s notice.  He’s now back in the position to wait for a Klitschko shot.
6) Dereck Chisora (8-123-186)
Last Fight: 2/15/2014- UD12 Kevin Johnson (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. #1 Tyson Fury
See Fury’s notes, above.
7) Steve Cunningham (1-68-68)
Last Fight: 4/4/2014- Robbery W (UD10) vs. Amir Mansour (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I hope you’ll all pray for his daughter to recover from her life-threatening health condition, and the guy had guts to come back from the 2 knockdowns.  But he didn’t win the fight.
8) Tony Thompson (1-3-202)
Last Fight: 3/22/2014- W* (SD12) vs. #8 Odlanier Solis
Next Fight: Unknown
Thompson has been on a pretty decent run in the past couple years, and he might be at his highest point since his first fight with Wlad after getting a questionable win in a very close fight with Solis.  He has called out Tyson Fury, though the timing for that is a bit odd.
9) Tomasz Adamek (1-207-207)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- L (UD12) vs. #18 Vyacheslav Glazkov
Next Fight: Unknown
I’d have to think Adamek would at least consider retirement after being brutalized for 12 rounds by a guy that had looked like he might top out around the top 15.  He’s recently announced his candidacy for the European parliament elections in May, so that may be a sign that he’s leaning that direction.
10) Odlanier Solis (1-55-202)
Last Fight: 3/22/2014- L* (SD12) vs. #13 Tony Thompson
Next Fight: Unknown
The Solis haters are out in force, claiming a clear loss in a fight that Solis deserved to win.  You might not like his physique or his training habits or his style, but if he outfights the other guy, he still deserves to be respected as a winner at least as much as a disappointment.  A loss to Thompson is not that embarrassing, especially when you ought to have won it.
11) Carlos Takam (1-12)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- Robbery Draw (W) vs. #11 Mike Perez
Next Fight: Unknown
Takam has been called in to spar with Tyson Fury.  Good call.  He’s about as close to Chisora as you can get.
12) Bermane Stiverne (1-58)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD12 #15 Chris Arreola
Next Fight: 5/10/2014- vs. #11 Chris Arreola
ESPN has landed the fight- their biggest score in a while on that front.  May 10 in Los Angeles.
13) Chris Arreola (1-31)
Last Fight: 9/7/2013- TKO1 #12 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: 5/10/2014- vs. #10 Bermane Stiverne
See Stiverne’s notes, above.
14) Deontay Wilder (1-50)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- KO1 #19 Malik Scott
Next Fight: Unknown
With the win over Scott, Wilder appears poised to fight the Stiverne-Arreola winner for an alphabet title and probably near-universal recognition as the best American heavyweight.
15) Erkan Teper (1-32)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- KO1 Martin Rogan (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
16) Alex Leapai (1-20)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- UD10 #20 Denis Boytsov
Next Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Leapai-Klitschko is done for April 26 in Germany.
17) Andy Ruiz (1-20)
Last Fight: 11/24/2013- RTD3 Tor Hamer (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/17/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Ruiz is penciled in for the Marquez-Alvarado undercard on May 10 in LA.
18) Seth Mitchell (1-44)
Last Fight: 9/7/2013- L (TKO1) vs. Chris Arreola (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mitchell’s chin is so fragile that he might want to consider calling it a career.  Golden Boy’s CEO says he’s advised Mitchell to do just that, though he reports that Mitchell seems to have no such intention.
19) Johnathon Banks (1-5)
Last Fight: 6/22/2013- L (UD12) vs. #20 Seth Mitchell
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Francesco Pianeta (1-4)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- TKO2 Robert Teuber (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown

 

THE WEEK AHEAD:
Friday
Christian Hammer vs. Konstantin Airich; Berlin, Germany; Eurosport
Hammer is a 3-loss gatekeeper who should really have 4 losses, having gotten a gift against Kevin Johnson in his last fight.  Airich is a former gatekeeper himself, but is coming off consecutive losses to Solis, Glazkov, and Manuel Charr, steroid controversy, and well over a year of inactivity.

 

Saturday
Kevin Johnson vs. Manuel Charr; Bonn, Germany; Off TV
This is a heck of a match-up, really, and a pick-’em fight.  Charr is a perennial prospect who has flopped at the Klitschko level and pretty much just beat up on journeymen otherwise.  This will be his first truly fair test.  Johnson is up and down.  He owns a dominant win over soon-to-be Championship challenger Alex Leapai and should have beaten Hammer as mentioned above, but has failed at the top 5 level (Klitschko, Fury, and Chisora) and also at the gatekeeper level or below (Tor Hamer, plus an undeserved win over Sosnowski, both on Prizefighter).  Johnson would probably be my pick, because he’s won at at least the level Charr has proven himself to belong on.  That would mean that if he turns in a good performance for him, he would require Charr to be better than he’s ever been before to win.  If Charr turns in as good a performance as he’s ever turned in, Johnson may still be too much for him as far as we know.  The venue will likely be an advantage for Charr, however.

 

David Price vs. Ondrej Pala; Esbjerg, Denmark; BoxNation (UK)
Czech journeyman Pala might qualify as a stay-busy fight for top guys like Chisora, but he’s only lost twice since 2006, and was considered a top 50 fighter as recently as last year.  Price has got to be a heavy favorite since he’s clearly at a higher level than Pala’s loss other than Chisora- to a streaking and likely roided-up Konstantin Airich- but it’s no gimme.  If Price isn’t prepared for a real fight, he may be in for a difficult night.  The English prospect is coming off back-to-back stoppage losses to Tony Thompson and an easy tune-up.
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