Light Heavyweight: 2014, Apr 14-20

Berlin was the scene on Friday for a dominant display by one-loss Russian prospect Igor Mikhalkin, who won every round clearly, and in fairly punishing fashion for the most part, before a cut to his opponent stopped the fight.  That opponent, Algerian journeyman Mohamed Belkacem, was very flawed technically, and especially lacked defensive skill.  He also was too slow.  To sum up, he was outclassed and outgunned.  For his part, Mikhalkin looked strong, technically sound, and methodical.  His power looked pretty impressive, but he never really pushed the pace in an effort to get rid of his guy.  One note on the stoppage, which sent the fight to the cards: I never saw a head clash.  I can’t say for sure, but I personally thought the cut was from a punch and should have yielded a TKO.  But that’s just one guy’s opinion.  Either way, a nice little performance for a decent-looking up-and-comer.

 

Saturday was pretty busy, though none of the matchups will really set the world on fire.

 

This fight ended up being contested a few pounds over the limit, but I’ll discuss it here anyway.  Vyacheslav Uzelkoff threw his career away Saturday in Brovari, Ukraine by fighting like a total idiot against Serbian journeyman Geard Ajetovic.  The dude spent the first several rounds of the 8-rounder wasting as much energy as humanly possible while doing absolutely nothing that could have been remotely effective even under the most ideal of circumstances.  He bounced up and down like a jack-in-the-box constantly, even sometimes while in prime punching range for his opponent.  He constantly flicked out perhaps the most comically inconsequential jab I’ve ever seen, and really didn’t throw a punch that even remotely hinted that he was trying to win a round until the 6th.  If you don’t know Uzelkoff, he’s a big strong brutish kind of guy.  Picture a (very) poor man’s Sergey Kovalev.  Yet he was fighting as if he aspired to be a very poor man’s Miguel Vazquez.  It was literally insane.  The level of incompetence he and, I assume, his corner showed in terms of both gameplan and execution were frankly stunning from a guy with his extensive amateur and pro experience.  He fought with the skill and ring intelligence of a fighter making his amateur debut.  It was mind-boggling.  As for Ajetovic, he took what was given to him.  He fought only in spurts, but constantly came forward behind a high guard that Uzelkoff was content to tap at, rather than try to penetrate.  When he did let his hands go, though, it was extremely effective against Uzelkoff, who frequently backed straight up, and stood that way, as well.  I did give Uzelkoff the nod in a close 7th round, but the rest was all Ajetovic.  Shamefully, the verdict at the end of 8 was a close-looking split decision, as the judges were apparently trying to do to Ajetovic what the Russians are trying to do to Uzelkoff’s native Ukraine.  The best of the judges, Vadym Lavrenets, had it probably a round too close at 78-74.  Volodymyr Dyachuk’s 77-75 was pretty insane, though he at least had it for the right guy.  Oleg Kuderov, who on this evidence alone might be the worst active judge in the whole wide world, scored it 77-76 for the thoroughly dominated and embarrassed Uzelkoff.  Ajetovic’s dominant victory is nevertheless largely wasted for the time being, though.  He’s done nothing at the light heavyweight limit of any note, and considering Uzelkoff is a career 175 pounder and Ajetovic himself is pretty clearly a natural super middleweight, it simply makes no sense to treat this as a meaningful cruiserweight fight.  I will give this fight consideration, however, if Ajetovic adds a rateable win in an actual light heavyweight fight at some point.

 

Oleksandr Cherviak salvaged some sort of light heavyweight silver lining for the Ukrainian fans on the undercard, though, winning what was apparently, at least, a fairly clear decision over Artem Redko, a low-level fellow Ukranian whose only claim to viability in the fight going in was the fact that he had given Cherviak a close fight back in 2010.  That fight was also technically at cruiserweight, though in this case it didn’t really make a difference.

 

In the main event of the Sauerland Nordic Fight Night broadcast from Esbjerg, Denmark, Sweden’s Erik Skoglund successfully defended his European Union crown with a 9th-round stoppage of mostly game but totally outgunned Italian fringe prospect Danilo D’Agata.  Skoglund had won every round to that point by a wide margin, and finally put his man down in the 9th.  D’Agata got up, but had clearly had enough and turned to his corner while the referee completed the 8 count.  The stoppage couldn’t hid the startling incompetence of two of the judges, though.  Let me be clear…every round was clear.  Not kinda close.  Completely one-sided.  Yet judge Predrag Aleksic found a round for D’Agata, and Raiko Djajic found two, plus apparently another even.  After 8 rounds, he had Skoglund up by just 3 points, meaning D’Agata was still very much in the fight on his card.  Disgusting.

 

Last and perhaps least, on the non-televised Bradley-Pacquiao undercard, rugged undefeated prospect Sean Monaghan of New York scored a predictable 5th round TKO over low-level journeyman Irish Joey McCreedy of Lowell, Massachusetts.

 

Aside from Ajetovic, whose argument for rankings consideration is a non-started for reasons discussed above, none of the week’s winners were in deep enough to help their cases for rankings love.  That being the case, 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 (84-84-84)
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 (45-45-45)
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 (84-410-410)
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 (13-13-13)
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.  Once promoted exclusively by Yvon Michel, he’s recently added their fellow Canadian rival, Interbox, as a 50-50 co-promoter.
4) Sergey Kovalev (13-65-65)
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 (13-411-411)
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 (13-35-92)
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 (13-131-131)
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 (13-199-199)
Last Fight: 8/16/2013- L (KO9) vs. #14 Andrzej Fonfara
Next Fight: 5/9/2014- vs. Ricky Pow (UNR)
Campillo has replaced one low-level tune-up opponent with another, as Ibrahim Lopez is out and Ricky Pow is in for Campillo’s May 9 Madrid date.
9) Tavoris Cloud (13-242-242)
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 (13-219-219)
Last Fight: 8/17/2013- L (TKO4) vs. #3 Sergey Kovalev
Next Fight: 5/17/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Cleverly’s cruiserweight debut is once again on the schedule.  This time for May 17 in Cardiff.
11) Isaac Chilemba (13-115)
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 (13-104)
Last Fight: 4/5/2014- RTD5 Enzo Maccarinelli (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Braehmer certainly didn’t look spectacular after inflicting a gruesome eye injury on Maccarinelli, and the closeness of the fight thereafter has emboldened the Welshman to demand a rematch- one I, for one, would be interested to see.
13) Karo Murat (12-25)
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. (12-12)
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 (13-53)
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 (13-40)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Andre Ward
Next Fight: 5/24/2014- vs. Marcus Johnson (UNR)
Rodriguez will fight largely forgotten but still-viable prospect Marcus Johnson somewhere in the US on May 24.
17) Hadillah Mohoumadi (25-42)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Cornelius White (12-122)
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 (12-64)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- UD10 Andy Gardiner (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/24/2014- vs. Radivoje Kalajdzic (UNR)
Alvarez will fight a physically talented and undefeated prospect in Kalajdzic on the Stevenson-Fonfara undercard, but a prospect who is still a little rough around the edges.
20) Lucian Bute (12-76)
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
Francis Cheka vs. Sajjad Mehrabi; Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; TV Unknown
Did you know Iran had a fight scene?  I sure didn’t.  Mehrabi is a product of that entity, such as it is, and an undefeated prospect.  He settled for a 4-round draw in his 2nd fight against a fellow 1-0 fighter, and has won on points in all but one of his victories since, having never fought outside Tehran.  Only 3 of his 13 wins have come against fighters with as many as one career win, and only one came against a guy with as many as 2 (that being a 2-3 fighter).  So he wins decisions against terrible/inexperienced fighters.  Not sounding too good so far, though he does have yet to lose.  Cheka is a veteran local gatekeeper who hangs around right on the fringes of the top 50 for the most part.  He’s coming off a 3-round stoppage loss to undefeated Fedor Chudinov, and has been struggling with middling prospects at times of late.  That being said, Mehrabi is so unproven that it’s hard to project him into having much of a chance against a guy this experienced, especially on the road.

 

#2 Bernard Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Showtime (US)
The silly machinations of the WBA have elevated the very inactive Beibut Shumenov- who won his title on one of the most heinous robberies of the modern era and has defended it largely against borderline top 50 opposition since then, at best- to the status of “Super Champion.”  That’s a farce on multiple levels.  The guy has generally looked alright since getting battered in his “title-winning” performance against Gabriel Campillo in early 2010, but for the most part he might as well have been fighter a slew of 10 year-old girls.  I mean seriously.  This guy’s title defenses make Zsolt Erdei’s resume look like Muhammad Ali’s by comparison.  Uzelkoff was his toughest, and he’s followed that up with William Joppy, Danny Santiago, Enrique Ornelas, and Tamas Kovacs.  Shumenov is not only not a real Champion, but he’s not really even that close to being in the top 20 at the moment.  The last time he so much as fought a top 50 fighter- and only very arguably so- was well over 3 years ago.  Unless the 49 year-old Hopkins begins showing his age at long last, he’ll probably outclass Shumenov, though the former scenario is always possible at Hopkins’ age, and against a young, strong, competent operator, all of which do, in all fairness, describe the Kazakh.
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