Light Heavyweight: 2014, Apr 21-27

Saturday in Atlantic City, #2 Bernard Hopkins continued to redefine what we know about aging in sports.  Now let’s not go crazy over it.  Beibut Shumenov, especially if you gave any credence to his title as “Super Champion” or even simply Champion, was vastly overrated.  He’s been inactive, and his level of competition has been abysmal for years now.  For all the disrespect he got from the media and fans, Karo Murat was a much more qualified challenger, and I think allowed Hopkins to prove more than did the Kazakh.  All that said, this was a really impressive outing for “the Alien.”  Whatever else you can say about Shumenov, he was a reasonably young, fairly strong, warm body that Hopkins utterly dominated.  I had it 119-108, giving Shumenov only the 10th, and even that one was a toss-up.  Hopkins was ridiculously accurate with his shots, and predictably crafty throughout.  As for the Kazakh, he was limited to throwing one supremely wild inaccurate punch at a time, and really could scarcely hit the Philadelphian with a 10-foot pole.  Hopkins even added insult to injury with an 11th-round knockdown.  The judges should probably be committed en masse for psychiatric evaluation- particularly Gustavo Padilla, who somehow had it 114-113 for Shumenov, which is potentially more inexplicable a card in his favor than those he got in his second fight with Campillo (that being one of the most notorious robberies of modern times).  Shumenov gets such consistently insane favors from the judges on the rare occasion that he actually fights, that I really honestly have to wonder if there’s some illicit money changing hands…especially when he also is inexplicably loved by the WBA more strongly than one would expect from his own mother, from all indications.  Jerry Roth and Dave Moretti both turned in head-scratching, but less inflammatory cards of 116-111 Hopkins.  I personally don’t see how anyone could have it closer than 117-110.  Keep in mind that I’m not historically a guy that has been warm to Hopkins’ style in my scoring.


In a low-profile upset that is nevertheless rather significant, Tanzanian gatekeeper Francis Cheka probably punched his final ticket on his connecting flight to obscurity, notching just a majority draw in his 8-rounder with…wait for it…Iranian undefeated prospect Sajjad Mehrabi.  Look, maybe Mehrabi is the chosen one.  Maybe he’ll singlehandedly turn Iran into a global boxing power and vindicate their all but non-existent fight scene.  But it’s hard to put much faith in the Persian’s world-class credentials at this point, considering that Cheka is the first guy he’s fought with even the faintest hint of a pulse, and yet he already had a prior draw on his record.  There’s no video out there of the fight, so I can’t opine on the scoring…but you’ve gotta wonder if it might even be worse than it looks for the veteran from Africa, who couldn’t even negotiate a victory in his home country.  To make matters worse, Mehrabi is a natural middleweight.


No movement in the rankings from the Hopkins-Shumenov fight, as it’s exactly what you’d expect from fighters of their respective ranks.  Mehrabi technically now is qualified for a ranking, but he’s not even in my unofficial top 50, and he’ll need to be proven substantially more than this to get within shouting distance of a ranking.


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 (85-85-85)
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 (46-46-46)
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 (85-411-411)
Last Fight: 4/19/2014- W (SD12*) vs. Beibut Shumenov (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Hopkins continued looking good against competent, if unspectacular, opposition.  Pay no attention to the insane split decision verdict.  It was a domination.  In the aftermath, B-Hop has called out Stevenson.
3) Jean Pascal (14-14-14)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- UD12 #16 Lucian Bute
Next Fight: Unknown
Pascal is pencilled in for a September fight, and perhaps one more before the end of the year.  Prospective opponents, in order, are Sean Monaghan and Lucian Bute.  He wants Stevenson after that, assuming he comes through cleanly.
4) Sergey Kovalev (14-66-66)
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 (14-412-412)
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 (14-36-93)
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 (14-132-132)
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 (14-200-200)
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 (14-243-243)
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 (14-220-220)
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 (14-116)
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 (14-105)
Last Fight: 4/5/2014- RTD5 Enzo Maccarinelli (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Braehmer might give Maccarinelli a rematch in June.  I like it.
13) Karo Murat (13-26)
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. (13-13)
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 (14-54)
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 (14-41)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Andre Ward
Next Fight: Unknown
Rodriguez was scheduled to fight Marcus Johnson on May 24, but Johnson quickly withdrew.
17) Hadillah Mohoumadi (26-43)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
18) Cornelius White (13-123)
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 (13-65)
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 (13-77)
Last Fight: 1/18/2014- L (UD12) vs. Jean Pascal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bute wants his contractually-guaranteed rematch with Pascal, a fight that appears tentatively planned for late in the year.  He recently parted ways with his long-time trainer.


The Week Ahead
#14 Thomas Williams, Jr. vs. Enrique Ornelas; Rancho Mirage, California; FS1 (US)
Williams is a fast-rising Golden Boy prospect who has risen in the rankings due to both his talent and excellent matchmaking.  That is to say that he’s been matched with vulnerable guys like Cornelius White and Yusaf Mack who nevertheless have very solid- some would say inflated- resumes.  This is more of a showcase.  Ornelas- the brother of former top 5 super middleweight Librado Andrade- was once a fringe contender, but since at least 2008 he’s done one of two things exclusively: beat nobodies or lose to contenders, though it should be noted that he did give Bernard Hopkins unexpected trouble in late 2009.  With that all being the case, it’s possible that he’s the opposite of Williams’ typical recent opponent in that he might be more dangerous than his current status might indicate.  But that status is merely that of a mid-level journeyman at this point, so an Ornelas win would be a huge upset, indeed.


Rowland Bryant vs. Rayco Saunders; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Off TV
Speaking of Librado Andrade, the man known almost exclusively for effectively ending his career is also in action on Thursday.  He’s not getting a ton of love from the Boxrec rankings, and he is coming off losses in 2 of his 3 fights since the destruction of the Mexican contender- albeit against the likes of undefeated prospects/contenders like Thomas Oosthuizen and Yunieski Gonzalez.  There’s much less ambiguity about the proper status of Saunders, who comes in with only one more win than loss, and at 39 years old has been declared the loser in 8 of his last 9.


Timy Shala vs. Emmanuel Feuzeu; Vienna, Austria; TV Unknown
Shala, who makes his home in Vienna by way of Kosovo, is an undefeated prospect, who is arguably a top 50 fighter based on his stoppage win over Mounir Toumi- a likely overrated journeyman who had made a minor name for himself by beating Tony Averlant right after Averlant was robbed versus Eddy Gutknecht.  Feuzeu is a veteran of just 11 fights, and a mid-level journeyman who comes off his best career win over Ricky Pow in October.  He does, however, have at least one unacceptable loss on his resume, a decision to a 1-2 fighter back in March 2008.  He’s not a challenge for a bona fide top 50 fighter, but I’m not sure we really know yet if Shala is among that company.


Pawel Glazewski vs. Maciej Miszkin; Legionowo, Poland; Polsat Sport (Poland)
Glazewski is hard to figure.  He clearly beat no less a name than Roy Jones, Jr. in a cruiserweight fight in which he was blatantly robbed, but then was stopped in his home country by a natural super middleweight in Hadillah Mohoumadi.  I figure he’s still got to be considered a top 50 guy despite that setback, and he’s in against a one-loss prospect in Miszkin, but a one-loss prospect coming off a TKO loss to an inexperienced 18-year old.

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