Welterweight: 2014, Apr 21-27

#6 Shawn Porter solidified his position as a world-class welterweight by slapping the always competent #14 Paulie Malignaggi around like nobody since at least Amir Khan has on Saturday in the Hopkins-Shumenov co-feature in Washington.  Porter can be described in one word as beastly, as he basically silverbacked the overwhelmed Malignaggi, who was not strong enough to hold Porter off, or even clinch effectively.  It was already a one-sided beating before the fourth round, when Porter put Malignaggi down twice and earned a knockout.


Even with the spectacular performance over a big name, Porter fails to move up.  His best two wins (Alexander and Malignaggi) are marginally better than Thurman’s (Soto Karass and Quintana), but Thurman’s 3rd and 4th best (Chaves and Zaveck) are answered by only a pedestrian decision over Julio Diaz, a guy he had earlier drawn with, and with a robbery win over Alfonso Gomez that he definitely lost.  Malignaggi also stays put, since Chris Van Heerden isn’t even remotely tested at this kind of level.


Speaking of Van Heerden, he was evidently in a hell of a scrap with top-shelf journeyman Ray Narh of Ghana on Wednesday, slipping by with a split decision.  Unfortunately this pretty solid match-up has no readily available video, and so I am left to take this apparently close fight at face value, exactly as the judges saw it.  That means it’s a virtual non-event in the rankings.


Sandwiched between those two fights (and sorry for jumping around like this) was a tight little scrap in Krasnodar, Russia between one-loss Russian prospect David Avanesyan and journeyman and former serious junior welterweight contender Kaizer Mabuza of South Africa.  Unfortunately, it appears that the Russian commission has no interest whatsoever in trying to ensure a fair fight.  As noted, the fight was in Russia between a Russian and a South African.  Already a big advantage for the Avanesyan, right?  Now for a rundown of the neutral officials: Referee Viktor Panin of Russia, who took a point from Mabuza in the 5th for essentially daring to be an orthodox fighter in the same ring as the hometown southpaw.  That is to say, he took a point from Mabuza for a mutual and accidental clash of heads that any boxing fan knows is often inevitable in these fights.  Next, judge Yuri Koptsev of Russia, who scored a virtually dead-even fight 117-110 for the Russian.  Judge #2 was Rozalin Nasibulin of Russia, who scored that same fight 118-110.  Finally, Alexander Sushkov, who scored that fight- which, again, probably was a draw, give or take- 119-108 for the Russian.  What this means is that the fix was in from the moment the officials were named, and that’s the commission’s fault to almost the same extent as the officials themselves.  The wolf was guarding the hen house.  


You’ve gotta think of this objectively.  Imagine a closely-fought, toss-up contest in Krasnodar, Russia between a generic Russian prospect and a South African journeyman with generic judges.  The Russian is already going to get that decision 9 times out of 10 if we know nothing more.  It’s incumbent on the commission to do what it can to mitigate that bias by appointing presumably unbiased officials.  The fact that, in addition to the natural hometown bias, the commission built in additional bias in the same direction by appointing 3 judges that, based solely on their home addresses, would probably tend to give a Russian fighter the nod in that theoretical close fight 9 out of 10 times even if it were to be held in South Africa, is simply inexcusable and disgraceful.  To call its conduct a dereliction would be far too kind.  The commission actively participated in this travesty.  This doesn’t excuse the conduct of the four officials, who should be ashamed of themselves, but they also shouldn’t have been put in that position.


All of this sadly overshadows a pretty good fight, in which both men did admirable work.  My official unofficial card had Avanesyan winning by a single point- that being the point that Panin stole from Mabuza.  So for all intents and purposes, I had it a draw, and thought it was the kind of fight that could have legitimately swung anywhere between 116-112 either way.  Mabuza was clearly the bigger and stronger guy, and imposed his will on Avanesyan for the majority- but not all- of the first 7 rounds.  However, even in the face of a pretty solid body attack from his African foil, Avanesyan’s conditioning shone in the last half, as he was able to outbox Mabuza and sometimes even push him back for the better part of the last 5.  


Despite none of the actual cards being reasonable, the idea that Avansyan actually won the fight is just that.  Given a debateable fight outcome and a winner I disagree with, my rule requires that I treat it as a draw, but with a minimal edge going to the official winner for rankings purposes.


Regardless of how much intriguing action played out this week, we’ve still got no changes.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (208-240-240)
Last Fight: 9/14/2013- W* (MD12) vs. #2 JMW Saul Alvarez (at JMW)
Next Fight: 5/3/2014- vs. #4 Marcos Maidana
Thankfully, it will be the worthy Maidana rather than the likely washed-up Khan that fights Floyd on May 3.
1) Manny Pacquiao (2-281-281)
Last Fight: 4/12/2014- UD12 #1 Timothy Bradley
Next Fight: Unknown
The fight has lost some of its luster over time, but Pacquiao has once again put himself in a position to deserve a shot at Mayweather.  Still, that fight is likely not practically possible at the moment, and as crazy as it sounds after 4 odd fights, another Pacquiao and Marquez fight might help clarify the divisional picture further in the mean time.
2) Juan Manuel Marquez (28-128-128)
Last Fight: 10/12/2013- L (SD12) vs. #17 Timothy Bradley
Next Fight: 5/17/2014- vs. #? JWW Mike Alvarado
Marquez takes on Alvarado near L.A. on May 17.
3) Timothy Bradley (2-28-98)
Last Fight: 4/12/2014- L (UD12) vs. #3 Manny Pacquiao
Next Fight: Unknown
Bradley’s best options for a next fight, practically-speaking, are limited to re-hashes of previous fights like Marquez and Provodnikov.
4) Marcos Maidana (20-46-46)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD12 LW Champ Adrien Broner
Next Fight: 5/3/2014- vs. Champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Maidana will get a shot at the true title on May 3.
5) Keith Thurman (19-19-59)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO9 #6 Jesus Soto-Karass
Next Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. Julio Diaz (UNR)
Thurman gets tough gatekeeper Julio Diaz on April 26.  If he passes that test, there’s talk of a Matthysse fight after that.
6) Shawn Porter (19-20-20)
Last Fight: 4/19/2014- KO4 #14 Paulie Malignaggi
Next Fight: Unknown
After being the mandatory for a little while now, there seems to be little doubt that Kell Brook is next on the agenda for Porter.  The alphabet org has told them to get it made by late May.
7) Robert Guerrero (20-74-91)
Last Fight: 5/4/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Next Fight: Unknown
Guerrero is being called out by Devon Alexander currently, and needs to schedule a fight before early May to avoid removal.
8) Kell Brook (20-156-156)
Last Fight:3/15/2014- TKO8 Alvaro Robles (UNR) (at JMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Porter’s notes, above.
9) Devon Alexander (20-113-113)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- L (UD12) vs. Shawn Porter (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Boxingscene reports that Alexander and Soto Karass are working on a fight for June 21.
10) Randall Bailey (22-22-22)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- W (DQ8) vs. Humberto Toledo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bailey said recently in an interview that he’d like to fight Thurman.
11) Josesito Lopez (22-96)
Last Fight: 12/13/2013- W (TD8) vs. Mike Arnaoutis (UNR)
Next Fight: 4/24/2014- vs. Aron Martinez (UNR)
Lopez will fight journeyman Aron Martinez in Riverside on April 24.
12) Jesus Soto Karass (19-65)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- L (TKO9) vs. #13 Keith Thurman
Next Fight: Unknown
See Alexander’s notes, above.
13) Andre Berto (19-74)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- L (TKO12) vs. #11 Jesus Soto Karass
Next Fight: Unknown 
Berto is now recovered from surgery and is training for a July return.  Alexander wants him.
14) Paulie Malignaggi (20-20) 
Last Fight: 4/19/2014- L (KO4) vs. #6 Shawn Porter
Next Fight: Unknown
Many- including myself- believe there is a strong chance Malignaggi will retire and focus on his flourishing broadcasting career after taking a brutal beating at the hands of Shawn Porter.
15) Chris van Heerden (20-97)
Last Fight: 4/16/2014- W (SD10) vs. Ray Narh (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Van Heerden’s split decision win over Ray Narh doesn’t look very worthy of a top 15 contender on paper, but I unfortunately am unable to find video, and thus can’t opine on what it might mean for his future.
16) Luis Carlos Abregu (20-52)
Last Fight: 4/4/2014- TKO8 Jean Carlos Prada (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Abregu is interested in fighting Brandon Rios in the US.
17) Luis Collazo (12-12)
Last Fight: 1/30/2014- KO2 Victor Ortiz (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/3/2014- vs. Amir Khan (UNR)
It appears that Collazo-Khan is on for the Mayweather-Maidana undercard on May 3.
18) Jan Zaveck (12-228)
Last Fight: 10/19/2013- UD8 Sebastien Allais (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
There are rumors that Zaveck may soon be positioned for a minor (IBO) title fight.
19) Leonard Bundu (6-8)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO12 Lee Purdy (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bundu’s fight with Gianluca Branco, scheduled for April 12, is now off due to a training injury to Branco.  Bundu’s camp is now targeting May as his next appearance, and Frankie Gavin has been installed as his new mandatory.
20) Jo Jo Dan (6-6)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- W* SD12 vs. Kevin Bizier (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown


The Week Ahead:
#11 Josesito Lopez vs. Aron Martinez; Rancho Mirage, California; FS1 (US)
This looks like a stay-busy fight for Lopez, but his last fight with Arnaoutis looked like that too, and he nearly got himself upset.  Martinez is a fringe prospect at best and a journeyman at worst, but he did beat prospects in Joseph Elegele and Prenice Brewer, and managed to win a round or two against Jessie Vargas, as well.  At the very least, Martinez is at a higher level than Arnaoutis appeared to be going into that fight in December.


#5 Keith Thurman vs. Julio Diaz; Carson, California; Showtime (US)
This is a good test for Thurman.  Diaz had a draw with Golden Boy’s other rising young contender, Shawn Porter, before dropping a competitive decision to same.  He also deserved a win over Amir Khan, a big star who is still looking to establish himself at 147.  If Thurman can win this in style, it won’t necessarily cause him to surge in the rankings, but it will give him major bragging rights over two of his best in-house rivals.  Diaz is accumulating a lot of miles on his 33-year old engine, but I wouldn’t rule him out for one more unexpected stand.


Jose Zepeda vs. Robert Frankel; Port Hueneme, California; UniMas (US)
Zepeda is an undefeated Top Rank prospect who is really a 140 pounder, but will fight veteran journeyman Frankel a couple pounds over the limit.

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