Cruiserweight: 2014, May 19-25

Undefeated local kid Murat Gassiev got a 2nd-round TKO in what was a pretty obviously fixed fight in what looked like a converted funeral parlor in Vladikavkaz, Russia on Wednesday.  Gassiev appeared to be measuring his opponent- veteran Georgian travelling opponent George Tevdorashvili- for the entire first round.  That is to say he didn’t so much as throw anything with intent.  Tevdorashvili didn’t exactly wow anyone, but he outworked the Russian to claim the first round almost by default.  The second round was largely the same until Gassiev suddenly came out of his tentative shell to throw a combination.  A jab may have partially gotten through, though it was significantly blocked.  A right hand then caught nothing but air as it whistled over the Georgian’s head.  Tevdorashvili then fell hard to the canvas.  Maybe the jab was enough to put him down, or maybe it was a dive.  I will reserve judgment on that point specifically.  But this is where it gets really fishy.  Tevdorashvili gets to his feet very quickly, but despite being completely unhurt and perhaps never having been hit with a punch in the whole fight, his cornerman is standing on the ring apron asking the referee to stop the fight before the count is half over.  There is simply no legitimate justification for this.  If anything, the corner should have been arguing for a slip.  Who knew what and when exactly they knew it may be a bit open to debate, but it’s clear that somebody had big money on a 2nd round stoppage.  I’d hate to mar the career of a potentially promising prospect (though I saw nothing to support that proposition on this particular night), but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it looked to me like Gassiev was carrying his opponent for as long as it went.


The following evening in Brooklyn, undefeated prospects Stivens Bujaj, a New York-based Albanian and the more advanced of the two, and Junior Wright of Chicago, met up in a rare early-career test for both guys.  At first, Bujaj was boxing fairly effectively, catching Wright on the way in enough to nick the first couple rounds.  But Wright’s pressure was relentless, and he continued to pick up steam and wear down his counterpart, and in doing so won 6 or 7 of the last 8 rounds.  The last round was a totally different matter, though, as Bujaj was able to summon a second wind in a gust that included a fight-turning shot.  Wright was left badly hurt and holding on for the last half of the round, and it looked like there was a decent chance Wright would be stopped.  Referee Shada Murdagh, in the midst of a clinch, saw that Wright’s tape had begun to unravel badly from his glove.  He tried to rip it off himself and prevent a pause in the compelling life-and-death action, but failed to accomplish that mission.  Wright therefore was granted any extra time he may have needed to survive.  When the fight went to the cards, there was no doubt that Wright had at least edged it by a round, if not more, and all that despite Bujaj’s final-round heroics.  No doubt, that is, except in the minds of chronically inept judges John McKaie and Robin Taylor, whose hometown cards had it 96-94 Bujaj and 95-95 respectively.  When combined with Don Trella’s dead-on 96-94 card, the official result was a draw.  To be honest, that result feels kinda fair when you consider the fact that an equipment malfunction on Wright may have cost Bujaj a come-from-behind stoppage, or at least a fighting chance at one.  But whether it feels fair or not, it’s not fair.  It may have been wider than 96-94 in Wright’s favor, but it certainly wasn’t closer.  It’s a robbery by judges that often do just that.  Plain and simple.  I’ll be treating it as a close win for Wright.  Hopefully the draw, incorrect as it is, might lead to a rematch of what was definitely one of the candidates for cruiserweight fight of the year.


Friday in Hamburg, #17 Nuri Seferi got back on track with a pretty dominant win over one-loss Hungarian prospect Tamas Lodi.  Seferi did what he typically does when he’s on his game, coming forward constantly and consistently landing solid, if not concussive, punches with both hands.  As for Lodi, he blew what may have been an opportunity.  Perdomo had exposed a perfect gameplan to fight Seferi just over a month ago, but the similarly-built Lodi fought a tactically incompetent fight, instead.  He allowed the plodding shorter man with slower hands to walk to him and yet control range, and also to be first with his punches the vast majority of the time.  Seferi lost his groove a bit in the early-to-middle rounds, but his slow-burning pressure took plenty of a toll on Lodi down the stretch.  In the last couple rounds, the Hungarian was looking to do little more than survive.  I had it 118-110, as did judge Manfred Kuechler.  Matteo Montella of Rome had it 119-109, which is perfectly reasonable.  Holger Wiemann, who we mainly know as an incompetent referee who helps out Albanians all the time for some reason, did Albania’s Seferi no favors this time around, scoring it 116-112 for Seferi, at least one unreasonably-scored round too close, in my opinion.


In the division’s headlining fight on Saturday, #10 Light Heavyweight Nathan Cleverly finally made his long-awaited, injury-delayed cruiserweight debut, taking on Guyana journeyman Shawn Corbin.  Corbin was able to nullify Cleverly just a little bit in the first round, but other than that, it was never really a contest.  Cleverly showed that he may have carried whatever power he had at 175 up to his new weight, as he badly hurt Corbin in the 2nd and followed up with wide-open potshots to put him away, with referee Richard Davies stepping in at the 2:19 mark.  


The only winner (in my eyes, at least) who beat a top 50 opponent was Wright, and while he has broken through to the high gatekeeper level, Bujaj simply wasn’t proven enough to get him as high as the top 20.  I’m leaving Lebedev ranked because his inactivity is entirely due to an injury, followed by dirty dealings by his opponent.  However, he hasn’t won a fight of consequence since 2012, and hasn’t beaten a top 20 contender since he was robbed against Marco Huck in 2010.  This inactivity at the top level causes him to slide to #3 behind Huck and Hernandez.


Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: None
1) Marco Huck (1-389-389)
Last Fight:1/25/2014- TKO6 #5 Firat Arslan
Next Fight: Unknown
Huck’s TV deal in Germany is set to expire, he’s reportedly leaving Sauerland, and has met with HBO about coming to the US.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (1-204-204)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO10 #12 Alexander Alekseev
Next Fight: Unknown
Hernandez’s fight with Kolodziej- originally postponed- has now been cancelled due to an illness to Hernandez.
3) Denis Lebedev (1-224-224)
Last Fight: 5/17/2013- L (TKO11) vs. Guillermo Jones (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Given his legitimate injury that shelved him for a big chunk of the year and the fact that his opponent screwed him over via PED use, I’m going to use my discretion and leave Lebedev ranked at this point.  Still, his best work is simply getting too old to stay at the very top.
4) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (36-465-465)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- TKO6 #9 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
Wlodarczyk probably won’t return until the fall, with Drozd and BJ Flores being considered.
5) Thabiso Mchunu (17-42-80)
Last Fight: 1/24/2014- UD10 Olanrewaju Durodola (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/6/2014- vs. Julio Cesar Dos Santos (UNR)
Mchunu will stay busy with upper-level journeyman Julio Cesar Santos of Brazil on June 6 in South Africa.
6) Firat Arslan (17-106-149)
Last Fight: 1/25/2014- L (TKO6) vs. #3 Marco Huck
Next Fight: Unknown
Having visibly regressed since his excellent first effort against Huck, it might be time for the 43 year-old Arslan to consider retirement.
7) Grigory Drozd (26-33-80)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- KO1 Jeremy Ouanna (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Wlodarczyk’s notes, above.
8) Ola Afolabi (26-271-271)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- W* (MD12) vs. Lukasz Janik (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Afolabi is now slated for an eventual eliminator with Pawel Kolodziej for a shot at Yoan Pablo Hernandez.  K2 has won the purse bids, and the fight is currently in the process of being worked out.  It’s targeted for the summer.
9) Giacobbe Fragomeni (26-36-288)
Last Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. Olegs Lopajevs (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The fight with Lopajevs was purely a stay-busy contest, but he’s talking about another title shot even at 44 years old.
10) Ilunga Makabu (4-4-45)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- TKO2 Ruben Angel Mino (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Makabu’s excellent matchup with Masternak has been scrapped due to a dispute between the Congolese contender and his promoter.
11) Santander Silgado (4-29)
Last Fight: 11/1/2013- TKO2 #20 Steve Herelius
Next Fight: 6/6/2014- vs. #15 Danie Venter
Silgado will apparently now be fighting in South Africa on June 6 in a very good matchup with Danie Venter.
12) Mateusz Masternak (4-112)
Last Fight: 4/12/2014- UD8 Stjepan Vugdelija (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/21/2014- vs. Youri Kayembre Kalenga (UNR)
Masternak’s fight with Makabu fell through, and he’ll instead be fighting crude and inconsistent one-loss prospect Youri Kalenga.
13) Lukasz Janik (4-29)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- L* (MD12) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
Next Fight: Unknown
Janik would like a well-deserved rematch with Afolabi.
14) Ovill McKenzie (4-6)
Last Fight: 4/12/2014- KO5 #18 Tony Conquest
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. Jon-Lewis Dickinson (UNR)
After capturing the Commonwealth title with an upset knockout of Tony Conquest, McKenzie will have a quick turnaround, as he’ll fight Jon-Lewis Dickinson for the British title on the Froch-Groves undercard.
15) Danie Venter (4-36)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- KO1 Shawn Cox (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/6/2014- vs. #11 Santander Silgado
A big opportunity for Venter, as he takes on a potentially overrated Silgado in his own back yard.
16) Dmytro Kucher (4-99)
Last Fight: 7/13/2013- L (MD12) vs. Ilunga Makabu (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Kucher will be featured on May 31 in Odessa, Ukraine, but no opponent yet.
17) Nuri Seferi (4-22)
Last Fight: 5/16/2014- UD12 Tamas Lodi (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Seferi looked pretty decent against Lodi, who fought the wrong fight.  At this point, he ought to give Perdomo a rematch.
18) Gusmyr Perdomo (4-6)
Last Fight: 4/11/2014- Robbery Loss (should be draw) vs. #15 Nuri Seferi
Next Fight: Unknown
Perdomo deserved at least a draw against Seferi, but the judges summoned just enough coincidental incompetence to take it from him.
19) Yunier Dorticos (4-5)
Last Fight: 4/16/2014- KO4 Eric Fields (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Krzysztof Glowacki (4-4)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO9 Varol Vekiloglu (UNR)

Next Fight: Unknown
Glowacki is the top contender for the title held by Huck, but might never get that exact shot, since Huck is making noise about moving up.


Dmitry Kudryashov vs. Ivica Bacurin; Krasnodar, Russia; TV Unknown
Kudryashov is a human highlight reel, scoring spectacular knockouts against gatekeeper and journeyman-level opposition with consistency.  Bacurin is a mid-level journeyman from Croatia who generally loses close decisions to guys proven on Kudryashov’s level.  He’s coming off an 8-round split decision loss to former top-10 contender Juan Carlos Gomez.  Catch this one if you can, because the Russian has yet to disappoint the viewer.


Daniel Ammann vs. Mark Flanagan; Townsville, Australia; TV Unknown
This one is for the vacant Australian title.  Ammann, on an international level, is a gatekeeper, who looks to rebound from a dominant loss to Tony Conquest from February.  Flanagan is a journeyman, and probably not a member of the top 50.  However, he did upset Kenyan gatekeeper Kariz Kariuki at 175 in late 2012, so he’s a live dog.

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